Difference between revisions of "User:Bats"

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(My Inkscape observations and wishes)
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Revision as of 10:41, 18 March 2006


Hello, I wrote most of this into Kedit shortly after doing a project a few weeks ago; I wanted to capture things while fresh in my mind. I found this wiki much later and so I resolved to post what I had written, somehow. I am not sure where to put it, so I have used this user page for the job. I will advertise this somewhere, just not sure where yet.

Please forgive any missteps on my part, this is my first post to an online wiki.

My intention with this is too express my thoughts as I was working and then to express my wishes about what the software could do. It's not about flames. I really like Inkscape, it's already better than the last time I tried Corel (version 8, I think) and it's just about at Freehand 7 level which is amazing considering the price!

I also know the whole "If you want it, code it yourself" argument, and this is not about shifting the burden to someone else. Employ these suggestions or don't, I will help where I can. If this list starts some discussion then that will be more than I expected.

I also appreciate that the stuff I experience may be due to the way that Inkscape has been compiled for my Distro. I still have not managed to compile it myself due to the large number of deps. I tried, but Cairo kinda killed my enthusiasm - it's just not gonna happen on Fedora 3.

One last disclaimer - I don't propose to be an expert. I am sure there is loads of stuff that I simply don't know about and by knowing could solve some of these problems!

My working setup

I use Linux - Fedora Core 3 at the moment. My machine is 10 years old by now, an old AMD 1Ghz and I have 1 gig of RAM and various IDE drives poking out of a very old case. Money is tight, no Apples in sight and never have been ;)

Inkscape (4.3), Gimp and Quanta are my main tools. I will delve into Blender now and again and use sundry tools to get other stuff done.

Mixed suggestions and hopeful ideas

Here is the big mixture of observations and ideas:-

  • I would love a way to place guides on the four edges of a page automatically. Those page borders are too bold sometimes, I like to hide them but then I must manually drag guides and place them - a drag (literally)!
  • I worked with a trace from a bitmap that had ~700 nodes. Inkscape simply stopped. The cpu was at 99% everytime I clicked something and it stayed like that for minutes at a time. I suspect that there is some slow code involved with nodes and the like. The rule is keep your nodes below 100 and that means: do not actually use trace. Do not actually create complex images. C'mon.
  • Strokes - I needed a way for the stroke to be created underneath or above the shape. I had to convert strokes to shapes (nice that it can do that) and muck about with scaling etc to handle some tweaking on the logo.
  • The eye-dropper. I would like it to pick-up the colour optionally including the alphaness of the colour. Sometimes I actually want to know that exact rgba colour, not the rgb approx that assumes the alpha is ff. (If that makes any sense.)
  • Fills. I love the gradient fills. I love the powerful way that alpha is used (in normal fills as well). I wish there was a better way to edit those fills. The current method is too pokey. Why not lay-out the gradient and have little markers that allow direct control of the fill. Check out how Blender does it. Oh yeah, let me name my blends or - better - just show me a picture of the blend. I can't groove to names like: LinearGradient2182. Ouch.
  • Stamping. I like that it's there. The way it's done is too sensitive. I click and start a drag, I press SPACE and continue the drag, suddenly I have dozens of copies of the shape. It should be one copy per press of space. Another important thing: When I drag and then stamp, the original object should be left where the drag began. It's irritating to have to move a copy of it back to where it started from!
  • A way to duplicate objects along a path. Perhaps a way to morph them to another shape at the same time. I know there is a plugin for morphing, but not along a path.
  • A way to restore a bitmap (or any imported shape) to it's original dimensions after successive rotations and deformations.
  • Import - Why can't I drop-in a Gimp XCF file? I have to go and make a special PNG (or jpg) of it (file clutter) just so I can get it into Inkscape. The Gimp can handle SVG...


General speed. I use the same machine that I used to use for Freehand 8, 9 and 10. Freehand flies. Zap, zap, zap. This machine now has 1 gig of RAM and runs Linux. Inkscape acts like a snail on superglue, well, okay, it's a turn of phrase. I appreciate that this may be due to my distro's (Fedora 3) way of compiling GTK and Inkscape. Slow things:

  1. Dragging objects around.
  2. Dragging the canvas around.
  3. Toolboxes: Opening them and when you drag them over the canvas - there is a black flash of redraw.
  4. Using toolboxes: The colour sliders are terrible - they redraw visibly while you are dragging!
  5. Lots of nodes: The superglue hardens and the snail dies. Eek.


  • A way to "paste inside". This is a "biggy". It's essential to be able to quickly clip shapes into other shapes. I can imagine it's a recursive nightmare to code, but manually cutting shapes using path tools is a bore and retards the design flow. I like how you can convert things to "Patterns" and then edit their shapes, that's a partial solution at least.
  • On the subject of "patterns" - it's hard to make a pattern fill "sit" inside a shape properly. It would be great if we could set the spacing between the repeated pattern; sort-of like css padding.
  • I had trouble converting vector shapes to patterns. Weird stuff, hard to explain. Large vectors (large scale, not complexity) would simply corrupt as a pattern.
  • When you have a PNG with an alpha channel and you convert it to a pattern, there is a visible outline where the alpha ends; a kind of ragged edge.


  • Inkscape really needs an "outline view". Things like paths that I put text onto usually have no stroke, after some hours of work I cannot recall where those paths are.
  • Oh yeah, when you select many objects and move them (or scale them), the paths that you had text put onto sort of move in a strange relative way, not like you would expect. They sort-of lag behind and depending how far you drag, they can be waaaaay off the page after a bit.
  • Putting text onto paths is great. Getting text onto a path in the way you want it to it hell. I needed a phrase along the top of a circle and then another few words at the bottom, but those had to be wrapped on the inside of the bottom of the circle, so that they read correctly (not upside-down). The only way I could solve my problem was to cut a curve out of a duplicate of the path and wrap the text to that and then move it around with ALT and F2 (node tool). It was messy.

Font dialog

  • The first thing is that I would love to see previews of the fonts in that list. Not the preview at the bottom which is no good if you happen to have small-sized text, but a pre-rendered, fixed-size (legible) preview in the actual list (like Gimp does it.).
  • The other thing is kerning. I would love to kern my entire text from the dialog. I love the ALT+arrow keys for tweaking, but en-mass is handy.
  • Would be cool : Is there a way to get Inkscape to re-scan the various system font-folders without restarting? This way I can install new fonts and have Inkscape pick them up sans closing the whole thing down and re-starting it! That would kick bottom since (last I used them) neither Corel nor Freehand could do it.
  • A way to "reset" fonts to remove all their distortions, scalings etc.


  • I was sure that I was able to do this in earlier versions, but: When I select an object (or a group of them, whatever - a "selection") and I go to export as a PNG and choose the "selection" type, then I expect it to only export what I have selected. Inkscape is exporting my selection (good) along with a clipped collection of whatever is in the background (bad) - stuff that I have not selected. So - when I have a logo that I want to get into Gimp, I cannot simply select the various bits in-place and export them, I am forced to explode the whole thing into seperate clusters on white-space before I export them. Urgh.
  • When I try to export (save as) to PDF or PS I have found that it only works when the page is a portrait layout. Anything else exports a clipped portrait version of the document. Most irksome.
  • I would love to export to JPG/XCF. Also any other supported format like PDF, EPS etc. Even SVG. Why this fixation with Save As?
  • Why no way to set PNG compression and other meta info?
  • Supersampling option? Some small images are way chunky.
  • A way to export each shape in a selection as its own file. A kind of export-explode if you like.
  • Add an export Only Current Layer option. (With a transparent background please!)
  • I would really like to see a way to export slices like Fireworks does. Draw stuff, any combination of layers, groups, images, vectors, text. Then drag guides around and have a way to select "slices", name them and export them.


  • I am really happy that they are now there. Really. Could we work on that horrible layer control? I would not mind a layer toolbar at the bottom where I then click around and hide/show/drag to arrange etc. and it goes away when I mouse-out (or re-click the button, or hit esc).
  • Have a little "export this layer" thingum. (Same as mentioned in Export section. Another way to do the same thing. A shortcut.)

Hardcore wishes

  • Mega-wish: Drop-shadows and other Fireworksification. Why should Inkscape not blur the line between pixel and vector? I really hate working with the Gimp. It's true. It just plain gets in my way all the time. Inkscape has a freedom of movement, a zoom-in zoom-out pan-around rotate-this scale-that paridigm that places foot upon bottom. Why not go all the way and let me shade edges and glow logos and fill with cool textures?
  • Super-crazy-OSS-thought: Transfer Inkscape 100% to Open-GL and interact with Blender. I can now have 3D layers with full scenes from a Blender file in them. I can rotate, scale the 3D stuff and then over/underlay that with normal Inkscape stuff. Cmon! Do it! Okay, </dream>
  • On the Blender thought-trail: I love the way nodes work in Blender. It's weird, but dig this: You can select two nodes and hit "s" (for scale) and then when you move the mouse (not even a drag) it "scales" the two nodes. The effect of this is that they move towards or away from each other evenly. I would love to do something like this in Inkscape. Imagine two nodes on opposite sides of a rectangle (in the center). I could select them and "scale" them towards the middle of the rectangle (forming a kind of hour-glass shape). Currently I have to move them individually and use guides and guess-work to get them positioned. Perhaps I have missed a cool trick that lets you do this already?
  • Flame idea: Please start a QT version of Inkscape. I understand that the QT licence has really loosened-up and you can distribute to Windows etc now too. QT is (in my experience of about 4 distros) much snappier than GTK. Whoa! Put down that club. Drop that brick! You know it's so. Deep inside your heart, at midnight, you mutter the secret words; "Damn I wish GTK was as fast as QT." :) <-- smiley to demonstrate peace and humour. Now let me get back to my KDE desktop! :D :D


I hope this is a good list of suggestions and observations.

I really love the idea of combining Inkscape, Gimp and Scribus and having a mega-design-app that will do anything and everything you can imagine. Heck, let's toss 3D in there too!

Well, the dreams aside, I hope there is some chance of small fixes to an already highly useable and useful application. Way to go Inkscape!