Free (as in both kinds) Vector Editor Goes 1.0
May 4, 2020 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Inkscape 1.0. After 15+ years (give or take), the free alternative to [redacted commercial vector graphics editor] has gone 1.0. This version includes long awaited native MacOS support. Download links for Linux, Windows, and Mac.
posted by gwint (33 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Redacted why? Is there adobephobia illustrated here?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:48 AM on May 4 [7 favorites]

Oh man, native Mac support, too—not the more-than-slightly-janky XWindows workaround they used to have. This is good.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:50 AM on May 4 [12 favorites]

Adobe Illustrator runs smooth and fast on my Mac. Inkscape has so much lag that it seems unusable. Just drawing a circle or square seems like I'm working on a Vic 20.
posted by jonathanhughes at 11:57 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I've never used it. Interested to hear opinions on anyone who has vs Illustrator on a pure features/usability basis. I love FontLab for bezier editing (controls are much better) but don't use it enough - if Inkscape had some compelling differences would be curious to hear.
posted by 99_ at 11:59 AM on May 4

I am generally super happy with Affinity Designer as an Illustrator alternative. It's not either kind of free, but it's pretty affordable (perpetual license is $25 right now). I did sometimes have to fire up inkscape for some certain turbo-nerd vector operations, when dealing with especially picky laser cutter software. I don't really expect that open source software to excel at the category of "every day usability" for a bunch of reasons, both theoretical and empirical, but dang, that XWindows crap was sure more-than-slightly-janky. Plus, yes, as jonathanhughes says, performance was a nightmare. Until Catalina broke it completely.

So this is at least a little exciting for me.

[Tries it]

Okay it looks like the mac version now uses the right modifier keys for all of its shortcuts and not just half of them? And it doesn't have two icons on the dock! It still looks like it uses some slightly jarring non-native UI toolkit (I guess Gtk), and performance is still spectacularly bad for simple operations (new document, circle tool, dragging it around it updates like 5 times a second and uses an entire CPU core to do it).

But it's still a marked improvement, which is certainly welcome!
posted by aubilenon at 12:15 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Affinity Designer is current half price. One-time purchase, no subscription.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:15 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I love Inkscape so hard. I used it all through grad school, for scientific figures, even though the erstwhile not-native-Mac jankiness meant that I was always dealing with some awful GUI issue.
posted by gurple at 12:15 PM on May 4 [8 favorites]

Oh golly, that's exciting to hear. I've been using Inkscape a ton the last few years for art stuff—laser cut layouts, stencils for painting, the occasional digital illustration sort of thing—and it's been a pretty classic open source experience of "works great once you learn all the idiosyncrasies and stop trying to do the things that it does very badly", but native OSX support sounds fabulous and I'm hoping a couple of those "things it does very badly" have improved.

My biggest complaint with it has been bad slowdown when rendering/moving large groups of items, which feels like a pretty serious "someone should fix this" situation and I've wondered how much of it is an artifact of using a linux program under Xquartz and rendering pipelines getting fucked up as a result. But with the janky black magic of open source UI stuff I also won't be surprised if someone says "oh, yeah, you need to check box x in prefs sub-menu y and then it runs like butter" in the next couple comments.
posted by cortex at 12:17 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

it runs like butter

Butter is solid at room temperature!
posted by aubilenon at 12:23 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]

I think the internet has given the download server a great big hug.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:27 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]

>Butter is solid at room temperature!<
Depends on the room ...
posted by twidget at 12:39 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

I started using Sketch for website mockups, but it's replaced Illustrator for me for many vector-related tasks. It's quite good, and reasonably priced.
posted by oulipian at 12:42 PM on May 4

Excited...if I can ever download it.
posted by MrGuilt at 12:51 PM on May 4

Am I missing something or is there still no native CMYK support? I can apply CMYK colors to objects but, even with the document set to SWOP, they still export as RGB.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:41 PM on May 4

I don't know how using Inkscape feels if you're used to Illustrator, but I've been using it for years and really enjoy it. I mean, I find it actually a joy to use. It doesn't have all the same features (and probably has many fewer ones), but it does a lot of things well, the learning curve isn't steep (imo), every update seems to add good things without taking any away, and the price is right. It can't serve everyone's needs, but it can serve a lot of people's.

Also, I feel like sometimes there's still a lot of sneering (not necessarily here) at the idea of open source software, but for me the value of that is not trivial. That Linux isn't a third-class citizen as a development target is also not a trivial thing.

All that said, while I've found its performance fine on aged Windows machines and aged Linux machines, I've never used it on a Mac.
posted by trig at 2:02 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

Was excited. Then saw Mac sysreqs. Am now sad.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:15 PM on May 4

I have some (outdated) years of experience in prepress, yet I came to Inkscape as a user of my daughter's Cricut machine -- because the design software requires SVG files, and Inkscape is the best free tool to create or edit SVGs.

Tons of craft bloggers have been pushing this X-based tool for a while now, which always made me giggle. The new version runs great on my Mac.
posted by wenestvedt at 2:20 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

If you ask me, Inkscape isn't just better than nos-FOSS alternatives for vector graphics, it's better than almost any graphical or image-editing software that exists in any OS. It's not perfect, but it's far more intuitive and versatile than anything else. This is neat. Cheers!

Though, six or seven years ago I did try to transition to making presentation slides using only inkscape, with some weird extension that turned layers into slides. One day before the most important job talk of my life, my computer ground to a halt, and I realized that every byte of ram in my computer and a lot of swap was being used to store the first 2/3 of my presentation. Somehow a 7 MB file was filling 16 GB. I spent two sleepless nights moving everything over to more reasonable presentation software. It's not inkscape's fault, but it still smarts a bit. As does their batshit crazy default directory choice for saving things. (Are there actually people who want to save stuff not to the directory where the original was stored, nor to the directory from which they launched the application, but to whatever random place they last saved something to days ago? Surely nobody wants that.) But, I still love them.
posted by eotvos at 2:21 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Very happy to hear this. Inkscape's been my most-run software over the last five years. Yeah, it's got glitches (the "hey, this node's not snapping right let's try it over … splat bang crash” one, or the “your drawing's in mm SIKE pixels now lol” one) but you can make good stuff with it.

And yes, the Mac OS port was painful, but I bashed out plenty good work on it on an 8 year old Macbook with 3 button mouse in a leaky makerspace in a bit of Toronto nobody wanted to go to.

 Am I missing something or is there still no native CMYK support?

Does SVG for the web support/require CMYK? Because Inkscape's so tied to SVG internally, it's probably RGBA 4 lyfe. By my reckoning, if a client is specifying CMYK, they're paying enough for repro that they can support a designer with an Adobe habit. I'm classing it as No Big Deal about CMYK, because we're not living in the 90s back when RGB workflows looked like crap.
posted by scruss at 2:30 PM on May 4

I've been using Inkscape on Linux for years. But I'm not a pro designer; I do design as a hobby adjacent to my other hobbies. I have found it extremely useful. Also much less janky from the start than Scribus, which I similarly used for hobbyist pursuits and in which I had to save reflexively a lot more often in case it segfaulted.

So while I can't say how well it would serve the needs of a professional, especially one used to Illustrator, if you would like to teach yourself vector drawing for hobby purposes and don't want to fork out money for a professional application or to pirate one, give Inkscape a go. It has some quirks, but it's pretty good.
posted by confluency at 2:31 PM on May 4

Unless I'm missing something obvious without access to Pantone color libraries and a MUCH more configurable swatch UI this is a non-starter for print professionals. Adobe Illustrator is cumbersome enough. But this, despite all the cool stuff, is not ready for professional print design.

(And... PASTE INSIDE, people! Enough of this dumb three-step clipping mask stuff. PASTE INSIDE! God, Freehand, I miss you.)
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 2:48 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

Hell yeah. As a longtime linux Inscape user I'm stoked to be able to use this with Mac.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:39 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

By my reckoning, if a client is specifying CMYK, they're paying enough for repro that they can support a designer with an Adobe habit. I'm classing it as No Big Deal about CMYK, because we're not living in the 90s back when RGB workflows looked like crap.

Oh, please. There are tons of small community-based publications and non-profits that absolutely cannot afford an in-house designer but still need those ads and brochures supplied in CMYK. This would be a godsend to them if it just supported output to CMYK as a color-profiled pdf that they can send to press. Without CMYK, Inkscape is about as worthless as GIMP when it comes to professional work.

As for an RGB workflow...Even CMYK jobs start life as RGB and stay RGB right up to the final output. It’s been that way for many decades.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:08 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Thorzdad, I work for a small(ish) non-profit. Everything we do is in RGB - even in final - and it comes out great. The printers we work with are quite happy to print (large) photos directly from JPEG. I used to do prepress about 20 years ago (nice stuff, too: 72" plates on a 6-colour line), and I remember the annoyance and expense of a CMYK output and how RGB workflow was a joke. It needn't be that way any more.

If you're going to find concern-troll reasons not to use Inkscape, go right ahead and don't use it. It's not going to put me off in the slightest.
posted by scruss at 4:37 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Inkscape is great and I used it extensively in my dissertation, but somewhere between 0.48 and 0.91 it became so excruciatingly slow with large SVGs (like those generated by plotting software) that I had to install Illustrator in a VM just to be able to make my figures.

Curious to see how much progress has been made... when I checked last, the responses to the performance issue seemed to be the typical OSS “you are wrong to want to do that in the first place” attitude, which was a turn off, but I still love the software and vastly prefer it to Illustrator.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:47 PM on May 4

Was excited. Then saw Mac sysreqs. Am now sad.

I can't find any system requirements other than MacOS 10.11 - 10.15, which means it should be able to run on hardware from 2008 or newer. Is there some further requirements listed anywhere that I just can't find?
posted by aubilenon at 7:18 PM on May 4

My (now) wife and I used Inkscape to design our wedding invitations, which we then printed on our laser printer. Aside from a little bit of mangling when moving the image file between Windows and Linux, it worked really nicely.

That was just over thirteen years ago.
posted by suetanvil at 8:01 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I’m not a designer, I’m a scientist who uses Inkscape to occasionally clean up and edit the SVG graphics that R churns out.

However, I don’t know what’s going on, but this is basically unusable on my MacBook Pro. Clicking on something to resize it takes about 5 seconds before the screen even responds. Dragging a text box to a new location just...freezes and fails at least half the time. Something has gone very wrong.
posted by Jimbob at 8:05 PM on May 4

I have mostly used Inkscape to mess with papercraft templates, usually to edit existing ones. The PDF import feature does a pretty good job of converting vector pdfs into editable files. I also like being able to do some bulk editing of the SVG XML using search and replace in a text editor. Great for trying out different color schemes without having to select and group objects.
posted by blakewest at 8:06 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I don't know anything about how inkscape is made but often software like this has last minute bugs or debug code or a pull that fucks it up until the next release. Some days freecad works great and sometimes I have an excuse to do something else until the next nightly.

Could be something like that's wrecking it on mac?
posted by klanawa at 9:09 PM on May 4

> After 15+ years (give or take)
… or 20+ if you take into account that it's a fork of Sodipodi (as tfa mentions), which is in turn a fork of Gill.

Nonetheless, YAY!
posted by farlukar at 7:19 AM on May 5

 Some days freecad works great and sometimes I have an excuse to do something else until the next nightly.

If you want to use software, don't run nightlies. No point in having a shiny new feature if core stuff is unreliable.
posted by scruss at 11:09 AM on May 6

I last used Inkscape in about 2003 or so. I was impressed by it then - I don't remember exactly what the deal was, but the way it handled gradients seemed light years ahead of Illustrator at the time. I just downloaded this new Inkscape 1.0 to try - I teach graphic design to college students and am always on the lookout for low cost alternatives. I downloaded Krita around Christmas time and have been blown away by how great it is for drawing, so I'm hopeful that Inkscape has come along nicely since fifteen-plus-years ago.
posted by Slothrop at 9:09 AM on May 10

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