Will SVG Finally Take Off This Year?
If you want my answer, that's it. If you want the logic and reasoning behind that answer, read on. Mind you, this is speculation, an educated guess; but it's a pretty good guess, if I may say so myself.
There are several factors in play that will most likely make SVG a Big Thing for this year, and a few more to come. It won't be the only big thing by a long shot, but it will probably be one of them. Here's why:
People have seen what SVG can do, and they are starting to want it bad.
SVG has been around for years. You may have only just started to hear people make a fuss, but the technology was presented to the world as a W3C standard in 2001. Ever since then, people have been experimenting with it, and seeing what it can do.
And some of what's been produced is simply astonishing. And why wouldn't it be? Infinitely scalable, lossless graphics right in our browsers, without Flash. This is what many designers dreaming of, and begging browser vendors to support for years.It's finally supported well in all modern browsers, and even a couple versions of IE.
The market is demanding it. Only silly people refuse to listen to the market.
Animation is getting to be a big deal... again.
When designers threw away their leather texture collections, and tearfully (or joyfully) discarded their hyper-realistic UI element libraries, they ran into a problem. Flat design was certainly pretty enough, but it lacked the ability to make users feel as though they were interacting with something "real".
The reason that UIs that mimicked real objects did so well was because they gave users a sensation similar to that of interacting with a physical object. In order to replicate that sensation with flat interfaces, or almost-flat interfaces, designers are turning to animation as a user experience design tool.
This is where SVG comes in: because it's all just XML code, and infinitely scalable, it's perfect for animation. You can do things to SVG images with animation that would be much more difficult to accomplish with any other graphics format. And because SVG is supported on mobile platforms as well as the desktop, your animations will work just about anywhere.
That's another reason, by the way:
Mobile is a huge deal, and will be from now on.
Nearly all smartphone mobile browsers support SVG. Mobile is a huge deal, as more people are browsing the Internet via small mobile devices than people who use desktops and laptops. That math could hardly be more simple.
Microsoft trying to kill off old products.
Designers and front-end developers have long been very, very tired of the way that Microsoft has lagged behind other browser vendors. First the interminable delay between IE6 and IE7, then the almost lackadaisical approach to supporting new web technologies in IEs 7 & 8, and to some extent, 9.
IE10 is certainly a vast improvement over its predecessors, but hardly anyone is using it. IE8, at least, still has far more market share than any designer is truly comfortable with.
It turns out that Microsoft itself doesn't like the current situation all that much. They're scrapping IE entirely in favor of a new browser project, currently codenamed "Spartan", because they apparently love Halo references as much as the rest of us. What's more, they seem to be trying to kill off support for Windows 7 as quickly as possible.
Forcing their corporate customers into an operating system upgrade also means that they'll have to use newer versions of IE, at the very least. Their hopes, however, seem to be set on Windows 10 as their next Big Thing.
That means more support for SVG, and myriad other web technologies that IE hasn't supported until recently. It's good news all around, really, unless you're a Microsoft customer with a small software budget.
The open source community made it, loves it.
Open source software has taken off in the web sector far more than it has on the desktop. Everything from servers, to content management systems, to HTML/CSS frameworks. It's almost all open source, or at least based on open source code.
The people who are leading the further development of Internet technology in general don't want to work in a closed-source environment. The Internet is for sharing information, and the people who work to improve it want to be able to share what they've made with everybody.
In this ecosystem, an open standard/format like SVG fits perfectly ... almost like it was designed that way for exactly this reason. (See what I did there?) In short, SVG has the full support of the people who essentially make the internet, or at least lead the way.
It's just time for it to happen already.
Good ideas, especially ideas which are freely offered, often take a lot of time to gain traction. Ideas that come at a cost often also come with a marketing budget, which might explain their sometimes-rapid adoption.
SVG has been around for more than a decade, and it has had time to be tested. It has had time to mature. It has had time for even those people who usually buy their ideas and solutions to see its value. In essence, it's time for this thing to take off, already. We're at that point in SVG's life where it needs to spread its wings and fly.
Conclusion: get on it.
There was a point, a while back, when some very smart people told the world that they just needed to start using HTML5. People started to use it, and browsers started bringing in more support. Now, it's the de-facto standard for anyone who cares about making their website's modern, relevant, and relatively future-proof.
I contend that SVG is at that point. Start using it. Go, grab any polyfills you need, open up a vector program, and export yourself some SVG graphics. Use it on nonessential page elements, if you want to be safe, but use it.
There will never be a better time.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ezequiel Bruni is a web/UX designer, writer, and aspiring photographer living in Mexico. When he's not up to his finely-chiselled ears in wire-frames and front-end code, or ranting about the same, he makes mouth-watering tacos, drinks spiced rum, reads fantasy novels, and plays lots of video games.