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Fonts & Encodings by Yannis Haralambous

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10.3. The SVG Format

SVG is the acronym of Scalable Vector Graphics, a name that is quite ill chosen, being as it is redundant. Specifically, scalable and vector mean exactly the same thing: that the images can be scaled because they are mathematically abstract objects such as straight lines, curves, circles, rectangles, polygons, etc.

The notion of a "vector image" has existed for a long time in the world of industrial design; it is thanks to software such as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw that "vector design" is, and has been for a good decade, within the reach of the public.

Apart from the redundancy of its name, SVG holds nothing but pleasant surprises in store for us. The most important of these: it is a W3C standard based entirely on XML. That is an enormous advantage:

  • First, because SVG's vector images become human-readable and human-editable documents. There are no more secrets, no more mysterious proprietary file formats, no more "black boxes". Which also means that an SVG image placed on the Web can be indexed like any web page.

  • Next, because all XML tools and technologies can also process SVG vector images. For instance, if one wishes to generate or transform SVG images, there is no more need to reinvent the wheel and write tools to do the job; tools already exist, and one need only tell them what to do.

  • Images become hierarchical objects; in particular, they can be composed of several parts and/or layers, each of which is an SVG image in itself. Moreover, SVG manages ...

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