On Jan 25, 2010, at 1:29 PM, Joshua L. Blocher wrote:
Back to Inkscape - I'd love to see a scaled down version that implements a short list of features sufficient to create line designs (color is immaterial here - cutters only cut, not paint), save files in svg, and perhaps with an optional plugin to allow output to craft cutters. Some of these machines use HPGL, but too many require some variation thereof and would have to be customized for a particular machine. Not a huge audience, and one that would require some initial hand-holding, but once introduced to Inkscape in a gentle way, I predict they would be enthusiastic supporters and want to grow into using more advanced capabilities. I know there has been some interest here in an HPGL output option, but there needs to be a means of specifying additional information - i.e., cutting speed, knife pressure, etc. that are generally unique to the cutter being used. I do correspond with some advanced users who use Inkscape like I do, but they tend to be skilled artists in another life and very skilled in the use of computers in general.
This is clearly an area the Inkscape and the FOSS world in general needs help. We were starting to work with a couple of groups to help get this sorted, but the project fell apart. We really just waiting to find a motivated contributor who is interested in this. Since everyone works on the things that interest them. The good news is joining the team is easy. Two patches, translation updates, documentation additions get you commit rights to BZR.
Well, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that a groundswell of users in this area has made this something that will be gaining attention and at least some work to address this year.
First of all, here at linux.conf.au I had a chance to talk with a few guys from Ponoko ( http://www.ponoko.com ). They're very interested in promoting the use of open source to physically make things. As part of that, they too expressed a strong desire for a simplified UI that helps Inkscape support cutter users in getting up to speed more quickly. Given that they are a commercial company, we at least have a strong business reason for them to collect up good UI data for what will benefit people. Then we on our side can implement appropriate things more easily.
Additionally, much of the task-oriented adaptive UI work that I've started should enable just that sort of 'focused' interface that will benefit cutter artists. This also should cover home paper cutters, CNC routers, professional laser cutters, etc.
There was also a good contingent of makers here, with reprap's and other such goodness. Many are using Inkscape now to be able to craft files for driving things, and improving that workflow would benefit many people. So we have end users wanting things improved, commercial companies looking to help that happen, and talented individuals experienced in the making arena who can help make it happen.
There are other forthcoming developments that will be announced next month. The sort of thing that can really help promote the use of Inkscape and other open source projects in the realm of physically making things... so keep you eyes peeled.