SVG is an important file format for graphics on Wikipedia and is used in thousands of science articles. And this also the underlying software libRSVG has many problems with rendering SVG even the article about force in german (de:Kraft) is affected.
The issue arises since libRSVG was programmed by the Gnome Project to render scalabe icons for their desktop environment. Graphics that contain text was not a goal and activities around libRSVG are limited to maintenance today. Because of that important features required for usage inside Wikipedia are buggy or missing. Some bug reports and feature requests by our community are undone since nearly ten years. A test of my own showed that fixing an issue often takes only few days (see T7792: rsvg does not render baseline-shift correctly (<percentage> and <length>)
SVG is important to Wikipedia but without our intervention the underlying software stays error prone.
Another big example...
The file on the right is used by en:Gas tungsten arc welding and in many more languages and even translated. It provoked bug described by task T97758: SVG rendering with marker-element is different between librsvg and Inkscape. Due to its long endurance on Wikipidia it has been shown to our readers many million times. (A workaround has been applied to render it correctly recently.)
To get an overview about the importance of a file format some statistic is useful. Based on database dump dewiki-20150302-pages-articles.xml.bz2 of german language Wikipedia the following estimation can be done. (Only short evaluation about systematic errors has been done.)
PNG: 92k (similar scope as SVG)
JPG: 1104k (mostly pictures)
GIF: 10k (similar scope as SVG)
Results have been gained with Linux tool en:grep. To change to another file format adapt the following command line call. date && grep -o -E "(gif|GIF)\|(thumb|mini)" ./dewiki-latest-pages-articles.xml | wc -w && date (Only counts images that are embedded as thumb preview and not e. g. all the small flags in sport statistics.)
Which users would benefit?
Everybody who is researching scientific or technical information on Wikipedia of any language will benefit. SVG is the preferred file format for high quality science graphics.
It will increase participation because less errors in SVG rendering removes pitfalls for authors without experience in the limitations of libRSVG. As consequence less distraction is created and new authors keep contributing.
This also increases quality because less errors in SVG renderer switches focus from workarounds to content. SVG simplifies re-usage and translation of content and high quality graphics can be share across languages. Thus improving and promoting SVG pushes quality.
How is this problem being handled now?
The SVG renderer libRSVG is part of the Gnome Project. Although it is not in the focus of the Gnome community as it does its job for their purposes. The Maintainer of libRSVG is Federico Mena Quintero. He maintains libRSVG in his spare time.
What are the proposed solutions?
Fix around eight to ten bugs that are especially important for usage of SVG on Wikipedia. Fixing only a few simple bugs would reduce the pain greatly. I expect this to require four weeks of work for fixing bugs, test them and manage software release. (In case fixing libRSVG code is beyond the capabilities of the Tech Team at least managing existing patches would be helpful.)
- Menner (talk) 20:04, 9 November 2015 (UTC) I'll support selecting bugs, mastering libRSVG code and software release, too.
This card tracks a proposal from the 2015 Community Wishlist Survey: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2015_Community_Wishlist_Survey
This proposal received 46 support votes, and was ranked #17 out of 107 proposals. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2015_Community_Wishlist_Survey/Multimedia#Improve_SVG_rendering