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How to create a Symbian application icon (SVG)

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Reasons: ltomuta (08 Jun 2012)
Bad. Bad. Bad. Especially the parts about using raster images "converted" to SVG instead of tracing them.

This article shows how to create SVG icons used for the Symbian app icon, along with the tools required for it.

Article Metadata
Created: kiran10182 (30 Mar 2007)
Last edited: ltomuta (08 Jun 2012)


Create the SVG-Tiny files

There are at least five ways.

  1. The easiest way is to buy Adobe Illustrator CS2 to draw icons. Illustrator CS2 can save to SVG-Tiny format. It costs some money but it will save you a lot of time. If you're not great at drawing - there's a feature that will convert a photo to an SVG line drawing with color fills. So, make a photo of an object with your phone and have illustrator convert it to a line drawing.
  2. You can download a free editor named Inkscape. Inkscape saves to SVG format but not SVG-Tiny. You'll have to use the SVG2SVGT tool to convert the icon (found under S60Tools folder in SDK). But there's a problem. If you use certain draw object types then Inkscape will produce SVG code that will not work. Start with a very simple image such as a box - test it - and then add some details. (Inkscape is open source C++ so anyone of us could fix it to directly generate SVG-T for S60.)
  3. For a low cost SVG to SVG Tiny converter see SVG Pony that does a much better job than SVG2SVGT in the SDK. It works well with Inkscape generated images.
  4. A tool, SVG Converter, is available on Developer Nokia to convert SVG image to SVG Tiny.
  5. You can type an SVG file into a text editor. It's XML syntax.
  6. You can embed bitmap raster (PNG, JPEG) images in an SVG-Tiny file. You can do the conversion using the free tools Inkscape (see below) or image2svgt (Windows only).


  • An easy way to test your icon is to build the S60Ex\helloworldbasic example. Replace hellowworldbasic\gfx\qgn_menu_helloworldbasic.svg with your svg file. Test on a phone.
  • Make your icon on a 44x44 pixel canvas. This might not be necessary in some cases but it is not clear whether S60 will scale your icon in all the places it can be used.
  • Keep in mind that S60 caches icons between runs of your application - so sometimes when you update an icon you still see the previous version. You're not losing your mind - it's caching the icon. Try restarting the phone when updating icons.

Convert a Bitmap image to SVG file

  1. Install Inkscape drawing program and launch it.
  2. Click File > Open and open your PNG/JPEG file. Nokia devices also support BMP format, however SVG-Tiny standard only recommends PNG and JPEG formats.
  3. Click 'File > Save As and save as "Plain SVG".

The saved SVG file is directly usable as an SVG-Tiny file for use in Symbian application icon.

Convert SVG-Tiny files to Symbian mif file

You would find a tool called "mifconv" in the epoc32/tools:

For example: Now from command line:

c:\Symbian\9.1\S60_3rd_MR\Epoc32\tools>mifconv MyNewApp.mif /c32 C:\MyProject\gfx\qgn_menu.svg

This will generate .mif into epoc32/tools folder.

Now open your .pkg file and find for path of .mif file. Then just give path of your newly created .mif file. Like:

"C:\Symbian\9.1\S60_3rd_MR\Epoc32\tools\MyNewApp.mif" -"!:\resource\apps\YourProjectNamed_reg.mif"

You could either cut-paste your newly created .mif file into your folder and give its path in source path of your .pkg file. Like:

"C:\MyFolder\MyNewApp.mif" -"!:\resource\apps\YourProjectNamed_reg.mif"

Note: Here qgn_menu.svg has been redesigned in the Inkscape and replaced with the same name as qgn_menu.svg

Practical experience

Although I was quite enthusiastic about using Inkscape at first it turns out the gradient rendering differs a lot from what you see in Inkscape and what you get on the phone. So you end-up having to do a lot of guess work and tries to eventually get the desired result. I had designed with Inkscape an icon that was eventually working fine on 3rd edition devices but it failed to render properly on 5th edition. My guess is that there was some opacity problem. Maybe they have better opacity support on 5th edition SVG which broke the rendering of my icon.

I decided to redesign that icon using Adobe Illustrator CS4. AI is much easier to manipulate than Inkscape and the resulting SVG code much more compact. It also renders very much the same on the devices as it does on your PC. Of course you have to stick to the features supported by SVG Tiny 1.1+.

Adobe Illustrator CS4 offers an export function to SVG Tiny 1.1+ but that's not always working unfortunately. In many cases even though you specified to export as SVG Tiny 1.1+ it wants to rasterize your gradients. Even if you can manage to get the SVG Tiny 1.1+ export to work next time you open your SVGT file with AI it will complain and rasterize your gradient. One of the problem seems that there is no DTD for SVG Tiny 1.1+ and AI uses the DTD for SVG Tiny 1.1 which does not support gradients for instance.

I settled for exporting as SVG Basic (SVGB) and making sure not to use features not supported by SVG Tiny 1.1+. It seems the MIF compiler can process SVG files regardless of their headers (Tiny, Basic or full SVG) so what matters is that you use only the features supported by the phones you want to render the icon with.

Note: SVG Pony preserves gradients in Inkscape SVGs and produces very compact SVG code.

Related links

This page was last modified on 8 June 2012, at 08:28.
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