Current Inkscape Logo
|Developer(s)||The Inkscape Team|
|Initial release||December 12, 2003|
|Stable release||0.48.5 (July 18, 2014[±])|
|Preview release||0.91pre2 (August 24, 2014[±])|
|Written in||C++ (using gtkmm)|
|Operating system||OS X (requires XQuartz (X11.app) 2.3.4 or higher), Unix-like, Linux, Windows|
|Available in||40 languages|
|Type||Vector graphics editor|
|License||GNU General Public License|
Inkscape is a free and open source software vector graphics editor. Its goal is to implement full support for the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.1 standard. It also supports various other formats for Import/Export. The word Inkscape is a portmanteau of the words ink and landscape.
The fork was led by a team of four former Sodipodi developers (Ted Gould, Bryce Harrington, Nathan Hurst, and MenTaLguY) who identified differences over project objectives, openness to third-party contributions, and technical disagreements as their reasons for forking. With Inkscape, they said they would focus development on implementing the complete SVG standard, whereas Sodipodi development emphasized creating a general-purpose vector graphics editor, possibly at the expense of SVG.
Since the fork, Inkscape's new developers changed it greatly: They rewrote it from C into C++; adopted the GTK+ toolkit C++ bindings (gtkmm); redesigned its user interface, and added a number of new features. Notably, its implementation of the SVG standard, although incomplete, has shown gradual improvement.
Rather than top-down governance, its developers strive to encourage an egalitarian culture wherein individual developers derive their authority from their ability and active involvement in the project. Indeed, these values allow Inkscape's founders to remain well represented in the decision-making process without deterring newcomers, who, in turn, have come to play prominent roles. The attraction of these newcomers has been greatly assisted by the project's special emphasis on providing its active developers with full access to its source code and its efforts to participate in the larger open source community (often in the form of inter-project initiatives such as the Create Project, Libre Graphics Meeting and spinoff projects like the Open Clip Art Library).
After Xara announced plans to release their (Linux version only) drawing application Xara Xtreme as open source, they expressed interest in sharing their code and coordinating their efforts with Inkscape with software available in the proprietary world.
The basic objects in Inkscape are:
Additionally, there are more specialized objects:
Every object in the drawing can be subjected to arbitrary affine transformations: moving, rotating, scaling, skewing and a configurable matrix. Transformation parameters can be also specified numerically via the Transform dialog. Transformations can snap to angles, grids, guidelines and nodes of other objects. Grids, guides and snapping properties are defined on a per-document basis. As an alternative to snapping, an Align and Distribute dialog is provided, which can perform common alignment tasks on selected objects: e.g. line them up in a specified direction, space them equally, scatter them at random and remove overlaps between objects.
Objects can be arbitrarily grouped together. Groups of objects behave in many respects like "atomic" objects: for instance, they can be cloned or assigned a paint. Objects making up a group can be edited without having to ungroup it first, via an Enter Group command: the group can then be edited like a temporary layer. Z-order of objects can be managed either using layers, or by manually moving the object up and down in the Z stack. Layers can be locked or hidden, preventing modifying and accidental selection.
A special tool, Create Tiled Clones, is provided to create symmetrical or grid-like drawings using various plane symmetries.
Objects can be cut, copied and pasted using a clipboard. However, as of version 0.46, Inkscape uses an internal variable rather than the system clipboard, which limits copy and paste operations to one application instance. Objects can be copied between documents by opening them from the File menu in an already opened window, rather than by opening a second file from the operating system's shell.
Each object in Inkscape has several attributes which determine its style. All of the attributes can generally be set for any object:
The style attributes are 'attached' to the source object, so after cutting/copying an object into the clipboard, the style's attributes can be pasted to another object.
Inkscape has a comprehensive tool set to edit paths, as they are the basic element of a vector file. The Node tool allows editing single or multiple paths on single or multiple node levels by editing the position of nodes and control points of Bezier paths or Spiro curves. Path segments can be adjusted by dragging them. When multiple nodes are selected, they can be moved, scaled and rotated using keyboard shortcut or mouse controls. Additional nodes can be inserted into paths at arbitrary or even placements, and an effect can be used to insert nodes at predefined intervals. When nodes are deleted, the handles on remaining ones are adjusted to preserve the original shape as closely as possible.
Tweak tool is provided for more high-level, whole object(s) or node editing regions (parts) of an object. It can push, repel/attract, randomize positioning, shrink/enlarge, rotate, copy/delete selected whole objects. With parts of a path you can push, shrink/enlarge, repel/attract, roughen edges, blur and color. Nodes are dynamically created and deleted when needed while using this tool, so it can also be used on simple paths without pre-processing.
Other possible high-level operations on paths include offsetting or insetting a path by a fixed amount. Creating an unlinked dynamic offset of a path which can be fine tuned using the Node tool. Creating a linked offset of a path will update whenever the original is modified. Object converting another shape like a spiral or text into a path, converting the stroke of a shape to a path. Simplifying a path to contain less nodes while preserving the shape, or performing Boolean operations like union, difference, intersection or exclusion on them.
Recent releases include a feature called Live Path Effects, which can apply various modifiers to a path. Envelope Deformation is available via the Path Effects and provides a perspective effect. There are more than a dozen of these live path effects. LPE can be stacked onto a single object and have interactive live on canvas and menu-based editing of the effects.
Inkscape supports text editing for both regular multi-line text (SVG's
<text> element) and flowed text (the non-standard
<flowRoot> element, formerly proposed for SVG 1.2). As of version 0.47, flowed text is not rendered by other applications, due to a lack of an appropriate parallel
<switch> structure in the SVG document. The SVG 1.2 Tiny
<textArea> element is not supported. All text is directly editable on canvas. Text rendering is based on the Pango library, which allows Inkscape to support several complex scripts including Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Tibetan, etc. Kerning and letter-spacing can be adjusted on a per-glyph basis using keyboard shortcuts. Putting text on path is also supported, and both the text and the path remain editable. Inkscape supports italicized and bold, as well as super- and subscript character attributes, but underlining is not yet implemented.
Unlike many other GTK+ applications, Inkscape uses its own rendering library to create graphics, called
libnr can render images at up to 256x zoom with anti-aliasing, and update graphics during transformations. There are alternative outline and no filter viewer modes which can considerably increase responsiveness when working with complex drawings. Inkscape uses Cairo to render in outline mode (as of version 0.46).
Inkscape can natively import the following formats:
Inkscape can import the following formats with aid from extensions:
Inkscape can natively export to various formats including the following:
One of the main priorities of the Inkscape project is interface consistency and usability. This includes efforts to follow the GNOME human interface guidelines, universal keyboard accessibility, and convenient on-canvas editing. Inkscape has achieved significant progress in usability since the project started.
The number of floating dialog boxes has been reduced, with their functions available using keyboard shortcuts or in the docked toolbars in the editing window. The tool bar controls at the top of the window always display the controls relevant to the current tool.
All vector transformations, scale, rotation and positioning (minus skewing) have keyboard shortcuts with consistent modifiers ( Alt transforms by 1 screen pixel at the current zoom, Shift multiplies the transformation by 10, etc.). These keys work on nodes in Node tool as well as on objects in the Selector Tool. The most common operations (such as transformations, zooming, z-order) have convenient one-key shortcuts.
Inkscape provides floating tooltips and status bar hints for all buttons, controls, commands, keys, and on-canvas handles. The hint messages are dynamic: A given object can display up to four hints while editing it with just one tool. The hints update based on two items—the tool being used, and the type of object/node/handle being edited—text, shapes, paths, node types, etc. It comes with a complete keyboard and mouse reference (in HTML and SVG) and several interactive tutorials in SVG.
Inkscape's implementation of SVG and CSS standards is incomplete. Most notably, it does not yet support animation. Inkscape has multi-lingual support, particularly for complex scripts, something currently lacking in most commercial vector graphics applications.
Due to the high focus of development within the OSS Linux community, the support for Windows and Mac missed native 64 bit builds for several years. In October 2013, an unofficial native 64-bit build for MS Windows was published under GPL and enables the possibility to create and edit complex drawings, which had been hindered by the 32-bit RAM limitations before.
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