The Disadvantages of Scalable Vector Graphics

By Sue Smith

With Scalable Vector Graphics, you can define images to display within digital contexts such as Web pages. SVG images are an alternative to commonly used image formats such as JPEG and PNG for displaying graphics in websites. You can create an SVG image using a text editor, defining the shapes in the image using markup code structures. There are many advantages to using SVG, but also a few potential disadvantages, depending on the project concerned.

Complex Development

One of the primary disadvantages to using SVG is the complexity involved in creating SVG code, which is structured in XML. Although anyone with a basic text editor program can create an SVG image file, the markup structures involved can be complex, producing lengthy code which can then be difficult to troubleshoot for errors. While any developer or designer with markup experience such as HTML can learn to create SVGs, the required syntax can be a deterrent because a simple shape can often require many lines of code.

Lack of Information

Coupled with the level of complexity involved in SVG authoring, the relative lack of reliable information on the subject is another potential disadvantage. You can find lots of educational information on the Web on most of the well-used Web languages such as HTML and XML, making the process of learning these languages accessible to anyone. With SVG, however, there is less material online for learning the language and for determining the level of browser support for any particular structure you are considering.

Limited Authoring Tools

Although you can create SVG files in a text editor, for many developers and designers this is too labor-intensive and therefore time-consuming a process to engage in as part of a busy working day. Although authoring tools are available for SVG, there are many more options for developing the alternative image formats. Many of the available software tools for these other formats allow you to create image components graphically rather than entirely in code, which can be a considerable time-saver when preparing images for Web publication.

Variable Browser Support

The level of browser support for AVG elements varies enormously between different browser programs and even between versions of the same browser. The process of choosing SVG elements for optimum browser support can therefore involve significant research. Once you have prepared an SVG image, you also need to carry out substantial testing in different browsers to ensure it will appear and function correctly for as wide a range of users as possible. Enhanced SVG aspects such as animation and interaction have an even poorer level of browser support than the main image elements, making the format less well-suited to game components. If an SVG image becomes lengthy or complex, it may also render slowly in the browser.