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Vector File Extensions

Throughout long history of vector computer graphics different file formats and file extensions were used to store vector-based content. If you plan to work with vector graphics, it is important to know what file formats could be used to store it and what are the differences between them. We will only look through most popular vector formats here since they will cover most of the use cases for someone working with vector graphics.

PDF files

PDF file format is probably the most popular vector graphics formats at the moment. PDF was developed by Adobe in 1993 and was initially used for desktop publishing purposes. It became very popular with advent of the internet because it allowed distribution of print ready documents online. Release of free Adobe Acrobat Reader software for different operating systems also was a significant factor in a growth of PDF popularity. PDF file format is available for download online and applications which work with PDF could be developed free of royalties.

SVG files

SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics is an XML-based vector file format. Similar to PDF its spec is also available online free of royalties. Anyone can used SVG format in their applications free of charge. That make SVG one of the leading vector image formats.

SVG has a special mobile version with limited feature set targeted specifically at mobile vector graphics needs. SVG file is uncompressed but SVGZ file format could be used which stores SVG data compressed using gzip compression.

EPS and PS files

EPS and PS file formats allow storing vector graphics information in instructions natively understandable by printers. PS or Postscript language was introduced as a programming language for laser printers and is capable of representing very complex document in a way which could be fed into laser printer without additional modifications.

CDR files

CDR files are produced by CorelDRAW software which is one of the most popular vector graphics editing applications.

AI files

AI files are used by Adobe Illustrator which is a very popular application for creation and editing of vector graphics.