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If you’re after a line or an open shape, rather than a closed polygon or circle, SVG has two options for you: lines and polylines.


The SVG line syntax may look slightly intimidating at first, but it’s simply being very precise: a line can only consist of two points, and each point is specified by two separate coordinates for x and y.

Unlike the shapes I’ve explored so far, lines are entirely invisible by default, and will remain so until at least a stroke color is added; once colored, they will remain a hairline until stroke-width specifies a thickness.

<svg width="300" height="300" viewBox="0 0 300 200" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg">
    <line x1="0" y1="0" x2="300" y2="200" stroke-width="20" stroke="black" />


Polylines are just continued, joined SVG lines with multiple points:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 414.3 231.4">
<polyline stroke="#000" stroke-width="6" fill="none" points="15.7,127.9 112.1,15 294.3,205 75,167.9 364.3,36.4 392.1,212.9 "/>

Which produces:

Note that unlike a graphical drawing tool, placing the last point of a polyline at the same location as the opening point will not result in a “closed” shape. But you can still apply fill to a shape:

I’ll have more to say about fill in a future article; for now, it’s enough to note that while we can apply a fill to a polyline, and it will usually work as expected, it will provide the appearance of a closed polygon, but it is not the same thing.

Caps & Corners

SVG lines that change direction don’t have to be rendered with hard corners; there are two other options, enabled through the stroke-linejoin property: round and bevel, which do exactly what they imply. (Note that you may need to thicken the stroke in order to see any change). A third option, miter, the sharp cornered kind, is the default.

Similarly, the ends of lines can be terminated with three different kinds of cap, using the stroke-linecap property: round (half circles), square (lines are capped with a square, like aglets (the cap at the end of shoelaces), or butt (the default)."

Being appearance properties, both stroke-linejoin and stroke-linecap can be applied as either attributes or CSS properties.

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