Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Book Review: Inkscape 0.48 Essentials for Web Designers

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Book Reviews 91

JR0cket writes"Inkscape is an open source 2D drawing tool that helps you create graphic designs, from simple buttons and logos to full blown posters and web page designs. Inkscape is similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw and gives you a vector based graphics tool that uses the W3C Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. Inkscape is easy to use, although learning the tricks that make designing a web site look great are more involved. The Inkscape 0.48 Essentials for Web designers is specifically focused on helping you to create your first web site designs and does a great job of getting you started. Most if not all the techniques covered are relevant to creating other graphic works too, so its useful as a general Inkscape tutorial." Read on for the rest of John's review.I should say up front that If you are a web designer by trade you will know all the design aspects covered in the book, although the book will help you apply that knowledge in the latest version of Inkscape (version .048).

For those wanting to get into graphic design or start creating their own works, the book is quite a useful starting point to learn about a few important design concerns. Also, if you are a developer who works with graphic designers, you will find interest in understanding how graphic designs are created. No technical skills are really required except the basics of using desktop software with a modern graphical user interface. With no prior design knowledge, I was able to use Inkscape to do some basic posters, using the book has helped me do more involved designs and uses the more advanced features of Inkscape.

Inkscape is open source software and is licensed under GNU General Public License (GPL) and there are many examples of works create with Inkscape under the creative commons licenses — eg SpreadUbuntu.org

While the focus on the book is Inkscape for web design, all the techniques are useful if you want to create advertising posters, desktop wallpapers, company logos, single page comics, etc. The only limitation to using Inkscape, apart from your creativity and imagination, is that it only does a single page graphic in each inkscape window, but each graphic can be saved as individual images and made into a document using Scribus or OpenOffice / LibreOffice as Inkscape can save your designs using standard image formats (png, jpeg, svg, etc.)

The book content is nice and clean, with content on pages nicely spaced out making the book really easy to read and follow, so no need to be daunted by the 316 page count.

As the book progresses it assumes you have read earlier chapters so does not repeat exact details, for example the exact steps to create drop shadows is shown only once, keeping the book nice and to the point. You will therefore get the most out of the book by following along with the exercises in Inkscape.

So the book covers simple design techniques useful for any graphic design, along with lots of good ideas on how to design and enhancing your website, from site layouts, templates to animations.

An important starting point in the book is the overview of vector graphics and how they differ from raster graphics (eg. vector graphics scale uniformly and you don't get blur when scaling images). This concisely sets the scene as to why vector graphics are better for web design — flexibility, quality and small file sizes.

The Inkscape install guidance is nothing more than download and install but this is probably all you need. There are a few hints for Mac Users to help them out. There are packages available for Ubuntu and Debian based distributions in their respective distribution repositories. A Microsoft Windows installer is also available from the downloads section of the Inkscape website

The tour of the Inkscape user interface is very detailed with a good indication of what you can do with all the controls that make up Inkscape. There are just about enough drawings provided as examples, although I would have liked a few more images to make the tour a little clearer. I recommend you read the Inkscape tour in dual page view if you are reading the ebook (pdf) version.

The design concepts in the book start with web site layouts in chapter 2, steadily building each of the design aspects onto the site layout (images, text, patterns, icons, buttons and logos, site maps). The book covers four basic design principles of Proximity, Alignment, Repetition, Contrast and suggests reading The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice by Robin Williams for more detailed study.

You are walked through step by step construction of a basic web page design — including header, footer, sidebar, content, navigation. Using guides, grids and aligning techniques to manage your web page layout. Pulling all the design work together to create a store-front for a website. Its pretty hard to go wrong following these steps. The book use the same web design jargon you get in industry and any jargon used is explained well enough.

When you have created your web page design, you are shown how to slice up that design and export it as a series of image files (png) for use in the HTML code of the actual web page. This is the same basic process as used in industry.

Throughout the book there are specific chapters on working with images, styling text, creating logos and buttons, using patterns for background images and more details on creating flow diagrams such as for creating web site maps.

Each chapter again builds on the previous information to give you an easy to follow guide and provides examples of why the design techniques covered here are important along with approaches to create the most suitable designs for your clients.

There is nice coverage of how to use Inkscape and GIMP in collaboration to create your own animations for your website. The animations are relatively simple but effective, scrolling text and a sailing boat on the sea, showing you the technique in more than enough detail for any website design using animated GIF images.

Getting a little more technical at the end of the book, though still easy to follow, it covers the XML structures that Inkscape uses to hold your graphic designs. These XML structures let you tweak your designs using Inkscapes XML editor. There is also a reference section on the various plugins available for Inkscape, mentioning specifically Agave for color palette management and Export to PDF CMYK for color separation for the CMYK standard. There is also a section on how to create your own custom page templates.

I would have liked to see more information about filters that you can apply to your designs. There are a nice range of filters you can use in Inkscape and some are simple enough to use, but there are some that give great effects but have quite a few options you can tweek. There is plenty of scope for doing a whole chapter on using filters that would make the book more complete.

Inkscape 0.48 essentials for Web Designers is a great book to get started with Inkscape, especially if you are designing your own site. For example, If you have installed wordpress and want to create some custom themes, then this book would be very helpful to make your site stand out from the crowd.

There is an Inkscape Illustrators Cookbook by Packt Publishing out in April 2011 that seems more general compared to web developers book but as mentioned before, all the concepts presented in the web developers book are relevant for creating other graphic designs.

The book never attempts to teach you all about design, that would require a much larger book. There is enough design information in here to get you started on a good path and give you a good steer in the right direction. The coverage of Inkscape is very detailed and will help you get the most out of the tool, whether you are using it for web development or other graphical design activities.

This book makes a nice addition to the online resources available for Inkscape and with its tutorial style is a good contrast to other Inkscape books available which may contain more reference material but are more general in nature.

John coaches Lean Agile practices, organizes London technical communities and is an OSS advocate (since running Debian in 1995). @JR0cket

You can purchase Inkscape 0.48 Essentials for Web Designers from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

cancel ×

91 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Check em' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340672)

First post and dubz, fuck inkscape, this is the shit you need to be talking about!

Re:Check em' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340720)

Haha, I stole your doubles. Check em'

I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340678)

I guess the amount of feedback we have here... Shows that no one cares about Inscape.

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340710)

No, it shows how much the Web is ready for SVG. Can IE6 display SVG? How about IE7? IE8 maybe? Surely IE9 can display SVG?

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340824)

No, it shows how much the Web is ready for SVG.

I thought this site did?
http://www.codedread.com/svg-support.php [codedread.com]

Can IE6 display SVG?

Yes, with a plugin. Before anybody whines about needing plugins, please keep in mind that Flash is also a plugin. Apparently didn't stop Flash's acceptance in the market.

How about IE7?

Yes, plugin.

IE8 maybe?

Yes, plugin.

Surely IE9 can display SVG?

Yes, native.

Now the "yes" should be qualified by asking you for the definition of "SVG". Do you mean..
A. It can display vector images.
B. It can display vector images and has rudimentary animation support.
C. It passes all of the SVG test suite tests, including those for data parsing, pixel-based effects including displacement, etc.
D. It conforms 100% to the entire SVG spec.

If A: Yes.
If B: For the most part, Yes.
If C: No - nor does any other browser*
If D: No - nor does any other browser*
* See earlier link. It's due for an update, so the very latest betas'/previews' results will likely differ.

Back to you, co-Anon.

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341256)

http://raphaeljs.com/ [raphaeljs.com] can display svg on most versions without a plugin, horrendously slow on ie6 though

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341460)

Now the "yes" should be qualified by asking you for the definition of "SVG"

Also, which versionof the SVG spec. There are tons of feature sets mixed and matched to form various SVG flavors.

SVG is fairly ugly under the hood. It's still the best choice going forward for vector graphics, but several things just feel cobbled together. Many of the attributes seem arbitrarily, inconsistently, named. I have no doubt other formats are worse, but I had hoped for more.

To top it off, the SVG spec has holes which leave it up to the implementation to decide proper behavior. Every time I try to work in it I always run into these problems, if I can get past the problem of the available browsers not supporting the stuff that is explicit, that is.

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340716)

Certainly not enough to spell it correctly.

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340718)

Hey, at least it's not another review about something Drupal related.

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340852)

Up next: how to update your Drupal-powered website with a 3G-connected Arduino!

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340964)

Careful what you wish for, you just might [drupal.org] get it. [sparkfun.com]

Re:I guess the amount of feedback we have here... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35343836)

You can download the book from any of these places (though I've only personally verified the first link):
http://www.ziddu.com/download/13005635/EssentialsforWebDesigners.rar.html [ziddu.com]
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=NQZDE0Z1 [megaupload.com]
http://www.roosle.com/files/get/r8eAzfK67K/essentials-for-web-designers.rar [roosle.com]

Remember, information wants to be free! Fight the power!

What Happens After You Slice Your Design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340734)

Does it intelligently produce HTML & CSS code that isn't a collection of 's or absolute positioned divs?
If not, then is it just a mock-up or quick prototype tool?
Can you change what sort of output it produces?

Re:What Happens After You Slice Your Design? (4, Insightful)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340910)

As far as full web interactivity goes, you'd probably call it just a mockup tool. But then, you'd have to say the same for Photoshop or Illustrator; even though it provides lots of web export options, you'd have to be a moron to plan a website around their exported HTML.

So, most designers who use tools like these aren't thinking of them as "just for mockups." They're thinking "this is really how I want it to look, now let's slice this up into its component images and put together the HTML/CSS in a proper editor."

It's probably most common for Inkscape web designers to export as PNG and then do slicing or other edits in GIMP, although Inkscape does have some helpful tools for web export.

Ahem (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340738)

Inkscape is similar to Adobe Illustrator? Like a bicycle is similar to an 18-wheeler - you know, they can both be used to drive goods from coast to coast? Yes, Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator are both vector drawing programs, but there the similarity ends.

Re:Ahem (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340802)

Well, if you put Chuck Norris on a bicycle, then the only difference is the number of wheels...

Re:Ahem (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341004)

Nope. Chuck Norris has 8 wheels on the sole of each foot.

Version 0.48? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340768)

It sounds like the application is only halfway done, shouldn't they wait until the first version is finished before writing a book about it?

Although, since it's taken them 7 years to move from 0.37 to 0.48, maybe that would take a while.

Re:Version 0.48? (3, Insightful)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340792)

Just go use the app and see if it's useful or complete enough for you and stop worrying about version numbers.

Gmail Beta (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340804)

Gmail Beta sounds like the application is only partly done, shouldn't they wait until it is out of beta before using it?

Version numbers are arbitrary. It's a tool, and you can use this free tool right now.

Re:Gmail Beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35341060)

I bet everyone who had their account completely deleted wished they waited.

Re:Gmail Beta (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341754)

Unfortunately the account deletion happened AFTER it left beta.

Re:Version 0.48? (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341082)

It sounds like the application is only halfway done, shouldn't they wait until the first version is finished before writing a book about it?

Yes, you should wait until 1.0 to try it. Your competitors will thank you.

Although, since it's taken them 7 years to move from 0.37 to 0.48, maybe that would take a while.

Yes, that's 11 releases in 7 years. In another 36 years you'll be golden.

Re:Version 0.48? (5, Informative)

JucaBlues (990708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341594)

The version number 0.48 does not mean 48% done. Inkscape developers have chosen a version numbering scheme based on the following simple rule: We'll release Inkscape 1.0 whenever Inkscape fully supports the SVG standard. Until then we'll keep increasing the secondary number on each new release. When I joined the development team, Inkscape 0.45 did not support SVG Fonts and SVG Filters. SVG Fonts are partially implemented now and SVG Filters are fully supported (except for some minor issues). And off course there is all the work done by all the other developers too.

Re:Version 0.48? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341944)

Seems like a really long time to implement SVG. Apparently Inkscape started in 2003 as a fork of another project which started in 1999 (which itself was based on yet another project). So they have been working on implementing SVG for 8 years, at a minimum? Assuming the forked project also had some support for SVG, we're looking at an SVG implementation that has been in the works for 12 years now.

In 1999, IE became the most-used web browser, IE5 was released and bundled with Win98 SE, the Mozilla Organization was enjoying its first birthday, Netscape 4.x was widely wreaking havoc, and somewhere, some developers got together to start implementing SVG...

In other words, this group of developers has been attempting to implement SVG since the W3C started developing it, and hasn't succeeded yet.

Re:Version 0.48? (3, Informative)

JucaBlues (990708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341998)

If you think it is easy, remember that you can always help us do it faster (and better). Also, no browser currently support the full SVG spec as you can see at http://www.codedread.com/svg-support.php [codedread.com]

Re:Version 0.48? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342356)

I'm going to simultaneously gloat that my browser of choice has the highest rating, and also point out that IE9 has gone from 28% to 58% in 5 months, and Firefox went from 61% to 78% in 7 months. IE in general went from 0 to 58%, more than half of the spec, in 17 months and SVG isn't even the main purpose of the application.

I can sympathize with independent developers, but 8-12 years is quite a while to implement this.

You're comparing apples and potatoes (1)

pem (1013437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342514)

First, there's a huge difference between a display app and an authoring app.

Second, the native file format of most authoring apps is not the same as the output format of those apps. For example PDF is not normally considered an editable document, and things like OpenOffice can output to PDF, but don't read it very well.

InkScape has grabbed the bull by the horns. Not only is it an authoring app (as opposed to a mere display app), but its native file format is exactly the same as its output format.

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342600)

So you're basically saying that SVG is a spec that is expected to take roughly 10 years to implement.

Chrome is up over 90%. Heck, according to this report, in 2008 BitFlash had only 5 partials and 3 fails:

http://www.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/1.2/Tiny/ImpReport.html [w3.org]

I understand that BitFlash isn't writing SVG, but it's a text-based format, it can't be incredibly difficult to write the markup out.

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (2)

JucaBlues (990708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342752)

What is the purpose of your comments? Is it to state that there is something wrong in the development process of Inkscape? If so, then what would you suggest us to change?

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (0)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35343018)

Is it to state that there is something wrong in the development process of Inkscape?

Either the development process or the spec.

what would you suggest us to change

I don't know enough about the Inkscape development process to suggest the reasons why it has been in development for over a decade.

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (0)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35343044)

I also might just have a small pet peeve about applications starting their versioning at anything other than 1, seeing as how the number 1 represents "the first".

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (1)

JucaBlues (990708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35343220)

So now you've just learned that some people do it differently.

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35343438)

Many projects don't start at 1, sorry about your peeve.

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345280)

I also might just have a small pet peeve about applications starting their versioning at anything other than 1, seeing as how the number 1 represents "the first".

0. The version number 1 is usually reserved for a huge milestone such as Works as Intended -- All initially proposed features are now supported.

1. Version numbers are arbitrary because of such different "milestone" meanings that major/minor/patch numbers hold.

2. Programmers start counting at 0.

int * buffer = new int[100];
for ( int count = 0; count++ < 100; ) buffer[count] = count;


Note: The first buffer array element is buffer[0], buffer[1] is the second... In the above code the buffer array is filled with 100 integers (0 - 99) at their respective indicies.

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35348788)

I understand, I'm a C-trained programmer as well, it just makes sense that "the first version" is version 1. This is human speech I'm talking about, not a memory offset.

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35347708)

the number 1 represents "the first"

This is not true from any field or culture I am familiar with. Where do you derive this belief from?

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35348880)

This is not true from any field or culture I am familiar with. Where do you derive this belief from?

This is generally true in human cultures, here on the planet Earth. For example, this is at the top of the page on the Wikipedia definition for "first":

First or Josh may refer to:
The ordinal form of the number one

You can also see on the page for one that the ordinal form of the number is, in fact, "first".

Just like "second" is the ordinal form of the number two, "first" is the ordinal form of the number one. Therefore, "the first version" is version 1, by definition. The ordinal form of the number zero is "zeroth" or "noughth", and I don't see a lot of fields or cultures using that form to describe the initial item in a series.

Anyway, I guess that's where I "derive the belief" that "one" and "first" indicate the same thing.

Re:You're comparing applas and patataas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35349294)

Oh, I'm very sorry. I thought your problem was ignorance. I can clearly see there is much more at work here. I apologize again for the misunderstanding and I will try to explain things in more detail this time.

This is generally true in human cultures, here on the planet Earth.

This is exciting! I happen to be involved with some of those same cultures. Unfortunately, on Earth, cultures do not use the number '1' to represent "the first". I think your "first" problem is a failure to understand the word 'represent'. I'd say you should look it up, but I think you need to figure out how to do that first.

For example, this is at the top of the page on the Wikipedia definition for "first":

Wikipedia is a lovely place, isn't it? Unfortunately, it does not have a definition for 'first'. Wikipedia is, what we call, an encyclopedia. The big books that define all the words are called dictionaries. They can be fun to look at, but you shouldn't be too worried about them until able to understand some of it.

First or Josh may refer to:
The ordinal form of the number one

That's really cute! My local news station runs a creative writing contest for developmentally disabled children. If you send me some of your work I could enter it for you. You might even come in Josh!

Re:You're comparing apples and potatoes (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345642)

> but it's a text-based format, it can't be incredibly difficult
Here, have some OOXML.

Re:Version 0.48? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35342030)

Yep, that's exactly it. Man, are you clever. Slashdot is so lucky to have you.

In other words...

Why does this phrase always seem to be a euphemism for "I'm about to pull a strawman out of my ass?"

Re:Version 0.48? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35342114)

Why does this phrase always seem to be a euphemism for "I'm about to pull a strawman out of my ass?"

Because cows with indigestion post on Slashdot too.

Re:Version 0.48? (3, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342704)

Which should be hardly surprising, considering they're making a tool meant for *authoring* content, not merely display it.

Compare and contrast with HTML authoring tools, the best of which (Dreamweaver) has also been in the works for 12 years, a good portion of which was financed by a corporation as large, wealthy and experienced as Adobe, and yet allows you to use only a tiny subset of the current HTML+CSS standards using its 'visual' tools.

So really, once you get a bit of perspective into the matter, the devs behind Inkscape have done a pretty damn job all things considered.

Re:Version 0.48? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342912)

Compare and contrast with HTML authoring tools, the best of which (Dreamweaver) has also been in the works for 12 years, a good portion of which was financed by a corporation as large, wealthy and experienced as Adobe, and yet allows you to use only a tiny subset of the current HTML+CSS standards using its 'visual' tools.

Bah. I've been forced to work with Flash, my opinion of Adobe's developers has been decreasing for years and years. Maybe if they fix the bugs in Flash that have been there since version 5 I'll change my tune.

Re:Version 0.48? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35343636)

Well, you're either an idiot who doesn't have the gray matter to use Flash and doesn't know the first thing about anything, or you're trying to use it on the Mac, which makes you even more of a cunt for trying to use a toy computer to do real work.

Which is it son?

Re:Version 0.48? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35348972)

Well, it's neither I suppose. Call me crazy, but when I'm using a piece of software designed for creating internet content, for some reason I don't expect the thing to explode if it has a file open from a network share, and all of a sudden loses network connectivity. Now I might just be a strange guy, but I would expect that application to allow me to save the file, you know the file loaded in memory that it currently has open, which I can still use, to a local storage device. Flash doesn't allow that, if it loses its connection to the file it has open, you cannot save it at all, anywhere. This has been true for the last 10 years or so, at least. Macromedia's, and now Adobe's, answer to why this happens is that they "don't support using Flash in a network environment". Did I mention this is software for creating online content? Even my most basic text editor will let me save the current file anywhere I can reach, regardless of whether or not it still has access to the location the file was opened from.

Flash is notorious for crashing, ActionScript has a great feature called "silent failure", and everything bad I've seen happen with Flash happens to everyone in the office on a variety of operating systems, not just me. ActionScript 3 finally somewhat represents a respectable programming language, but then they go and screw up the UI so badly that it decides it needs to freeze for several seconds any time anything gets clicked on, which is another great feature of the software.

Re:Version 0.48? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35421176)

Great post, this is always a subject that onaltdokuz istanbul [emlakkulisi.com]
    requires more attention to understand, and sometimes we stay all
  confused by all this complicated thing, but youve this a little easy to understand, thanks

Re:Version 0.48? (2)

JucaBlues (990708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35343360)

In other words, this group of developers has been attempting to implement SVG since the W3C started developing it, and hasn't succeeded yet.

Actually, our SVG implementation is almost complete, only lacking a few things. I believe that the most important and substantial thing that we still do not support are the animation tags. As Inkscape is nowadays a drawing application (not an animation app yet), then I think it is not reasonable to say that we haven't succeeded in SVG implementation yet. We have solid support for the subset of SVG features that are needed for a drawing app. And this subset is substantially large.

You can expect to see animation support in some future version, and then we'll probably see an Inkscape 1.0 later, when the standard finally gets fully implemented.

No worries - full featured and stable. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35341830)

I just completed a project with 45,000 elements - 42,000 polygons, text labels and points. Thats about a 34mb svg file. Inkscape performed like a champ. (see "New Baghdad Map" on Ebay)

Re:Version 0.48? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35343708)

I played around with it 2 years ago and it seemed fairly useful to me, I guess they should just call it Inkscape 2011 Enterprise Edition, you would probably pony up $200 to buy it.

It's definitely up to the task (5, Interesting)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340806)

I've used Inkscape for web design work as well as general design/illustration tasks. I use it alongside other tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, though I end up using Inkscape more often when I'm working in Linux; it's a bit of a pain to start up a Virtualbox instance of Windows just to use Illustrator.

The first site I used it for turned out pretty well [marccarson.com] , but after that I decided it'd be best to combine it with GIMP, doing a sort of "detailed mockup" in Inkscape and finishing up in GIMP for slicing up imagery and more advanced/controllable texture effects. I got funny looks from my Photoshop students when I told them which website I made in Inkscape/GIMP [marccarson.com] but I explained that my workflow varies from project to project and it's not wise to thoughtlessly rivet yourself to someone else's technology before embarking on a career in design. They got the point.

So Inkscape is great! I appreciate the review, as I've been known to buy up books on FOSS just for the novelty factor, but I am curious about working more with its XML output. Getting at whatever maths are involved is fascinating, as I've learned with 3D graphics [friendlyskies.net] (and GIMP's procedural tools as well).

Can't wait for the upcoming book for illustrators.

lacking important path transformation algorithms (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340816)

Anybody who remembers the unix tool "xfig" will certainly agree that Inkscape goes a long way.
However, illustrator is still a lot more powerful. Here's a list of what I think are major shortcomings of inkscape:

- basic path transformations like "round corners" are missing
- calligraphic pens, and converting the outlines of those pens to paths
- some path transformations, like offset do not always give proper results
- automatic tracing
- pixel preview mode (indispensible for creating icons)

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35340916)

If by automatic tracing you mean vectorization, it's right there: Path->Trace bitmap.
Don't know about the others, but you may want to take another look at inkscape, it's improving nicely.

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

sirlatrom (1162081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340978)

IIRC there is an icon preview panel which means you can remove the last element from your list.

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (3, Insightful)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341114)

And here's how you do those things:

- Select some nodes, click "make selected nodes smooth" (or other node type, depending on preference)
- Use the calligraphy tool (fountain pen icon)
- I'll admit I don't know about this this one, but only because I don't know what you mean.
- Path > Trace bitmap
- View > Icon preview

So, what objections do you have to Inkscape now?

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341464)

Thanks for the reply, check my comment elsewhere in this thread. (#35341412)

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

theLime (4908) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341118)

O - "Round Corners": Inkscape has a lot of ways to achieve this, but they should be easier and more automatic, so I'll agree with you here.
X - There is a Calligraphic Pen tool in the main toolbox. The default behavior is path outline.
X - Path offsets are excellent and consistent using the Dynamic Offset tool
X - Auto-trace is in Path -> Trace Bitmap
X - Pixel Preview mode is in View -> Icon Preview

You aren't expected to be up-to-date on software you don't use, but please get the facts straight before posting :)

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (3, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341412)

You aren't expected to be up-to-date on software you don't use, but please get the facts straight before posting :)

True, I didn't download the latest inkscape before posting, and the last time I tried to use those features is like more than a month ago.
So let me try them again...

O - Calligraphic pen: indeed it is there, but I cannot draw a path with that pen. I can only draw in freehand mode. This is not the same thing. In practical situations, you'll always want to create a path, adjust it, and only then convert it to a calligraphic stroke. Plus, the capping of the line is really weird in inkscape. A calligraphic pen should imho just be a rotated oval (ellipse), that you drag along the page.
X - Indeed, the dynamic offset thing works. But note, it is not possible to numerically set the offset. So reproducing the same effect multiple times may be difficult.
X - Okay thanks a lot.
O - Not exactly the same thing. I want to zoom in on the pixels, so that I can see if the resulting image is exactly symmetric, for example.

Anyway, Inkscape goes a long way, kudos to the developers, but at least for me it is still not a replacement for illustrator in all situations. But the future seems bright.

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341860)

Agreed and I'll add the long awaited and now it seems punted Technical Drafting features in Inkscape make it far less exciting of a Vector Tool than it could become. The Lathe Tool, the dimensioning features to provide technical drawing specs and more are nice wish list features that were slated for 0.48 that never materialized.

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

theLime (4908) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341892)

Good points.

Couple of tips for working with 'pixels' in inkscape:
I usually zoom in quite deep and add a grid (Grids tab in Document Properties); the gridlines mark pixel borders.
You can quickly toggle snap-to-grid with % (shift-5).
The Icon Preview gives you a 1:1 for work<=64x64, or you can hit '1' to jump to 100% zoom.

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344642)

I'm not completely sure what you're saying for that first one, but I think what you're looking for is Inkscape "Live Path Effects" function. You can basically paste any form onto a path. Now, LPEs are a pain to use, so that's where the "Shapes" option comes in. To demonstrate:
- Draw a circle and copy it.
- Switch to the Path tool (or Pencil tool) and select Shape: From Clipboard.
- Draw your path now. The object previously selected is automatically mapped onto the path, and you can adjust the "skeleton" path as you wish.

You can do the same thing with calligraphic shapes or whatever you want (be aware that it's best for the copied shape to be aligned horizontally, that's it). Try it!

Re:lacking important path transformation algorithm (1)

The boojum (70419) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341226)

To add to your list.

* Blend tool

It's one of my favorites for creating complex highlights and shadows. Inkscape's solution to that seems to be blurs, but those are rasterization effects and bloat the size of any PDFs I export. I prefer all-vector solutions when using a vector graphics package. Admittedly, there's a bundled plugin to blend paths, but it's always been very crash-prone for me. Worse, I can't easily just tweak the result just by modifying the key paths like I can in Illustrator.

* Layer window

No, the XML tree outline is not the same thing.

Like Gimp/Photoshop (3, Insightful)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340830)

My experience is that if you know how to use Inkscape/Gimp you can do 90%+ of what you can do with the Adobe tools with no problem and for free. But most people are settled on their tools and would not even try. So be it. If you want to use free tools you need to start by giving them a chance. For most users, they will be able to do whatever they do normally with either. Just my $0.02.

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340898)

Someone's going to argue CMYK just because you said GIMP now...

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (1)

design1066 (1081505) | more than 2 years ago | (#35355966)

GIMP has a CMYK plugin. Similarly there are work flows for CMYK seperation suck as layout in scribus.

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (1)

supernes (1560323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340986)

If you know C++ you can probably do 100% of what you can do with Photoshop... it's just a bunch of pixels at the end, is it not?

The question is whether you can do it efficiently, that's to say with the least amount of effort and/or in the least amount of time. I would argue that GIMP just doesn't support the kind of complex workflows that professionals are accustomed to. It's not necessarily that a lot of thought has gone in designing Photoshop's UI (although that's certainly the case to a point), but the sheer depth and stride for consistency makes it easy to achieve the desired results faster than the competition.

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (1)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35348268)

That is true - however, most users are casual users, not professionals. And even for professionals, most of their work does not require complex workflows. You are talking *maybe* to 3% of the users, which really need professional tools. For the rest of us it is an expensive overkill. I've seen countless people through college and grad school pirating Adobe tools for work that does not require anything more complex than combining two plots into one. Even many of my friends (photographers, graphics designers, etc) use Photoshop for things like cropping a photo. It is an overkill in the majority of cases. So in my view Adobe tools are too heavy an expensive for everyday use - if you want to crop your aunt pictures there is no need to pirate anything, or pour a gazillion dollars into Photoshop or similar tools.

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35341218)

Inkscape is quite the opposite of Gimp from a UX point of view.

I rarely have to do any graphics stuff at all so most of the time I do I'm happy using something as simple as Paint.NET. While Gimp may be nearly as powerful as PS, I've tried it several times and couldn't get around even the simplest tasks.
On the other hand, I had to use Inkscape only once so far, but it was very intuitive and easy to use even for a guy like me

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341654)

Inkscape is actually quite good -- vastly better for vector graphics than GIMP is for raster graphics -- though I wouldn't say it does 90% of what Illustrator or CorelDraw can do. On the other hand, it can do some really neat things that the commercial tools can't.

Personally, I wouldn't want to be stuck using only one tool. I use CorelDraw, Illustrator, Inkscape, and sometimes Xara for vector graphics. All of them have their respective strengths and weaknesses, and all of them have some useful features that are unique to them. I don't think there's (currently) any reason to look beyond Photoshop for raster graphics, but none of the vector tools have reached the level of all-inclusiveness that Photoshop has.

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (1)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35348316)

Well, I agree and congratulate you. But know you are the exception to the rule. My experience is that most people learns to use one tool and try to use it for everything. And then you have the ones that only see value in things that sell for an expensive price, or just blindly follow a brand and recommend everybody else to do the same...

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35341762)

It's worth pointing out that workflow has real value to someone that works with these tools regularly.

Put simply, if it takes me 20 minutes to accomplish in Gimp what I can do in Photoshop in 5 or 10, that can be a deal-breaker over time.

Re:Like Gimp/Photoshop (1)

iceaxe (18903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342866)

I really want to use GIMP. I really do. I keep trying to learn how to do the same things I already know how to do (and do quickly) in Photoshop.

I keep trying, but over and over I find myself booting windows and launching Photoshop because I get frustrated.

I keep telling myself that it's just because I haven't learned GIMP well enough yet.

Someday I'll learn it well enough, and those last couple of games will work under wine, and I'll purge that dratted windows partition. I hate having a whole OS taking up space just to run a couple of programs.

Now, as for Inkscape - I have little time invested in learning any vector graphics program. I was pretty happy with my one experience with Inkscape. Of course, I ended up doing finishing touches in Photoshop... dang it, when you can use a hammer really well, everything seems to be at least somewhat like a nail...

one of the best OSS (1)

fredboboss (1059056) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340844)

To echo the lame comments please let me just say that IMHO Inkscape is one of the best open source tool out there.

Thank you to the Inkscape devs (and thank you for this book review for spreading info about it).

Agreed (2)

JMZero (449047) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341116)

I'll sneak this comment under yours as I don't really have anything to add, but wanted to echo your echo - Inkscape is really great software. I have no design or artistic talent - but Inkscape is intuitive, usable, and capable enough that I can eke together a drawing. It's the perfect choice if you're a programmer who wants to mock up (or even finish) a logo, printable item, or design element.

I say this about very few programs: I agree with pretty much all their UI decisions. Good job, Inkscape devs!

Yes!:one of the best OSS (1)

jamest_adelaide (320719) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341490)

I couldn't agree more. Like many great open source tools, it does a good, if not 100% perfect, job of replicating the slick functionality of commercial tools, but once you know what you're doing it gives you the openness and flexibility to get under the good and really make it work for you. Frinstance, Inkscape lets you drop into the SVG source, tweak it (eg changing the path of an included bitmap) and have the results appear in the canvas.
Book or no book, give it a go.

Re:one of the best OSS (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342222)

And yet another reply along the same lines - Inkscape is wonderful.

I work with design artists who produce artwork using Illustrator and it's clear there are things they can do that I can't with Inkscape. But it is astonishingly powerful and frequently easier to use than Illustrator. We've developed a quite productive workflow where they export in SVG which I can then load into Inkscape so I can do small adjustments without the need to round trip through them. Inkscape allows you to only purchase expensive tools for the people who really need them while letting everyone else do small adjustments with something that is excellent and free.

My only real complaints are that there are really dumb and simple things that are inexplicably not supported ... try drawing some lines with arrow heads and customizing them (colors, shape, etc) for example.

Re:one of the best OSS (1)

fandingo (1541045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342332)

It's like an echo chamber in here today.

This past week I've been making a presentation for my coworkers, and I couldn't find any consistent images on the web that I could use. I downloaded Inkscape (Linux), and despite having absolutely zero graphical design experience, I was able to make some professional looking diagrams (at least I think they are), in just a few hours.

Most of my work required me to make small changes on one master SVG. The object "grouping" feature in Inkscape (probably from the SVG standard) was a lifesaver.

Inkscape has quickly become one of my favorite FOSS projects, and I never thought I'd being doing any sort of graphic design.

Xara Xtreme (http://www.xaraxtreme.org/) (1)

Kevin Fishburne (1296859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340888)

Isn't too bad either. The interface feels a little slicker than Inkscape to me as well. Actually when pulling up their site they mention, "Is very fast, very slick to use." How did they do that???

I actually like Inkscape (1)

WarmBoota (675361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340942)

I had to come up with a T-shirt logo for our cub scout pack. I'm not a graphic designer by trade and not enough of a hobbyist to justify purchasing an overpriced piece of software from Adobe. InkScape and GIMP are more than enough for my needs and probably meet the needs of the majority of folks out there.

Just like Microsoft Word hasn't added any must-have features in years, I'm sure that the additional functionality present in the Adobe products caters to the niche markets that are willing to pay a premium. Since I'm not overly concerned with CMYK or whatever the equal-tier feature is in Illustrator, a book like this might just be what I need to get more use out of what I have available.

Impressed (2)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341034)

I had to download it before making a comment on here and I'm actually really impressed with this and quite frankly, I find this far superior to GIMP (speaking as a professional graphic artists and avid photoshop,etc. user). It does a fantastic job of working in vector as well as tracing bitmaps. Even has a fine set of effects (that I'd probably never use, but still awesome to see). At first glance, this is a great graphics app for anyone on Linux who has the avid hatred of GIMP.

Re:Impressed (0)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341674)

If you use Inkscape because you hate GIMP, you completely and totally misunderstand the nature of the two programs. In other words, you are a complete moron.

inkscape g-code extension (5, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35341158)

Something the review doesn't mention, that I particularly love about Inkscape, is the inkscape gcodetools plugin [cnc-club.ru] , which turns an inkscape drawing into g-code suitable for sending to a CNC milling machine directly from an inkscape menu. It still has some issues with complicated shapes, but as long as you review the toolpath, it's generally pretty good.

Re:inkscape g-code extension (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35343294)

Why would the review mention it? It's specifically about using Inkscape for WEB DESIGN. (As is the book, natch.)

You managed to get a +5 Interesting from a completely off-topic post, though. Kudos?

Re:inkscape g-code extension (1)

TrnsltLife (779961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345854)

Yeah, that plugin was quite useful to me. I designed a set of wooden train tracks à la Brio, etc. and used this plugin to make the g-code so I could cut them out. It worked great.

Number 1 rule of inkscape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35341576)

Save often, before it crashes!

Or use something that doesn't crash catestrophically.

I've used Inkscape with some success in the past, but the more recent versions appear to be crashing ~more often~ than old ones.

Inkscape Works Now? (1)

PerlPunk (548551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342004)

Years ago I used to use Coreldraw quite heavily for artwork for 4-color offset printing. But then I stumbled upon Inkscape and tried it out (both in Windows and Linux), but found it quite unsatisfactory. I never went back to it. Maybe things have changed since then.

here we go again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35342470)

Oh look - another packt publishing sockpuppet - but hey, we'll keep promoting them upo to the front page, so they'll keep submitting them.

(I call shill b/c any reviewer that doesn't scoff at the mere notion of animated gifs getting serious treatment is clearly not a real person ;)

To the Inkscape Devs... (1)

RLU486983 (1792220) | more than 3 years ago | (#35342800)

Thank you very much for your time and effort towards a product that is quite useful to a lot of us.

I care nothing about the version numbers associated to products anymore, its the functionality
that is most important... something that several commercial products fail to achieve!

built-in tutorials (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 3 years ago | (#35343318)

The built-in tutorials are very impressive, too. (Help ... Tutorials)

Save Often or Suffer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35343472)

I love Inkscape and vastly prefer its UI and to Adobe Illustrator, but cripes it crashes often! I hope they work on improving stability so it can really shine as a the otherwise professional grade tool its turning out to be. On a big project in Inkscape I developed a CTRL-S twitch to save every 30 seconds or so. Without that the constant crashes would have crushed my spirit I with lost work. The feature in newer releases to auto-save helps work around this some, but stability is crucial to making a good impression on users.

not at all crap (1)

luther2.1k (61950) | more than 3 years ago | (#35348714)

I don't much like the 'crapsoftware' tag. Inkscape has a few rough edges but it's been a life saver many a time. Well, not literally a life saver but I have used it to do many bits of vector art and it's a lot more portable and less fuss than Adobe's software (i.e. if I'm in a fix and not at my machine yet need to do some desktop publishing, I can install it in 5 minutes and it does the job). It's also more pleasant to use than GIMP or Blender, although they're also great when I can get hold of my preferred software for those tasks.
So, massive thanks and kudos to the guy(s) behind it!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>