Why I Don’t Like Inkscape 0.91: An Honest Review
UPDATE: As some of you have pointed out, a lot of these points do not seem to be an issue on Windows or other Linux distros, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. The problems I’m having may not apply to you, but they still apply to me, so I’m just sharing my own personal experience. I still think Inkscape is an awesome program, and I really like version 0.48 so I’ll be sticking with that for now.
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I love Inkscape. I use it for 99% of my design work. What I particularly love about it is how lightweight (as far as CPU resources go) a program it is, and I personally think the interface makes for a more efficient workflow than Illustrator. Unless I have to work in CMYK, I’m going to choose Inkscape over Illustrator every time.
Each and every new installment of Inkscape has been better than the previous. However, I’m not too crazy about version 0.91, though, and after using it for a couple of months, I went back to version 0.48.
There’s not one particular reason I dislike version 0.91, but rather many different little reasons that piled up and were more than I was willing to deal with. Allow me to explain.
For some reason, this latest release seems to drag compared to any other version I’ve used. Version 0.91 has a tendency to lock up briefly whenever I’m editing gradients, browsing through fonts in the text editor, and the bezier pen lags to the point where it’s almost unusable.
One of Inkscape’s major benefits [for me] has always been how lightweight, fast and efficient it is. I could probably overlook these issues for my day-to-day freelance work, but when I’m recording screencast tutorials for Youtube, as you would imagine, it only gets worse.
I don’t think this is a problem with my computer. I’m running 16GB of memory. Editing large video files in Blender gives me less hiccups than using the bezier pen in Inkscape 0.91.
Editing gradients in previous versions of Inkscape was a breeze. You’d simply click the edit icon, then a floating window would pop up with a dropdown menu of the stops listed, each of which you could select and change. Adding and removing stops was simple too, and it actually worked.
In version 0.91, not only does that almost cause my machine to lock up, but the feature doesn’t even function properly. When you click the “add stop” icon at the top toolbar, nothing happens. You have to select the 2nd stop first, then go back to the first stop, then go back to the second stop, then it’ll work. This is obviously some kind of glitch, and the ritual of back-and-forth clicking is the only way to get around it.
In addition, sometimes the color menu doesn’t even appear when you select a stop. I’ll have to close and reopen Inkscape in order to get it back. Not sure if this is some kind of glitch, or something else that I’m overlooking.
New Text Editor
The new text editor isn’t very fluid. In previous versions of Inkscape, if I wanted to see how a word looked in a variety of fonts, I could open up the text editor, apply the font, duplicate the word and shift it over, then open the text editor back up and pick up right where I left off browsing through the fonts list by using the arrow keys.
In version 0.91, they’ve introduced some kind of recently-used-fonts area at the very top of the list, so if I want to continue browsing to the next font, I have to either scroll all the way down from the top of the list, or manually start typing in the font name I just used, then press down on the keyboard to get out of that recently-used-fonts area.
I don’t understand why this feature needs to exist. It hasn’t proven useful [to me] yet, and has only deteriorated the efficiency of my workflow by costing me unecessary clicks.
I know that sounds like a trivial thing to complain about, but when you’re spending a minimum of 8 hours using the software every day, those extra clicks add up.
Selecting Text Objects on The Canvas
You can usually select any object on the canvas by clicking near it. Even if you happen to miss the object by a few millimeters, Inkacpe will grab it. For some reason, though, selecting text objects on the canvas is a real nuissance in version 0.91. You must click precisely on the text object, which is a pain because letters tend to lack any kind of substance to grab. There’s a lot of negative space. So, if you click between the bottom two legs of the letter A, it won’t select the object.
This proves to be a hassle because you often have to click (and sometimes deselect if you’re trying to grab multiple objects) 3 or 4 times – and sometimes even have to zoom in on the object – just to select it.
What happened? This was never an issue in previous versions of Inkscape. Grabbing a text object was always as easy as grabbing an ellipse or a rectangle.
Blur & Opacity Inputs
In the fill and stroke dialog box, the blur and opacity features have been unnecessarily complicated.
There used to be numeric input boxes for each that were separate from the sliding handles. In 0.91, the numeric inputs have been combined with the sliding handles. So now, when you go to click on the numbers to change them, Inkscape first recognizes that action as changing the sliding handle, which is rather annoying when you want to give something a precise numeric blur, only to click on the digits and first end up with a 98% blur. I liked it much better before.
Where Is The Undo/Redo Dialog?
I’m not talking about the undo/redo history menu. That’s something entirely different. I’m talking about when you click “Edit” on the toolbar.
In previous versions of Inkscape, the Undo text in that menu had the most recent action written out next to it. For example, Edit > Undo: Remove Stroke, or Edit > Redo: Change Opacity. Now, for some reason, it’s gone. It just reads Undo without letting me know what I’m undoing.
This is disappointing. I frequently used that menu as a shortcut to see what action I most recently executed, because sometimes I can’t tell if I actually executed something or not. Having to open the undo history menu for this is a step backwards when you previously had a shortcut for it. The beauty of that dialog was the streamlining of that process.
PNG files export without a file extension
When you export a graphic as a bitmap, for some reason, it renders without the .png file extension, meaning all software (including Inkscape) will not recognize it as a graphic. You have to manually type in the extension after the name. For example, instead of simply typing in output and clicking export, you now have to type in output.png.
Again, this sounds like a trivial thing to complain about, but having to manually type “.png” after the title of every file I export, when I never had to do that in previous versions, is a new habit to adapt to (that very often slips my mind) and somewhat of a step backwards for the software.
I don’t know if this is a Linux issue or not (it could very well be,) but I didn’t have this problem [on Linux] with any of the previous versions.
Out with The New, In with The Old
There are some new features in 0.91 that I really like, like panning the canvas with the spacebar (I’ve really fallen in love with that function and will miss it,) and apparently they’ve experimented with mesh gradients (which I haven’t tested out yet.)
Overall, this entire version feels like a step backwards, whereas all of the previous releases felt like gradual improvements.
This isn’t meant to be a jab at the Inkscape team. I understand this is a labor of love for them, and I’m eternally grateful and indebted to them for this wonderful software they’ve created, but I just wanted to share my feedback as a power user (I like to consider myself a power user, anyway.)
I also wanted to have this post to point my Youtube subscribers to, because I’m sure many of you will be asking why I reverted back to version 0.48 in my next tutorial. Do not worry. I will make sure to execute future tutorials in such a way that they’ll be compatible with version 0.91.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Let me know what you think of Inkscape’s latest release in the comments section. Am I crazy, or are these legitimate concerns? I’m eager to hear what some of you think of version 0.91.
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Great site and resource for Inkscape users Nick. i agree with you on 0.91. You may see some of the things you mentioned were in the release notes for Inkscape as “Known Issues” : http://wiki.inkscape.org/wiki/index.php/Release_notes/0.91 I’m hoping that since they have moved to better libraries, they will bring back some of that feel from 0.48 into the next version. The Gradients drive me nuts now !!!
My wife and I are as new a “beginner” to Inkscape as one can become. We are in our early 70’s and are just becoming aware and fluent enough with 0.91 to know how most of the icons work and interact with each other.
Should we continue with 0.91, try 0.48 or would we ever know the difference?
Keeping in mind, we don’t know how many good years we’ve got left… ;-]
If you feel comfortable enough with version 91, then I would just stick with using that. There really isn’t too much of a difference between the two releases. My grievances with version 91 are exacerbated for me because I spend 8+ hours per day using the software. For someone just started out and doing this in their free time, it really shouldn’t be an issue. Version 91 is great in and of itself, so if you’re becoming more comfortable with that then I would stick with it. 🙂