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Generate a static SVG sprite sheet

Since learning about SVG sprite sheets, I’ve used them rather than SVGs inlined in HTML.

Generally, my process looks something like this:

  1. Put all my SVGs in a folder.
  2. Run svg-sprite on the command line to combine them into a single SVG sprite.
  3. Include them in HTML with the <use> tag.

I usually run it out of band, immediately before actually building the website. My build command ends up looking something like pnpm svg && pnpm build (where those are both package.json scripts that build the sprite sheet and the rest of the site).

No longer! At least for Astro sites. Arne Bahlo has a great tutorial on statically generating open graph images using Astro API routes, and I realized that the same technique will work to generate SVG sprite sheets.

The key insight is that in static mode, API routes get rendered to static files. So this roughly the same workflow, except svg-sprite gets called programmatically instead of on the command line.

Enough introduction! Let’s get to it.

First, install svg-sprite (and @types/svg-sprite if you’re using TypeScript).

Then, add this icons.svg.js file to your pages directory:

import { readdir, readFile } from "node:fs/promises";
import { resolve } from "node:path";
import SVGSpriter from "svg-sprite";

const ICON_DIR = "./assets/icons";

export const GET = async function GET() {
  // create an `svg-sprite` instance
  const spriter = new SVGSpriter({ mode: { symbol: true } });

  // add all the svgs
  for (const svg of await readdir(ICON_DIR)) {
    const path = resolve(ICON_DIR, svg);
    spriter.add(path, svg, await readFile(path).then(file => file.toString()));

  // compile the svgs into a sprite sheet
  const { result } = await spriter.compileAsync();

  // respond with the compiled svg
  const svg = result.symbol.sprite.contents;
  return new Response(svg, { headers: { "content-type": "image/svg+xml" } });

Every time there’s a request to /icons.svg, that will read all the SVGs in /assets/icons, compile them to a sprite sheet and respond with it. That sounds inefficient, but remember that “every time there’s a request” only happens in development; for production, the handler runs once at build time and the generated SVG file is written to disk.

To actually use the resulting sprite, I have this Astro component:

interface Props {
  icon: string;
  size?: number;

const { icon, size = 16 } = Astro.props;

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" width={size} height={size}>
  <use href={`/icons.svg#${icon}`}></use>

The icon prop is equal to whatever the file name of the original SVG was, minus the extension. So you’d use it like this:

<Icon icon="heart" />