SVG symbols

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Wed Apr 25 22:01:02 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
April 25, 2007

On Apr 24, 2007, at 12:57 AM, Pharos wrote:
> I noticed that in Steve Slevinski's correspondence with the Wikimedia
> language subcommittee, he raised the issue of SVG symbols several
> times.
> I am aware that bitmap-to-vector conversions are a fairly common
> activity at Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia's image and media hub, mostly
> for flags and coats of arms which can be quite complicated.
> I wonder if some Wikimedia Commons people would be interested in
> helping with the conversion?  I can't guarantee that how many people
> will participate, but it does seems like the type of project that
> could generate significant interest among community members.  Before
> we raise this issue there, though, I would like to know (1) how big
> the job would be, (2) if the job can be trusted to technically savvy
> people who are ignorant of SignWriting, and (3) what the current
> copyright is (if any) on the bitmap symbols.
> Thanks


Hello Pharos and everyone -

I want to thank you for this message, Pharos. There have been so many  
messages since, regarding SVG, that your original message was almost  
forgotten, until I reviewed it just now...

The idea of engaging the Wikimedia Commons to help us with SVG  
development is an excellent and welcome idea, and was already  
mentioned to me recently, by another Wikimedia member, so I just  
learned about Wikimedia Commons:

Wikimedia Commons

For those unfamiliar with it, Wikimedia Commons is a web database of  
1,390,757 media files to which anyone can I guess, if  
I understand it correctly, the SignWriting symbols could be posted on  
Wikimedia Commons? Is that correct? I am certainly open to this, but  
i need to read about it a little more to make sure I understand it...

I am showing my age (blush)...Years ago I posted all our symbols in  
folders and placed them freely on our web sites for anyone to  
download anytime...and never realized that the world started to use  
Licenses to show people what kind of rights they had to use things on  
the I always thought of the symbols as free to download.  
They are posted on this web site and have been there since year 2000  
at least...I kept adding to it:


Scroll down. The symbol downloads link is Number 4 on that web page.  
You will see Machado's SVG there as well...

And Steve Slevinski has also posted the complete IMWA symbols for  
download on SignPuddle for several years as well...

So I guess I need to read up on Licences to understand them, and then  
we can apply one of them to the entire IMWA both  
bitmap and svg formats...that gives people the freedom they need to  
feel comfortable to use them...I want people to use SignWriting  
without fear...and to program using the symbols without fear...

Can you tell me a good web page that will list and explain all the  
Licenses that are available?

And more importantly, what License would you like to see the symbols  
under? The IMWA symbol glyphs themselves are separate from any one  
computer program...the IMWA stands for the International Movement  
Writing Alphabet.

Many thanks for your comments -

Val ;-)


On Apr 25, 2007, at 12:15 PM, Valerie Sutton wrote:
> SignWriting List
> April 25, 2007
> Yes, that is correct. Steve Slevinski asked for the SVG version of  
> our symbols for I will put that as a  
> is my responsibility to finish the IMWA so we can move forward with  
> SVG...
> It will take some time for me to complete the IMWA 1.4 in bitmaps,  
> but I hope to do that this year, the sooner the better, and then  
> the entire IMWA 1.4 will need to be placed into SVG...Machado has  
> already done a lot of the symbols in it is a matter of  
> making sure that every new symbol is added to the current set of  
> SVG...
> And I know there are different typeface designs that can be done in  
> SVG, so there can be different writing styles of the same symbols  
> and it may be that someday there will be different sets of SVG so  
> we can choose typefaces...
> I read your message below, Jonathan, and the problem is, I am not a  
> programmer. I just want to provide every programmer with what they  
> need, to program using SignWriting.
> I understand your concerns about SVG taking bandwidth, if you do  
> not have a stable internet connection, and it may be that in  
> countries where that is the norm, another version of the symbols in  
> bitmap form will be necessary...I have to leave that to the  
> programming experts...
> SVG is easier than creating True Type fonts the old I can  
> see it has value, because the symbols look better on the screen and  
> they reduce with better quality I believe...
> Thanks for all your messages, Jonathan!
> it is hard to keep up with so many messages these days!
> Val ;-)
> ----------
> On Apr 25, 2007, at 10:07 AM, Steve Slevinski wrote:
>> Jonathan,
>> I am the one requesting an SVG


>> Jonathan wrote:
>>> An SVG version of the IMWA symbols seems exciting.  I was  
>>> wondering we advantages this might have.  I know that currently  
>>> the PNG symbols are cacheable so this is better for us that have  
>>> lower bandwidth as we only have to get each symbol once. I  
>>> briefly looked into the SVG and it seems to be inline so it comes  
>>> as part of the web page.  I don't think that it would be  
>>> cacheable but I could be wrong. If the SVG is part of the page,  
>>> then the browser wouldn't have to get each symbol one by one, it  
>>> would load faster on the browser but the server would have to  
>>> resend the symbol on each web page refresh so it might be a bit  
>>> longer to load each page for those of us with lower bandwith.   
>>> Though on second thought, if we don't have to get each rotation  
>>> it might even be faster.
>>>     I was thinking on the savings are far as rotations  for only  
>>> the handshapes using the SVG.  Presently there are about 207 hand  
>>> shapes with 6 distinct fills rotated 8 different positions then  
>>> mirrored and rotated another 8 positions.  So for each of the 207  
>>> there are 6 fills X 16 rotations = 96 symbols per hand shape.   
>>> 207 handshapes X 96 symbols each =  19872 handshape symbols.  Now  
>>> if we only had to draw the 6 fills for the 207 handshapes, we  
>>> would only have to define 207 X 6 =  1242 symbols which SVG could  
>>> easily mirror and rotate all the ways we wanted to.  So with SVG  
>>> we would only need to define 6% of the current handshape  
>>> symbols.  That's like 94% improvement. Not bad!!! Some of the  
>>> other arrows etc can also be rotated and flipped to make up the  
>>> full set. However there wouldn't be any savings as far as the  
>>> face symbols or some of the punctuation is concerned.
>>>     I guess when we have made a few, we will have a better idea  
>>> how they compare in size to the PNG symbols.  I wonder if they  
>>> would be any smaller as many symbols have a lot of parts that  
>>> have to be described.  The median PNG symbol file size is only  
>>> 232 bytes.  It going to be hard to beat that but with a 90-94%  
>>> savings from rotating them on the SVG I guess it would really be  
>>> worth it.
>>>     I the other more immediate benefit would be that they are  
>>> easily scalable.  This would be better for captioning or people  
>>> who have bad eyesight.
>>> What else have your learned about doing the IMWA in SVG?
>>> Jonathan


>>>> On Apr 21, 2007, at 11:29 AM, Cherie Wren wrote:
>>>>> I volunteer to help...
>>>>> cherie


>>>>> ----- Original Message ----
>>>>> From: Valerie Sutton <sutton at>
>>>>> To: List SignWriting <sw-l at>
>>>>> Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 8:41:27 PM
>>>>> Subject: [sw-l] Wikipedia American Sign Language
>>>>> SignWriting List
>>>>> April 20, 2007
>>>>> Hello SW List Members!
>>>>> As you all know, recently there has been interest in creating a
>>>>> possible ASL Wikipedia, or at least, the beginning of writing an
>>>>> Encyclopedia in ASL...
>>>>> Since we are new to writing and posting documents on the web,  
>>>>> in our
>>>>> SignPuddle 1.5 Literature Puddle online, I realize that this is a
>>>>> very big leap forward, to start writing encyclopedia articles  
>>>>> in ASL!
>>>>> To write such an article, we would need to either choose an  
>>>>> article
>>>>> already written in another encyclopedia, and then translate it  
>>>>> from
>>>>> English to ASL and then write it in SignWriting in SignText...
>>>>> or...
>>>>> write it directly from our own knowledge of physics, or  
>>>>> geography or
>>>>> whatever the article is about!
>>>>> This seems like a big new project, doesn't it?
>>>>> is my thought...
>>>>> Do we have volunteers to help us write one test-article for a new
>>>>> encyclopedia written in ASL?
>>>>> It will be our FIRST article for an encyclopedia in  
>>>>> a test
>>>>> drive. Then we can show the document to those at Wikimedia and to
>>>>> others too...It will be an historic and interesting adventure...
>>>>> I know many of you are already overloaded with projects, so only
>>>>> volunteer if you feel you have the time. We could create an
>>>>> Encylopedia team of writers, and each person could take a small
>>>>> section of the translation and writing...
>>>>> And there is no rush and no deadline.
>>>>> Plus we need to choose the one article we want to write...
>>>>> But before we choose the article, is there anyone interested in
>>>>> volunteering to write an article for an Encyclopedia?
>>>>> Once we have a few volunteers, I will write to the Wikimedia  
>>>>> language
>>>>> committee to suggest that maybe they can choose one article for  
>>>>> us to
>>>>> translate from the Wikipedia in English online...
>>>>> Those are my thoughts...
>>>>> What are yours?
>>>>> Val ;-)

More information about the Sw-l mailing list