A new primitive for SVG: extending the path

Jean-Claude Moissinac
Telecom ParisTech
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Most 2D graphic languages deployed on the Internet today lack the ability to represent the topology of contiguous regions efficiently. This is becoming problematic with the growing number of map-based applications. In this paper, we introduce a new graphical primitive, called SuperPath, to extend existing languages for 2D vector graphics, such as SVG. This primitive provides a way to represent the contours in a 2D graphic with a set of reusable chunks of contour. Superpath is similar to the one proposed by David Dailey. We present the motivations for this work with examples of 2D maps and some associated problems related to their editing, rendering, or adaptation. We give some results, which were obtained using the new primitive.

With the increasing diversity of terminals and networks, modern multimedia technologies need to address multi-publication and adaptation of multimedia services and documents to environmental contexts such as terminals and user preferences. Some previous works have shown that the more structured a document is, with rich meta-information, the greater the capability to process it, to modify or adapt it is.

In our work on multimedia documents, we usually work with common 2D graphic formats such as SVG. SVG is becoming a common representation for 2D graphic documents (web browsers, Linux distributions) and, it is expected to become a central format on mobile devices among which phones and, portable media players.
SVG uses a representation of 2D vector graphics based on the use of contours with filling and stroking properties. However, SVG has limitations when editing, adapting or interacting with complex graphic content. More precisely, SVG lacks the ability to define an area as a list of references to pieces of contour. This feature is present, for example, in the MapInfo Interchange Format (MIF/MID) [8] dedicated to map representation. In this paper, we present an extension to the SVG language called SuperPath, which makes it possible to define a region as a set of contours.

We will first present the interest of such a primitive through an example. We then highlight a series of benefits of its adoption.

Then, we present the solution offered by SuperPath to the aforementioned problems and then details the proposed syntax for the SVG language.