Yet another way to load SVG sprite

During our experiments with inlining SVG icons at our company, we discovered that browsers responded to linking SVG set into a page differently. However, we would like to have a universal and stable method, which works in all the browsers with support SVG.

Trials and errors led us to this scenario: to some variable in a variable in JavaScript.

  1. Add the JavaScript file in the bundle of all JavaScript files. Then, link this bundle in <head> section.
  2. Before the first usage of SVG add an empty element (placeholder) and insert the content of SVG-string here.

Thus, we achieved the caching of SVG pictograms similar to how it happens to other static files. Also, we overcame a problem of linking an external SVG file in IE.

I'll describe our steps in details.

Converting SVG into JavaScript

This is a perfect task for Grunt.

grunt.registerTask('elements', 'Transform a SVG sprites to a JS file',
  function () {
    var LINE_LENGTH = 100, svg = [], i, l, content;

    content ='assets/images/elements.svg');
    content = content.replace(/'/g, "\\'");
    content = content.replace(/>\s+<").trim();
    l = Math.ceil(content.length / LINE_LENGTH);

    for (i = 0; i < l; i++) {
      svg.push("'" + content.substr(i * LINE_LENGTH, LINE_LENGTH) + "'");

      'var SVG_SPRITE = ' + svg.join('+\n') + ';');

This code transforms assets/images/elements.svg into assets/_/js/elements.js file.


The elements.js file should be linked in <head> section. Sure, you've got few more scripts to be loaded at the beginning of the page. You can bundle them to decrease the amount of HTTP requests to the server.

Adding on page

It is important for sprites to be inserted on the page before their first usage. So, let's add an empty placeholder element.

<div id="elements-placeholder"
  style="border: 0; clip: rect(0 0 0 0); overflow: hidden;
    margin: -1px; padding: 0; position: absolute;
    width: 1px; height: 1px;"></div>

You need a placeholder to safely modify DOM tree in the loading process. It has to have a unique id. I included some inline styles to prevent broken image effect in case if countors accidentally turn up outside of <defs>.

Fill the placeholder:

<script>document.getElementById("elements-placeholder").innerHTML = SVG_SPRITE;


  1. In my case, to ease the building a JS file, I assume the creation of a global variable SVG_SPRITE. However, to espace the pollution of global context, I suggest saving the SVG string into the application namespace. See more at module approach page.
  2. File names are hard coded in my Grunt task. It makes sense to re-write it as a configurable process, especially if you have a range of SVG sets in your project.


We've got a template project at our company's GitHub. You can check it out to get detailed overview of this method.