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SVG Colors, Patterns & Gradients by Kurt Cagle, Amelia Bellamy-Royds

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Chapter 5. Serving Paint

When the fill or stroke is more complicated than a single color (transparent or otherwise), SVG uses a concept called a paint server to describe how the graphic is rendered.

The paint servers are defined using their own SVG elements. Those elements—gradients and patterns—do not directly create any visible graphics. They are only used through the fill and stroke properties of shapes and text. However, by using XML markup to define the paint server, it can be infinitely variable: any SVG graphics can be used to generate an SVG pattern, including other patterns!

In contrast, when using CSS to style HTML content, all the information about how to paint an element must be contained within the CSS style rules. In CSS 2.1, the only way to create patterns was to reference external image files. Since then, CSS has introduced many graphical effects that were previously only possible with SVG, such as gradients and improved image positioning. Although the end result may look similar, the all-CSS syntax for these properties is quite different from their SVG equivalent. Throughout the rest of the book, the two approaches will be compared in “CSS Versus SVG” sidebars.

This chapter introduces the basic paint server model, and then demonstrates how it can be used in the simplest case, to serve up a single color of paint.

Paint and Wallpaper

A key feature of all SVG paint servers is that they generate a rectangular region of graphical content. This can be limiting at times, ...

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