Operating systems

Review: Scalable vector graphics editor Inkscape

Inkscape is for any business that needs vector graphics but doesn't want to pay the steep price for competitive products.

For businesses that deal with graphics, the applications are among some of the costliest to purchase. And when you are purchasing on a large scale these applications can quickly eat up your software budget. Fortunately there are solid, open source applications in the graphics department. One of those applications is Inkscape, which covers the vector graphics editor space and does it so well that a business would be remiss in overlooking it as a solution.

Specifications

Who's it for?

Inkscape is for any business that needs vector graphics but doesn't want to pay the steep price for competitive products. If your primary goal is the creation and editing of developer-friendly scalable vector graphic (SVG) files, most users will have a hard time telling the difference between a file created by the free Inkscape and the $699.00 Adobe Illustrator.

What problem does it solve?

Inkscape helps allows you to create image files that are normally associated with costly application suites without decimating your budget. Inkscape is adept at helping you to create these images with a much shallower learning curve than Adobe Illustrator.

Another problem Inkscape solves is one that has been created by applications like Illustrator. The average (and above average) user has grown used to the idea that a feature-rich graphics application must be a space and memory hog. Inkscape refutes this idea by being lightweight in both space and resources required.

Standout features

  • Lightweight: The Inkscape download is less than 50Mb.
  • Cross platform: Run Inkscape on Windows, OS X, and Linux.
  • On canvas gradient editing: Edit gradients on the canvas, in real time, without having to open the gradient editing tool.
  • Select by touch: Draw a freehand path across objects to select them.
  • Flood fill tool: Inkscape now has a bucket fill tool

What's wrong?

Currently Inkscape is still in beta release (the current release is .47) so it is prone to bugs and crashes. This will cause many businesses and enterprises to hesitate to deploy. And although the learning curve is not as steep as you will find in Illustrator, Inkscape is still a Vector Graphics editing application which, by nature, means it is not as simple to use as, say, The GIMP or Photoshop.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Inkscape is the ideal solution for any business needing to cut costs but not features. And when you are looking at users who might suffer under the weight of a steep learning curve, the choice between Inkscape and Illustrator is made even easier. Add to that the lesser system requirements and you have all of the justification you need to make the switch (or the choice) from Illustrator to Inkscape.

User rating

Have you encountered the scalable vector graphics editor Inkscape? If so, what do you think? Rate the unit and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review of Inkscape in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review above.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
jemd
jemd

Inkscape is very cool, but how come you don't mention CorelDRAW in your comparisons? Corel is just as powerful as Illustrator, better in some ways, and less expensive.

WebWatcher
WebWatcher

I wouldn't be too concerned about the "still in beta" tag. I've seen a lot more accurate versioning in OSS products than in commercial ones. Inkscape has been around for quite a while and is a very good tool for SVG.

Jaqui
Jaqui

to look at it again. last time I checked the functionality was really lacking.

a1638735
a1638735

I really like the way Inkscape sticks to the best features with plain old common sense and usability.. Inkscape has not even reached version 1 there are discussions/tests about it.. [ http://wiki.inkscape.org/wiki/index.php/Animation-%28Timeline%29 ] It would be a real kink in the pants for adobe if someone in a basement somewhere releases even a minimal timeline mod + a tight pythonic framework for end-movies to manipulate. ~nolo

Tim.M
Tim.M

I tried using inkscape recently, and it is not half bad, but it still seems buggy. This definitely does not compete with Illustrator, it simply is not good enough yet (as the beta tag suggests). I hate to say it, but there are no FOSS applications that can really compete with Adobe. Even GIMP is lacking, although it should work quite well for the overwhelming majority of users - it still isn't on the same playing field as Photoshop in all areas. There's no comparable video editing app, dvd creation app, compositing, etc. Perhaps someday Adobe will begin offering binaries for Linux? Doubtful that it will happen any time soon (apart from Flash), but I certainly would be willing to pay for high quality A/V software if it were available on Linux.

Jaqui
Jaqui

that it's still buggy. even if Adobe was to have linux versions of their tools, I wouldn't use them. I detest the UI. and the current Corel UI is just as useless. I'm not impressed with the gimp's ui either. I really do not like the multi window ui.

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