Wikipedia:SVG help

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SVG help

Scalable vector graphics is a commonly used file format for providing a geometrical description of an image using basic objects such as labels, circles, lines, curves and polygons. An image can be reduced or enlarged to an arbitrary size, and will not suffer image data loss, nor will it become pixelated. SVG makes an excellent format for artwork, diagrams and drawings. SVG images are defined in XML text files. This means that they can be searched, indexed, scripted and, compressed. Since they are XML files, SVG images can be edited with any text editor, but SVG-based drawing programs are also available.

However, the rendering engine used by wiki is not perfect, and may cause the image to be shown incorrectly, or differently from how it is displayed in your vector editor of choice. This page enables authors experiencing problems with SVG graphics to obtain some help in getting their images into wiki the way they intend.

Things we can help with

Understanding SVG

  • Questions about the SVG format

Using SVG appropriately

  • When to (or not to) use SVG

What you see is not what you get

  • Missing objects from files
  • Random filled boxes in the image
  • Images that are the wrong size
  • Font inconsistencies
  • Other weird and wonderful bugs

Something new

  • Questions that you can't find a better place for

Common problems[edit]

flowRoot does not appear[edit]

a picture containing SVG1.2-valid flowRoot

If black box appear, read c:User:JoKalliauer/RepairFlowRoot how to solve this issue, but do not remove those objects since they might contain text. The workarounds that one can employ are either not to use flowed text (by using the text tool without creating a text field), or convert the text to normal text (by Text-editor or sed-comand, or with Inkscape-GUI or with a Inkscape-batch), but to stroke the text using "object to path", since path-text is not recomended and increases file-size.

font-family issues[edit]

Rendering anomalies of small fonts in thumbnail views
Fallback fonts

Due to copyright restrictions, MediaWiki cannot use proprietary fonts that are commonly found on several proprietary operating systems. Fonts such as Geneva require licensing fees to distribute. rsvg will not be able to locate such fonts, and the text will fail to appear in the rendered image. There are three solutions to this issue:

  • One can substitute a font that is available on Wikipedia. This approach facilitates editability.
  • One can specify a generic font-family such as "sans-serif", "serif", or "monospace", but this can lead to inconsistent rendering. It is better to specify a font available on Wikipedia (such as Liberation Sans) with fallback fonts such as: font-family="Liberation Sans,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif", in which you define a font-list with similar fonts that at least contain one font for each Operating System such as Wikimedia (e.g. Liberation Sans), Windows (e.g. Arial), Linux (e.g. Liberation Sans), Mac (e.g. Helvetica).
  • Since local rendering should be as close as possible to Wikipedia, it should use locally the same font as it will have on Wikipedia, if available. Therefore always define a Wikimedia-font first. Also, Wikimedia has synonyms for substituting fonts, such as "Arial" for "Liberation Sans"; therefore font-family="Arial,DejaVu Sans" will be rendered by "Liberation Sans" and not (as expected) by "DejaVu Sans". (This is because "Liberation Sans" has the same letter size as "Arial" [metric-compatible], so it is less likely to mess up the text flow.)
  • Converting the text into paths increases file size, and is therefore generally disfavored (except for text logos, etc.).
  • Group the text, create a copy, and convert the copy to paths. Then either:
    1. move the original, editable non-path text into a separate editable text layer that you make transparent (warning: this might be removed by SVG optimizers), or
    2. move the original, editable non-path text outside the visible area (example: File:Essigsäuresynthesen.svg).

For ease of subsequent editing and significantly smaller file sizes, substituting the font with an available font is recommended. Many common fonts have non-proprietary alternatives that are similar in typographical style, resulting in minimal disruption to existing images during substitution. For a list of fonts available in Wikipedia, see available fonts on Meta.

Wikimedia has default fonts, and will use Liberation Serif for Times New Roman and Liberation Sans for Arial. For further fallbacks see c:Help:SVG#fallback.

Fonts that are available on Wikimedia servers may or may not be available on a visitor's machine. If the placement or appearance of text in the image is important and there is uncertainty about which fonts are installed on a visitor's machine, then converting text into path information may be necessary.

bad letter-alignment on small font-size[edit]

Librsvg calculates the letter-distances inaccurantly for font-sizes of 20px and below.

For a text like

<svg viewBox="0 0 100 100" xmlns="">
 <text x="20" y="30" font-size="5px">exampletext</text>

you can replace it with:

<svg viewBox="0 0 1000 1000" xmlns="">
 <text x="200" y="300" font-size="50px">exampletext</text>

or with

<svg viewBox="0 0 100 100" xmlns="">
 <g transform="scale(0.1)"><text x="200" y="300" font-size="50px">exampletext</text></g>

Missing embedded JPEG images[edit]

Normal image
Broken image

When a raster graphic is embedded in an SVG it is encoded into base64 data. That data is then assigned a MIME type in the <image> element. In the case of an embedded JPEG, the MIME type is "image/jpeg". Older versions of Inkscape (and possibly other editors) assigned the MIME type "image/jpg". While Inkscape and most web browsers will display such an SVG image just fine, the MediaWiki software that rasterizes the SVG file will have trouble with it. Not recognizing the MIME type "image/jpg" there will simply be an empty space where the image is supposed to be. The fix is to open the SVG file in a text editor, find the <image> element, locate "image/jpg", change it to "image/jpeg" and re-save. At right is an example of this problem. The Commons SVG Checker looks for this problem; see Commons:Commons:Commons SVG Checker/KnownBugs#Checks for details.

arc flags[edit]

If circle-segmentes are distorted it is often due to reduced spaces between arc-to-flags, see phab:T217990 for details.

Further issues[edit]

Further issues can be found at c:Librsvg_bugs or at Commons:Commons:Commons SVG Checker/KnownBugs, and examples can be found at c:Category:Pictures_demonstrating_a_librsvg_bug. However most issues (for files <1MB) can be fixed using (enable "run svgcleaner" and enable "run scour" before clicking convert), for a more detailed list check c:User:SVGWorkaroundBot.

Rendering files[edit]

MediaWiki (the software from which Wikipedia is run) uses the librsvg-library to rasterize all of its svg files. The version of the rsvg program that is installed on wiki does not always correctly raster the Inkscape or SVG files, and does not recognize some formats in text-editor SVG files. The file manager GNOME Files or c:Commons:Commons_SVG_Checker relies on librsvg, so it can be used to check the quality before a SVG is uploaded.

Rendering Inkscape files[edit]

There is a simple work-around for the scarcities of librsvg. The operation "Stroke to Path", to be found under Menu>Path in Inkscape or via Ctrl+Alt+C, can be applied to all of the objects that are not rendered correctly. To keep the SVGs editable, this should only be done to the files intended for upload, and these files can be deleted afterwards.

As of February 2014, the objects that must be modified to render correctly by librsvg include:

  • Lines with arrow heads (the arrows need to be converted)
  • Text, that has been transformed, e.g. "Text on Path"
  • Compound objects created with the binary path tools (union, intersect etc.)

Rendering SVG files[edit] SVG files may require manual modification before being uploaded to Wikipedia. To achieve this:

  • Change all fonts to Wikipedia supported fonts as mentioned before. (E.g. change "Sans embedded" to "DejaVu Sans".)
  • Add "px" to all font-size references. (E.g. change "font-size:100" to "font-size:100px".)
  • Remove all additional x coordinate references in tspan elements. (E.g. change <tspan x="17583 17917 " y="10943"> to <tspan x="17583" y="10943">.)
  • [Not required for OO 2.3.0] Explicitly colour all text (e.g. black) by replacing relevant "stroke:none;fill:none" instances with "stroke:none;fill:rgb(0,0,0)" (note that simply explicitly colouring text black in OpenOffice 3.2.1 does not appear to work).

NB: Vector graphics line widths may also need to be set explicitly in Draw.

SVG code replacement guide (executing replace all using Nedit regular expressions)[edit]
Original text Replacement text
Sans embedded DejaVu Sans
tspan x="([0-9]*) ([0-9 ]*)" tspan x="\1"

This SVG export procedure has been tested using OO 2.3.0 and OO 3.2.1 with a simple .odg candidate.

Rendering text-editor SVG files[edit]

SVG files created from scratch in a text editor may make use of any valid SVG syntax, so long as your browser supports the given version of the SVG specification. On Wikipedia however, SVGs are interpreted by the librsvg-library to create PNG previews at different image sizes. That library only recognizes a subset of all valid SVG syntax, and may render your SVG without many features. In order to bypass these deficiencies in the library, there are certain parameters that need to be formatted in specific ways or be assigned a workaround value in order for librsvg to accurately render views of your SVG file.

<mask> parameter maskUnits="userSpaceOnUse"[edit]

The librsvg-library does not interpret the value of "userSpaceOnUse" for the parameter maskUnits correctly. To bypass this issue, replace maskUnits="userSpaceOnUse" with maskUnits="-10% -10% 120% 120%", and the SVG mask will render properly on Wikipedia.

parameter stroke-dasharray[edit]

The librsvg-library does not accept a stroke-dasharray parameter with values separated by spaces. Replace all spaces with commas to bypass this issue: e.g. stroke-dasharray="2 3 2 4"stroke-dasharray="2,3,2,4"


If you have a tricky SVG file with a problem not described, or can't quite figure out what the previous section was talking about, you can simply ask for assistance by posting a quick note hereafter that outlines the problem, as well as providing links to the files that are exhibiting these problems. Don't forget to sign your name with four tilde symbols (~~~~) and an editor will attempt to reply here to help!

When you are happy that a request has been fulfilled, just leave a note so that the request can be archived later, as needed.

An alternative source of help is Commons:Graphics village pump.

Current requests[edit]

Create a new request

Why does this file keep rendering fully transparent?[edit]

File File:Infinite Discs logo BW.svg looks fine in the browser, but it always renders as a transparent rectangle on Mediawiki. What am I missing? - Iketsi (talk) 19:54, 6 January 2021 (UTC)

? It shows up fine for me when using the en.Wikipedia sandbox.
I don't know if this is the problem you're talking about, but: it has often been a problem looking at the PNG link of images having black text on transparent background, that Chrome renders the background black so you can't distinguish the text from the background. That is: clicking on one of "This image rendered as PNG in other widths: 200px, 500px, 1000px, 2000px" shows (on Chrome) a nearly totally black screen at I don't think there is a solution to this issue (if this is the issue you're having, sorry). —RCraig09 (talk) 22:09, 6 January 2021 (UTC)
No, my issue was that the logo generated as a purely transparent image. What's odd is that in the file preview before uploading, it was rendering fine. In the file history, you can still see the issue with 8 previous versions. I ultimately fixed it by correcting the viewBox (the fourth number was NaN for some reason). - Iketsi (talk) 23:23, 6 January 2021 (UTC)
Resolved. —RCraig09 (talk) 23:36, 6 January 2021 (UTC)
@Iketsi: The image shown in the file preview before uploading is a true SVG that is rendered by your browser. The image shown on the file description page is a PNG that has been produced by putting the SVG through librsvg, as are the various images reached via the "This image rendered as PNG in other widths" links. On Wikipedia, after uploading, you can only see the file as a true SVG either by following the "Original file" link, or by clicking the image shown on the file description page. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 23:57, 6 January 2021 (UTC)
@Redrose64:Thanks. The browser is more tolerant of irregularities than librsvg, so that explains the discrepancy in appearance between the preview before uploading and the uploaded result. But how come the early SVG files passed as valid in spite of a non-numeric viewBox value? - Iketsi (talk) 01:17, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
@Iketsi: Glad you managed to fix the problem. Librsvg has many known bugs. If you find any others, please feel free to add them to the page. Thanks, cmɢʟeeτaʟκ 02:31, 9 January 2021 (UTC)

librsvg cutting off bottom of image[edit]

Hi. Does anyone know why librsvg is cutting off the very bottom of Wikipedia's PNG version of File:CCEA (Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment) logo.svg (as seen in the infobox of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment page)? The PNGs at other sizes do not have the problem. Is there a workaround for this? – Green Tentacle (talk) 20:14, 9 January 2021 (UTC)

They look the same to me. What part is cut off? Have you tried a WP:BYPASS? --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 21:10, 9 January 2021 (UTC)
On both instances of the letter g, the tail is cut off at the very bottom. I've tried WP:BYPASS and viewing on different browsers and devices. The PNG always looks the same. – Green Tentacle (talk) 21:43, 9 January 2021 (UTC)
Other than the "w" and "L", the letters along the bottom are drawn by means of <path /> elements, where the d= attributes specify the centre-line for the component lines and arcs that make up each letter. These centre-lines are then stroked (thickened up) to become visible. Part of the problem is that the thickness of the lines is unspecified - that is, there are no explicit stroke-width= attributes, so a default value is used.
The two letter "g" are drawn by the first and eighth <path /> elements - that is, the ones where the d= attribute begins with the commands M171.35,91.61 and M93.29,91.61. A little after half-way through each d= attribute are the commands a5.08,5.08,0,0,1-1.72,3,5,5,0,0,1-3.24,1,7.43,7.43,0,0,1-1.51-.17,4.75,4.75,0,0,1-1.34-.49 and a5.08,5.08,0,0,1-1.72,3,5,5,0,0,1-3.24,1,7.51,7.51,0,0,1-1.51-.17,4.87,4.87,0,0,1-1.34-.49 - these specify the descenders using four elliptical arcs each. The second and third arc in each one dip right down almost to the bottom edge of the viewport, so that when the line is stroked part of the line's thickness may be outside the viewport. You either need to extend the viewport downwards, or redraw the descenders. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 00:36, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
Hi. Thanks for your very clear explanation of what is happening. As you can probably tell by the fact the image is a logo, I didn't make the image and in fact extracted it from a PDF. I decided the easiest way to tackle this (seeing as it's slightly beyond the edge of my SVG knowledge) was to go back to the PDF and extract the image again, this time fiddling with some settings (like outlines) and exporting in a different method. I wasn't optimistic, as the preview in Wikipedia's upload page still showed the bottom of the image being cut off, but I tried anyway and happily the image now displays correctly in all sizes of the PNG preview. Thank you so much for your help. – Green Tentacle (talk) 19:47, 10 January 2021 (UTC)

Text misaligned not because of the usual reasons[edit]

Labels in the bottom figure are misaligned

Hi experts!

I wonder if anyone here knows why the labels in the bottom figure are misaligned. The font size is a reasonable 28px and it inherits text-anchor:end from the main class. It is because the transform="... scale(20)" is too large a scale?

cmɢʟeeτaʟκ 14:44, 24 January 2021 (UTC)

@Cmglee: I don't understand the bug, but changing width="100%" height="100%" to width="1065.6" height="1894.4" seems to help. I think it is related to phab:T35245  — Johannes Kalliauer - contrib. 15:53, 24 January 2021 (UTC)
Many thanks, @JoKalliauer: looks great now! phab:T35245 seems quite vague. I'll add it to the list of problematic images. Cheers, cmɢʟeeτaʟκ 20:27, 24 January 2021 (UTC)