Inkscape in the Industry

The Inkscape engine is ready for commercial use.

Just take a look at Inkscape’s about screen. Those are beautiful vectors. And the ones from previous releases. Not to mention their example gallery.
Its just that the interface is not ready, although it is currently very, very usefull. It just needs to become more stable.

Not that the limits of vector art cannot be furthered. In a healthy nod towards the latest releases of Illustrator, CorelDRAW, even FreeHand MX. Capabilities-wise Inkscape 0.43 is very close. Its SVG engine even interprets gaussian blurs properly. Unfortunately you need to edit the XML to implement it for reals in an SVG artwork. Even clipping paths don’t have a GUI.

Why the need for a GUI for gaussian blur? For clipping paths? Masking? For speed. Just take a look at how efficient implementing radial gradient textures has become as a result of the new on-screen gradient handles (courtesy of Google’s summer of code and the coders who coded them for the prize, much gratitude to them all). You CLI hackers can gush all you want about coding efficiency; graphic artists use the keyboard and mouse at the same time[1].

If the Inkscape interface didn’t crash all that often when working with multi-megabyte SVGs[2] I’d be tempted to tell the Inkscape team to skip version number directly to version 1.0. As it is, the only significant hindrance to Inkscape being production worthy is its memory handling. Other than that, I can use Inkscape for production work.

Animation can wait. And if you can’t wait I kindly suggest you help the Open-Source Flash project, which would result in a much more robust animation system. And just for the record, Flash is as open as PDF and PostScript; they’re all copyrighted by Adobe, but the whole spec is published freely without limitation to implementation[3].

Of course there’s the issue of application interoperability, but so far Inkscape plays nice with the GIMP, AbiWord, and Scribus, and vice-versa all the way. It is preferable if these FLOSS apps also play nice with their proprietary brethen (ie. drag ‘n drop, shared and compatible clipboard, dynamic linking and embedding, etc.), but even though they don’t they’re still usable for production quality. Its just that its currently next to impossible to use these Free-with-a-capital-F tools in the commercial graphic-design industry. Not with all those Adobe-specific RIPs that are so popular among the more economical service bureaus[4]. TeX and DocBook are a great idea, too bad better ideas have entrenched themselves before they were even thought of. Just as the Cathedral model was so entrenched before the Bazaar was put up.

Recently there was news of Adobe postponing their release of Photoshop, Illustrator, and their Creative Suite bretherens for Intel-based Apple Macintoshes to 2007. I personally see an opening.

And check out Xara Xtreme; they seem to be focused on exploiting this window too.

[1] but I do agree with you hackers, coding is much more eficient with the keyboard.

[2] CMMIW; I don’t follow Inkscape CVS. But if there are no more major segfault errors or whatever thingies that make Inkscape not ‘feature-complete,’ then hell let’s have 1.0!

[3] Some, like the people of A List Apart, suggests a different term: transparent. Different symbols, same semiology.

[4] At least the hardware-based RIPs used by film-output bureaus here in Jakarta. There are direct-to-plate shops here, but even they use Adobe-powered PostScript engines. To print anything here, you gotta bring them data in the form of a FreeHand 10, Pagemaker 6.5, Illustrator 9, or a Photoshop 7 file. Or a TIFF (kinda iffy, since TIFF is such a ‘standard’). Or a PDF.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s amazing


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