How do I dynamically insert an SVG image into HTML?

I have some code that retrieves a scripted svg image from a server via Ajax. I can get the image text back into the browser, but I can't find a way to insert it into the DOM that will actually display it. Can anyone help with this? The svg looks likes this:

<svg id="chart" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" onload="init(evt)">
<script type="application/ecmascript">
<![CDATA[
...lots of code, changes on each Ajax request
//]]>
</script>
<script type="application/ecmascript" xlink:href="js-on-server-1.js"/>
<script type="application/ecmascript" xlink:href="js-on-server-2.js"/>
</svg>

I've tried various things. If I do this:

// xmlhttp.onreadystatechange:
addImage(xmlhttp.responseXML, "somewhere");
...
function addImage(txt, dst_id) {
   var scr = document.createElement("div");

   if("textContent" in scr)
      scr.textContent = txt;  // everybody else
   else
      scr.text = txt;         // IE

   document.getElementById(dst_id).appendChild(scr);
}

Then Opera and Chrome do nothing, and F/F complains "[object XMLDocument]". If I change 'responseXML' to 'responseText', then Opera/Chrome correctly display the entire svg text (not image) in the right place, and F/F still gives the same warning. I've also tried assigning the response to an innerHTML, but that does nothing. Any ideas? Thanks.

EDIT

In response to Phrogz'z answer below - I've added two simple svg files. The first is a 'standard' simple svg, displaying a circle. The second is a scripted svg, displaying a rectangle. You should be able to view both directly in any browser, except IE8-. If I edit Phrogz'z code to use the circle file (replace 'stirling4.svg' with the name of this file), then it works, but if I want the scripted rectangle instead, it doesn't. Tested on F/F, Opera, Chromium, but doesn't work anyway on (my) Chromium.

File 1, circle:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" version="1.1">
  <circle cx="100" cy="50" r="40" stroke="black" stroke-width="2" fill="red" />
</svg>

File 2, rectangle:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" onload="init(evt)">
<script type="application/ecmascript">
<![CDATA[
var svgDocument;
var svgns = "http://www.w3.org/2000/svg";
function init(evt) {
  if(window.svgDocument == null)
    svgDocument = evt.target.ownerDocument;
   var lbox = svgDocument.createElementNS(svgns, "rect");
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "x",                10);
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "y",                10);
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "width",            30);
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "height",           30);
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "stroke",           "#8080ff");
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "stroke-width",     2);
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "fill-opacity",     0);
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "stroke-opacity",   1);
   lbox.setAttributeNS(null, "stroke-dasharray", 0);
   svgDocument.documentElement.appendChild(lbox);
}
//]]>
</script>
</svg>

Presumably the answer is to get the script into the header??

Answers:

Answer

In general, the problem is twofold threefold:

  1. HTML is not XHTML, and support for SVG in HTML is shoddy and poorly-defined as of this writing. The solution is to use a real XHTML document where SVG-namespaced elements are actually treated as SVG.

  2. The responseXML is in another DOM document, and you can't normally just move nodes from one document to another. You are supposed to use document.importNode to import a node from one document to another.

  3. Loading an SVG file with onload event handlers will not have those handlers invoked by either creating the node or appending it to the document. Code inside the script block will be run, however, so you need to rewrite your scripts in a manner that works standalone and also with the dynamic loading.


Here's a simple example that works in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox...but not IE9:

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest;
xhr.open('get','stirling4.svg',true);
xhr.onreadystatechange = function(){
  if (xhr.readyState != 4) return;
  var svg = xhr.responseXML.documentElement;
  svg = document.importNode(svg,true); // surprisingly optional in these browsers
  document.body.appendChild(svg);
};
xhr.send();

See it in action here: http://phrogz.net/SVG/import_svg.xhtml


Unfortunately IE9 does not properly support document.importNode. To work around this, we write our own cloneToDoc function that creates an equivalent structure for any given node by recursively crawling the hierarchy. Here's a full working example:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en"><head> 
  <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="application/xhtml+xml;charset=utf-8"/>
  <title>Fetch and Include SVG in XHTML</title>
  <script type="text/ecmascript"><![CDATA[
    setTimeout(function(){
      var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest;
      xhr.open('get','stirling4.svg',true);
      xhr.onreadystatechange = function(){
        if (xhr.readyState != 4) return;
        var svg = cloneToDoc(xhr.responseXML.documentElement);
        document.body.appendChild(svg);
      };
      xhr.send();
    },1000);
    function cloneToDoc(node,doc){
      if (!doc) doc=document;
      var clone = doc.createElementNS(node.namespaceURI,node.nodeName);
      for (var i=0,len=node.attributes.length;i<len;++i){
        var a = node.attributes[i];
        if (/^xmlns\b/.test(a.nodeName)) continue; // IE can't create these
        clone.setAttributeNS(a.namespaceURI,a.nodeName,a.nodeValue);
      }
      for (var i=0,len=node.childNodes.length;i<len;++i){
        var c = node.childNodes[i];
        clone.insertBefore(
          c.nodeType==1 ? cloneToDoc(c,doc) : doc.createTextNode(c.nodeValue),
          null
        ); }
      return clone;
    }
  ]]></script>
</head><body></body></html>

See it in action here: http://phrogz.net/SVG/import_svg_ie9.xhtml


Edit 2: As suspected, the problem is that the onload event does not fire when dynamically adding script. Here's a paired solution that works:

  1. Rewrite your script to remove the onload event handler. Instead, trust that document exists.
  2. Rewrite your script to ask for a global svgRoot; if it doesn't exist, use document.documentElement.
  3. When fetching the SVG set a global svgRoot to the new svg element after you import it into the document.

Here's the code in action:

And, in case my site is down, here is the code for posterity:

script-created.svg

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg">
  <script type="text/javascript"><![CDATA[
    function createOn( root, name, a ){
      var el = document.createElementNS(svgNS,name);
      for (var n in a) if (a.hasOwnProperty(n)) el.setAttribute(n,a[n]);
      return root.appendChild(el);
    }
    // Trust someone else for the root, in case we're being
    // imported into another document
    if (!window.svgRoot) svgRoot=document.documentElement;
    var svgNS = svgRoot.namespaceURI;
    createOn(svgRoot,'rect',{
      x:10, y:10, width:30, height:30,
      stroke:'#8080ff', "stroke-width":5,
      fill:"none"
    });
  ]]></script>
</svg>

import_svg_with_script.xhtml

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en"><head> 
  <meta http-equiv="content-type"
        content="application/xhtml+xml;charset=utf-8" />
  <title>Fetch and Include Scripted SVG in XHTML</title>
  <script type="text/ecmascript"><![CDATA[
    setTimeout(function(){
      var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest;
      xhr.open('get','script-created.svg',true);
      xhr.onreadystatechange = function(){
        if (xhr.readyState != 4) return;
        var svg = xhr.responseXML.documentElement;
        svg = cloneToDoc(svg);
        window.svgRoot = svg; // For reference by scripts
        document.body.appendChild(svg);
        delete window.svgRoot;
      };
      xhr.send();
    },1000);
    function cloneToDoc(node,doc){
      if (!doc) doc=document;
      var clone = doc.createElementNS(node.namespaceURI,node.nodeName);
      for (var i=0,len=node.attributes.length;i<len;++i){
        var a = node.attributes[i];
        if (/^xmlns\b/.test(a.nodeName)) continue; // IE can't create these
        clone.setAttributeNS(a.namespaceURI,a.nodeName,a.nodeValue);
      }
      for (var i=0,len=node.childNodes.length;i<len;++i){
        var c = node.childNodes[i];
        clone.insertBefore(
          c.nodeType==1 ? cloneToDoc(c,doc) : doc.createTextNode(c.nodeValue),
          null
        )
      }
      return clone;
    }
  ]]></script>
</head><body></body></html>

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