Choosing The Right File Format/Vector Graphics

Single layer images


Another application of 2D vector graphics are for images where the image itself is the final product. Commercial products doing this are Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Flash.

Adobe uses their proprietary format AI (standing for 'Adobe Illustrator', one of their products.) Movement is being made on a platform and product independent format called SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). The SVG format has much of the functionality of Macromedia's SWF format plus many others, including the ability to be searched for text by search engines. Although at the time of writing this article SVG was not a mainstream format, its use is growing and it seems likely to become a standard in wide use [2]. Development of the SVG format are carried out by the W3C and at present SVG version 1.0 is a W3C Recommendation.

Multiple layer images


For print shops and graphic designer it is often necessary to store the original working files. These may contain many layers of different images, as well as some record of previous changes made to the file.

The main players in this field are the PhotoShop Document (.psd) format and Corel PhotoPaint. The main OpenSource rival is GIMP Image File (.xcf) format. Because Gimp is an open source application the potential for its format becoming unreadable is low, however the two applications should not really be directly be compared.

TODO: Research availability and licensing of .psd and .xcf format specifications

Adobe Acrobat Reader includes support for SVG, Adobe also has a standalone SVG viewer which can be imbedded easily into internet explorer browsers.


  • Do not use vector graphics to store important information unless unavoidable.
  • Keep original files on CD with copies in SVG format. Keep paper copies.