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What is an SVG file? Mr Beam explains

Today's World Wide Web would be inconceivable without SVG files. Although many webmasters use these files, many still do not understand their structure and function. We would like to show you what an SVG file is, where it is used and what advantages the format brings. We will also show you how to create an SVG file and what you should definitely pay attention to.

What is the SVG file format anyway?

As early as 2001, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommended the SVG format as the format with which two-dimensional vector graphics should be displayed on the web. However, the recommendation for the Scalable Vector Graphics format was clearly premature, since most web browsers were not able to read this format. You needed special plugins, so-called parsers, to be able to use an SVG file on the web.

Although an SVG file is a graphic, it is not based on pixels but on paths. This means SVG images can be animated, manipulated with HTML or CSS, and easily scaled. The blurred edges and blocks that you know from resizing image files are a thing of the past with an SVG file. Nevertheless, the format offers both advantages and disadvantages, which we would like to examine in more detail in the following article.

The SVG format had its full breakthrough in 2017, when the benefits of using SVG files with modern browsers became apparent. From this point on, the format became increasingly important, and today's web design would be unimaginable without it.

These are the most important SVG elements on the web

If you want to understand how versatile an SVG file is, it's important to look at it in action. The environment often clearly shows why the SVG file is superior to a pixel graphic.

Logos and icons on websites

Icons SVG file

Web designers are increasingly using SVG files in logos or to display icons on the pages themselves. Many of these graphics appear multiple times on the page in different sizes. Thanks to the SVG format and thus the vectors, the size can be changed easily and without loss of quality. Different image files do not have to be processed and stored.

Animations on the web

If you want to offer your users content, you have to present some content visually. In addition, animations can improve orientation on a website or make it more accessible. SVG files are very easy to animate, so that technical elements in particular can be brought into the picture better.

Infographics and illustrations accessible to search engines

Pixel graphics are only accessible to web crawlers if they are stored with extensive ALT text. However, if graphics and illustrations are created as SVG files, the crawlers can read the file without any problems. This also includes the keywords contained therein. Thus, not only does the file gain in importance, but the weighting of the evaluation of a page can also shift. Well-placed and sensibly integrated SVG images can have a significant impact on a page's ranking.

Vector graphics vs. pixel graphics

pixel graphics

Each SVG file is a so-called vector graphic. We have explained the exact difference to you in detail in our article on vector graphics. In short, a vector graphic is a graphic made up of mathematical formulas. Thus, it can be scaled at will, as the formulas define the position, shape, and colour of each element in relation to all the others. With pixel graphics, the individual pixels are defined with specific colour values. This can lead to shifts and similar phenomena when scaling.

SVG file compatibility on the web

While it was still necessary to provide individual parsers for the browsers in the early days of the format so that SVG files could be processed at all, the situation is different today. With the HTML5 standard, all major browsers are able and capable of correctly implementing and interpreting an SVG file. However, that still doesn't mean that there can't be any problems here. On the one hand, the interpretation of the file is taken over by the browser. If this browser is installed on a very old device - whether smartphone or computer, an SVG file that is too complex or too informative can lead to a sharp slowdown in loading speed.

The appropriate SVG editor and its functions

SVG file

In order to create SVG files or to edit them, you need a program that is able to create vector graphics. These make it easier to create such graphics, since the formulas do not have to be programmed manually. However, many of the editors generate code that is too bloated. The more complex the file, the greater the code overhead. It is therefore important to optimize the files. But first, let's see which editors are capable of creating or editing an SVG file:


  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Affinity designer
  • Inkscape
  • CorelDRAW
  • LibreOffice
  • Microsoft Vision
  • And many more


The editors often work like a normal graphics program. The vector graphics are created using paths, nodes, masks, shading and fills. The file is then created and output in XML only when it is output in SVG format. Alternatively, graphics on a raster or pixel basis can be converted using vectorization. However, manual post-processing is often necessary here.

The optimization of SVG files and their necessity

An SVG file is a collection of formulas. These must be read out by the browser, understood, and then converted into a graphic. Depending on the size and complexity of the file, it can put a heavy load on the computer. In order to ensure fast loading times, it is important to reduce the file size and optimize the SVG files in this regard. You can use different methods to do this.

The most effective method is to go through the entire SVG file and remove unnecessary comments and duplication. With this procedure, it is often possible to reduce the file size of a file by more than half. However, it is easier to do it automatically. With the free online tool you can automate this work. The tool reliably succeeds in noticeably reducing the file size of many SVG files. A helpful tool when complex SVG files need to be easily minimized.

The use of SVG files in everyday life

SVG files are used in a wide variety of areas. Even where we would hardly suspect it at first glance. Let's look at some examples where the SVG format is commonly used:

Logos and graphics on the web

Nowadays, SVG files are especially important for logos or recurring graphics, which are used in different sizes on the web. Thanks to the simple scalability, the resulting images are always available in the best quality.


Most modern fonts today are created as an SVG file. Because of this format, they can not only be created very easily, but also easily adapted if necessary.

Architects and engineers

Technical drawings must be extremely accurate. However, this also means that the files must be fully scalable if possible. Therefore, SVG files are the method of choice when architects or engineers communicate with each other based on image content.


In many print media, SVG files are always used where scalability of the source material is necessary. Among other things, the files play an important role in the printing of posters, magazines, banners or books. The simple scalability ensures consistently high quality across all formats.

Creative working

Laser cut SVG file

Regardless of whether it is for plotting, 3D printing or a laser machine, SVG files are also used everywhere, since the files can be adapted to the different sizes of the workpieces. So the designs created are the same in all sizes without any problems. Whether plotting a design for a t-shirt or working with Mr Beam, if you want to do a cutting job without the right SVG file, the result often leaves something to be desired. If you only use the Mr Beam for engraving, you can also use normal JPEG files.

Games and animations for websites and more

You can also use SVG files for animations and simple games. The limitations are usually in the size of the files, since a lot of storage space is required for complex games and content. Therefore, there are natural limits to the resources that can be used here.

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