IAN Symbol Libraries reach 2500 symbols

Adrian Jones ·
7 March 2011
Science Communication |     4 comments

IAN Symbol Libraries

The IAN Symbol Libraries has reached a major milestone of 2500 vector symbols with the release of v6.0. This version has been a long time coming, with the last release all the way back in 2005.

We think users will find it worth the wait. The highlights of this release are:

  • 1000 new symbols
  • custom search and download options
  • tagging with keywords and other metadata
  • revised category/album structure
  • many broken/poorly drawn symbols recreated
  • individual and palette structure options
  • raster (PNG) version
  • project specific collections
  • online diagram creator (no need for expensive vector software)

In addition to the 1000 new symbols, it is the new interface functionality that makes this release so useful. Our custom download builder allows users to download the entire package, or select albums, project related collections, new symbols since their last download, or search by keywords. They can also browse and choose from the most popular symbols. The new lightbox feature allows creation of a custom symbol package. Alternatively, users can search by keywords, browse, and download individual symbols via our image library.

Download Builder screenshot
The custom download builder has many options to provide the symbols you need.

With the establishment of SVG (scalable vector graphics) as a standard vector format, we have been able to make this our primary format. It is natively supported by all modern browsers and allows us to dynamically generate the Illustrator (AI) version, the fully transparent raster (PNG) version, the user's custom symbol download, the PDF symbol catalog and the palette previews.

symbols preview
Symbol palette previews allow quick scanning of all the IAN symbols.
PDF catalog screenshot
The Symbol Catalog (PDF) is fully indexed and searchable, and hyperlinks each thumbnail to the symbol in our image library. A great "symbol locator" tool!

These enhancements not only benefit the user, but also dramatically reduce the effort required by the IAN team. This means that they can now spend more time creating new symbols, and not collating, organizing, rearranging, and packaging new versions. New symbols will be available to users as soon as they are created, without the need to wait for a "new release".

Additional resources include:

  • Interactive online searchable spreadsheet of symbols
  • Downloadable Excel version of spreadsheet
  • Interactive multimedia tutorial
  • Symbol creation service
  • Symbol contributions forum
  • Instructional video
online spreadsheet screenshot
The online spreadsheet version of the catalog is searchable and sortable, hyperlinks each symbol to the image library, and includes thumbnails.

Don't have vector software? One of the problems potential users of our libraries have had in the past is access to vector illustration software, which is often expensive and difficult to learn. Our new online diagram creator allows users to create conceptual diagrams directly in their web browser, with direct access to the entire IAN symbol collection. They can search for symbols by keyword, browse the albums, select from an IAN project symbol set, or work from their lightbox collection. For more details on the diagrammer, see the announcement blog post.

Online diagrammer screenshot
Creating a conceptual diagram with our online diagram creator.

The IAN Symbol Libraries already have over 60,000 users from almost every country in the world. We hope that with this release we have provided a science communication tool that is even more useful and will truly make them a standard resource for scientists, resource managers, community groups, and environmentalists worldwide.

About the author

Adrian Jones

Adrian has over 25 years experience in software development. He loves the challenge of building interactive data visualization tools, from the database to the front-end. He has worked with a wide range of businesses, universities, governmental, and non-governmental organizations around the world.

He also enjoys contributing to open source software and avidly follows the latest web and app development tools and frameworks.

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  • Riya 12 years ago

    Really nice collection it is. This kind of tool helps to create conceptual diagrams. Really appreciate you.

  • katfedto 13 years ago

    This is a really nice database of free symbols! I always love the svg as they are more scalable and robust to work with.

    These art and symbols are really useful for educational purposes especially for teachers.


  • Ed 13 years ago

    I agree with the poster above, these symbols are great! I am not sure how long it took you to put all of this together, but it is very much appreciated.

    Thanks again!

  • Atika 9 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this great information, This is a really nice database of free symbols! I always love the svg as they are more scalable and robust to work with.

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