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|Initial release||November 6, 2003|
1.3.2 / 25 November 2023
|Written in||C++ with gtkmm, Python (extensions)|
|Platform||IA-32 and x64|
|Available in||90 languages|
|Type||Vector graphics editor|
Inkscape is a free and open-source vector graphics editor for traditional Unix-compatible systems such as GNU/Linux, BSD derivatives and Illumos, as well as Windows and macOS. It offers a rich set of features and is widely used for both artistic and technical illustrations such as cartoons, clip art, logos, typography, diagramming and flowcharting. It uses vector graphics to allow for sharp printouts and renderings at unlimited resolution and is not bound to a fixed number of pixels like raster graphics. Inkscape uses the standardized Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format as its main format, which is supported by many other applications including web browsers. It can import and export various other file formats, including SVG, AI, EPS, PDF, PS and PNG.
Inkscape can render primitive vector shapes (e.g. rectangles, ellipses, polygons, arcs, spirals, stars and 3D boxes) and text. These objects may be filled with solid colors, patterns, radial or linear color gradients and their borders may be stroked, both with adjustable transparency. Embedding and optional tracing of raster graphics is also supported, enabling the editor to create vector graphics from photos and other raster sources. Created shapes can be further manipulated with transformations, such as moving, rotating, scaling and skewing.
Inkscape began in 2003 as a code fork of the Sodipodi project. Sodipodi, developed since 1999, was itself based on Raph Levien's Gill (GNOME Illustration Application). One of the main priorities of the Inkscape project was interface consistency and usability by following the GNOME human interface guidelines.
Four former Sodipodi developers (Ted Gould, Bryce Harrington, Nathan Hursten, and MenTaLguY) led the fork, citing differences over project objectives, openness to third-party contributions, and technical disagreements. They said that Inkscape would focus development on implementing the complete SVG standard, whereas Sodipodi development emphasized developing a general-purpose vector graphics editor, possibly at the expense of SVG.
Following the fork, Inkscape's developers changed the programming language from C to C++; adopted the GTK (formerly GIMP Toolkit) toolkit C++ bindings (gtkmm); redesigned its user interface, and added a number of new features. Inkscape's implementation of the SVG standard, although incomplete, has shown gradual improvement.
Inkscape workflow is based around vector objects. Tools allow manipulating primitive vector shapes: simple ones like rectangles, ellipses and arcs, as well as more complex objects like 3D boxes with adjustable perspectives, stars, polygons and spirals. Rendering feature that can create objects like barcodes, calendars, grids, gears and roulette curves (using the spirograph tool). These objects may be filled with solid colors, patterns, radial or linear color gradients and their borders may be stroked, both with adjustable transparency. All of those can be further edited by transformations—such as moving, rotating, scaling and skewing—or by editing paths.
Inkscape is able to write and edit text with tools available for changing font, spacing, kerning, rotation, flowing along the path or into a shape. Text can be converted to paths for further editing. The program also has a layers (as well as an objects) feature that allows the user to organize objects in a preferred stacking order in the canvas. Objects can be made visible/invisible and locked/unlocked through these features.
Inkscape supports image tracing, the process of extracting vector graphics from raster sources.
Clones are child objects of an original parent object. Different transformations can be applied to them, such as: size, position, rotation, blur, opacity, color and symmetry. Clones are updated live whenever the parent object changes.
Every object in the drawing can be subjected to arbitrary affine transformations: moving, rotating, scaling, skewing and a configurable matrix[clarification needed]. Transformation parameters can be specified numerically. Transformations can snap to angles, grids, guidelines and nodes of other objects, or be aligned in specified direction, spaced equally, scattered at random.
Objects can be grouped together. Groups of objects behave similarly to objects. Objects in a group can be edited without having to ungroup them first.
The Z-order determines the order in which objects are drawn on the canvas. Objects with a high Z-order are drawn on top of objects lower in the Z-order. Order of objects can be managed either using layers, or by manually moving the object up and down in the Z-order. Layers can be locked or hidden, preventing modifying and accidental selection.
The Create Tiled Clones tool allows symmetrical or grid-like drawings using various plane symmetries.
The style attributes are 'attached' to the source object, so after cutting/copying an object onto the clipboard, the style's attributes can be pasted to another object.
Objects can also be moved by manually entering the location coordinates in the top toolbar. Even additions and subtractions can be done this way.
Operations on paths
This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience.(January 2020)
Inkscape has a comprehensive tool set to edit paths (as they are the basic element of a vector file):
- Edit Path by Node tool: allows for the editing of single or multiple paths and or their associated node(s). There are four types of path nodes; Cusp (corner), Smooth, Symmetric and Auto-Smooth. Editing is available for the positioning of nodes and their associated handles (angle and length) for Linear and Bézier paths or Spiro curves. A path segment can also be adjusted by dragging (left click + hold). When multiple nodes are selected, they can be moved, scaled and rotated using keyboard shortcut or mouse controls. Additional nodes can be inserted into paths at arbitrary or even placements, and an effect can be used to insert nodes at predefined intervals. When nodes are deleted, the handles on remaining ones are adjusted to preserve the original shape as closely as possible.
- Tweak tool (sculpting/painting): provides whole object(s) or node editing regions (parts) of an object. It can push, repel/attract, randomize positioning, shrink/enlarge, rotate, copy/delete selected whole objects. With parts of a path you can push, shrink/enlarge, repel/attract, roughen edges, blur and color. Nodes are dynamically created and deleted when needed while using this tool, so it can also be used on simple paths without pre-processing.
- Path-Offsets; Outset, Inset, Linked or Dynamic: can create a Linked or Dynamic (unlinked) Inset and or an Outset of an existing path which can then be fine tuned using the given Shape or Node tool. Creating a Linked Offset of a path will update whenever the original is modified. Making symmetrical (i.e., picture frame) graphics easier to edit.
- Path-Conversion; Object to Path: conversions of Objects; Shapes (square, circle, etc.) or Text into paths.
- Path-Conversion; Stroke to Path: conversions of the Stroke of a shape to a path.
- Path-Simplify: a given path's node count will reduce while preserving the shape.
- Path-Operations (boolean operations): use of multiple objects to Union, Difference, Intersection, Exclusion, Division and Cut Path.
Inkscape includes a feature called Live Path Effects (LPE), which can apply various modifiers to a path. Envelope Deformation is available via the Path Effects and provides a perspective effect. There are more than a dozen of these live path effects. LPE can be stacked onto a single object and have interactive live on canvas and menu-based editing of the effects.
This article needs to be updated. The reason given is: Inkscape supports more formats.(January 2020)
Inkscape's primary format is SVG 1.1, meaning that it can create and edit with the abilities and within the constraints of this format. Any other format must either be imported (converted to SVG) or exported (converted from SVG). The SVG format is using the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) standard internally. Inkscape's implementation of SVG and CSS standards is incomplete. Most notably, it does not support animation natively. Inkscape has multilingual support, particularly for complex scripts. Formats that used the UniConvertor library are not supported beyond the 1.0 release. A workaround is to have a parallel installation of version 0.92.x.
|Adobe Illustrator Artwork (AI)||native|
|Microsoft Visio Drawing (VSD)||native|
|Portable Document Format (PDF)||native||native|
|compressed SVG (SVGZ)||native|
|Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM)||with UniConvertor|
|Encapsulated Postscript (EPS)||with Ghostscript||native|
|PostScript (PS)||with Ghostscript||native|
|Xfig (FIG)||with extension|
|Flash XML Graphics (FXG)||native|
|Hewlett-Packard Graphics Language (HPGL)||native|
|HTML5 canvas element||native|
|Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML)||native|
- XML Editor for direct manipulation of the SVG XML structure
- Support for SVG filter effects
- Editing of Resource Description Framework (RDF), a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) metadata information model
- Command-line interface, exposes format conversion functions and full-featured GUI scripting
- More than sixty interface languages
- Extensible to new file formats, effects and other features
- Mathematical diagramming, with various uses of LaTeX
- Experimental support for scripting
- lib2Geom is now also external usable. 2Geom is a computational geometry library, originally developed for Inkscape. While developed for Inkscape it is a library that can be used from any application. It provides support for basic geometric algebra, paths, distortions, boolean operations, plotting implicit functions, non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS) and more. 2Geom is free software released under LGPL 2.1 or MPL 1.1.
The latest version of Inkscape 1.0.x (and older line 0.92.x) is available for Linux, Windows 7+, and macOS 10.11-10.15 platforms. Inkscape is packaged with AppImage, Flatpak, PPA, Snap and source by all major Linux distributions (including Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE) with GTK+ 3.24+ (0.92.x with GTK+ 2.20+ for older Linux).
An unresolved issue is currently affecting all GTK3 based apps on macOS Ventura (macOS 13), making the app unresponsive to certain mouse events. GTK is used by many different programs. GTK is a free and open-source cross-platform widget toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Inkscape 1.2.2 is also affected and the web site of Inkscape recommends not to install it on Ventura as long as a stable solution is not available. As of August 2023, the problem is not yet fixed and several months are still required to find a stable solution.
|Version||Release date||Notable features/changes|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.35||November 11, 2003||Initial release of Inkscape based on Sodipodi 0.32, new keyboard shortcuts|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.36||December 11, 2003||GUI redesign and improved usability|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.37||February 16, 2004||Boolean path operations and path inset/outset, major code refactoring|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.38||April 12, 2004||Text kerning and letter spacing, multi-stage gradients|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.39||July 20, 2004||Markers, clones, and pattern fills|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.40||November 30, 2004||Multi-layer support, bitmap tracing (only greyscale), and text on path|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.41||February 10, 2005||Clone tiler tool and color bitmap tracing|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.42||July 26, 2005||Flowing text support, styling text spans, enhanced effects support, and the new gradient tool|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.43||November 19, 2005||Connector tool, collaborative editing, tablet pressure/angle sensitivity|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.44||June 24, 2006||Layers panel, support for clipping and masking, PDF export with transparency|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.45||February 5, 2007||Gaussian blur, pattern along path, new Undo History panel, improved bitmap tracing using simple interactive object extraction, color effects|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.46||March 24, 2008||Docking user interface, Paint Bucket, Tweak and 3D Box tools, Live Path Effects, support for most SVG filters, the ability to open PDF files, import from the Open Clip Art Library, and OpenType/PostScript and Type1 font support|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.47||November 24, 2009||Eraser tool (can slice paths), timed autosave, spiro splines interface for paths, auto-smooth nodes for paths, spellchecker for the text tool, new path effects like "sketch" and "hatches", new Python extensions like "alphabet soup" and "convert to Braille", basic support for SVG fonts|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.48.x||August 23, 2010;
|Multipath node editing, improved text tool: subscript, superscript, numerical and preset inputs for text kerning, tracking and more text enhancements, new Airbrush (Spray) tool, LaTeX export with PDF / PS / EPS, JessyInk extension for creating presentations viewable in SVG-enabled web browsers|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.91||January 30, 2015||Switched from libnr to Cairo rendering library, which brought a significant rendering speed improvement. Refactoring; Measure tool, new import/export formats, grayscale mode, alignment modes, Symbol library and support for Visio stencils, Guides can have labels, variable width strokes (PowerStroke).|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.92.x||January 4, 2017||Infrastructure Focus; Mesh gradients, new path effects, default resolution changed from 90 dpi to 96 dpi to match the CSS standard, options for switching OpenType font features, last release 0.92.5, windows 7 Minimum for Windows since 0.92.4, 0.92.3 Vista and XP last version|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.0.x||May 4, 2020||Transition to GTK3 and Python 3, customizable themes, better HiDPI screen support, controllable width of PowerStroke with pressure sensitive graphics tablet, new PNG export options, variable font support. Native support for MacOS 10.10-10.15 Catalina. Experimental color-managed PDF export., last release 1.0.2|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.1.x||May 24, 2021||Significant changes in core and GUI, only Python 3 extensions supported, improved live path effects (LPE), last release 1.1.2|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.2||May 16, 2022||New Page tool for multiple pages, Layers and Objects dialog merged, improved gradient editor, ability to export to multiple formats, improved SVG Font Editor, new 'Tiling' Live Path effect, improved performance, bugfix and some changes in GUI, improved macOS integration.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.2.1||July 14, 2022||Critical Bugfix|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.2.2||December 5, 2022||Maintenance and critical bug fix. Last version to support Windows 7 and 8.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.3||July 23, 2023||New tools for shape building, pattern editor, document resources, page margin and bleed; return of Search, opacity & blend modes in Layers & Objects dialog and of an optional persistent snap bar; improved canvas editing, XML Editor, welcome dialog, LPE, PDF import, public beta available |
|Current stable version: 1.3.1||November 18, 2023||Maintenance and bugfix to dedicate to its 20th anniversary|
In its 2012 Best of Open Source Software Awards, InfoWorld gave Inkscape an award for being one of the best open-source desktop applications, commending its typographic controls and ability to directly edit the XML text of its documents.
In January 2020, TechRadar gave Inkscape a positive rating of four stars out of five. It lauded the wide range of editing tools and support for many file formats, but noted that the application's processing can be slow. It considered Inkscape to be a good free alternative to proprietary graphics editors such as Adobe Illustrator.
PC Magazine's review was rather mixed, giving the application three out of five. It criticized the interface's graphics and lack of optimization for stylus support, the application's poor interoperability with other graphics editors, unwieldy text formatting controls, and the quality of the Mac version. However, it did praise the ability to add custom filters and extensions, the Inkscape community's passion for creating and sharing them, and the precise path and placement tools. The review concluded that whilst Inkscape "boasts outstanding features and a passionate user base for a free program ... it's not suitable for busy professionals."
According to It's FOSS the 1.3 release of Inkscape mainly focuses on making the user's workflow more organized to work more efficiently, with some new features making it a better alternative to Adobe Illustrator.
Splash page for v0.45
Edited an old SVG File
Floral drawing with Inkscape
Simple Smile created with Inkscape
Manga drawing created with Inkscape
Raster to vector comparison
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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 Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) compliant) interface and an open, community-oriented development process.
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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.
- Compare -scape
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