Some of my students complained about the ordinariness of the xo home screen. I pointed them to the Modifying Sugar page in the Sugar Manuals which suggests various ways to customise Sugar. In turn, this led me into teaching the class about SVG and how to make their own icons.
The modern browsers are pushing SVG forward and leaving MS and IE behind. Amazingly, MS and IE still offer ZERO support for SVG, despite it being a W3C recommendation since 2003. Tim Berners-Lee has recently diplomatically criticised MS for being behind in supporting scalable vector graphics
Adobes support for their SVG viewer will be discontinued after January 2009 but that doesn't matter because the modern browsers like Opera, Chrome, Firefox and browser plugins such as Batik continue to improve their support for SVG.
Interview, with Ted Gould:
JMZ: Do you think it possible that SVG maintains a presence as a web standard without any serious commerical sponsorship?Here is an excellent, informative chart (and commentary), from Jeff Schiller, of the results of running various SVG implementations (web browsers and browser plugins) through the official SVG Test Suite:
TG: I don't know that a single major corporate sponsor is required. I think that the "X factor" here is the different browser vendors. They've already pushed to make HTML 5 happen, I think they could go after SVG next. This would give them good in-browser implementations for things like animations that can only really be done with Adobe's Flash plugin today. I don't think that they like the idea of having the future of the web being implemented as a plugin.
SVG Essentials by J. David Eisenberg O'Reilly, 2002
I've had this book for some time. It explains the basics behind SVG and how to write XML directly to produce vector graphics.
Making SVG Icons for Sugar
As well as providing some good tips this OLPC page recognises that:
Unfortunately, no suitable vector editing tools are available as activities for the XO laptops at present. We acknowledge this omission, and hope to provide a vector-based "Draw" activity (to supplement the bitmap-based "Paint" activity) in order to provide the proper tools for icon generation on the laptops themselves in the future.Inkscape: An Open Source vector graphics editor. I found that by saving with the Plain SVG option you do obtain XML similar to what you would get by handcrafting a simple icon
Chrome, Googles' new browser, is partly based on Web Kit (which receives high ratings from Jeff Schiller), so Chrome may overtake Firefox in the SVG implementation race. At any rate, I downloaded Chrome hoping it would support SVG animations but alas it did not. Neither does Firefox.
Batik looks great but I haven't played with it yet.