SVG Essentials (O'Reilly XML)

Author: J. David Eisenberg
List Price: $34.95
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ISBN: 0596002238
Publisher: O'Reilly & Associates (01 February, 2002)
Edition: Paperback
Sales Rank: 53,585
Average Customer Rating: 4 out of 5

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Customer Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5
Best ORA book since HTML: The Definitive Guide
While it's difficult to separate my excitement over SVG from the contents of this book, it's quite possible that the two are so directly related as to be inseperable. Within a few hours of buying this book, I was producing and printing extremely high quality images that I had found all but impossible to produce w/other technologies (JPEG codecs, etc.). If you are familiar with the basic mark-up language concepts, then you should have no trouble gleaning the essential elements of SVG.

After an excellent introductory chapter that provides a general overview, subsequent chapters cover aspects of SVG in detail, such as how to create basic shapes or generate text. One thing I particularly liked was that the author mostly uses a single example (SVG code to create a picture of a cat) to illustrate new concepts, creating a sense of cohesiveness that tied the chapters together. This book is *not* just a scattershot collection of essays that characterizes so many other technical books -- the text is clear, concise, and to the point. Finally, there is a very uselful appendix that summarizes the most frequently used attributes.

Perhaps the only drawback is that if you are coming to SVG from a non-technical background, you might find this book a little too gear-headed for your liking. For technical readers that want a thorough introduction (i.e., not a PhD thesis) to this exciting and useful technology, however, this book is a must.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Good starter book, but...
Not a bad book if you want to learn just the basics; however, I think you can easily find everything in this book on the Web if you take the time to dig around. If you're looking for a book to get you started, this one will do nicely. But if you're looking for more advanced/esoteric SVG material, I'd keep looking.

Rating: 5 out of 5
In a Nutshell
This subject perfectly fits O'Reilly's "In a Nutshell" tradition, for SVG itself is just that: Web design, including text, graphics, animation, and programming, all in a nutshell -- concise, pithy, simple, and deep.

SVG, a refactoring of several generations of Web technology and a public standard approved by the World Wide Web Consortium, can be authored without any special tools and without any special background, other than the immediately productive background provided by this book.

Eisenberg swiftly, but with diverting variety, illuminates the process of drawing, assembling shapes, creating textures, transforming coordinates, structuring documents, enriching text, creating reusable components, fine tuning color, animating shapes and colors and structures, creating lighting effects, and programming user interactions. All of this is built upon the simple SVG architecture: arrange your elements in a hierarchy and set their attributes.

There is an art to conveying important points without belaboring them and Eisenberg moves from example to example with perfect pitch.

The book also contains an eight page section with full color images.

Some people have complained about the lack of reference books on SVG. The SVG reference is in fact widely available, all 500+ pages of it, on the W3C site. What is really needed, and would have been useful in this or any SVG book, is a five page guide to using that reference -- how do I, in ten seconds or so, determine whether this element can be a child of that element, or if this element supports this attribute?

While I was developing SVG Composer the only book available was Watt's "Designing SVG Web Graphics" (another fine book with a rather different pitch). When Eisenberg's work came out I happily relearned SVG, doing every example and picking up any number of new tricks.

I do have some reservations: I didn't care for the cat drawing (hated it!) and the final two chapters on generating and serving SVG seemed aimed at the wrong audience (adepts at Java, servlets, and Perl) though the material itself is perfectly fine.

At first I had the same feeling about the appendices, which include brief samples of subjects from programming to fonts to matrix algebra, that surely Eisenberg was misjudging his audience. However he may have things just right -- SVG may well become the greatest crossover hit ever in computer languages, a lingua franca for logic and art.

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