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.


So like I just woke up this morning and lo and behold look what I got in the mailbox. Mr. WordPress told me that I better log in or else so here I am. Tony says it only takes five minutes to blog so here goes.

Hoookay, where to start…

My real-life name is Ferdinand F. Zebua, but on teh intarwebs I prefer to go by the monicker Lemi4 aka. fERDI:). Because I don’t think I’m not quite myself when I’m online. And besides it helps to remind me that the web is not my life. Whew. I’m Lemi4 aka. fERDI:) not simply Lemi4 because there are apparently other Lemi4s around here, just google it. There was a time when if you google my name you’d find that I made an 88x15px link button for the OSI.

OSI button - large

I’ve made a better version though (which I haven’t submitted yet),

OSI button, 80x15 px

and others, which you can find at my main weblog, the mind-Dumpster:). I made these using the Windows version of the GIMP and Inkscape, using source files available at the OSI’s web site. You’d also find that Google keeps suggesting you to search for Ferdinand Zebra.

I applied for a account mostly to check out the interface (which I find nice, so far), but at the time I had also wanted to start a blog where I’d gather all my Free Software/Open-source postings. I wanted to log my journey to full-time professional FLOSS use.

I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I depend a lot on Freehand and Photoshop. Not just to simply create purty pictures, but to maintain color consistency, to work in CMYK, to produce predictable output, to work with service bureaus and offset-printing shops still depending on Mac and/or Windows hardware.

Not that FLOSS can’t achieve these things, I’m sure that one can use the GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus, and Ghostscript to produce printing-press quality PDFs. I only have to learn to use these tools. And I shall. In time.

I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, where more than 90% of all software used is pirated. So price is not a problem here when using proprietary systems. At least not yet. But I’m not moving to FLOSS just to avoid legal risk or to avoid paying for my software. I’m moving to FLOSS in order to understand my computer again. You know, like way back when you know that you load EMM386.SYS to gain high-memory access, when you can use ANSI.SYS to prettify the C prompt, when you could at least guess what purpose each and every file in c:\dos holds. When you can spot a virus by looking at it weird. Maybe I don’t get it all too well back then, but at least I get more of it then than I do now.

Whatever. Like maybe I just wanna feel honest. Like maybe I’d like to feel that I’m not a thief when I’m using my PC.

And like I better get back to editing that layout that I’ve got to get done by four. I may be freelance but that doesn’t mean that I can break my own deadlines. I’ll write more as opportunity permits.