Report on c't article 12/2006

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This is a report on a review article of vector programs (including Inkscape 0.43) in the German c't magazine, issue 12/2006, subtitled "Inexpensive vector drawing programs for amateurs"

The article can be bought at http://www.heise.de/kiosk/archiv/ct/06/12/168/

The price limit for programs in the test was 100 EUR.

Besides Inkscape 0.43, the following programs were reviewed:

Tribar Inform 1.0 (http://www.tribarsw.net), Zoner Zoner Draw 5 (http://zoner.com), Serif DrawPlus 8 (http://www.serif.com), Purgatory Intaglio 2.7 (http://www.purgatorydesign.com), Xara Xtreme 2.0f (http://www.xara.com), Microsoft Expression Grafic Designer CTP (formerly Acrylic) (http://www.microsoft.com)

They say Expression is likely to cost more than 100 EUR once it's out of its preview phase, so it would not belong in that test anymore.


In short, Inkscape got the following rating (from --, -, o, +, ++):

  • Import and Export: -
  • Exact Drawing/Freehand: ++/-
  • Text design/Prepress: o/--
  • Efficient work/Documentation: +/--


Winners were DrawPlus and Xara, with Expression and Intaglio still better than Inkscape, the rest got lower ratings than Inkscape. The article text itself is IMO more friendly toward Inkscape than the rating says.

The text lists some highlights (both positive and negative) of each program, and for Inkscape, they were:

  • is a bit sluggish
  • has dynamic connectors
  • one cannot find help for a specific tool
  • uses SVG internally and thus is restricted to SVG features; so gradients are limited to linear or radial ones
  • potrace is far ahead in the quality of its tracing
  • no justified text
  • no artistic strokes apart from calligraphy, but it uses the angle information from a tablet, and also supports thickness by mouse speed
  • writes EPS but doesn't read it in again - this hinders easy exchange of drawings with other programs
  • bitmap export is limited to PNG
  • SVG files are included only as a link, if one wants to send a drawing to someone else, one has to take care to manually include all necessary files
  • documentation is SVG where one can directly use the tools, but one doesn't have links nor an index
  • documentation cannot really be searched - search is limited to the current document and doesn't jump from hit to hit, but just highlights them all, and the user has to comb though these
  • an extensive guide is being built at http://tavmjong.free.fr/INKSCAPE/MANUAL/html/index.html
  • normally is stable, but slower than the other programs
  • is under heavy development, but documentation makes it hard for newbies
  • usable for productive work

I'm now picking some of the good points of the other programs that they deemed worthy of mentioning:

  • features for web designers (slicing, connect with links, rollover buttons)
  • animation features and export to animated GIFs
  • CAD capabilities for technical drawings (dynamic dimension lines)
  • no program supports connected text boxes
  • movies for documentation
  • natural brushes
  • bitmaps can be distorted
  • user-defined styles
  • centrally defined colors that can be changed later (derived colors also change)
  • device profiles, Pantone, process colors, overprinting when doing color separation, color control bars, crop marks
  • cliparts, symbols, schematic symbols, fonts
  • vector and bitmap layer, when changing layer type, tools also change
  • distortion grid
  • node sculpting
  • pressure profile of a tablet stroke can be adjusted retroactively
  • randomization of strokes in width, hue, transparency
  • hyphenation, spell checking, indentation, tabulators, multi-page documents
  • when drawing a path, nodes (or even the node control points) can be moved without finishing the line first
  • dynamic guides
  • measurement tool with selectable unit
  • shadows get more fuzzy with increasing distance from an object
  • user-defined line ends
  • copies of an object can be aligned along a path


(Please keep in mind that I'm translating this from German, if something is unclear, just ask: colin (at) marquardt-home (dot) de) --Colin Marquardt 14:33, 20 June 2006 (PDT)