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Vector Graphic Interchange Formats

Certain vector graphic formats are useful for exchange of data between various programs, because of the availability of conversion utilities and other kinds of application support. These include:


PostScript is a programming language for rendering vector graphics to printers and other raster output devices. It is not really a vector graphic file format per se, but when used in conjunction with an extendable PostScript interpreter you can substitute raster rendering with software that generates a specific vector graphic format instead. pstoedit is an example of such a use of Ghostscript.


Embedded PostScript (EPS) is a convention for adding comments to PostScript in a way that can be later retrieved by things other than a PostScript interpreter. One of the typical comments is "%%BoundingBox", which describes the boundary of the graphic in rendering coordinates, or "%%Creator" which describes what application generated the PostScript file.

The idraw drawing editor (from InterViews or ivtools) uses EPS as its native format.

You can directly embed EPS documents in a TeX document

Adobe Illustrator format (.ai)

This is the native format of Adobe's Illustrator program. It looks similar to, but is not PostScript.

PDF (Adobe's Portable Document Format)

This is the latest answer from Adobe for making PostScript-like documents portable across applications and environments. PDF incorporates information about fonts, colors, and screen resolutions used when the original document was created so these can be emulated as close as possible in different environments.


SVG is the XML extension for vector graphics. It supports all of the PostScript graphics model, plus other standards like CSS and DOM.

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