Improved Media Management

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Revision as of 03:38, 28 December 2009 by Kattekrab (talk | contribs) (→‎Proposals)
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This set of issues generally is first seen due to problems managing linked vs. embedded images. However it quickly becomes clear that the underlying principals and problems extend across the board to many things including CSS files, ICC profile files, etc.


  • Pasting writes a PNG file with an auto generated name into the directory of the document and creates a link. If the document wasn't saved yet, it saves it to some arbitrary directory (home dir on Linux, Inkscape installation dir on Windows). [The name is inkscape_pasted_image_YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS.png]
  • Importing or 'Drag and Dropping' a raster image creates links to the originals.

Here are the effects:

  • Pasting an image into an unsaved document on Windows requires administrator privileges.
  • Not possible to paste into a document opened from a read-only directory.
  • Completely unexpected location of images pasted into an unsaved document.
  • If the user forgets to send the linked images, SVGs sent to others via e-mail or other means are broken.
  • By using "Edit externally" or ImageMagick extensions, a user unaware of links can overwrite valuable images.
  • Inconsistent with SVG behavior: SVGs are always embedded.
  • Copying the image to a web server results in misrendered SVG in the browser. Users unaware of links might blame the problem on the browser or the server rather than Inkscape (see example)
  • Linked images are not transmitted over Inkboard.

The e-mail problem must be fixed on the sender's side, because only he has access to complete data. The solution must involve combining raster data with the SVG, so that they reside in the same file.

Use Cases


  • Arthur wants to create a collage using some bitmaps. He drags 2 images from Firefox into an SVG document, pastes a third one from GIMP and imports 4 other from his photo folder. He increases the contrast on one of them. He saves the document and sends the SVG using e-mail to a friend. He doesn't know much about links, so he does not include the original images in his e-mail.
  • Issa works on a multi-user system at an university. She opens a scientific poster template from a shared read-only folder. She pastes photos of samples into the document, then saves the poster in her home folder.
  • Charlie uses Inkscape to add vector frames to his photos. He wants to be able to post-process the images without updating the SVG document. He creates an image link.
  • Sara is a web designer and has SVG documents with lots of absolute image links. She moves all the images to another folder. The links break, which is not surprising to her. She wants to fix all the links at once.
  • Billy wants to edit an image embedded in the SVG document he received from Arthur.


Use cases are helpful, but in order to gain the most we need to know who are the users under discussion. This is a general Usability Design issue and we have some overall information being collected under our wiki section on User Personas. The specific user personas referenced in these cases on this page are:

  • Arthur - 40-year old department store owner and amateur photographer who uses Windows. He has no idea what SVG stands for, but is familiar with pasting images into MS Word documents.
  • Issa - 21-year old undergrad student of chemistry with some generic Unix experience, but no SVG or Web technologies experience.
  • Charlie - 35-year old US Navy nuclear propulsion engineer on an overseas deplyoment who misses his family and likes to learn time-saving tricks.
  • Sara - 30-year old Web designer with extensive knowledge of Web technologies and some experience with hand-tweaked SVG documents.
  • Billy - 16-year old son of Arthur, a high school student and Wikipedia contributor experimenting with free software. Uses Inkscape from time to time to update world maps and draw diagrams.


  • Default to embedding images when pasting and Drag and Dropping pixel data
  • When Drag and Dropping a file, ask whether to embed or to link
  • Add a link option to the import dialog that defaults to off
  • Embedded images as hybrid links: embedded raster data with info about its original location. If the original file exists, it is watched for modifications and updated