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A mystical CSS icon solution.

grunticon is a Grunt.js task that makes it easy to manage icons and background images for all devices, preferring HD (retina) SVG icons but also provides fallback support for standard definition browsers, and old browsers alike. From a CSS perspective, it's easy to use, as it generates a class referencing each icon, and doesn't use CSS sprites.

grunticon takes a folder of SVG/PNG files (typically, icons that you've drawn in an application like Adobe Illustrator), and outputs them to CSS in 3 formats: svg data urls, png data urls, and a third fallback CSS file with references to regular png images, which are also automatically generated and placed in a folder.

grunticon also generates a small bit of JavaScript and CSS to drop into your site, which asynchronously loads the appropriate icon CSS depending on a browser's capabilities, and a preview HTML file with that loader script in place.

You can see a demonstration of the output here.


Copyright (c) 2012 Scott Jehl, Filament Group, Inc. Licensed under the MIT license.

Before you get started!

Have you seen Grumpicon?

Grumpicon is a browser-based app that performs much of the functionality of Grunticon through a simple drag and drop interface. It's much easier to set up than Grunticon, and sometimes, it's all you need (though it won't always be!)

If you're interested in trying out Grumpicon, you might be interested in this handy guide as well: Grumpicon Workflow

Getting Started

You'll need to have Grunt installed.

Install the grunticon module with: npm install grunt-grunticon

Then add this line to your project's Gruntfile.js gruntfile:


And lastly, add the configuration settings to your Gruntfile.js file as mentioned below. grunticon will batch your icons whenever you run $ grunt, and output the files listed above to your dest folder, which is documented below.


Required configuration properties

grunticon has 2 required configuration properties: src and dest. Both need to be defined for grunticon to run.

  • src: path to your folder of svg files, relative to the Gruntfile.js file. Perhaps something like images/icons-source/.
  • dest: path to the folder that grunticon will write to, relative to the Gruntfile.js file. Ideally, this would be a folder that does not yet exist in your directory. Perhaps something like css/icons-dist/.

These can be set in your Gruntfile.js config file. Grunticon is a multitask, making it easy to create as many export batches as you'd like. Just create one or more custom named objects within the grunticon object, and configure Grunticon options within it, like so:

	grunticon: {
    myIcons: {
  		options: {
        src: "css/dist/icons/",
        dest: "css/icons/"

Within the options object, the src property refers to the directory in which your SVG icons are stored. The dest property refers to the directory you'd like grunticon to create, which will contain your output files.

IMPORTANT NOTE: grunticon will overwrite any files in the dest directory if they are of the same name as a file that grunticon needs to create. For easiest results, you can set dest to a folder that does not yet exist in your directory and grunticon will create that folder, or set it to an existing folder and be sure to configure grunticon to create file names that do not already exist in that folder.

With these configuration properties set, you can add grunticon to your default tasks list. That'll look something like this:

grunt.registerTask('default', 'lint qunit concat min grunticon');

grunticon will now batch your icons whenever you run grunt.

Optional configuration properties

In addition to the required configuration properties above, grunticon's grunt configuration lets you configure the names of the files and the images folder it generates inside dest.

  • svgo: Choose whether or not you would like to use SVGO to optimize your SVG files. Default: false
  • datasvgcss: The name of the generated CSS file containing SVG data uris. Default: ""
  • datapngcss: The name of the generated CSS file containing PNG data uris. Default: ""
  • urlpngcss: The name of the generated CSS file containing external png url references. Default: "icons.fallback.css"
  • previewhtml: The name of the generated HTML file containing PNG data uris. Default: "preview.html"
  • loadersnippet: The name of the generated text file containing the grunticon loading snippet. Default: "grunticon.loader.txt"
  • pngfolder: The name of the generated folder containing the generated PNG images. Default: "png/"
  • cssprefix: a string to prefix all css classes with. Default: "icon-"
  • customselectors: Allows you to specify custom selectors (in addition to the generated cssprefix + filename - extension class) for individual files.
  • defaultWidth: a string that MUST be defined in px that will be the size of the PNG if there is no width given in the SVG element. Example: defaultWidth: "300px"; Default: "400px"
  • defaultHeight: similar to defaultWidth, but for height Example: defaultHeight: "200px"; Default: "300px"
  • colors: Allows you to predefine colors as variables that can be used in filename color configuration.

Automating color variations

Grunticon allows you to output any icon in different colors simply by changing its filename to the following syntax: myfilename.colors-red-aa0000-gray.svg. In this example, any color names or hexidecimal values that follow colors- and are separated by a dash will be used to generate additional icons of that color. By default, each icon will be assigned a numbered class name for CSS use. You can improve the class naming conventions by defining color variables in your gruntfile's colors option shown above. When defined, you can reference a color variable in place of a color in your file names, and the generated classes will use that variable name as well. See the gruntfile.js's colors option and the sample bear svg for an example of color automation.

A note on filesize impact: Adding color variations of an icon involves creating duplicates of that icon's SVG source in the CSS, so unfortunately, each color variation will cause an increase in filesize. However, transferring CSS with gzip compression can negate much of this filesize increase, and we highly recommend always transferring with gzip. In testing, we found that creating a color variation of every icon in our example set increased overall size by 25%, rather than 100% as a raw text duplicate would increase. That said, size increases for non-SVG-supporting browsers will be more dramatic, as the fallback PNGs will not have the heavy transfer compression as SVG enjoys. We advise using this feature on a case-by-case basis to ensure overhead is kept to a minimum.

Browser testing results for icon output

The generated asynchronous CSS loader script delivers an appropriate icon stylesheet depending on a device/browser's capabilities. Grunticon is supported in cases where icon fonts fail.

Browsers that render the SVG data url stylesheet:

  • IE9
  • Chrome 14+ (maybe older too?)
  • Safari 4+ (maybe older too?)
  • Firefox 3.6+ (maybe older too?)
  • Opera 15+
  • iOS 3+ Safari and Chrome
  • Android 4.0 Chrome (caveat: SVG icons do not scale in vector, but do appear to draw in high-resolution)
  • Android 4.0 ICS Browser
  • BlackBerry Playbook

Browsers that receive the PNG data url stylesheet:

  • IE8
  • All versions of Opera, Opera Mini, and Opera Mobile before Chrome integration (v 15)
  • Android 2.3 Browser
  • Android 2.2 Browser
  • Android 2.1 Browser
  • Android 1.6 Browser
  • Android 1.5 Browser

Browsers that receive the fallback png request:

  • IE7
  • IE6
  • Non-JavaScript environments

View the full support spreadsheet here. Feel free to edit it if you find anything new.

The test page can be found here.


Serving compressed CSS

One of the great benefits to data uris is the ability to compress the images heavily via gzip compression. Be sure to enable gzip of CSS on your server, as it'll cut your icon transfer size greatly.

Creating SVG Artwork

The workflow we've been using so far involves creating a new Illustrator file with the artboard set to the desired size of the icon you want set in the CSS.

Export the artwork by choosing File > Save as... In the dialog, choose "SVG" as the format and enter a name for the file (this wil be used as your class name later, so keep it free of any disallowed CSS class characters like ., {, (, ), etc.

In the Save SVG dialog that opens up, there are lots of options. SVG has a ton of formats, so here are a few tips we've learned.

  • SVG Profile: Seems like SVG 1.1 Tiny is really well supported across even older mobile platforms so if you have simple artwork that doesn't use gradients or opacity this will yield a smaller and more compatible graphic. If you want to use all the fancy effects, save artwork as SVG 1.1.
  • Type: Convert to outline before export.
  • Subsetting: None, I usually convert all text to outlines ahead of time
  • Images: Embed
  • Don't check "Preserve Illustrator editing" to reduce file size


  • Version 0.6.5: CSS Writing has been moved from Phantom to Node, in order to decrease base64 datauri sizes
  • Version 0.6.0: Grunticon now comes with PNG Crush. This will reduce the size of your SVGs
  • Version 0.5.0: Grunticon now comes with SVGO. This cleans up your SVGs, greatly reducing the size of your CSS file.
  • Version 0.4.1: Opera browsers prior to version 15 are given fallback PNG due to SVG scaling troubles.
  • Version 0.4.0: Automated filename-driven color variations were added, along with the colors option
  • Version 0.3.4: SVGs without width and height can be used
  • Version 0.3.2: Added PhantomJS as a Node dependency, easing installation
  • Version 0.3.1: Documentation updates
  • Version 0.3.0: Grunticon becomes a multitask - syntax change involved in gruntfile
  • Version 0.2.1: Custom selectors feature added
  • Version 0.2.0: Compatibility rewrite for Grunt 0.4x
  • Version 0.1.6: Switched from base64 encoding to escaping raw SVG text in data uris. Fixes to cssprefix setting. If fallback png data uri is > 32768 chars, link to ext png instead for IE issues.

Copyright and licensing for the example SVG icons...

The example SVG icons in the source folder are borrowed from a few places, with attribution noted below.



npm i grunt-grunticon@0.6.10





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