Release notes/0.36

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Inkscape Release 0.36 "See, even a 5 year old can use it."

This is the second release of Inkscape and there has been a tremendous amount of work that has been done on the project. Many patches and ideas that had been 'waiting in the wings' have now been applied to the codebase. Now Inkscape is easier to use for users as the interface is less complex and more intuitive.

In Brief:

  • Main GUI has been significantly redesigned
  • Usability of dialogs, keyboard shortcuts, and mouse is improved
  • Preliminary support for layer grouping, path markers, and extension modules
  • Much more user and developer documentation - doxygen, docbook, man page, wiki, diagrams, & more
  • Many bugfixes, minor enhancements, and usability tweaks

What is Inkscape?

The Inkscape application is an open source SVG editor with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, Visio, etc. Supported SVG features include basic shapes, paths, text, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, node editing, svg-to-png export, grouping, and more.

Enhancements

  • CSDI interface has been traded for an SDI one: Now each document window has its own menubar at the top and its own detachable toolbar at left. This increases Inkscape's compliance with the GNOME HIG and decreases confusion for the majority of users.
  • A secondary (horizontal) detachable toolbar is introduced for operations and controls specific to each tool. At the moment this toolbar is mostly empty but we have big plans on how to fill it with all kinds of useful things for convenient access.
  • Dialogs now always stay on top of the document window (even if you have several document windows open). They are easy to open or activate (using shortcuts displayed in their title bars), close (Ctrl+w), or defocus (Esc). Moreover, dialogs remember their size and position across sessions.
  • New commands: Paste style (apply the style of the copied object to the current selection), Fit page width to window.
  • Introductory layers support. There is now code in the code base to start handling layers. GUI elements to follow - watch this slot!
  • Arrowhead and marker support. A much requested feature which increases the usability of Inkscape for everyday tasks.
  • Using mouse is now less painful thanks to the increased mouse tolerance (you don't have to be exactly over an object to grab it) and introduced drag tolerance (very small drags, which are usually accidental, are now considered clicks and do not move anything).
  • Undo is now unlimited (that is, limited only by available memory).
  • Lots of new keyboard shortcuts. Notably, Esc now consistently deselects, cancels selection, and cancels drag or transformation of any kind (so far only in selector and node edit). Arrows, Ctrl+a, and Tab/Shift+Tab act on nodes in node editor exactly as they do on objects in Selector. There are at least two ways to activate each tool, one with an F<number> key (Corel Draw style) and another with a single letter (Adobe Illustrator style). Space toggles between Selector and your current tool. Dialogs are consistently activated by Ctrl-Shift-<letter> combinations.
  • There's no lower limit on the size of exported PNGs anymore. You can use Inkscape to create even 1x1 PNG images.
  • The standard xml:space attribute on text objects is now honored. For newly created objects it has the value of "preserve" which means all whitespace characters are shown exactly as typed.
  • Enhanced modules system. Now modules can be defined using external files so no C coding is required for an extension.
  • Mac OS X and Windows build fixes. These builds are getting more mature and working better.
  • Increased code documentation. Come check it out, the Inkscape codebase is getting more readable every day.
  • Numerous bugfixes and usability improvements.

Infrastructure

What lies ahead

  • More useful stuff in the secondary toolbar - all kinds of controls that are relevant to a specific tool will be put into that toolbar for convenient access.
  • A new, extensive Preferences dialog. Lots of settings that are now hard-coded will be settable.
  • Dialogs reorganization: less dialogs overall, with their functions more logically grouped.
  • More precision, maximum zoom of 256x or more.
  • Complete keyboard control for node editing, including editing control handles of a node.
  • GUI selection of arrowheads for path start/end/mid markers.

Known problems

  • At least on KDE, floating dialogs may not stay on top when you switch between maximized document windows. You may need to click on the window's title bar to bring the dialogs to top. (See src/dialogs/dialog.events for a possible workaround and comments, feel free to suggest a patch.)
  • Also on KDE, detached toolbars do not stay on top. (This is a KDE problem.)
  • On Windows, dialogs do not stay on top of document in this version.
  • Some keyboard shortcuts (e.g. arrow keys for nudge) do not work if your mouse pointer is not over the document window.
  • When using Copy/Paste (or Paste style) commands, you cannot copy gradients or arrowheads from one document to another. Workaround: use the XML editor to copy the content of the <defs> element from the source document to the target document, then copying gradients and arrowheads will work.
  • Pasting text directly into a text object on the canvas does not work. Workaround: open the Text dialog (Ctrl+Shift+t) and paste into the text editing area there, then click Apply.
  • 'warning: failed to load external entity "glade/icons.svg" - This is not a fatal problem, but merely an indication that Inkscape could not locate its icon images. This problem can also be detected when some of the button icons show up as random noise. The usual fix is to go through the 'make install' process so that the icons.svg file gets copied to the expected location.
  • 'colinear!' - This is a libart warning. The original libart intersector has all kinds of numerical problems, and it is believed that this warning is emitted if it tries to find intersection of two almost parallel lines. Robert Crosbie recently noticed this still occurs when using the Calligraphic tool.