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I have a simple SVG of shapes that I wish to process using Adobe Illustrator (to merge some adjacent shapes). Unfortunately, when I save the processed shapes as SVG again, the size of the image has completely changed. This wouldn't matter in a plain image, but matters in this case because of its effect on the use of the path data down the line.

Is there a way of using Illustrator in a "do no damage" mode, where it doesn't modify the canvas or anything else unless specifically asked to?

I had a similar problem with Inkscape on Linux.

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Do you mean filesize or the pixel size of the image? Do vector graphics even have a real "canvas size", or do they just have some sort of "preferred viewing size" attribute? –  Zac B Nov 6 '12 at 15:31
    
They have a scale. When I re-open the resulting image in a text editor, the given canvas size of 10cm x 4cm has been altered to something smaller. That means the paths no longer line up to other images. –  Marcus Downing Nov 7 '12 at 9:29
    
Take a look at these two questions, they might help you out: stackoverflow.com/questions/11141023/…, and graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/9175/… –  Zac B Nov 7 '12 at 13:39

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