Computer Graphics Metafile


Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM) is a standard file format for storing and exchanging 2D vector graphics, raster graphics, and text. It was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is primarily used for technical illustrations and geophysical data visualization. As an open standard, it supports a wide range of graphics features, including geometrical primitives, annotations, and more complex elements like splines.


Computer Graphics Metafile in phonetics is:/kəmˈpyo͞otər ˈɡra-fiks ˈmetəˌfīl/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM) is a free and open standard file format for 2D vector graphics, raster graphics, and text, and is defined by ISO/IEC 8632.
  2. CGM provides a means of graphics data interchange for computer representation of 2D graphical information independent from any particular application, system, platform or device.
  3. It has been adopted to some extent in the areas of technical illustration and professional design, but has largely been superseded by formats such as SVG and DXF.



Computer Graphics Metafile (CGMF) is a crucial technology term because it refers to an international standard file format for storing and transferring graphical data and metadata. It is especially significant in numerous sectors, including engineering, aviation, and geographic information systems, as it allows for easy distribution and sharing of complex graphical contents between different applications and systems. Furthermore, the ability of CGMF to encode 2D geometric primitives, text, and bitmap data intrinsically makes it a dependable choice for professional use cases where high precision and accuracy are paramount. Its overall versatility and effectiveness in consistent representation of graphical data have led to its wide-scale adoption and importance in the field of computer graphics.


Computer Graphics Metafile (CGMF) serves a crucial function in facilitating the storage and exchange of 2D graphic information, primarily between devices and applications that are ill-suited for direct communication. Its main advantage is its ability to store graphics data in both vector and raster formats, making it a particularly flexible and versatile tool for various graphics-based operations. It offers platform independence, which makes it uniquely valuable in environments where diverse computer systems are used. Through CGMF, graphics can be readily encoded, stored and transferred, a functionality that is critical in areas such as computer-aided design, graphic arts, image processing and other industries that rely heavily on visual data.Moreover, since the CGMF format maintains the data’s independence from any particular device, it allows users to maintain the quality when transferring graphics between different systems. CGMF’s capability to store instructions for creating graphics, rather than storing the graphics themselves, isolates the graphic from any particular resolution, device or context. This makes CGMF an ideal format for purposes such as archiving, where the need for permanence and consistency over time is paramount. All in all, CGMF is pivotal in allowing accurate and high-quality reproduction and transfer of graphic data amongst diverse systems.


1. CAD Design: In industries like engineering and architecture, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs often utilize the Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM) format. CGM files are used to represent 2D vector graphics, raster graphics, and text, and these are crucial elements in creating detailed CAD drawings and models.2. Weather Forecast Displays: Many weather reporting services, such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), use CGM to display weather map data. The graphics are created on high-performance computing systems, then exported into the CGM format to be displayed on websites and television broadcasts.3. Aviation Industry: The aviation industry often utilizes CGM files in their Aircraft Information Systems (AIS), specifically for high-end airplane designs and flight simulator graphics. The tools used for these designs and simulations can output the graphics as a CGM file, which is then able to be viewed across many different systems.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM)?A: Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM) is a free and open international standard file format for 2D vector graphics, raster graphics, and text, defined by ISO/IEC 8632.Q: What is the main purpose of a CGM file?A: The main purpose of a CGM file is to enhance the interoperability of various hardware and software in computer graphics and its applications. It’s commonly used in aviation, engineering, geophysical data visualization, and other fields that require visual data interpretation.Q: Where is CGM file format commonly used?A: CGM file format is commonly used in various industries such as automotive engineering, aeronautics, and the defense industry for complex diagrams. Q: What are the different versions of CGM?A: There are three different versions of CGM, they are: CGM 1, CGM 2, and CGM 3. The latest version, CGM++ was introduced later on with advanced features.Q: Why is CGM preferred over other similar file formats?A: CGM is preferred because its specification offers control over picture representation, making it extremely suitable to applications that require precision, measurements, and complex notations.Q: What types of graphic elements are supported in CGM?A: CGM supports points, lines, curves, and polygons. It also handles text, raster images, and geometric primitives.Q: How can I view a CGM file on my computer?A: CGM files can be opened with several kinds of software, including viewer programs specifically designed to open these types of files, or graphic editors like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Q: Can I convert a CGM file to another format?A: Yes, a CGM file can be converted to other formats using various converter tools available. The most common conversion is from CGM to PDF or to other image formats like BMP, PNG, TIFF, etc. Q: Is CGM a vector or raster format?A: CGM is primarily a vector format, but it is capable of encoding both vector graphics and raster images. This makes it a flexible format for different types of graphical information. Q: Are CGM files editable?A: Yes, CGM files can be edited using suitable graphics software, although, the software needs to support the CGM file format to be able to edit it.

Related Finance Terms

  • Vector Graphics
  • Bitmaps
  • Rendering
  • Metafile Format
  • Scalability

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