I think Inkscape needs to change its versioning scheme. Knowing nothing else, what would you think of a product that went from version 0.45 to version 0.46? Only minor changes? About half-done? One percent improvement? Not very polished? All of these are far from the truth with the latest preview of Inkscape 0.46.

Some highlights from the release notes:

Last night when I toyed with it to create my Lost clip-art, I came up with the following two suggestions:

1. Make the Colors Panel Easier to Find.

Honestly, it took me awhile to figure this out. This used to be the "Stroke/Fill" dialog, I think. The icon looks like a paintbrush. It's next to the big 'T' on the Commands toolbar. Honestly, I think people coming from other graphics program will think of this as a "Colors Dialog" and not a "Stroke/Fill" dialog - so come up with a better icon, one that reflects colors. The tooltip needs reworking too: "Edit objects' color, gradients, stroke width, arrowheads, dash patterns".

2. Create a Clip-Art Mode of Exporting

In this mode, Inkscape should:

  • Remove all elements and attributes not in the SVG and XLink namespaces
  • Remove unused id attributes
  • Vacuum defs automatically
  • Remove width/height attributes on the <svg> element and replace with a viewBox attribute. Removing the intrinsic size will allow the image to scale to the browser window when viewing standalone.
  • Remove the style attribute and replace it with several equivalent attributes (style="fill:#939393;" would become fill="#939393")
  • Remove unnecessary/redundant attributes ("stop-opacity:1", for instance). In particular, if there is no stroke on a path, remove all stroke-related attributes.
  • Collapse <g> elements as necessary, properly adjusting transforms

In my experience, this roughly reduces the SVG to about 1/3 of the original size. Compressing afterwards gets it even smaller (by at least half). For instance, my Lost logo is only about 700 bytes! What raster graphic format could display such high quality at full-screen at seven hundred bytes? Looks most impressive with Opera or Firefox 3 because there is a blur filter in place.

All in all, I'm pleased where Inkscape is heading - it's really becoming a world-class graphics editor. If they could just make options for their SVG output quality (I know that you can save as Raw SVG and you can manually vacuum defs, but I think the above type of steps are necessary).

§431 · February 23, 2008 · Software, SVG, Technology · Tags: , , · [Print]

Leave a Comment to “Perception Is Everything”

  1. Sam Ruby says:

    Do you feel that the clip-art export needs to be built-in to Inkscape?

    I’ve been slowly developing a standalone function:

    http://intertwingly.net/blog/2008/02/01/SVG-Tidy SVG-Tidy

    Care to collaborate? Even if you only contribute specifications which consist mainly of a snippet of SVG, and XPath expression, and an assertion, that would still be quite helpful:


  2. @Sam: Yes, I’ve looked at your SVG Tidy script (have downloaded Ruby just for it, actually!). I have zero experience with Ruby atm, but I planned on starting to soak into it a little this weekend if I can find the time – and yes, I’d like to send you back updates (your script crashes on one of my files).

    Personally I think the biggest drawback of Inkscape (and Adobe Illustrator) is their crungy output, so your script is definitely a step in the right direction, but I’d prefer these things be built into the tool so that everyone can get the improvements and not just folks willing to download Ruby and run a script on the command-line.

  3. Sam Ruby says:

    If you add bzr to your list of things to soak in, you can publish your changes in a way that I can pull from you and vice versa.

  4. Installed. I also sent you an email last night (from gmail in case you’re spam-filtering)…

  5. Hmmm. A good tool for tidying Inkscape’s output might yet wean me away from Illustrator.?

  6. @Jacques: Thank you for making me turn back my html_type to text/html… 😉 An email has been sent.

  7. Stu says:

    Inkscape is great, but I think it has a way to go in some areas (especially plugin UI). The version number scheme is in the open source way. I think when it’s really great they’ll switch to 1.0, in the meantime it trundles on.

    (+ bare in mind they don’t have enough developers to support all the win32 users at the mo, inflating the version numbers will only make this more of a problem).