Frequently asked questions
deFAQ - FAQ in German - work in progress
What is Inkscape?
Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.
What is vector graphics?
In contrast to raster (bitmap) graphics editors such as Photoshop or Gimp, Inkscape stores its graphics in a vector format. Vector graphics is a resolution-independent description of the actual shapes and objects that you see in the image. A rasterization engine uses this information to determine how to plot each line and curve at any resolution or zoom level.
Contrast that to bitmap (raster) graphics which is always bound to a specific resolution and stores an image as a grid of pixels.
Vector graphics are a complement, rather than an alternative, to bitmap graphics. Each has its own purpose and are useful for different kinds of things. Raster graphics tend to be better for photographs and some kinds of artistic drawings, whereas vectors are more suitable for design compositions, logos, images with text, technical illustrations, etc.
Note that Inkscape can import and display bitmap images, too. An imported bitmap becomes yet another object in your vector graphics, and you can do with it everything you can do to other kinds of objects (move, transform, clip, etc.)
What is 'Scalable Vector Graphics'?
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an open, industry-standard XML-based format for vector graphics developed by the W3C. Its acceptance is growing fast. Most vector editors these days can import and export SVG, and modern browsers (such as Firefox and Opera) can display it directly, i.e. without requiring any plugins. (For Internet Explorer, there's an SVG Viewer plugin from Adobe.) For more information, see #SVG topics below.
Is Inkscape ready for regular users to use?
Yes! While Inkscape does not have all the features of the leading vector editors, the latest versions provide for a large portion of basic vector graphics editing capabilities. People report successfully using Inkscape in a lot of very different projects (web graphics, technical diagrams, icons, creative art, logos, maps). See examples at the Galleries. We try to always keep the codebase usable for real users, as we believe that a tight iteration cycle between users and developers will give best results. You can start using Inkscape alongside your other tools now!
What platforms does Inkscape run on?
We provide binary packages for Linux, Windows 2000/2003/XP (fully self-contained installer), and OSX (dmg package). We know that Inkscape is successfully used on FreeBSD and other Unix-like operating systems. Windows 98/ME is no longer supported, however, maybe at a later time.
How did Inkscape start?
Inkscape was started as a fork of Sodipodi, in late 2003, by four Sodipodi developers: Bryce Harrington, MenTaLguY, Nathan Hurst, and Ted Gould. Our mission was creating a fully compliant Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) drawing tool written in C++ with a new, more user friendly (Gnome HIG compliant) interface and an open, community-oriented development process. Within several months the project had produced several releases, demonstrating a sequence of significant new features and improvements to the codebase and quickly established Inkscape as a noteworthy Open Source project.
What does 'Inkscape' mean?
The name is made up of the two English words 'ink' and 'scape'. Ink is a common substance for drawings, and is used when the sketched work is ready to be permanently committed to paper, and thus evokes the idea that Inkscape is ready for production work. A scape is a view of a large number of objects, such as a landscape or ocean-scape, and thus alludes to the object-oriented nature of vector imagery.
Can I create webpages with it?
Not yet, although many users use Inkscape for webpage mockups or generating web imagery such as banners, logos, icons, and more.
With the recent advances in SVG support in web browsers (such as Firefox or Opera), using SVG directly on the web becomes more of a possibility. For example, with Firefox 1.5 or better, you can open any Inkscape SVG document right in the browser, and Firefox will show it correctly. In theory, SVG and XHTML can be used together within the same document, so interested users or developers can explore this possibility further.
Can I create animations with it?
No, Inkscape does not support SVG animation yet. It is for static 2-D graphics. However you can export graphics from Inkscape to use in Flash or GIF animations. And since February 2006, Blender can import SVG data and extrude it to render 3D graphics.
Will there be an Inkscape 1.00? What would it be like?
Assuming development continues steadily, we will inevitably hit 1.00, but no particular date has been discussed yet.
Before going gold with any kind of 1.00 release, there would be a significant effort to tie down loose ends, a push for greater stability and smoothing off of rough edges. This would be a time consuming process and until it does happen Inkscape may be subject to substantial changes between releases.
Contributing to Inkscape
How can I help?
Grab the code and start hacking on whatever draws your attention. Send in a patch when you're happy with it and ready to share your efforts with others. We also need writers and translators for the user manual and interface internationalization (I18N) files.
We take contributions very seriously and follow the principle of "patch first, discuss later", so it is highly likely your efforts will appear in the development codebase swiftly. There are of course rules and standards that must be followed, but we try to keep them unsurprising and obvious.
Are there non-coding ways to help?
Certainly! While there is certainly a lot of coding work to be done, there are also a lot of other non-programming tasks needed to make the project successful:
Bug wrangling and testing:
Identifying and characterizing bugs can help a HUGE amount by reducing the amount of development time required to fix them.
- Find and report bugs. This is a critical need for ensuring the quality of the code.
- Review and verify reported bugs. Sometimes the bug reports don't have enough info, or are hard to reproduce. Try seeing if the bug occurs for you too, and add details to the description.
- Performance Testing - Create SVG's that stress out Inkscape, and post them as test cases to the Inkscape bug tracker, with your time measurements.
- Compatibility Testing. Compare the rendering of SVG's in Inkscape with other apps like Batik and Cairo, and report differences found (to both projects).
- Bug prioritization. Bugs that are marked priority '5' are new bugs. Review them and set them to high/medium/low priority according to their severity. See Updating Tracker Items in wiki for details.
Helping fellow users
In addition to making a good drawing application, it's also extremely important to us to build a good community around it; you can help us achieve this goal directly, by helping other users. Above all, keep in mind that we want to maintain Inkscape's community as a nice, polite place so encourage good behavior through your own interactions with others in the group.
- Write tutorials. If something isn't already documented in a tutorial, write up a description of how to use it.
- Participate on inkscape-user@. Answer questions that pop up on the mailing list from other users. Also, share your tips and tricks, and demo new ways of using Inkscape for cool stuff.
- Create clipart. You can upload it to the openclipart.org project.
- Give Inkscape classes. Teach people local to you about using Inkscape. Or give presentations at local events, Linux group meetings, etc. about Inkscape (and other Open Source art tools).
Development (no coding needed)
- Translations. Information on how to create translations for the interface is available on the TranslationInformation page in Wiki.
- Design Icons and SVG themes. Create new icons for existing themes or start a new icon theme. Also see http://librsvg.sourceforge.net/theme.php
- Mockup new dialogs. Draw up ideas for improving or adding dialogs. These are handy to the UI developers for figuring out what to do.
- Improve packaging. Figure out how to make the package for your operating system or Linux distribution install and work better. See CreatingDists in Wiki.
- Add extensions. For file input/output, special features, etc. Inkscape is able to tie into external programs. Create new .inx files to hook these up for use in Inkscape. Also, if you're comfortable scripting in Perl, Python, etc. have a shot at improving the extensions, too!
- Add source code documentation The source code needs even the simplest documentation in some places, documenting functions will certainly help the next coder.
- Create templates. See the Inkscape share/templates directory.
- Work in Wiki. Wiki is a great place for gathering development info but always needs updating, copyediting, and elaboration.
- Plan future development. Review and help update the Roadmap in Wiki. Basically, talk with developers about what they're working on, planning to work on, or recently finished, and update the roadmap accordingly.
Spread the word - Inkscape Marketing and Evangelism
Increasing the size of the userbase is important. The network effects of more interested users means more potential contributors and hopefully people saying nice things about us, and giving Inkscape word of mouth advertising which we believe is important. All our users and developers serve as ambassadors for Inkscape and others will judge Inkscape based on how well we behave. It is important that we all be polite and friendly and make Inkscape a project people like using and enjoy working on, all other evangelism follows on naturally from there. Generally though for building the community we prefer quality over quantity so be careful not to go too overboard with evangelizing or the "hard sell". We want to work with other applications, rather than "killing" off other software and such comments are counter productive. We need to manage expectations. We want users to be pleasantly surprised by how much Inkscape does, not disappointed that it does not match other programs feature for feature. Inkscape should be thought of as providing artists another way to be creative which complements their existing skills and tools.
- Write Articles. Get articles published in various online (or even printed) magazines and blogs. Don't forget to include a link to Inkscape!
- Create Screenshots. Especially for new features.
- Create Examples. Examples are useful for showcasing different ways Inkscape can be used. Create some screenshots and text, and submit to the web wranglers (via the inkscape-devel mailing list) to add to the site.
- Work on the Website. Help on the website is ALWAYS appreciated. Knowledge of HTML is required; PHP know-how is helpful. Check out the website code from the Subversion (svn) repository and send patches, or request direct svn and shell access for doing on-going work.
- Give presentations. Give talks at expos, symposia, and other big events about Inkscape. Be sure to announce it on an inkscape mailing list so we can post it to the Inkscape website.
- Recruit more developers. Find people with an interest in doing coding, and encourage them to work on Inkscape.
Feel free to contribute your own banners or buttons for promoting Inkscape. The best ones will be linked here.
How to make Alt+click and Alt+drag work on Linux?
Alt+click and Alt+drag are very useful Inkscape shortcuts ("select under" and "move selected" in Selector, "node sculpting" in Node tool). However, on Linux Alt+click and Alt+drag are often reserved by the window manager for manipulating the windows. You need to disable this function in your window manager so it becomes usable in Inkscape.
For example, in KDE this is done in Control Center > System > Window Behavior > Actions.
Please help by adding this :)
How to insert math symbols or other special symbols in the drawing?
When editing text on canvas, press Ctrl+U, then type the Unicode code point of the symbol you need. A preview of the symbol is shown in the statusbar. When done, press Enter. A list of Unicode codes can be found at http://www.unicode.org/charts/; for example, the integral sign character is "222b". You must have a font installed on your system that has this character; otherwise what you'll see is a placeholder rectangle.
When editing text on the Text tab of the Text and Font dialog, you can use any GTK input modes that your GTK installation supports. Consult GTK documentation for details.
When saving your work in eps format, we recommend to set the option "convert text to path" in the export dialog box, to preserve the symbol.
How can sine curves be made in Inkscape?
In 0.43, Inkscape includes an extension called Function Plotter (before that it was called Wavy). It can be used to create sine curves or any other function graphs. Third party software such as Xfig, KiG, or KSEG can also be used to create complex mathematical curves and then export to SVG for use in Inkscape.
How to measure distances and angles?
Inkscape does not yet have a dedicated Measure tool. However, the Pen tool can be used in its stead. Switch to Pen (Shift+F6), click at one end of the segment you want to measure, and move the mouse (without clicking) to its other end. In the statusbar, you will see the distance and angle measurement. Then press Esc to cancel.
The angle is measured by default from 3 o'clock origin counterclockwise (the mathematical convention), but in Preferences you can switch this to using compass-like measurement (from 12 o'clock, clockwise).
Starting from 0.44 we also have the Measure Path extension that will measure the length of an arbitrary path.
Does Inkscape support palettes? Where can I "store" and save colours for further use?
Starting from 0.42, palettes are supported using the same file format as the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP Colour Palettes, .gpl). The name used in Inkscape for the feature is "swatches". When selecting this terminology, we surveyed a number of different programs and found that both "palettes" and "swatches" were commonly found. Since the term palettes had been already been used in Inkscape to describe a particular type of dialog windows, the term "swatches" was adopted to describe this feature.
How do I get extensions working?
The extensions mechanism allows you to use external programs and scripts written in any language to augment Inkscape's capabilities. The tricky part is satisfying all of the dependencies of the external programs. For help satisfying dependencies of individual extensions check GettingExtensionsWorking. If you are specifically interested in Effects go straight to GettingEffectsWorking; if you're on Windows, consult GettingEffectsWorking/Windows, and for MacOSX, see the instructions at CompilingMacOsX#Enabling python effects.
How can I print the tutorials? When printed from Inkscape they don't fit, and I don't like reading on screen.
All tutorials in all languages are available online in HTML at http://inkscape.org/doc/index.php and can be easily printed from your browser.
Is there a way to apply a gradient to a stroke so that it bends with the stroke?
A stroke can be painted with a gradient, but that gradient will not bend with the stroke. It will remain linear or elliptic. If you meant something like this, then SVG can emulate such effects using SVG Filters which Inkscape does not yet support.
There are, however, a couple of workarounds. One is described here. The other is to use the Blend extension to create a blend between two curved paths painted with different colors or opacity levels; with enough intermediate steps, such a blend will look almost like an arbitrarily curved gradient.
I'm trying to make a colored tiling of clones, but the tiles refuse to change color.
The original object from which you're cloning must have its fill unset for this to work. Use the "?" button in the Fill&stroke dialog to unset fill. If the original is a group, only some of the objects in the group may have unset fill, so only these objects will change colors in the tiling.
The PNGs exported by Inkscape have jagged edges/no antialiasing/funny background.
This is a problem with whatever you use to view these PNG files, not with Inkscape. For example, Internet Explorer cannot show PNG files with transparency properly. Use e.g. Firefox to view your PNGs. If you absolutely must use IE, you can't have transparent background in PNG; change it to opaque in Document Preferences and export the PNG file again.
If you want to open the exported PNG bitmaps in MS-Word, you will also have to change the alpha-opacity (in document-properties dialog) to full, and then export -- the result will be much better.
Can Inkscape be used from the command line?
Yes, indeed it can. For details refer to the manual page via
man inkscape after you've installed it, or view the man page on our site.
I'm on Windows, and command line parameters don't seem to work!
Actually, things like exporting or converting to plain SVG do work, they just do not output anything to the console. This is because Inkscape on Windows is a GUI application and is not allowed to have any console output. This means that query options (such as
--query-x) will not work at all. But this can be fixed if you recompile Inkscape as a console application. See this page for general Windows compilation instructions; edit the file Makefile.mingw.common in the source tree's root directory and replace
-lgc -mwindows -lws2_32 -lintl
-lgc -mconsole -lws2_32 -lintl -lgdi32 -lcomdlg32
then recompile. This will give you an inkscape.exe which works exactly as it does on Linux with regard to command line parameters and console output. If you regularly use Inkscape's command line interface on Windows, please send a message to the inkscape-devel list and we may consider providing such a console executable in our official Inkscape Windows builds.
I'm having problems with non-Latin filenames on Linux - help!
If your locale charset is not UTF-8, then you need to have this environment variable set:
$ G_BROKEN_FILENAMES=1 $ export G_BROKEN_FILENAMES
This is necessary for Glib filename conversion from the locale charset to UTF-8 (used in SVG) and back to work. See <a href="http://www.gtk.org/gtk-2.0.0-notes.html">this page</a> for more details.
- LANG=C inkscape in the commandline switches to the default language (English).
- LANG=fr inkscape changes the language to french. This command is only used by the started program. The
- used locale has to be installed (else it falls back to the default language). To change it easier in the future, you can use an
- alias alias inkscape="LANG=C inkscape"
- You have to save that in the .bashrc , so that you can use it even after the next system restart. Type locale -a in the console
- to find out, which locale setting is supported on your system.
- The official Mac OS X way is to provide
.lprojfiles which enables applications to pick up the
- preferred language
- from the System Preferences dialog; however, this is probably some considerable
- way into the future. It might be possible to set up a scheme involving langauge :: packs, otherwise the linux methods may work.
- The official Mac OS X way is to provide
- 1. Locate the installation directory.
- 2. Enter the Inkscape\locale directory
- 3. Locate the directory with the two letter locale you don't want to use.
- 4. Rename (or remove) this directory to something like disable_de or x_es
- 5. Restart inkscape and the default English (en) locale will be used.
- Beware, this change the behaviour for all inkscape users on this machine
I installed a new font on my Windows system, but Inkscape does not see it.
This was a bug in versions of Inkscape up to 0.43, caused by using an obsolete font cache. This cache is stored in the file called
.fonts.cache-1. This file may be in your Windows folder, or in your Temp folder, or in "My documents" folder, or in the folder listed in the $HOME environment variable. Use file search by name to locate this file. Then simply delete this file and restart Inkscape; now it will see the new fonts.
Are Inkscape's SVG documents valid SVG?
Yes. Inkscape does not yet support all features of SVG, but all files it generates are valid SVG (with the partial and temporary exception of flowed text, see below). All standard-conformant SVG renderers show them the same as in Inkscape. If they do not, it's a bug. If this bug is in Inkscape, we will fix it (especially if you help us by reporting it!).
What about flowed text?
When flowed text support was added to Inkscape, it was conformant to the then-current unfinished draft of SVG 1.2 specification (and was always described as an experimental feature). Unfortunately, in further SVG 1.2 drafts, the W3C decided to change the way this feature is specified. Currently SVG 1.2 is still not finished, and as a result, very few SVG renderers currently implement either the old or the new syntax of SVG 1.2 flowed text. So, technically, Inkscape SVG files that use flowed text are not valid SVG 1.1, and usually cause problems (errors or just black boxes with no text).
However, due to the utility of this much-requested feature, we decided to leave it available to users. When the final SVG 1.2 specification is published, we will change our flowed text implementation to be fully conformant to it, and will provide a way to migrate the older flowed text objects to the new format.
Until that is done, however, you should not use flowed text in documents that you intend to use outside of Inkscape. Flowed text is created by clicking and dragging in the Text tool, while simple click creates plain SVG 1.1 text; so, if you don't really need the flowing aspect, just use click to position text cursor instead of dragging to create a frame. If however you really need flowed text, you will have to convert it to regular (non-flowed) text by the "Convert to text" command in the Text menu. This command fully preserves the appearance and formatting of your flowed text but makes it non-flowed and SVG 1.1-compliant.
What, then, is "Inkscape SVG" as opposed to "Plain SVG" when saving a document?
Inkscape SVG files use the Inkscape namespace to store some extra information used by the program. Other SVG programs will not understand these extensions, but this is OK because the extensions only affect how the document is edited, not how it looks. Extensions must not cause any rendering problems in SVG-compliant renderers. However, some non-compliant renderers may have trouble with the presence of the extensions, or you may want to save some space by dropping the Inkscape information (if you're not planning to edit the file in Inkscape again). This is what the "Plain SVG" option is provided for.
What SVG features does Inkscape implement?
The main parts of SVG that Inkscape does not support yet are filters, animation, and SVG fonts. The rest mostly works, though of course there are bugs that we're always fixing. For a comparison of Inkscape and other open source SVG tools on the W3C SVG test suite, look here.
I have hand-created SVG. Will everything be messed up, if I load and save it with Inkscape?
Inkscape strives to avoid changing the SVG just because it does not recognize some of the SVG elements, however it *does* make changes:
- All objects will get unique "id" attributes. If already existing and unique, they will be preserved, otherwise one will be derived from node name.
- Some sodipodi: and inkscape: namespaced metadata will be added to the beginning of document.
- If you edit a gradient, that gradient will be broken up into 2 linked gradients - one defining color vector, another one position.
- Changing any style property forces reconstructing of the whole 'style' attribute, which means CSS (not XML) comments will be lost and formatting of CSS may change.
- The formatting style of the SVG file will be changed to follow the style hardcoded into Inkscape.
There is ongoing work to allow Inkscape to better preserve hand-created SVG markup but it is a very difficult task requiring a lot of infrastructure work and will happen very gradually - but help is always appreciated.
Inkscape and renderer X show my SVGs differently. What to do?
That depends on X. We accept Batik and Adobe SVG plugin as authoritative SVG renderers because they are backed by some of the the authors of the SVG standard and really care about compliance. This may not be true for other renderers. So if you are having a problem with some renderer, please try the same file with either Batik or Adobe, or better yet, with both (they are free and cross-platform). If you still see a discrepancy with Inkscape rendering, we want to look into it. Please submit a bug; don't forget to attach a sample of the problem file to the bug report, and ideally include screenshots too.
Inkscape and other programs
Why the split from Sodipodi?
Inkscape started as a code fork of Sodipodi. The main reasons were differences in objectives and in development approach. Inkscape's objective is to be a fully compliant SVG editor, whereas for Sodipodi SVG is more a means-to-an-end of being a vector illustration tool. Inkscape's development approach emphasizes open developer access to the codebase, as well as using and contributing back to 3rd party libraries and standards such as HIG, CSS, etc. in preference to custom solutions. Reusing existing shared solutions helps developer to focus on the core work of Inkscape.
For background, it may also be worth reviewing Lauris' [http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?thread_id=4232246&forum_id=3970 Sodipodi direction] post from Oct 2003, and his thoughts on SVG, licensing, and the value of splitting the project into two independent branches.
What's the difference between Inkscape and Dia?
Dia is for technical diagrams like database charts, class diagrams, etc., whereas Inkscape is for vector drawing such as logos, posters, scalable icons, etc.
SVG is a useful format for creating diagrams, though, so we hope as Inkscape grows as a fully-featured SVG editor, it will also be useful for making attractive diagrams too. Several of us hope Inkscape will become a useful technical drawing tool and work on features with that goal in mind. However, Dia provides a number of useful capabilities such as support for UML, autogeneration of diagrams, etc. that are well beyond the scope of a general SVG editor. Ideally both Inkscape and Dia can share various bits of code infrastructure and third party libraries.
Is this intended to replace Flash?
While SVG is often identified as a "Flash replacement", SVG has a huge range of other uses outside that of vector animation. Replacing Flash is not one of Inkscape's primary intents. If SVG can replace Flash, and Inkscape can help, that's great, but there's a lot more to SVG than web animation that is worth exploring. (See also SMIL http://www.w3.org/AudioVideo/)
Is Inkscape a replacement for The GIMP or Photoshop?
In most cases, no. They're used for two very different things. Inkscape is used for creating vector drawings, such as laying out a poster or creating a fancy logo, whereas bitmap editors are for working on raster images, such as touching up a photograph. In many projects, you would need to use both Inkscape and a bitmap editor (such as GIMP), for example, to add bitmap effects to an image exported from Inkscape.
However, currently bitmap editors are often used for common tasks they are not well equipped for, such as creating web page layouts, logos, or technical line art. In most cases, this is because users are not aware of the power (or even the existence) of the modern vector editors. Inkscape wants to amend this situation, and to raise a vector editor to the status of an essential desktop tool for everyone, rather than an exotic specialized tool that only professionals use.
Will Inkscape be part of the Gnome-Office?
Inkscape will need to mature a bit further before this can be considered. Specifically, better support for embedding (Bonobo) is needed, and the Gnome-Print subsystem needs to be tested more thoroughly (help very much appreciated here). If you can compile a recent version of Inkscape and help us with testing it would be very useful.
What formats can Inkscape import/export?
Inkscape natively supports opening only SVG and SVGZ (gzipped SVG) formats.
Inkscape can natively save as SVG, SVGZ, Postscript/EPS/EPSi, Adobe Illustrator (*.ai), LaTeX (*.tex), and POVRay (*.pov).
With the help of extensions, Inkscape can open/save as PDF, EPS, AI, Dia, Sketch and some others.
Inkscape can natively import most raster formats (JPG, PNG, GIF, etc.) as bitmap images, but it can only export PNG bitmaps.
See FileTypes for discussion about file formats that people would like to see supported, and third-party tools that can be used to convert files to or from SVG.
What can I do with *.cdr (Corel Draw Vector drawing file) files in Inkscape? I have got my images in *.cdr files and I would like to continue in *.SVG.
- Open CDR file Corel Draw. Save it as CGM file. It will save only vector graphics. It will not save bitmap graphics.
- Open CGM file in OpenOffice Impress. Copy to Open Office Draw and isert orinibal JPG or another bitmap graphics. Save file as ODG And you can continue in Open Office Draw program.)
- Select all (CTRL+A)
- Export as SVG.
- Open SVG file in Inkscape and correct mistakes if they appear.
I exported an SVG file from Adobe Illustrator, edited it in Inkscape, and imported back to AI, but there my changes are lost!
That's because Adobe cheats. It creates a valid SVG, but apart from the SVG code it also writes to the file, in encoded binary form, the entire AI-format source file of the image. Inkscape, of course, edits the SVG part of the image and leaves the encoded binary untouched. But when you import the SVG file back to AI, it completely disregards the SVG code with its edits and reads directly from the encoded AI binary. Therefore, any SVG changes are lost. To work around it, in Inkscape open the XML Editor and remove the non-SVG elements (everything not with the svg: prefix in its name).
What are Inkscape's development goals?
Inkscape wants to be a complete SVG-compliant vector graphics editor. Apart from standards compliance, our primary goals are stability, performance, state of the art vector graphics features, and an efficient and innovative user interface.
What language and toolkit is Inkscape built upon?
The codebase Inkscape inherited from Sodipodi was C/Gtk based. There is an ongoing effort to convert the codebase to C++/Gtkmm. The ultimate goal is to simplify the code and make it more maintainable. We invite you to join us. Just don't mention Qt. :)
What is your position on code sharing with other projects?
Yes, sharing of code libraries with other projects is highly desirable, provided the right conditions exist. A good candidate for a library will be mature, widely distributed, well documented, and actively maintained. It should not introduce massive dependency problems for end-users and should be stable, powerful, and lightweight. It should strive to do one thing, and do it well. Libraries that don't meet all the criteria will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
How to create an Inkscape extension?
You don't need to know much, if anything, about Inkscape internals to create a useful extension. Aaron Spike, the author of most Python extensions that come with Inkscape, wrote a helpful web page (including a series of tutorials) on creating extensions in Python (Perl and Ruby are also supported).
What's a good way to get familiar with the code?
You can start with the Doxygen documentation. There you can find not only the usual Doxygen stuff but also different categorized views into the inkscape source.
In the Documentation section of the Inkscape website you can find some high-level diagrams and links to other documentation that's been produced such as the man page. Historically, this codebase has not been kept well documented so expect to find many areas where the only recourse is to work through the code itself. However, we place importance on working to change this, and to flesh out the documentation further as we go.
Some developers have found that testing patches is a good way to quickly get exposure to the code, as you see how other developers have approached making changes to the codebase. Other developers like to pick an interesting feature request (or perhaps a feature wish of their own) and focus on figuring out how to implement it. Occasionally we also have large scale grunt-work type changes that need to be applied to the codebase, and these can be easy ways to provide significant contributions with very little experience.
Getting beyond initial exposure, to the next stage of understanding of the codebase, is challenging due to the lack of documentation, however with some determination it can be done. Some developers find that fixing a crash bug by tracing execution through the various subsystems, brings good insights into program flow. Sometimes it is educational to start from an interesting dialog box and tracing function calls in the code. Or perhaps to start with the SVG file loader and follow the flow into and through the parser. Other developers have found that writing inline comments into the code files to be highly useful in gaining understanding of a particular area, with the fringe benefit of making that bit of code easy for future developers to pick up, too.
Once you feel far enough up the learning curve, implementing features will firm up your experience and understanding of the codebase. Be certain to also write test cases and documentation, as this will be of great help to future developers and thus ensure the longevity of the codebase.
What is the size and composition of the codebase?
The latest statistics are available at http://inkscape.org/status/index.php. The code is somewhat modular, but less so than we would like. If you're interested in some specific part of the codebase, feel free to ask developers.
What rendering engine do you use?
Currently we use our own renderer called livarot. We plan to migrate to Cairo when it is mature enough.
What is the development platform?
Most developers work on Linux. However it is also possible to compile Inkscape on Windows; this page provides detailed instructions for this as well as for cross-compiling Windows binaries on Linux.
What is the Linux command to download the code through Subversion?
Generic directions are under the Subversion link on the inkscape sourceforge page. Note, however, that the command given on the sourceforge page will check out all modules of the Inkscape project and all branches of those modules.
- To only check out the latest copy of the main branch (also called "trunk") of the Inkscape program, do:
svn checkout https://svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/inkscape/inkscape/trunk/
- To only check out the trunk of another Inkscape module, do:
svn checkout https://svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/inkscape/MODULE_NAME/trunk/where
MODULE_NAMEis the name of the module you want to check out. Other modules you can check out include:
experimental, our development "scratchpad" for working up prototypes;
inkscape_web, which holds our website files; and
inkscape_project, which holds config files and other project-level things. You can use our Subversion viewer to get the names of available modules.
- To only check out a branch of some Inkscape module, do:
svn checkout https://svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/inkscape/MODULE_NAME/branches/BRANCH_NAME/where
MODULE_NAMEis the name of the module you want to check out, and
BRANCH_NAMEis the name of the branch that you are interested in. You can use our Subversion viewer to get the names of available modules and branches.
These commands will download the requested module into a directory named either
BRANCH_NAME, depending on whether you chose to check out the trunk or a branch.
- If you'd like to later test out a different branch of any of Inkscape's modules, you can do that by running
svn switch https://svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/inkscape/MODULE_NAME/branches/BRANCH_NAME
in your working copy, where
MODULE_NAME is the name of the module you are working in, and
BRANCH_NAME is the name of the branch that you want to switch to.
- You can do something similar for tagged branches:
svn switch https://svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/inkscape/MODULE_NAME/tags/BRANCH_NAME
Note that Subversion supports the ability to move individual subdirectories of a working copy of a module to different branches of that module, so if you want to switch an entire working copy to a different branch, run
svn switch in the root directory of the working copy.
How are feature requests selected for implementing?
Many developers become involved because they wish to "scratch an itch", so of course if they wish to work on a particular feature, then by definition that one will receive implementational attention. This is the primary mechanism by which features get implemented.
Inkscape also strives to take user requests for features seriously, especially if they're easy to do or mesh with what one of the existing developers already wants to do, or if the user has helped the project in other ways.
If you have a feature that you'd really like to see implemented, but others aren't working on, the right thing to do is delve into the code and develop it yourself. We put great importance on keeping the development process open and straightforward with exactly this in mind.
I'd prefer the interface to look like ...
Understandably, many users are accustomed to other programs (such as Illustrator, the GIMP, etc.) and would prefer Inkscape to follow them in design. Inkscape developers are constantly examining other projects and on the look for better interface ideas. A large motivation is to make the application follow the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines, which has a number of rules in how the interface is made. The Inkscape developers also seek advice and ideas from other GUI app designers, such as the GIMP crew, AbiWord, and Gnumeric; they've been at it longer and we view them as an excellent source of battle tested experience.
But please understand that the Inkscape interface will, at the end of the day, be the "Inkscape interface". We will strive to find our own balance of compatibility with common drawing programs, wishes of our userbase, good workflow, creativity of our developers, and compliance with UI guidelines. It's unlikely that this balance will meet every user's wish, or achieve 100% compliance with the various platform specific Interface Guidelines, or include every developer's idea, and if it did it probably wouldn't be as good. ;-)
Usually when we discuss interface look and feel, we arrive at the conclusion that, really, it should be configurable so that each user can flip a few switches and get an app that is most cozy to them. However, flexibility should not be used as an excuse not to make tough decisions when they are called for.