One of the best FreeSoftware projects, ever.


Inkscape is vector graphics editor: That is, you draw logical drawing elements (lines, shapes, circles, stars, …) rather than pixels.

Inkscape has incredibly powerful user interface controls (most manipulations can be performed entirely by keyboard,) and it has one of the best tutorial series ever: Not only does it show you how to make use of the tool, but it also teaches art theory and aesthetic as well.

Inkscape outputs [[SVG?]], which is also based on logical drawing elements, and scriptable by JavaScript. Presently, only FireFox supports SVG, but soon, IE7 will as well.

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The diagrams that I make here, I make with InkScape.

InkScape may well be my favorite program in the entire world.

Lion, someday I’ll have to watch you make a diagram on Inkscape (or you’ll have to write a tutorial, but don’t feel pressure to do that). I tried it twice but I couldn’t figure out how to easily do a buncha stuff. The tutorial didn’t seem oriented to making diagrams with shapes and arrows connecting those shapes.

Or.. maybe sometime you could use one of those make-a-video-of-what-you-do-on-the-computer programs while you make a diagram in Inkscape. This wouldn’t be so much work as writing a tutorial. I don’t even need a voice-over, I’ll just watch.

Or we could try out the “Inkboard” together- I have InkScape on Linux now, (just installed it on <3 FC5 <3 last night-) and you can watch me diagram in real time.

That said, I use the keyboard A LOT, so there will be times where you’ll go: “What the hell just happened?!”

  1. Ctrl-Shift-F : pull up “fill & stroke”
  2. & then Alt-Y : stroke style
  3. set line weight
  4. choose arrow end
  5. Alt-Tab back
  6. Alt, P, R : reverse path if needed

You only have to do this once; Thereafter, use “copy style.”

  1. Pick a line with a style you like. (Color, line weight, dotting pattern, arrow.)
  2. Ctrl-C : copy
  3. Pick a line you want to style.
  4. Ctrl-Shift-V : past style onto other line

The ability to copy-and-paste style information is super-powerful.

You can also do it en masse, by picking several items by holding down Shift as you click them.

OK, cool, let’s do that sometime. I have to be in lab a lot for the next week, so maybe not just yet though.

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