Opera Unveils Graphics-Savvy SVG Browser

Opera Software this week released a beta version of the next Opera browser for the desktop. The new version includes scalable vector graphics (SVG), which automatically scales any Web page to fit a user’s screen.

“We believe SVG will enter mainstream Web design in the future and we are very pleased to add native support in the Opera browser,” said Opera Software CTO Hakon Wium Lie. “We will work with other vendors to ensure that SVG can be used interoperably on the Web.”

Scalable Display

SVG is an XML-based language for Web graphics developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It enables Web developers to create the next generation of interactive and personalized Web applications in high-quality vector graphics instead of bitmaps, which are most often used on Web sites today.

SVG can be scaled to fit any screen — from small mobile devices to high-resolution printers. As opposed to proprietary vector-based Web technologies, SVG is an open, text-based standard, and can be read and indexed by search engines.

SVG Momentum

Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox told TechNewsWorld that SVG appears to be gaining some momentum. Microsoft bought a popular vector graphics company last year with the assumption that it would incorporate some of that technology into Longhorn.

“Mozilla is also working on a native SVG implementation,” he said. “But according to the Scalable Vector Graphics Consortium, Opera is the first desktop browser to natively support the complete W3C profile of SVG.”

Plugless and Play

Opera Software CEO Jon S. von Tetzchner said as the Internet is maturing, most new Web sites are no longer static displays of information, but rather complex online applications that use advanced Web technologies to enable improved interactivity, speed and services.

“It is only natural that Web browsers support Web technologies natively, rather than by having to keep adding plug-ins,” von Tetzchner said.

Wilcox agreed. Up until now, users would have to install a third-party viewer to interact with SVG sites. “With respect to plug-ins, there is certainly something to be said for moving away from a plug-in architecture seeing that many security breaches have occurred through plug-ins,” he said. “It wouldn’t shock me if Longhorn widely supported SVG.”

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