Computer Graphics Metafile

Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM) is a free and open international standard file format for 2D vector graphics, raster graphics, and text, and is defined by ISO/IEC 8632.[2]

Computer Graphics Metafile
Filename extension.cgm
Internet media typeimage/cgm[1]
Developed byANSI, ISO/IEC, W3C
Initial release1986
(ANSI X3 122-1986)
Type of formatVector image format
Extended fromGraphical Kernel System
StandardISO/IEC 8632
WebsiteISO/IEC 8632


All graphical elements can be specified in a textual source file that can be compiled into a binary file or one of two text representations. CGM provides a means of graphics data interchange for computer representation of 2D graphical information independent from any particular application, system, platform, or device. CGM was developed by W3C in 1999. As a metafile, i.e., a file containing information that describes or specifies another file, the CGM format has numerous elements to provide functions and to represent entities, so that a wide range of graphical information and geometric primitives can be accommodated. Rather than establish an explicit graphics file format, CGM contains the instructions and data for reconstructing graphical components to render an image using an object-oriented approach.

Although CGM is not widely supported for web pages and has been supplanted by other formats in the graphic arts, it is still prevalent in engineering, aviation, and other technical applications.

The initial CGM implementation was effectively a streamed representation of a sequence of Graphical Kernel System (GKS) primitive operations. It has been adopted to some extent in the areas of technical illustration and professional design, but has largely been superseded by formats such as SVG and DXF.

The World Wide Web Consortium has developed WebCGM, a profile of CGM intended for the use of CGM on the Web.


  • 1986 – ANSI X3 122-1986 (ANSI X3 committee)
  • 1987 – ISO 8632-1987 (ISO)
  • 1991 – ANSI/ISO 8632-1987 (ANSI and ISO)
  • 1992 – ISO 8632:1992, a.k.a. CGM:1992 (ISO)
  • 1999 – ISO/IEC 8632:1999, 2nd Edition (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC24)
  • December 17, 2001 – WebCGM (W3C)
  • January 30, 2007 – WebCGM 2.0 (W3C)
  • March 1, 2010 – WebCGM 2.1 (W3C Recommendation)

Further reading

  • Arnold, D.B. and P.R. Bono, CGM and CGI: Metafile and Interface Standards for Computer Graphics, Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, 1988.
  • Henderson, L.R., and Gebhardt, CGM: SGML for Graphics, The Gilbane Report, Fall 1994.
  • Henderson, L.R., and A.M. Mumford, The CGM Handbook, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1993.
  • Bono, P.R., J.L. Encarnacao, L.M. Encarnacao, and W.R. Herzner, PC Graphics With GKS, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1990.
  • Vaughan Tay(2001)making it work,5th ed

See also


  1. ^ IANA Image Media Types
  2. ^ ISO/IEC 8632

External links





CGM may refer to:

Camiguin Airport

The CGM Funds, a series of investment funds

Cassava green mite

Chloë Grace Moretz, an American actress

Providence (religious movement), whose official name translates as Christian Gospel Mission

Codex germanicus monacensis, a German-language manuscript in the Bavarian State Library in Munich

Compagnie Générale Maritime, a French shipping line

Computer Games Magazine

Computer Graphics Metafile

Conjugate gradient method, an algorithm for the numerical solution of particular systems of linear equations

Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

Consumer generated media

Continuous glucose monitoring

Corn gluten meal

CTVglobemedia, a Canadian media conglomerate

Comparison of graphics file formats

This is a comparison of image file formats.

Dia (software)

Dia ()

is free and open source general-purpose diagramming software, developed originally by Alexander Larsson. Dia uses a controlled single document interface (SDI) similar to GIMP and Inkscape.

Graphic character

In ISO/IEC 646 (commonly known as ASCII) and related standards including ISO 8859 and Unicode, a graphic character is any character intended to be written, printed, or otherwise displayed in a form that can be read by humans. In other words, it is any encoded character that is associated with one or more glyphs.

Graphical Kernel System

The Graphical Kernel System (GKS) was the first ISO standard for low-level computer graphics, introduced in 1977. A draft international standard was circulated for review in September, 1983.

Final ratification of the standard was achieved in 1985.GKS provides a set of drawing features for two-dimensional vector graphics suitable for charting and similar duties. The calls are designed to be portable across different programming languages, graphics devices and hardware, so that applications written to use GKS will be readily portable to many platforms and devices.

GKS was fairly common on computer workstations in the 1980s and early 1990s.

GKS formed the basis of Digital Research's GSX and GEM products; the latter was common on the Atari ST and was occasionally seen on PCs particularly in conjunction with Ventura Publisher. It was little used outside these markets and is essentially obsolete today except insofar as it is the underlying API defining the Computer Graphics Metafile. A descendant of GKS was PHIGS.

A main developer and promoter of the GKS was José Luis Encarnação, formerly director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics (IGD) in Darmstadt, Germany.

GKS has been standardized in the following documents:

ANSI standard ANSI X3.124 of 1985.

ISO 7942:1985 standard, revised as ISO 7942:1985/Amd 1:1991 and ISO/IEC 7942-1:1994, as well as ISO/IEC 7942-2:1997, ISO/IEC 7942-3:1999 and ISO/IEC 7942-4:1998

The language bindings are ISO standard ISO 8651.

GKS-3D (Graphical Kernel System for Three Dimensions) functional definition is ISO standard ISO 8805, and the corresponding C bindings are ISO 8806.The functionality of GKS is wrapped up as a data model standard in the STEP standard, section ISO 10303-46.

Harvard Graphics

Harvard Graphics was a graphics and presentation program for personal computers. It was a pioneering program of the personal computer revolution – the first version, titled Harvard Presentation Graphics was released for DOS in 1986 by Software Publishing Corporation (SPC) and achieved a high market share in the days before Microsoft Windows supplanted DOS. It was taken off the market in 2017.

IMG (file format)

IMG, in computing, refers to binary files with the .img filename extension that store raw disk images of floppy disks, hard drives, and optical discs or a vector image – .img.


ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 24 Computer graphics, image processing and environmental data representation is a standardization subcommittee of the joint subcommittee ISO/IEC JTC 1 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which develops and facilitates standards within the field of computer graphics, image processing, and environmental data representation. The international secretariat of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 24 is the British Standards Institute (BSI) located in the United Kingdom.

Image file formats

Image file formats are standardized means of organizing and storing digital images. Image files are composed of digital data in one of these formats that can be rasterized for use on a computer display or printer. An image file format may store data in uncompressed, compressed, or vector formats. Once rasterized, an image becomes a grid of pixels, each of which has a number of bits to designate its color equal to the color depth of the device displaying it.


Inkscape is a free and open-source vector graphics editor. This software can be used to create or edit vector graphics such as illustrations, diagrams, line arts, charts, logos and complex paintings. Inkscape's primary vector graphics format is Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG); however, many other formats can be imported and exported.Inkscape can render primitive vector shapes (e.g. rectangles, ellipses, polygons, arcs, spirals, stars and 3D boxes) and text. These objects may be filled with solid colors, patterns, radial or linear color gradients and their borders may be stroked, both with adjustable transparency. Embedding and optional tracing of raster graphics is also supported, enabling the editor to create vector graphics from photos and other raster sources. Created shapes can be further manipulated with transformations, such as moving, rotating, scaling and skewing.


Metafile is a generic term for a file format that can store multiple types of data. This commonly includes graphics file formats. These graphics files can contain raster, vector, and type data. A common use for these files is to provide support for an operating system's computer graphics; e.g., Microsoft Windows uses Windows Metafile, and Mac OS X uses PDF.

Some examples:

(PICT) Macintosh PICT resource, superseded by PDF in Mac OS X

(WMF) Windows Metafile = (EMF) Enhanced Metafile

(EPS) Encapsulated PostScript

(CGM) Computer Graphics Metafile

(PDF) Portable Document Format

(CDR) Corel Draw File

(SVG) Scalable Vector Graphics

(WPG) Word Perfect Graphics File

(RTF) Rich Text Format file

Microsoft PhotoDraw

Microsoft PhotoDraw 2000 is a discontinued vector graphics and raster imaging software package developed by Microsoft.

OASIS (organization)

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) is a global nonprofit consortium that works on the development, convergence, and adoption of open standards for security, Internet of Things, energy, content technologies, emergency management, and other areas.

Office Open XML file formats

The Office Open XML file formats are a set of file formats that can be used to represent electronic office documents. There are formats for word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations as well as specific formats for material such as mathematical formulae, graphics, bibliographies etc.

The formats were developed by Microsoft and first appeared in Microsoft Office 2007. They were standardized between December 2006 and November 2008, first by the Ecma International consortium, where they became ECMA-376, and subsequently, after a contentious standardization process, by the ISO/IEC's Joint Technical Committee 1, where they became ISO/IEC 29500:2008. (OOo), commonly known as OpenOffice, is a discontinued open-source office suite. It was an open-sourced version of the earlier StarOffice, which Sun Microsystems acquired in 1999 for internal use.

OpenOffice included a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet (Calc), a presentation application (Impress), a drawing application (Draw), a formula editor (Math), and a database management application (Base). Its default file format was the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an ISO/IEC standard, which originated with It could also read a wide variety of other file formats, with particular attention to those from Microsoft Office.

Sun open-sourced the OpenOffice suite in July 2000 as a competitor to Microsoft Office, releasing version 1.0 on 1 May 2002.In 2011 Oracle Corporation, the then-owner of Sun, announced that it would no longer offer a commercial version of the suite and donated the project to the Apache Foundation.Apache renamed the software Apache OpenOffice. Other active successor projects include LibreOffice (the most actively developed) and NeoOffice (commercial, only for macOS). was primarily developed for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Solaris, and later for OS X, with ports to other operating systems. It was distributed under the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3 (LGPL); early versions were also available under the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL).

Open Document Architecture

The Open Document Architecture (ODA) and interchange format (informally referred to as just ODA) is a free and open international standard document file format maintained by the ITU-T to replace all proprietary document file formats. ODA is detailed in the standards documents CCITT T.411-T.424, which is equivalent to ISO 8613.

SK1 (program)

sK1 is an open-source, cross-platform illustration program that can be used as a substitute for professional proprietary software like CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator. Unique project features are CorelDRAW formats importers, tabbed multidocument interface, Cairo-based engine, and color management.

Scalable Vector Graphics

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation. The SVG specification is an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1999.

SVG images and their behaviors are defined in XML text files. This means that they can be searched, indexed, scripted, and compressed. As XML files, SVG images can be created and edited with any text editor, as well as with drawing software.

All major modern web browsers—including Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Microsoft Edge—have SVG rendering support.


In typography, a typeface (also known as font family) is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features. Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation, and designer or foundry (and formerly size, in metal fonts). For example, "ITC Garamond Bold Condensed Italic" means the bold, condensed-width, italic version of ITC Garamond. It is a different font from "ITC Garamond Condensed Italic" and "ITC Garamond Bold Condensed", but all are fonts within the same typeface, "ITC Garamond". ITC Garamond is a different typeface from "Adobe Garamond" or "Monotype Garamond". (These are all alternative updates or digitisations of the typeface Garamond, originally created in the 16th century.)

There are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly.

The art and craft of designing typefaces is called type design. Designers of typefaces are called type designers and are often employed by type foundries. In digital typography, type designers are sometimes also called font developers or font designers.

Every typeface is a collection of glyphs, each of which represents an individual letter, number, punctuation mark, or other symbol. The same glyph may be used for characters from different scripts, e.g. Roman uppercase A looks the same as Cyrillic uppercase А and Greek uppercase alpha. There are typefaces tailored for special applications, such as map-making or astrology and mathematics.

The term typeface is frequently confused with the term font. Before the advent of digital typography and desktop publishing, the two terms had more clearly understood meanings.

IEC standards
ISO/IEC standards
By type
See also
ISO standards by standard number

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