Why does my SVG become invisible when used as a sprite with <use> and <symbol> tags?

Why the SVG is not visible when I try to use it as a sprite within and tags. The SVG seems to disappear or fails to render in this particular setup. Could you provide some insight into why an SVG might not display when used as a sprite with and ? Are there specific considerations or common mistakes that might lead to this problem? I’m looking for guidance on how to effectively use SVGs as sprites in this manner and ensure they remain visible and render correctly.

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When an SVG becomes invisible while being used as a sprite with tags, there are several key areas that you must focus on. The primary function of these tags is to define SVG graphics that can be reused with the tag. If the SVG is not displaying, the cause could be anything from incorrect attribute settings to CSS conflicts.

Let us explore some common reasons with an example:

Incorrect viewBox Attribute: The viewBox attribute defines the coordinate system for the SVG. If this is not set correctly, the SVG might not render within the visible area.

For example:

<svg style="display: none;">
  <symbol id="icon" viewBox="0 0 24 24">
    <!-- SVG content here -->
<svg><use href="#icon" /></svg>

Ensure that the viewBox coordinates and dimensions match the content of your SVG.

  • CSS and Styling Issues: CSS can inadvertently hide your SVG. For example, if there’s a global CSS rule like svg { display: none; }, it can affect your sprite’s visibility. Ensure no conflicting CSS rules are applied to your SVG elements.

  • Incorrect References in the Tag: The href (or xlink:href for older SVG versions) in your tag must correctly reference the id of your. Any typo or incorrect ID will result in the SVG not displaying.

  • Browser Support and Compatibility: While most modern browsers support SVG sprites, there can be inconsistencies. Always test your SVGs across different browsers.

  • Nested Transformations: Complex transformations within your SVG or applied to the tag can cause rendering issues. Simplify transformations to test if this is the cause.

  • DOM Conflicts: Other DOM elements, especially with higher z-index values, can overlay your SVG, making it seem invisible.

Here’s an example of a simple SVG sprite setup:

<svg style="display: none;">
  <symbol id="example-icon" viewBox="0 0 100 100">
    <circle cx="50" cy="50" r="40" stroke="green" stroke-width="4" fill="yellow" />

<svg width="100px" height="100px">
  <use href="#example-icon"></use>

In this example, a yellow circle is defined within a symbol with the ID example-icon. It is then referenced and displayed using the tag. The viewBox attribute ensures that the entire circle is within the visible area.

If the circle does not appear, you should check:

  • Is the viewBox correctly set?
  • Are there any conflicting CSS rules?
  • Is the href attribute in the tag correctly pointing to #example-icon?
  • Are there any other HTML elements or CSS properties (like z-index) that might be obscuring the SVG?

By checking each of these points, you should be able to diagnose why the SVG sprite is not visible and correct the issue.

How do I ensure that the symbol element in my SVG sprite is accessible across different browsers?

To ensure cross-browser compatibility for SVG sprites using the symbol element, first, ensure your SVG code is standards-compliant. Use the xmlns attribute (xmlns=“SVG namespace”) in your SVG tag.

Or, you can use it for broader compatibility, especially with older versions of browsers. Testing across various browsers is crucial. Tools like BrowserStack can be useful for this purpose. Also, consider using a polyfill like svgxuse to address compatibility issues, especially for Internet Explorer.

Also, you can use CSS to style SVG sprites defined with the symbol tag. Styles can be applied directly within the SVG using a tag or externally. However, remember that some CSS properties might behave differently in SVG than in HTML. Properties like fill, stroke, and stroke-width are commonly used to style SVG paths. Additionally, CSS classes can be applied directly to the SVG elements and referenced in your external stylesheet. For example:

.red-fill { fill: red; }

<svg><use href="#icon" class="red-fill"></use></svg>

This will apply the red fill to the SVG sprite.

Let me know if you have more queries on it.

Thank you