back to article Adobe Illustrator's open source rival Inkscape delivers v1.0.1 - with experimental Scribus PDF export

Users accustomed to lengthy waits between releases will be surprised to find open-source vector graphic outfit, Inkscape, has squeezed out version 1.0.1 of its editor mere months after the version 1.0 milestone was achieved. It took 16 years for Inkscape to hit 1.0 last May and we came away impressed by the polish of the cross …

  1. 9Rune5

    I need some pointers

    I remember using one of the earliest versions of Corel Draw. I never produced anything worth writing home about, but I did feel I could use the tool for some basic graphics.

    With Inkskape 1.0 it felt as if I hit a wall as soon as the canvas revealed itself. I have to google tutorials for every little thing I want to play around with. Very frustrating.

    Is it just a question of investing a little more time?

    1. GrumpenKraut

      Re: I need some pointers

      > Is it just a question of investing a little more time?

      Yes, though you may need more than "little more" time. Powerful software tends to be complex. Just take a look at blender: initially you are likely unable to do *anything* at all (certainly true for me).

      If you use such software more than very occasionally that time is a very good investment.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: I need some pointers

        Blender GUI is the next example on how NOT TO make a GUI user friendly. Inkscape is not THAT bad, I definitely find it less confusing than Blender and the artist formerly called Gimp.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: I need some pointers

          They were working on limited interfaces for particular functions. How far they got I dont know.

          In the 80s I used $300,000 a seat chip design workstations. Took months to get fluent with them using them 8 hrs or more a day. Once you were fluent you were off though. I have been using blender a bit and am not fluent yet but that's not really because blender is the problem - its 3d stuff and animation is hard. I tend to automate stuff with python a lot rather than piss about with a mouse and the menu system - largely because complicated things need complicated menus and some times its just a bit too complicated for even a 4k screen, and its a lot easier to make a wall with windows from bricks and window and mortar in code than to crash around menus.

          The 'trouble' with open source software is is gives you the total perspective vortex of all the possibilities.The greater the power the more baffling the interface - a bit like reality. I've just done a quick search and found BforArtists which looks like a good front end for Blender for certain users. I hope many more appear but the underlying engines still need to be all powerful.

          Its a bit like being able to program properly and using excel - excel will get you started and then fuck you over again and again and require far more support than just learning to do a bit of DB programming. I've a couple of friends who use gimp for their photography stuff and they claim they wouldnt touch photoshop now THEY have learned.

      2. John Sturdy
        Black Helicopters

        Not just software

        Anything powerful (capable of doing many things) is likely to require learning, possibly including the underlying theory, and perhaps training and practice, and the more complex it is, the more learning and training is needed. The F15 is probably a good example.

        If you're going to be using something routinely, as a major part of your job or other major task, I don't see the problem with putting some learning into it. The conflict is where you want to do something as a casual quickie task, but that something is actually on the surface of something much more complex.

        Helicopter icon, because they require training to use too, although some people might say it should just have "up/down", "left/right" and "forward/back" controls.

    2. Lotaresco

      Re: I need some pointers

      I used Corel Draw and had used both Freehand (much missed) and Illustrator before. I found Corel Draw to be awful, terrible interface, really poor drawing options, completely illogical and didn't interface at all well with printers. I can see how if your experience started with Corel Draw how you could find alternative interfaces confusing. That said, I found the Gimp difficult to use at first - not as good as Photoshop - and I suspect that I'll find Inkscape offers new challenges.

      1. fidodogbreath

        Re: I need some pointers

        +1 for Freehand.

        Hat tip also to Aldus Persuasion, may it rest in peace, which was a better presentation program in 1993 than PowerPoint is today.

        1. Lotaresco

          Re: I need some pointers

          Yes Persuasion was my preferred presentation package. Back then Powerpoint didn't understand transparency which made doing any graphic on a background irritating.

          I've tried Inkscape over the past few days. It's far too much like Corel Draw for my liking. It has that awful ribbon swatch of colours at the bottom of the window and feels primitive, more so than Libre Office Draw.

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

      IMHO, the complaint regarding interfaces is typical and why projects like this never really get critical mass adoption rates. There is the 800kg gorilla in the mists - Illustrator - and, rather than attempt to duplicate the workflow to the best of their ability in order to ease They need to completely recreate the experience under the assumption that users will, somehow, quite willingly switch *and* watch their productivity take a hit whilst they gamble on the switch working out.

      You know the greatest hindrance to human progress? Human stubbornness, plus human stupidity.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        I upvoted that

        However mimicking the market leader is not always good.

        e.g. I use an open source competitor to Word, one of the things I like is that it does not have the ribbon and a generally far more easier to use menu system.

        e.g. I used to use Firefox as my sole browser, but FireFox then decided to mimic chrome, remove / hide away a lot of useful functionality & essentially became a chrome clone. My usage reduced accordingly, the more chrome like it got, the less reason I had to use it instead of a chromium based browser. These days I use Opera more than FireFox (as better UI IMHO, and some useful features that I use quite often (e.g. changing image handling) easier to access than in FireFox)

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: a fun, relevant read

          Hits way, way, way too close to the truth to be comfortable here...

          1. Jan 0 Silver badge


            Yeah but, we're in the 21st century now. How many Mac users even realise that they use CUPS?

          2. Joe Montana

            Re: a fun, relevant read

            Misuse of cups...

            If you enable network printer sharing on the host which has the printer physically connected (and obviously sharing wouldn't be enabled by default because this is easily abused), then all other devices on the same segment also running cups should automatically see the printer and let you choose it as a print destination without needing to configure anything whatsoever.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

          > However mimicking the market leader is not always good

          Indeed. I would often use Picasa for some things I would have previously used Photoshop for - Picasa would let you straighten and crop photos very quickly.

          Of course Picasa and Photoshop are two different things (an organiser and an editor, respectively), but where there was a little overlap, Picasa's UI was often better in some ways.

      2. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        Well, the OP used some old version of Corel Draw, not a recent version of Illustrator, so while your sentiment might be not too far off it is not the underlying cause. I myself have started with inkscape a while ago, and I have used it a lot. In my opinion, anybody who has any experience with vector graphics can figure out most things (except how to use shapes to cut away parts from other shapes, that one is counterintuitive for me). I also prefer the menues of Libreoffice vs. those of MS Office (which I did start with... Word for Windows 2.something, I guess). Replicating the complete experience of "big software" is stupid (there, I said it), because in some cases menues / settings are not consistent in those other applications. Remember how (in Word) the page format used to be set in the "file" dropdown menu, not in "format"? So blindly trying to recreate something else is really not what most people want.

        That said, I once tried to find my way around illustrator and failed. Clearly their interface sucks... ;)

      3. myhandler

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        I've been using Illustrator since version 88 (you may not believe it but in 1988 they chose '88' rather than version 2 or 3 or whatever).

        Scribus is usable, but not at all refined, not even to QuarkXpress standard as it was in 1988. (Yes I've used more recent versions).

        But why is this export not just a straight "Export as PDF"?

        As for Freehand - oh, the delights of orphaned Freehand EPS files that can't be edited!

        Illustrator has a very good interface, better than Photoshop, shame about the rental license.

        1. Qumefox

          Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

          You can still buy perpetual licenses for adobe products. Adobe just doesn't make that very well known, or very easy, and there's pretty much zero way to do it 'online' since they'd rather rent it to you indefinitely instead. Plus the perpetual licenses are as stupidly expensive as ever as well.

          1. Jan 0 Silver badge

            Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

            > You can still buy perpetual licenses for adobe products

            Pray, tell us how? I might like one for Photoshop.

            1. James O'Shea Silver badge

              Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

              I'd be interested in that too.

              1. Woodnag

                Yup, buy it once

                Still using, weekly at worst, my copy of Protel 99SE that I paid £995 plus VAT for over 21 years. EditPadPro, a year later, used daily. WinZip, another year later, used daily. Office 2003, used daily....

                1. Joe Montana

                  Re: Yup, buy it once

                  Let's hope you never use these programs to open files sent to you by third parties, because software this old is probably full of unpatched security holes that you can't do anything about.

            2. James O'Shea Silver badge

              Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

              It's over a week now. I don't think that we're going to get an answer.

              Further, I don't think that it is possible to buy perpetual licenses for the vast majority of Adobe products. I particularly don't think that it's possible to buy a perpetual license for Photoshop, InDesign, or DreamWeaver.

              I invite corrections.

              I am not holding my breath while waiting.

      4. iron Silver badge

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        And if they did duplicate the workflow of Illustrator how long before Adobe would sue?

        The greatest hindrance to human progress is in fact lawyers.

      5. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        At least one can guess the function of Inkscape from its name, which is a good start for ease of use. This obvious kind of user friendliness isn't a given in the GNU world.

        Similarly, one can guess the sort of thing Photoshop does from its name, but one can't from the short name of GIMP.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

          "but one can't from the short name of GIMP"

          I haven't looked it up, but... Graphical Image Manipulation Program? Something like that?

          1. fidodogbreath

            Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

            Little-known fact: GIMP was originally developed for editing safari photos -- manipulating gnu images, if you will.

            I'll be leaving now.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        You can get tangled in a knot and restrict yourself by copying someone else.Just make a great UI and make it a great UX and you don't need to copy anyone.

        Parts of it being a great UX will be about ensuring ease of use which goes hand in hand with familiarity.

        Inkscape doggedly held on to an MDI which made life very difficult for newbies in the old days but they refused to change. Now the interface is much better, however it uses libraries designed for cross platform use so this stops you taking advantage of some Windows Specific features without too much branching but you do get to run it on Linux.

        The UI can be improved ( exporting is clunky for instance, so is text) but Illustrator is not necessarily the perfect way to go.

      7. fidodogbreath

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        There is the 800kg gorilla in the mists - Illustrator - and, rather than attempt to duplicate the workflow to the best of their ability in order to ease

        I agree with your underlying point, but I feel the need to say in boldface that I really dislike Illustrator.

        I'm a tech writer. My job is to learn complicated software and then describe it to others, both procedurally and conceptually. Over the years I've used many, many text editors, word processors, photo and vector editors, page layout programs, etc.

        I use PhotoShop daily, but InDesign and Illustrator only occasionally. I can fire up InDesign after not using it for months and at least get something done with minimal fuss. Ditto for FrameMaker.

        When I try to do something in Illustrator after a few weeks hiatus, though, I'm completely baffled by it...every damn time. That UI has never made sense to me, so I struggle to relate its quirky tool behaviors and editing actions to the underlying concepts. Honestly, I would rather use Visio (gasp!).

        I will be trying Inkscape again very soon. Being different from Illustrator is a feature, not a bug. IMHO

      8. Lotaresco

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        "There is the 800kg gorilla in the mists - Illustrator"

        Well yes there is Illustrator but Adobe's interfaces, Illustrator being one of the worst, can suck army boots down 15mm tube. The previously mentioned Aldus Freehand had a superior interface and much better control of points, handles, and curves. It also handled objects within objects and intersections between objects better than Illustrator does today. Sadly defunct because Adobe bought it and killed it.

        People tend to want whatever they use next to look like whatever they use now. Having just bought a Japanese car and spending a week frantically wiping my windscreen when I intend to signal a turn, I appreciate standard interfaces. But could we at least ensure that the interfaces are fit for purpose rather than "something I'm used to"?

      9. DoctorMO

        Re: Shooting themselves in the foot to save their hand

        I'm so "stupid" I'm spending hours and hours unpicking Inkscape's complicated and baked in modifiers code so Illustrator users can have greater comfort. you can be critical without being quite so rude you know.

        We've also spent a lot of time in the project unpicking things so designers, users and so on can modify things more easily. Not so that they have to personalise things, but so they can modify things and then contribute those better modifications back to the project for everyone's benefit. Very proud of the designer who was able to pick up glade and hack a modification of the about screen for Inkscape 1.1, so good to see non-developers having more power to be involved.

        Thanks El Reg for the point release article, very kind!

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I need some pointers

      I remember that Illustrator took me a while to get on with, but that was likely due to my inexperience with vector graphics ( unless you count the sketch tools in CAD suites, which share some concepts), so it might be possible that you'll find Inkscape similar: a concept might suddenly 'click' with you and you'll find things straightforward. Or, it might just be it has a poor UI.

      Illustrator UI is not perfect. Chief example on my mind is that the scroll wheel cannot be set to zoom in / out without a modifier key. This behaviour is at odds with Photoshop and most CAD software, and is frustrating. It becomes something I have to constantly remind myself of when I wish to be concentrating on the work.

      Illustrator can also throw up little hurdles that can interrupt your workflow until you've Googled a solution - eg, objects stubbornly remaining grey after you've assigned I've assigned a colour to them. Oh, right, I need to convert the object manually to RGB, even though it's in an RGB document and I've assigned it an RGB colour - surely my intent is obvious? Theres a little zoo of such behaviours that can slow you down until you've learnt their ways.

    5. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: I need some pointers

      I call that "The GIMP factor".

      I still just dig out Paint Shop Pro 7 whenever I actually need to just do something.

      An interface shouldn't require a god-damn training week in order to do simple things like import a couple of images and layer them over each other, and then save them out.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: I need some pointers

        I remember Paint Shop Pro, I think I have a CD with an old version of 3 or 4 somewhere. Since I paid for it, I may try to make it work on Wine and have some fun.

    6. BGatez

      Re: I need some pointers

      I have been using CorelDraw since it's beginning and have found it ahead of Illustrator in ease and functionality. Illustrator has always been baffling in interface. Interesting to me, Photoshop has always seemed easy and intuitive while Corel's Photopaint awkward.

  2. Celeste Reinard

    Thanks, Reg

    Somewhere between the second and the third paragraph I downloaded my new portable toy (version 1.0) for tons of fun!

    I grew up starting with Corel 4 - good (free) vector software that does more than drawing a circle before going plop and jerking tears is worth gold.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge


    I've just remembered that I once downloaded Inkscape for an Android phone... heck, I'd forgotten that experience!

    Naturally I found it close to unable, but that was due to the inappropriate screen size, so I can't level any criticism at Inkscape itself!

  4. Phil Dalbeck

    Worth considering...

    I'd encourage anyone to take a look at the Affinity tools lineup (Designer = illustrator, Photo = Photoshop, Publisher = Indesign). They are dirt cheap at about £50 (frequently on sale for £25 each though!) and are bought as one off purchases rather than a subscription model, and the interface/usability/performance/stability are all exceptional.

    I'm not knocking Inkscape - having a plucky Open source option for those who who need to draw a couple of vector boxes now and again and can't afford/don't wantto pay anything at all is great - but even at the tiny one-off price (compared to a Creative Suite monthly sub!) Affinity is an absolute winner.

    1. Mxm

      Re: Worth considering...

      Just started with the Affinity range myself and am very impressed. They're already strong enough to do everything most users need. There are still a few gaps that more advanced users might miss (e.g. I wish you could apply non-destructive effects like ripples to vector shapes, as you can in Illustrator), but maybe that's something that will be added in the future.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward

    Hailing from a WordPerfect/SuperCalc5/AllyCad/Lotus1-2-3 (for DOS) world, I can say that the software was well thought out, so once you got good muscle memory for the / commands (in SC5 and Lotus) then you can get really up to serious speed, especially when doing fancy things.

    AllyCad - once you memorized most of the keyboard shortcuts, you can churn out good drawings in very little time.

    Compared the above to today's Windows stuff - there's a lot of clickety click stuff going on with the mouse, and a lot of pecking at ribbons and menus to get what you want... taking you longer in comparison to do documents/drawings/spreadsheets...

    ...or is it just me?

    Going out for some deep ponderings at a pub ====>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      once you got good muscle memory for the commands

      On thing I hated about a previous version of Office was where it "helpfully" re-arrange the menu items so that the commonly used items were at the top. I prefer my items to stay the same place, and not having to hunt for it.

      Was in a cyber-cafe in Spain, using a Spanish version of IE. Due to muscle memory, I could at least find my way about!!

      1. myhandler

        Haha - I did that in Thailand in a Thai version of Illustrator, I was a shortcut user, so it took a few tries to find the n'th item down in the fourth menu across! (Commerical printing if you must know).

    2. Lotaresco

      "Hailing from a WordPerfect/SuperCalc5/AllyCad/Lotus1-2-3 (for DOS) world, I can say that the software was well thought out, so once you got good muscle memory for the / commands (in SC5 and Lotus) then you can get really up to serious speed, especially when doing fancy things."

      I started with those tools in the 80s because they were all that the IT department in the biotech business that I worked in would support. They were useless for my purposes (statistical analysis, clinical trials, regulatory submissions) Lotus 123 had severe limitations and was actually slow to use. Even a slew of add-ins to supposedly improve functionality didn't help.

      I went out and bought my own Macs so that I could use Excel and a number of statistics applications as well as Mathematica. None of these were available on Windows at the time. I can recall MS fans at the time telling me that my SE/30 8/80 was "ridiculously over powered" at the time and that they couldn't see the point of Trinitron monitors, dual screens, and the 24bit RasterOps Colourboard 264 that I had fitted to the SE/30 so that I could code on the 9" B&W monitor and see output on the colour display.

      Now everyone seems to have a multi-monitor setup and more RAM than I had hard disk storage until around 1992.

      I remember when all round here were fields, you know?

  6. Expat-Cat

    bring back Micrografx Designer...

    (before Corel ate it)

  7. Martin an gof Silver badge

    And because we're all recommending our favourite drawing applications...

    I have to put in a word here for Xara. Unfortunately the company is moving in the Adobe direction with a subscription-based service, but the stand-alone products are still available if you look hard enough. I like Inkscape and have been using it for some years, but sometimes it makes life difficult. I've never had that problem with Xara Designer. It's possibly because it has - very far back in the mists of time - a heritage from the RiscOS world, as Xara is a distant descendant of Artworks when the company was called Computer Concepts (bit surprised to see that website still alive). In fact some of the example art provided with Xara originated in Artworks. RiscOS came bundled with a very good (for its time) vector drawing application, known as Draw, and Artworks had to be rather better in order to sell. I never had Artworks myself, but I did have Computer Concepts's desktop publisher, Impression.

    The one downside with Xara is that there is no Linux version, and the Windows version doesn't play nicely with Wine, which means I have to maintain a Windows installation in order to use the thing.


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