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Inkscape's 0.42 release is a thing of beauty. For moving the marker ahead a hundredth of a version, it's seen a lot of progress. UI refinement, a highly usable gradient-fill tool, some very pretty new icons.

Its alignments dialog is still nowhere as nice as Corel Draw's — that being arguably the thing Corel did perfectly. I'm also still waiting for a "duplicate object" feature that works like Corel's, where you dupe an object, move it, dupe again and it appears the same distance from the last as you moved the first dupe from the original. Between that and layout guides, it takes me about five seconds to lay out a sheet of business cards. Corel Draw is the only Windows program I miss.

This version also removes the plugins/ directory, and puts more emphasis on scripting-language extensions. I think that's probably a wise move, since there weren't many (any?) plugins.

I'll stop missing Corel Draw when there's another tool I can use quickly and feel confident that things like business cards are aligned, and will print out millimeter-perfect on a business card template, not guessing that I got the margins right. That means usable layout guides, good alignment tools that behave predictably, a duplicate command that places things as precisely as the human at the console can with aid, and in general, a balance between precision when needed and getting out of the way so art can be made.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2005 05:54 pm (UTC)
Have you ever tried Scribus for laying out business cards? Precise, can import files from Inkscape (those two teams are even working together on some issues!) and with python scripting you can automate as much as you wish (maybe not yet everything but pretty much one can think of)
Aug. 17th, 2005 09:04 am (UTC)
What exactly do you miss in the Align dialog? With baseline alignment, it now contains everything I can think of. Just curious.

As for duplicating with move, open Transform, Move tab, type the move distance, then do Ctrl+D, Apply, Ctrl+D, Apply, etc. Easy. (Or better yet, Alt+D instead of the first Ctrl+D, to get clones instead of duplicates. Clones are a godsend.)

Aug. 17th, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC)
It's not the what, it's the how. I don't get the inkscape icons right away, and there's no shortcut to hit them. In Corel, I'd constantly C-a, A-e (Center vertically) A-c (Center horizonally), and then Enter to okay. The whole thing took perhaps a quarter of a second once I knew what I was doing. The controls for horizontal alignment are across the top of the dialog. The controls for vertical alignment are down the left. The distribution controls have been handled differently in different versions of Corel, but I liked the one with a two-tabbed dialog pretty well. A-d selected the other tab, so the whole process was pretty quick.

With Inkscape, the process is hunt ... for....icon ... click ... hunt .... for ... icon ...click. No matter how much visual sense the icons make, I just can't find which one I want quickly. I miss seeing the words "Center" and the rather obvious horizontal layout.

And okaying dialogs with the Enter key in GNOME is damnably unreliable across the board.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )