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Inkscape: Open Source Scalable Vector Graphics Editor


Inkscape 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.

Inkscape's main motivation is to provide the Open Source community with a fully XML, SVG, and CSS2 compliant SVG drawing tool. Additional planned work includes conversion of the codebase from C/Gtk to C++/Gtkmm, emphasizing a lightweight core with powerful features added through an extension mechanism, and establishment of a friendly, open, community-oriented development processes.

In this presentation, Inkscape will be presented and the community development process discussed.


  • Scalable Vector Graphics Editor -- Cross-Platform, Open Source, C++ codebase
  • Started in November of 2003 from the SodiPodi/Gill codebase with 4 devs.
  • Already grown to 10-20 developers by Spring 2004 & still growing
  • This talk is going to be a technical introduction to the project.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

  • Like HTML, but for graphics. XML standard for vector graphics
  • Can write in a text editor using a straightforward & obvious syntax
  • Vector vs. Raster
    • Raster is an array of dots that "appear" to be shapes
      • Pro: With sufficient resolution can be photo-realistic
      • Con: Takes up lots of space even for simple geometric representations
      • Con: Difficult to split into component pieces for further editing
    • Vector is real 2D shapes
      • Pro: Geometric representations scalable to any resolution
      • Pro: Easy to edit component pieces
      • Con: Difficult to do photo-realistic images at small file sizes

Cross-Platform & Open Source

  • Platforms include Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, Win32
  • Open Source means:
    • The source code is available for free to the whole world
    • The development process is open to all to participate in and enjoy

Uses of Inkscape

  • Vector Art
  • Symbology - Logos, Flags, Street Signs
  • Webpage Graphics, Buttons, and Flourishes
  • Visually Attractive Maps, Diagrams, and Technical Drawings

Development Community/Process

  • This is a collaborative open source program involving around 10-20 developers from all over the world.
  • It uses the standard open source development process with some smoothed out concepts to make it even more effective.
  • Patch first, discuss later
  • low barrier for developer commit access to CVS
  • uses
  • Uses Network of Social Software (the key to distributive writing/dev)
    • Website
    • CVS
    • Wiki
    • Mailing List(s) and E-mail
    • Chat (
  • Bus Factor of the project (It has a high one)
  • more?

Why is this important?

  • In order to define this, one must decide to which community this is important.
  • A production ready software does not exist in the GNU/Linux world.
    • As you all would be concerned, this type of tool doesn't exist!
  • Art Community
    • It is free.
    • It is high quality and production ready!
    • Supports positive ideals!
      • Copyright is what it is, but we would like to see more opened up tools and codebases. Promotes development and honesty.
  • Scientific Community
  • Visualization Community

Common Misconceptions (Low Hanging Fruit)

  • Isn't this just an open source Illustrator?
  • Isn't there X, Y, and Z projects that already do this?
  • Open Source doesn't innovate, it only imitates

Problems to be solved

  • Not enough viewers
    • solution: mozilla is pushing it
    • solution: inkview
    • solution: adobe svg is pushing hard!!!
  • Our program is not fully compliant yet
    • solution: need more developers and more integration


  • extension system
    • quicker development
    • don't have to know as much about the internals
  • networked editing (shared space)
  • layers

Also Check the TufteStylePresentation