Inkscape glossary

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This is a beginning of an Inkscape glossary. Please respect it and contribute to it if you work on Inkscape UI. If you are doing translations, please create and link below a similar glossary for your language.


  • Node: point of a path that you can manipulate with. If you use Node tool, then it is displayed as gray or blue (if selected) rectangle on a path. Shapes do not have nodes, only handles. Node can have one or two handles too - displayed as circles connected to node. They modify bezier's tangents.
  • Handle: 1) one of two points around a node, displayed (for selected nodes) as a circle connected with its node by a line (node handles); 2) the arrows around the selected object in selector (scale handles, rotation handles); 3) points on a shape that can be dragged by node tool to edit the shape, displayed as small white diamonds (shape handles); 4) the things that you drag on canvas to set the placement, direction, and size of a gradient or pattern (gradient handles, pattern handles). (Internally this is called a Knot, but this is a deprecated term in user documentation.)
  • Path: object, with nodes, but without handles. For example a line created using the Freehand tool.
  • Live Shape: an object that does not display nodes but may have controls. An example is a circle or star. A live shape can be converted to path by Convert to Path command.
  • Stroke: a visible outline of a shape or path. Not the same as path; a path may or may not have a stroke. If the stroke is present, it can be converted to path by Convert Stroke to Path command.
    • Stroke shape (to be implemented): the dependency of the stroke width on distance along the stroke. Currently only constant-width strokes are supported.
    • Stroke pattern (to be implemented): the representation of a stroke as a sequence of arbitrary objects positioned along the path.
  • Object: an independent editable thing on the canvas. May be a path, a shape, a text object, a group, etc.

User Interface

  • Document window: the window with a Canvas, Menu, Commands bar, etc. Note that the same instance of the program may have several document windows. Some dialog are referred to as "windows" therefore it is important to distinguish between them and the Document window.
  • Menu, bar at the top.
  • Commands bar, beneath the Menu, with buttons for commands like New, Open, ... Note that this one will likely be broken into many smaller toolbars, each covering one topic, so the user will be able to switch them on/off and rearrange. So this name is temporary.
  • Tool Controls bar, beneath the Commands bar. Has the controls for the currently active tool. Note the capitalization. One should not refer to it as the "Tool bar," nor is it a "Tool" edition of the "controls" variety of "bar". It's proper name should be "Tool Controls" bar.
  • Tools, along the left side
    • Selector tool
    • Node tool
    • Zoom tool
    • Rectangle tool
    • Elipse tool
    • Star tool
    • Spiral tool
    • Pencil tool: to preserve consistency, please do not refer to this tool as freehand tool. Pencil tool (freehand) is better to use.
    • Pen tool: to preserve consistency, please do not refer to this tool as Bezier tool. Pen tool (Bezier) is better to use.
    • Calligraphy tool
    • Text tool
    • Gradient tool
    • Color dropper tool
  • Canvas, main part, with optional border, rulers and scrollbars
  • Status bar, along the bottom side of the window

Dialog Boxes

  • Fill and Stroke
  • Swatches
  • XML Editor
  • Text and fonts
  • Gradients
  • Align and Distribute
  • Tile Clones
  • Global preferences
  • Document preferences
  • Document metadata
  • Trace bitmap
  • Export dialog

Verbs (actions on objetcs)


Depreceated terms

These are used inside the code. Never use them for documentation.

  • knot (this may be a "handle", "control", "node" etc as seen by the user)
  • item (use "object")
  • desktop (use "canvas" or "document window" depending on context)
  • event contexts (they are known to users as "tools")