Scalable Vector Graphics

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What Does Scalable Vector Graphics Mean?

Scalable vector graphics (SVG) is a text-based graphics language that illustrates images with text, vector shapes and embedded raster graphics. SVG files are lightweight and present top-notch graphics in print, on the Web and on resource-constrained handheld devices. In addition, SVG supports animation and scripting. As a result, it is ideally suited for data-driven, interactive and personalized graphics. The SVG is an open standard specification that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been developing since 1999.


Techopedia Explains Scalable Vector Graphics

SVG is commonly used to describe vector-based graphics, mainly for the Internet. Vector images are developed using text-based commands formatted to abide by XML specifications. As opposed to GIF and JPEG images, which are bitmapped and non-scalable, the size of SVG images can be adjusted to the size of the window for displaying the image. SVG is recommended by W3C.

Since SVG are XML files, SVG images can be developed and edited with any kind of text editor. Flash is the key competitor of SVG. The greatest advantage SVG has over Flash is its compliance with various other standards, such as XSL and DOM.

Some of the advantages of SVG images include:

  • Compact compared to bitmapped graphics like JPEG and GIF files
  • Can be searched, scripted, indexed and compressed
  • Can be linked to various parts of a graphic
  • Scalable
  • Independent of resolution, so the image can be scaled up or down to match the display of all sizes on all kinds of Web devices
  • Every attribute and every element in SVG files can be animated
  • Image quality remains intact even if the images are resized or zoomed

Most modern Web browsers support SVG and are able to directly render markup, which includes Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.