Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Software: Inkscape .46 Final Released

Inkscape is, in my opinion, one of the shining stars in the open-source free software universe. Inkscape is an an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) Open Source cross-platform (Linux, Mac, and Windows) vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, and other commercial products, but FREE. And, it is quite powerful and capable, just like its commercial non-free counterparts.

This software should take care of most "average user" needs, and with the latest .46 release, it has become even better and more powerful. One thing I don't care for with this open-source programs is the stupid numbering schemes for releases - in this case ".46" - which makes the program sound incomplete or not ready for prime time, which is anything but the case. In a commercial world, this program could easily be a 3.0 release or such. It is definitely ready for prime-time use, and the advanced feature set has been many years in the making and proving out.

Some of the latest features in Inkscape .46 (which I find very exciting!) include:
  • Native PDF import - I need to play with this more yet, but it offers some rather interesting potential for manipulating the content of PDF files. PDF Export abilities are also available - which I consider a "must" these days.
  • Angled guidelines - I find these very cool indeed! I have wanted such ability in other commercial software programs before, and now Inkscape implement angled guidelines. Guidelines are so typically limited to simple horizontal and vertical ones - now you have the freedom to create guides at various angles, which really help with more complex and creative layouts.
  • Paintbucket tool
  • Tweak tool - a neat hybridization of vector / bitmap type functionality
  • 3D Box tool - allowing you to more easily give 2D images a 3D feel, by getting the perspective visually correct (via vanishing-point that is mathematically "right")
  • Live path effects - where paths are manipulated separate from styles, and in real-time (paths are just that - the path / shape over which the object drawn)
  • Open Clip Art Library integration (import/export) and Stock patterns
  • Bitmap editing extension effects, full on-canvas gradient editing
  • Engraver's Toolbox in the Calligraphic tool - this can produce some rather interesting effects
  • Other User-Interface improvements, speed and performance enhancements, and much more.
Check out Inkscape Software at the Inkscape.org website.

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