Animating SVGs in React: Breathe Life into Your Images

Animating SVGs in React: Breathe Life into Your Images

Dare I say, we've all been there - staring at our perfectly tailor-made Figma designs, only to dread the impending ordeal of translating it pixel-for-pixel in code. The challenge often intensifies when grappling with SVGs, particularly when trying to tweak them to react to user interactions. But worry not - I have a solution worth considering.

The SVG Ordeal in React

SVGs, with their crisp edges and responsiveness to scaling, have a special place in our developer hearts. The love story, however, has its occasional frictions when you wish your SVGs to be more "reactive"- like changing color on hover, growing, shrinking, coming alive. You end up scrambling for icon libraries, like react-icons, but good luck finding the perfect match for your designs there!

The Case of UI Libraries

Strapped for alternatives, you resort to using UI libraries. Material UI? Been there. Chakra UI? Done that. Yet, despite bundling your projects with these bulky companions, the SVG remains seemingly aloof. React even comes with the ability to import SVGs directly as React Components. Be it a massive UI library or React's native functionality, they both skip a vital step - processing the SVGs to relinquish their hard-coded aesthetic attributes. The SVGs, regardless of their fancy new wrappers, stay indifferent to the dynamically changing environment.

The colors, strokes, fills and other hardcoded properties remain the same; the SVG refuses to react. The upshot? Your project has accumulated unnecessary weight, and the SVG hasn't budged from its original state.

Breaking Free: My Alternative Approach

From my trenches, I offer a counterproposal: a streamlined, lightweight alternative that abolishes dependencies and ignores pre-processed icons. My solution transforms your beloved SVG images into stateful, responsive React components, honoring their parent properties like color, font size, etc., and bringing your designs to life with precision. It's also not a library, not a dependency, nor a package - it's literally an approach, a step by step you can try out yourself.

And the best part? You can clone my GitHub repo, and do with the source code as you please. Feed it your SVGs, the tool works its magic (which really isn't anything sophisticated), and out comes a neat zip file with your tailor-made, ready-to-use React SVG components.

The Walkthrough: A Cake Walk

Here's the link to the GitHub repo for those of you who'd rather jump directly into the code.

To illustrate the simplicity and effectiveness of this new approach, I present a step-by-step guide:

  1. Clone the GitHub repo and follow the ReadMe instructions (which is basically npm install and npm run build and npm run start).
  2. Upload your SVG images in the interface provided – the exact ones taken from your Figma designs - and click 'Convert'.
  3. As the tool processes the SVGs, it automatically attends to all necessary preprocessing steps. It strips them of any hardcoded aesthetic values that usually resist changes, priming them for perfect integration into your project. Since this is just a POC, the tool is changing only the 'fill', 'stroke' and 'strokeWidth' properties, which I believe are enough for this scenario.
  4. Download the resulting zip file containing your fully prepped React SVG components.

Embed them in a button, a div, an anchor, or whatever element their new home is. Write your CSS. Here's a sample:

.parent {
  color: red;

.parent:hover {
  color: blue;

As long as your SVG is a child of 'parent', it'll change from red to blue.

Proving the Pudding

Try it for a spin. Hover on a link – the SVG responds! Resize the parent – the SVG scales seamlessly. Change the text color – similar to its text siblings, it changes color correctly matching parent properties. In my opinion, this method significantly elevates your SVG implementation in React. By abolishing the complexity of integrating additional libraries and detaching your SVGs' visual attributes from their innate structure, it paves the way for a powerful advantage. Now, your SVGs can be styled directly with CSS, enabling them to respond and behave just like their component siblings within React's ecosystem.

(A side note, I'm still in disbelief that this approach hasn't yet been attempted by anyone. I did my fair share of ransacking the internet, and didn't find any satisfactory solutions, including React's own built-in approach. I'm very open to having my mind changed.)

Feedback: A Milestone, Not the Destination

As excited as I am about this solution, I recognize it as an evolving proposition. Therefore, your perspective matters greatly. Questions, insights, alternatives, or a simple pat on the back would be invaluable. After all, progress in our developer community is driven by dialogues and shared genius.

Here's throwing a hat in the SVGs' ring in React. It's not a magic bullet or a universal panacea, but with your help, it can be a steady stride in aligning our SVGs to our tasks. I also believe the application of this approach isn't just restricted to React. This approach can be adapted to Flutter, Vue, and any other declarative framework.

Happy coding!