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# 29 Vector Drawing Programs

#### timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the drawling-lahns dept.

329

Ed Pegg writes "I did a survey of all available vector-based drawing programs, in anticipation of SVG in the next Firefox. I found 29 different vector drawing programs. Of these, 14 were free or open source. More than I expected. Did I miss any good ones?"

cancel ×

### No Comment Title Entered

#### Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

### SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE (0, Offtopic)

#### Xizer (794030) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219845)

SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE

### Re:SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219922)

Not even funny anymore. Plus, you're over two weeks late, moron.

### uhhh... Helllllooooo (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220103)

You get down on the GP for being a moron who took 2 weeks to read a simple book that should have taken only 5-8 hours assuming that the GP was even a decent reader.

Has it dawned on you that maybe the reader is a moron? Likewise, I would have to call you a CLOD, for getting after the moron.

### The chick in "The Crying game" is really a dude. (-1, Offtopic)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219958)

The chick in "The Crying game" is really a dude.

### Darth Vader is really Luke's father! (-1, Offtopic)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219966)

Darth Vader is really Luke's father!

### Adama is a Cylon. (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219978)

Adama is a Cylon.

### Re:SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220059)

what's a snape? what's a dumbledore? i don't get it.

### More importantly... (0, Flamebait)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219848)

Did I miss any good ones?

More importantly, did you FIND any good ones? (and could you have written a less informative post?)

### Re:More importantly... (1)

#### Teraka (904430) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219988)

Here's a decent one that got missed.. Vista FX (http://www.visualstatement.com/ [visualstatement.com] is a vector based diagramming tool. It's pretty good for collision diagramming.. it could have other uses as well..

### Re:More importantly... (1)

#### kryten_nl (863119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220050)

You know that, that company has only a year until a legal-cost-induced-bankruptcy, don't you?

Windows Vista is comming..., run, hide or install Linux .

### Re:More importantly... (1)

#### symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220003)

Don't you have homework to do?

### Despite the fact /. is on google news (1)

#### tod_miller (792541) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220015)

and could you have written a less informative post?

it is not a news source, it is a NewsSource[], where each element is a pointer (reference in post 1990's terms) to a news source, which is an informatve article.

The job of the post is to describe the contents of the news source, which it did quite accurately.

It is the job of coral cache, mirrordot and karma whores [and assholes like piquepaille] to mirror the content verbatim.

To answer your rhetorical question (every rhetorical question deserves an answer ;-) - yes he could have written a less informative post:

He could have omitted the topic of the article, and the URL of the article, which would have been rather fun.

Ergo cogito sum a genius.

To confirm you're not a script,
please type the word in this image: digitize

(Can we have British English automated-human test images please, you insensitive clods!)

### OmniGraffle (1)

#### philipgar (595691) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219854)

I've found that for producing vector figures (mostly for research papers) OmniGraffle is pretty amazing. Its not free, but supports far more features than dia (such as helping you auto align and create symmetric figures). Also the interface seems nice and well done.

Phil

### Re:OmniGraffle (1)

#### Compuser (14899) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219866)

How does it compare with Illustrator?
Does it do CMYK? Does it do exports in a good
variety of formats? Does it handle page layout
issues so printing people (at places like
Science and Nature) are happy?

### Re:OmniGraffle (1)

#### Juanvaldes (544895) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219883)

Doubt it can replace illustrator. Do not believe it supports CMYK. Many export options. No clue about the last one, but you can almost poke around the website [omnigroup.com].

### Re:OmniGraffle (1)

#### philipgar (595691) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219900)

I haven't actually used it enough to compare it, and I have no real experience with Illustrator. I don't have too great of needs when it comes to vector graphics. Mostly making diagrams consisting of circles, arrows, boxes and text. For that purpose you really don't need anything too fancy, but I found OmniGraffle much easier to use and line up objects to make them look good than Dia (although running dia remotely on a dual xeon vs OmniGraffle on my ibook was a big plus for dia).

As for CMYK, I know there are options for it. I haven't played with it much. Check out http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnigraffle/ [omnigroup.com] for more details. While its OSX only, I presume you use those enough if youre involved with desktop publishing you have macs available. I'd reccomend downloading their free demo and giving it a try. If nothing else its much cheaper than illustrator depending on your needs.

Phil

### Re:OmniGraffle (1)

#### buckhead_buddy (186384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219981)

I am not the original poster, but I've used OmniGraffle:

It has a long NeXT heritage means GnuStep and Mac OS X are the targeted OS's. Others may be a challenge.

In my opinion, OmniGraffle excels at diagramming office graphics rather than print graphics (Illustrator) or drafting graphics (CAD). But templates exist for circuit diagrams, UML, and many other technical domains.

The big features I like in OmniGraffle are:

• AutoLayout - Makes a first pass at arranging your data.
• Connection Magnets - very flexible "snap to" points
• Nifty shadow tools - impress the boss with
• Action buttons - create simple navigation scripts to walk the boss through the document.
It will export in CMYK, but whether these are the NeXTStep Libraries or something custom to Omni, I don't know. It exports in PDF and EPS vector formats, PNG, TIF, and JPG for bitmaps, as well as a proprietary format and an HTML image map.

Its layers, grids, and page sizes are all user definable, but use the defaults from your chosen printer to start with. It has text handling prefs for text overflowing an object that it's placed in, but this isn't a Quark killer by any means.

Personally, I like Freehand as my vector tool of choice for artwork, but OmniGraffle is great for a quick and dirty diagram especially if its text heavy or has lots of often changing connection lines.

### Good for diagrams and flowcharts (1)

#### green pizza (159161) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219886)

I use OmniGraffle 3.0 [omnigroup.com] for doing diagrams and charts. It works absolutely fantastic for that (once you figure out the somewhat strange shapes palette so you can import several thousand additional figures). It's easy to use and the output is beautiful, I love the nice vector shadows and such, they print out really nicely. I wouldn't use this app for designing logos or other artwork though, it's pretty much strictly a diagraming program, I suppose that's why it supports Visio file formats, but not Corel Draw formats.

BTW, Apple G5 and PowerBook G4 systems have shipped with OmniGraffle (and OmniOutliner plus some other third party software) for the past couple years, so you might already have it preinstalled (or at least available in the "additional software" bundle on the CD that shipped with your G5 or PowerBook).

### Re:Good for diagrams and flowcharts (1)

#### Charles Jo (862028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219917)

Agreed. It's a fantastic application with a good UI. It's what I imagined Freehand to evolve into.

### Re:Good for diagrams and flowcharts (1)

#### h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220018)

I've read through all of this thread and haven't found a mention of Inkscape [inkscape.org] yet. Don't know how it compares with others out there, but I've just started using it and find it kind of fun. Good for my basic requirements, anyway.

### Inkscape (1)

#### jrtom (821901) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220089)

You probably haven't seen it mentioned because it's one of those listed in TFA. Which, you know, might be worth R-ing before you post. :)

### PoTrace (Polygon Tracer) (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219976)

I find http://potrace.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] works very well for converting black and white bitmaps to SVG or other vector formats.

### Re:PoTrace (Polygon Tracer) (1)

#### aichpvee (631243) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220057)

I've found that autotrace [sourceforge.net] also works quite well and supports colour images.

### You missed one (3, Interesting)

cat > file.ps
10 10 moveto
50 50 lineto
stroke
showpage


AutoCAD and Illustrator are for completely different audience. I get a lot of plots from Matlab; and Illustrator is a good package to make some touch up to the graphs. I would never use AutoCAD for that. But you really can't say which one is more powerful.

And where is XFig???

### Re:AutoCAD and Illustrator? and where is... (1)

#### Volvogga (867092) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220079)

I agree. More powerfull for what? Any CAD program has a mindboggling amount of mathimatical formula programmed into it. Also, if he is worried about LT's price, what would he have said to AutoCAD or any other full blown CAD program at a few grand a licence?

If we are counting CAD programs as something to be used as webpage design, then, ya, you missed a bunch.

### OmniGraffle (1)

#### brindle (8241) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219909)

OmniGraffler has been around for a while on OS X and uses PDF drawing functionality that is accessible to OS X programmers. Its a good Vector based program. The developers are longtime developers on the OS X platform and have given the program a polished look and an intuitive feel. I rarely use Illustrator or Fireworks.

Saves in the PDF format which is nice because most Adobe products can handle PDF files.

-b

### Missed TGIF (2, Informative)

#### saikatguha266 (688325) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219912)

TGIF [usc.edu] is a very nice vector drawing program. It is a very highly evolved version of xfig (but with better UI than xfig -- not gtk or qt though). It exports to a whole slew of vector formats -- my favourite being LaTeX and EPS. I don't leave home without it. ... Then again, I don't leave home much. :-p

### SVG Icons (2, Interesting)

#### ochinko (19311) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219919)

I've always wondered why rendering of scalable icons isn't relegated to the font server. Seems to me that all the needed code is already there.

### Re:SVG Icons (2, Informative)

#### akzeac (862521) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220076)

AFAIK they are optimized directly for font rendering (black/white or black with grey tones), while SVG requires colors, gradients, multiple transparencies, textures and so on.

### Re:SVG Icons (1)

#### ear1grey (697747) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220093)

I've always wondered why rendering of scalable icons isn't relegated to the font server. Seems to me that all the needed code is already there.

That is a very good idea.

I think the main reson for not doing it is that, by shifting rendering up to a server from the client, the ability to scale dynamically (without a round trip to the server for each component) is lost. I find myself using the firefox scroll-wheel scaling more and more as my eyes get old and lazy, so personally I'd generate a lot of extra traffic.

The real potential for the concept is in easing the transition to SVG for users of older browsers. Content negotiation could easily handle the decision of whether to send the SVG original or a dynamically generated version... but this is all too obvious, it must exist already, right? Please someone tell me there's an apache plugin.

no text

### Good news here! (-1, Offtopic)

#### Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219944)

I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance!

...

What?

### chemical drawing programs (1)

#### beda (158888) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219946)

Well, for chemistry vector graphics is the most natural format, so all the chemical drawing programs out there are in fact specialized vector drawing programs. As example I would mention BKchem (URL:http://bkchem.zirael.org/>) that uses SVG as its native format with private data embedded inside in a different namespace.

### What about.. (1)

#### paul.schulz (75696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219947)

And going back a little further, 'macdraw'.

### MacDraw - ClarisDraw - EazyDraw (1)

#### green pizza (159161) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220039)

And going back a little further, 'macdraw'.
MacDraw was neat, but most Mac users in 1984 were more comfortable in the raster world with MacPaint. Bezier curves scare most folks! Still neat to work with EPS files on a Mac 512K.

Did you know that MacDraw/ClarisDraw has inspired a Mac OS X version? EazyDraw [eazydraw.com] It's a bit weird but the price is right.

### Karbon (1)

#### vurian (645456) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219954)

You missed karbon, part of koffice: http://koffice.kde.org/karbon [kde.org].

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219964)

There is a special consortium that enables various software vendors to use intelicad sources - IntelliCAD Technology Consortium ITC (http://www.intellicad.org/ [intellicad.org]). Cadopia is only one of MANY (I mean more than 50) See http://www.intellicad.org/members/productlist.asp [intellicad.org]

### MM Fireworks (1)

#### JudasBlue (409332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219967)

Fireworks does vector and raster in one program very intuitively and is my number one tool for quick web mockups. Unfortunately, like Freehand, I fear that Adobe is going to do the death dance on it to make you buy their TWO ridculously overpriced and overpowered tools for this space. Which is very, very sad, since it is the only tool I know of that does all the things it does without a ton of extra fodderol you aren't going to use for web work and costing a bloody fortune.

### QuickGrid (1)

#### G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219968)

Close enough for my purposes, creating maps in vector formats - QuickGrid [perspectiveedge.com].

### another (1)

#### evershade (894700) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219969)

i've had some good results with geogebra

http://www.geogebra.at [geogebra.at]

:o)

### you've missed (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219972)

my favorite one (still today...):

http://bourbon.usc.edu:8001/tgif/ [usc.edu]

and you did mention clones of xfig, but not the original:

http://www.xfig.org/ [xfig.org]

### Other vector drawing programs... (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219986)

How about the one Nintendo's Virtual Boy used. Oh wait...you asked for GOOD ones. Sorry, my bad.

### EPS to SVG (1)

#### Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219987)

What I'm really after is an EPS to SVG converter so that I can use them with Apache's FOP [apache.org] tool.

Any suggestions?

### Re:EPS to SVG (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220016)

FOP can output directly to SVG.

### A few of these should be counted . . . (4, Informative)

#### Brendor (208073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220000)

Alias Maya [alias.com]has a great vector renderer. It outputs decent AI/EPS files as well as .swf files.

Also there were previous slashdot stories about Pixar's in-house Sketch Review Tool [millimeter.com], (a hybrid vector/raster tool) and Microsoft Acryllic [microsoft.com].

I believe Studio Artist [synthetik.com] is primarily vector based.

There are also many vector programs for the sign/graphics industry to control CNC routers and plotters. FlexiSIGN [scanvecamiable.com] is one of them.

### Linux SVG is alive !!! (1)

#### Kango_V (722296) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220025)

Inkscape [inkscape.org]
Sodipodi [sodipodi.com]

daz

### GraphViz (1)

#### mattr (78516) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220027)

GraphViz [graphviz.org] which lets you draw graphs (has perl module too) in different formats including SVG. I believe I once saw a subroutine call tree drawn in it from perl profiler.

### Realdraw (1)

#### ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220037)

Not open or free, but Realdraw http://www.mediachance.com/realdraw/ [mediachance.com] is one of my favorite drawing tools. It's not as deep as AI or Freehand, and is probably closer to Fireworks in concept since it also does html slicing and bitmaps, but to get a design out quickly and intuitively it's one of the best.
It exports to SVG, and the author has a policy that you pay once and get upgrades for the life of the app.

If you thought Microsoft Acrylic was a good idea, but needed work, Realdraw is what it'll be like when it's finished. Fun too...

### Missing some Esko products (1)

#### foo12 (585116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220038)

Artios [esko-graphics.com] and PackEge [esko-graphics.com] Both are pretty niche, basically only used for packaging cad and related prepress. But vector nonetheless.

### I see 2 missing. (1)

#### Allnighterking (74212) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220061)

1. Photoshop
2. Paint Shop Pro.

While both of these are better known as Raster tools they actually do as much if not more in dealing with Vector images.

### USA Today Graphs (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220074)

On the topic of graphics/vectors - does anyone have an idea of what program magazines like Economist and papers like USA Today use to create their graphs? I can never manage to get things looking that crisp in any program. Suggestions would be very appreciated.

### xfig (1)

#### jesterzog (189797) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220081)

I'm surprised you didn't list xfig [usask.ca], despite listing a port and a clone (and noting they were related to it).

I often use xfig to draw simple figures for latex documents that I write... I've always found the interface quite awkward to use, though. .fig files are also a bit restricted, but conveniently they're often easy to edit by hand.

### ReportLab (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220082)

http://www.reportlab.org/ [reportlab.org]
Uses OO python, brilliant and easy to use. I've used it to draw all kinds of publication quality figures, including genetic plasmid maps (I'm into bacterial genomics).

### What about Canvas? (1)

#### Samhain13 (827511) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220084)

My favorite vector drawing program is Canvas by Deneba http://www.deneba.com/ [deneba.com]. I use it all the time to make figures for journal articles (molecular biology and biophysics).

So far, I have not found anything it cannot do that I need, and it is cheaper than Illustrator. It's intuitive, stable, and powerful. I'm constantly surprised it doesn't get more attention.

### What about Skencil, IPE, XFig and Karbon (1)

#### ooloogi (313154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220104)

Skencil [skencil.org] (was called Sketch) is a good basic editor that has been stable for a long time. It's particularly interesting to people making diagrams for LaTeX, because of the SketchLatex [2pi.info] and skLatex [comcast.net] plugins to handle latex math formatting visually within the editor.

Also, there is IPE [compgeom.org] and XFig should at least rate a mention.

### www.smartdraw.com (1, Interesting)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220108)

Smart Draw is simply wonderful, good UI, really complete and the price is right.

Ok, it is more about diagrams and maps than about painting, but it's a time saver

Try a demo and see for yourself.
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