The IE LogoSVGAs expected, it was announced today that IE9 will support SVG, DOM Events, XHTML, CSS3 Selectors and more. There were even a couple surprises in there (HTML5 Video!). This finally puts IE9 in the realm of a "modern browser"! Hey! Someone on the IE team needs to send me a SVG image of the IE logo. The one I have is pretty sucky (no offense, Sam). Hopefully that image has an, ahem, gradient in it...

Now read on for more details on their SVG implementation (hey, I know why you're here).

SVG Support Details

I updated the score on my SVG support chart for IE9 Preview 1: 28.36%. While it felt really good to have anything other than a solid red bar (0%) there, the IE team surely knows that there is a long ways to go before the IE9 final release. In fact, I know they pay attention to test suites because they just submitted 31 tests to the SVG WG Test Suite (2nd edition).

Here's a short list of things I think need to happen:

  1. Gradients! While the graphics performance story in IE9 looks great at the moment, it's not a fair comparison without turning on the code for linear/radial gradients
  2. Clipping/Masking - another essential for properly benchmarking IE9's graphical performance against other browsers
  3. Linking! I couldn't get any of the link test cases to work properly. Also, support for the 'target' attribute on link elements.
  4. DOM - I won't have time to go through what support is there for SVG DOM interfaces. The IE9 page mentions 'Not all elements of the SVGDOM are available' and none of the tests in the suite ran for me.
  5. Switch and Feature String Detection: This file should show a few lines green as far as I can tell (among them probably Shape, BasicText, Image, Structure, Style). This is going to be critical since IE9's level of support will be significantly different than the state-of-the-art supported by other modern browsers.
  6. Selection of SVG text
  7. Markers

Am I being too hard on the IE team? Heck no! I did the same thing for Mozilla and Opera when they first released their support of a working SVG subset (I somehow missed my chance to do this with WebKit when Safari 3 first came out but my memory is that it exceeded my expectations).

The idea here is to give my two (or ten) cents on what the team needs to work on to get a usable subset, given years of experience coding SVG. I hope other web developers will do the same.


[clipart]First off, a heartfelt congratulations and thanks go to the IE Team. They are continuing to show dedication to Open Web standards begun with IE8. While their SVG implementation is less functional than any other browser was upon first venture into SVG territory, the IE team has had a lot more to do to catch up to the state-of-the-art (CSS3, HTML5, DOM). My personal expectation is that they will achieve at least basic parity with Firefox 1.5 by the time IE9 is ready. It means that things like SVG-edit could work in IE9. That would leave things open for SVG Filters, SMIL and a hearty dose of innovation (through the SVG WG) in IE10. [Update: I missed this table, but apparently Microsoft is committing to at least Firefox 1.5 levels of SVG and that's great news]

The IE Team plans to make developer preview releases available more often (every two months). While I personally wish this was more frequent (once a month), I'll take what I can get. I'll be reporting on Developer Preview 2, 3, etc.

§741 · March 16, 2010 · Uncategorized · · [Print]

14 Comments to “A Long Road Behind, A Long Road Ahead”

  1. SpShut says:

    Thanks for the overview!

    When are you going to update the chart with opera 10.50? Its rendering engine has been revised quite a bit. It would be nice to see the test suite results.

  2. Jeff says:

    @SpShut: Opera still hasn’t released 10.50 for my platform, so I’m waiting until then to give it a final rating. I’ve got the 10.50 preview there though and that showed hardly any change in the score. I wouldn’t expect much since Opera rates so high already with SVGF 1.1.

  3. SpShut says:

    Will wait for the mac release then. Thanks!

  4. [clipart]I took a little time and opened up some bugs against IE9. If you can, please sign up for the Microsoft Connect program so that you can help vote for the ones you care about:

  5. David says:

    > Microsoft is committing to at least Firefox 1.5 levels of SVG and that’s great news

    No it isn’t.
    Think about it. It would be much more efficient for competition if they implemented SMIL, SVG as CSS backgrounds (your top-listed feature in 2005 for Opera I see), and filters first.
    It’d kick Webkit and Mozilla’s developers asses.

    Because if all implementers agree with each other to let down some features, we’re stuck forever without them.

  6. Jeff says:


    As you well know, no browser implemented every SVG feature out of the gate. Only now, in 2010 are we seeing cross-browser implementations of SMIL and Filters – and that’s only in the nightlies. In that sense, Microsoft is making the right move: work on the subset of SVG that can be used today.

    Microsoft hasn’t said no to SMIL or Filters. Just not in IE9.

  7. hAl says:

    No use putting up connect issues on things that MS has already committed to put in IE9 (like gradients)

  8. Jeff says:

    @hAl: Yeah, I actually raised those before I found out about the commitment from Microsoft. On the other hand, it does let them know that those things are important and may help them to prioritize ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Jeff says:

    Oh, and David, apparently Microsoft has plans to support SVG-as-img and SVG-as-CSS-image in IE9. Great news!

  10. Egor Kloos says:

    “SVG-as-CSS-image” would be fantastic. You could just drop in an SVG logo and scale it with the background-size property.

  11. Overall, the trolling on the IE blogs is giving me a headache.
    Wonderful news, though! It’s always heartwarming to see such progress, even if it brings more maddening choice of supporting all sorts of new features in a multitude of browsers. Such is the web.

  12. Eugene says:

    I think this is great news.

    I don’t really care about SMIL because SVG is scriptable so I’m sure there will be libraries to add that after-the-fact (in fact I think I saw one already).

    And fonts I don’t get really. The many many font initiatives on the web are a mess so its no surprise that this gets left behind for now.

    But not including ANY filter support is a total bummer. Unlike the overlap between SMIL and CSS3, filters serve a very different purpose when it comes to SVG.

    Think about how inkscape and Adobe Illustrator make use of them.

    As far as *graphics* are concerned we will be stuck with simpler 1999 type images, when just a little bit more of functionality could bring us to parity with modern day formats.

    Alpha, Blend, ‘etc, just the bare essential building blocks! The rest can be coaxed out from those!


  13. Jeff says:

    @Eugene: I happen to agree with you about Filters since, as you say, those effects can’t be implemented via script.

    But I can’t blame Microsoft, since no browser implemented SVG Filters out of the gate (and no WebKit-based browser is yet shipping with support).

    I’d rather have a smaller, functional subset ship earlier.

    I think this will be a case where images will just look better in Firefox and Opera for awhile, and hopefully that will encourage the other browsers to implement the feature.

    And by the time SVG is truly reliable on the web (i.e. when IE9 is more widely deployed than IE8, IE7, IE6) then we’ll probably start to see some Filter support surface in IE10.

    This is just the way standards work on the Open Web stack! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Eugene says:

    @Jeff: If you come from a perspective of general-use sites, then SVG itself doesn’t matter quite that much at this point anyway, much less the particulars of the implementation.

    I’m looking at this from a perspective of a web-app developer. You know, actual, real software. Most desktop type software has minimum requirements (games want a baseline graphics card, apps want a baseline os, ‘etc).

    Having SVG filters implemented would allow for the creation of applications on the web that simply were not possible before. One can simply then *require* a baseline modern browser for your app.

    So for me at least, this is not about how an SVG image would look prettier in Firefox.

    As for not blaming Microsoft, why the hell not? So WebKit doesn’t have this yet, but they are on a different release cycle. By the time IE9 ships or shortly thereafter it will have it.

    Safari 5 will definitely have it. The difference here being that it won’t come 3,4,5 years after IE9. Since Microsoft releases are much fewer and further apart, the onus is on them to be forward thinking and sometimes be the first to implement something rather than the last.