SVG 2 – 28 August 2012 TopContentsPreviousNextElementsAttributesProperties

Chapter 21: Metadata


21.1. Introduction

Metadata is structured data about data.

In the computing industry, there are ongoing standardization efforts towards metadata with the goal of promoting industry interoperability and efficiency. Content creators should track these developments and include appropriate metadata in their SVG content which conforms to these various metadata standards as they emerge.

The W3C has a Semantic Web Activity which has been established to serve a leadership role, in both the design of enabling specifications and the open, collaborative development of technologies that support the automation, integration and reuse of data across various applications. The Semantic Web Activity builds upon the earlier W3C Metadata Activity, including the definition of Resource Description Framework (RDF). The RDF Primer is the first in a set of six documents that define the Resource Description Framework [RDF-PRIMER].

Another activity relevant to most applications of metadata is the Dublin Core [DCORE], which is a set of generally applicable core metadata properties (e.g., Title, Creator/Author, Subject, Description, etc.).

Individual industries or individual content creators are free to define their own metadata schema but are encouraged to follow existing metadata standards and use standard metadata schema wherever possible to promote interchange and interoperability. If a particular standard metadata schema does not meet your needs, then it is usually better to define an additional metadata schema in an existing framework such as RDF and to use custom metadata schema in combination with standard metadata schema, rather than totally ignore the standard schema.

21.2. The ‘metadata’ element

Metadata which is included with SVG content should be specified within metadata elements. The contents of the metadata should be elements from other XML namespaces, with these elements from these namespaces expressed in a manner conforming with the Namespaces in XML Recommendation [XML-NS].

Authors should provide a metadata child element to the outermost svg element within a stand-alone SVG document. The metadata child element to an svg element serves the purposes of identifying document-level metadata.

The definitions of many of SVG's elements (particularly, container and text elements) place no restriction on the placement or number of the metadata sub-elements. This flexibility is only present so that there will be a consistent content model for container elements, because some container elements in SVG allow for mixed content, and because the mixed content rules for XML ([XML10], section 3.2.2) do not permit the desired restrictions. Future versions of the SVG language might provide more restrictive mixed content rules. It is strongly recommended that at most one metadata element appear as a child of any particular element, and that this element appear before any other child elements (except possibly desc or title elements) or character data content. If metadata-processing user agents need to choose among multiple metadata elements for processing it should choose the first one.

Descriptive element
Content model:
Any elements or character data.
DOM Interfaces:

21.3. An example

Here is an example of how metadata can be included in an SVG document. The example uses the Dublin Core version 1.1 schema. (Other XML-compatible metadata languages, including ones not based on RDF, can be used also.)

<?xml version="1.0" standalone="yes"?>
<svg width="4in" height="3in" version="1.1"
    xmlns = ''>
    <desc xmlns:myfoo="">
      <myfoo:title>This is a financial report</myfoo:title>
      <myfoo:descr>The global description uses markup from the
        <myfoo:emph>myfoo</myfoo:emph> namespace.</myfoo:descr>
      <myfoo:scene><myfoo:what>widget $growth</myfoo:what>
      <myfoo:contains>$three $graph-bar</myfoo:contains>
        <myfoo:when>1998 $through 2000</myfoo:when> </myfoo:scene>
           xmlns:rdf = ""
           xmlns:rdfs = ""
           xmlns:dc = "" >
        <rdf:Description about=""
             dc:title="MyFoo Financial Report"
             dc:description="$three $bar $thousands $dollars $from 1998 $through 2000"
             dc:publisher="Example Organization"
             dc:language="en" >
              <rdf:li>Irving Bird</rdf:li>
              <rdf:li>Mary Lambert</rdf:li>

21.4. DOM interfaces

21.4.1. Interface SVGMetadataElement

The SVGMetadataElement interface corresponds to the metadata element.
interface SVGMetadataElement : SVGElement {
SVG 2 – 28 August 2012 TopContentsPreviousNextElementsAttributesProperties