The World Wide Web Consortium has issued its official recommendation for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.0.

The move means cross-industry agreement on the standard has finally been established. Based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), SVG extends the reach of that standard to let users create 2D vector graphics. W3C support also confirms the stability and interoperability of the new standard.

SVG can display vector-based graphics on a range of different devices and printer resolutions. It supports animation and interactivity, and is based on XML.

Vector revolution Vector graphics are images rendered by computers from a set of geometric descriptions, rather than bitmapped image data types, such as JPEG or GIF. As vector graphics are descriptions of the data, rather than the images themselves, they are very small files suitable for low bandwidth connections. Because they are descriptive files they can be resized to fit the displays on a variety of Internet-capable appliances – for example, handheld organizers.

W3C director and founder of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee said: "With SVG, Web graphics move firmly from mere decoration to true graphical information. Scalable Vector Graphics are the key to providing rich, reusable visual content for the Web.

"At last, designers have the open graphics format they need to make professional graphics not only work visually on the Web, but perform as searchable, reusable Web content," he said.

XML is a universal format for document and data interchange on the Web, and, in combination with SVG, means vector graphics can be used, exported and re-used in the same way as other online content that integrates XML.

Key players involved in creating tools for online publishing, including Quark, Macromedia and Adobe.

SVG combined with other XML grammars offers plenty of potential uses. It can deliver multimedia applications, or provide rendering capability for interactive charts or business-process visualization.

The pool of drawing tools able to export to SVG 1.0 is ever-growing. Viewer support is increasing, and, with the seal placed on the standard, it's likely that online audiences will experience increasing numbers of database-driven, dynamically created graphics.

Companies that contributed to the standard include: Adobe, Apple, Canon, Corel, Eastman Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Macromedia and Quark.