gridSVG is a package for R that turns a grid plot into an SVG image. Under the supervision of Dr. Paul Murrell I undertook both an honours project, and a Masters thesis developing gridSVG. A basic illustration of how gridSVG differs from the built-in SVG device is shown below.

Instead of using grDevices to create an SVG image for a grid plot, gridSVG creates the image directly.

The key advantage of using gridSVG is that new animated, interactive graphics can be produced more easily and transparently than by using the Cairo-based SVG device (see SVGAnnotation for an alternative approach that uses the SVG device). Because the lattice and ggplot2 packages use grid, gridSVG can add these features to plots produced by these packages. gridSVG only works with grid plots, to create animated and interactive plots from R’s base graphics engine see SVGAnnotation.


Here are a list of some key features that gridSVG is able to provide:

  • Animation (grid.animate())
  • Hyperlinking (grid.hyperlink())
  • Interactivity (via JavaScript), see grid.garnish() and grid.script()
  • SVG-specific features including:
    • Clipping paths (grid.clipPath())
    • Custom fonts (getSVGFonts() and setSVGFonts())
    • Gradients (grid.gradientFill())
    • Masking (grid.mask())
    • Patterns (grid.patternFill())
    • Filters, e.g. blurring, lighting effects, drop shadows. (grid.filter())
    • Custom elements, enabling content such as <foreignObject> elements to be included in a gridSVG image. (grid.element())



This documentation may lag behind the latest version and is not intended to be canonical. Use the documentation provided with the package for up to date documentation.

Some documentation of the behaviour of gridSVG is available below. This is provided to give visual demonstrations as well as functioning as documentation.


Demonstrations of the potential of gridSVG are linked below. A modern web browser is required to view these images. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari are all capable of viewing these examples. More recently, web browsers on Android and iOS have become capable of viewing the examples.

Further examples of gridSVG have been created as part of my Masters Thesis (see ‘Examples’ in the previous link). In particular these can be run via the sjpMScThesis package that is a companion package to my thesis. The key difference that these examples offer is that the content of the gridSVG image is being updated via an R web server, enabling reactive statistical graphics.