Vector graphics: SVG is dead, long live TinyVG! #Graphics

xq needed vector graphics for a Zig project and figured that everyone including themselves uses SVG. Doing so xq learned that implementing a new SVG library is hard.

First of all, SVG is built on top of several other technologies:

  • XML
  • CSS
  • ECMAScript / JavaScript

For the purpose of static graphics, we can ignore the scripting portion of that. But even without that, implementing both a good XML and CSS parser is a lot of work.

Then SVG on top. SVG is so complex that different implementations of SVG disagree how an image should look. Especially if that image contains <text>, as it depends on the system.

XML is meant to be an authoring file for vector graphics like xcf or psd which contains not only the final graphic information, but also how that graphic is constructed piece by piece.

What is really needed is a format like PNG for vector graphics. Compact, versatile and simple to implement.

I created a new format called Tiny Vector Graphics or short TinyVG that tries to have 95% of the features we actually need from SVG (so shapes, colors, gradients, scalability) but not have all the things we typically don’t need (animations, scripting, external resources, hierarchical document structure, …).

Triggered by a discussion in the Zig discord, I started to work on TinyVG in September 2020 and in May 2021 I got it to a state where I could live with it and use it for things in other projects.

With this day, I release the first draft of the specification into the wild and open for review. With the reference implementation is done and the first draft of the specification written, you can already go and try TinyVG!

On the website, you can find the following things:

See more in this post and on the project website.

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