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Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Wednesday
Jul182007

Would you use SVG or XAML?

We are currently in the middle of a multi-million dollar energy management project at the University of North Carolina. There are many aspects of it, including creating generic web-service gateways to a variety of underlying low-level protocols (BACnet, LON, Sigma, KNX) and aggregating them up to a central monitoring system we call the Enterprise Building Management System (EBMS).

All interaction with EBMS is through secured web pages developed with open source code. These incorporate into graphics generated from a number of sources including AutoCAD DWG files as well as a number of control panel widgets. All use AJAX calls against the EBMS server and the building gateways to display interactive data and allow building operation.

The RFP/Specification calls for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) as the primary format for for “EBMS Dynamic Color Graphics”… in no uncertain terms, the spirit of the specification Application has been that the system graphics would be in an open, XML based, vector format. When we all started this project, the only format meeting those qualifications was SVG. Recently the vendor came back to me and pleaded to be able to use XAML.

In the years since the project started, Opera has gained good native SVG rendering, but almost no SVG behaviors. Firefox support OK SVG rendering, but does not support islands of XML/SVG inside a larger page, and offers little support for SVG behaviors. The major plug-in for SVG with good support of behaviors was from Adobe who has abandoned it since they bought Flash. Corel, who supported it as the project began, has virtually erased all references to the effort. SVG is getting some small traction as SVG Mobile in the mobile phone industry.

If we switch from SVG, this leaves XAML as our Scalable Vector-based XML graphics format. Yeah, its dancing with Redmond, but it at least seems to have some tools, and support for open coding frameworks. The Linux community appears to have already released a Silverlight [XAML] plug-in beta, and Microsoft is set to release this week an official Linux plug-in.

Microsoft has, despite requests, not released the XAML specification to W3. This is explained alternately as Redmond==Evil or as not wanting to put a boat anchor on innovations until a couple iterations are up. Both accusations probably have some truth.

So, would you let the Integrator switch from SVG to XAML? How would you approach integrating graphics from diverse sources including CAD into the one you favor? If the answer is SVG, what are your favorite tools for interactivity?

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