4.3.4 Evaluation

As an exercise, the Cricklade website shows some of the features of SVG and how it can be used as an effective communication tool for archaeological visualisation. In particular, it shows the ease with which basic SVG functions can be introduced into virtually any website, when using a vector design tool like Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator can be used as a stand-alone program for creating vector graphics and saving them into SVG format, or as a pass-through program for taking vector drawing files made in other programs and converting them to SVG. As shown by the drawing of the south-west corner of the Cricklade site, the best results are often produced when used in combination. Many of the limitations of visual presentation in programs like AutoCAD can be addressed in Illustrator before conversion to SVG.

The site also demonstrates how SVG can be taken further, either with interaction built into the image itself or with other forms of technology like JavaScript. Virtually every element of an SVG image can be identified in the document's code and understood to be a separate object, which can be manipulated. The JavaScript interface used to create the layer control in the Cricklade website illustrates this. Each drawing has a unique set of layers that can be controlled by the user, allowing more complete access to drawings as originally digitised, and thereby clearer understanding of the archaeology. At the same time, the versatility of SVG when used with JavaScript and (X)HTML makes it far easier to adapt archaeological information for a broader Web audience, without having to make changes to original data.

This practical demonstration has only scratched the surface of what SVG can do, and how it might be applied to archaeological visualisation. The Internet Archaeology publication 'Excavations at Cricklade, Wiltshire, 1975' shows one way to present archaeological vector drawings on the Web, and provides a good foundation to contrast the functionality of SVG and JavaScript with Volo View Express. On the surface these may seem to have roughly compatible features, but they are fundamentally different. The power and flexibility of SVG, especially when used in combination with other elements like JavaScript, has the potential to outpace anything a proprietary program such as Volo View Express can achieve.


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Last updated: Tue Jul 18 2006