SVG stands for “Scalable Vector Graphics” in the domain of computer graphics. An SVG file is a computer file that displays an image using the World Wide Web Consortium’s SVG standard. Raster graphics are used by most image formats, such as JPG, PNG, and GIF, to show an image by storing a grid of pixels called a bitmap. The color and location of each pixel are saved in the file. When you enlarge a raster image beyond its original size, the image becomes jagged and blurry.
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SVG images, on the other hand, define an image using vector graphics. The image is saved mathematically as a series of instructions that inform a viewing program how to “create” the image on your screen in a vector graphics image. SVG files are resolution independent since the drawing can be done at any size. They can be scaled up or down without sacrificing sharpness or quality. SVG files, unlike raster graphics, may be scaled to any size without losing detail, resulting in exceptionally smooth graphics with a tiny file size. They’re also more future-proof than bitmap images because they may be scaled to higher resolutions without sacrificing quality in future screens.
SVG files can be seen in any current web browser. Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari are all included. So, if you have an SVG file that you can’t open with anything else, open your preferred browser, go to File > Open, and select the SVG file you want to see. It will open in a new tab on your browser. SVG is also a royalty-free open standard that may be included in viewing applications and browsers, thus application developers don’t have to pay anything to use it. SVG uses another open standard, XML, to represent two-dimensional graphics in a format that is easy to read and alter by programs.
Alternatively, you can convert an SVG file to a raster format that can be seen with standard picture viewing software using a free online converter. When you convert an SVG file to a raster format, such as PNG, you lose the flexibility to scale the image to different sizes while maintaining the same sharpness and detail.
You’ll need an SVG-compatible app to create or edit an SVG file. Adobe Illustrator, which is recognized for creating vector-based artwork, can load and save SVG files natively. Additionally, two free tools, Inkscape and GIMP, can save artwork in SVG format. Other programs that accept SVG, such as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, can be purchased as a plug-in, such as SVG Kit for Adobe Creative Suite. While competing vector graphics formats have been since the beginning of computer graphics, SVG’s widespread adoption and open nature ensure that this graphics standard will be around for a long time.