An excellent vector graphics editor for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux


Our rating: 

License: Free (Open source)
Review & Alternatives: Best Free Vector Graphics Editor

Pros & Cons:

Very mature product with lots of features. Can do most things commercial packages can.
Slow development.

Our Review:

Inkscape is an excellent program that hardly appears to have changed for years. It works like a dream on Linux and that is where you should run it if you can as it has a long history of issues on Windows. Having said that my experience in recent times has been entirely positive as the user interface is easy to use and more consistent than most competing editors.

Inkscape has W3C-standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) as the native file format. It doesn't support all SVG features and people will keep complaining about that for years to come. What it does have are sufficient features to realistically compete with fuller-featured paid products like Illustrator, Freehand and CorelDraw. Plus it avoids many of their quirks and frustrations. Its features include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, grouping, editing Creative Commons meta-data, editing nodes, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing, opening the vector file formats of SVG, SVGZ (gzipped SVG), PDF, and Adobe Illustrator (.AI), saving to the same formats except for .AI (as Illustrator opens .SVG), and imports most raster formats (JPEG, PNG, TIFF, etc.) but only exports PNG bitmaps.

Development seems to move at a crawl - in four years I can't tell what has changed and Inkscape still doesn't support SVG filter effects, animations, and SVG fonts. Nevertheless, I didn't miss anything at it is very comfortable to use. That usability is also enhanced by a much improved website with many useful resources including an impressive set of tutorials. They should be sufficient to help users free themselves from the limitations of digital image and photo editors.

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