17 Apr 2000 bernhard   » (Master)

Downloaded the beta of Deneba's Canvas and played around with it a bit. Like Corel's ports of their windows applications, Canvas uses WINE, but the executable itself is a native Linux ELF executable, WINE is only used as a library.

First impression: It's awfully bloated and slow and uses 100% CPU constantly. It's certainly slower than Sketch, at least it feels like that. Well, it's a beta version, so maybe the final version will be better in this regard. On the plus side, it didn't crash so far...

Second impression: The user interface is a bit of a mixture between that of Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. It has tons of features of which I've only tried a few so far, but it seems to be strangely lacking in some areas. It has import filters for a variety of raster image file formats but absolutely no vector import filters (apart from its own file format).

After Mediascape's Artstream, this is the second commercial vector drawing program that's available (at least in beta) for Linux and Corel Draw will follow in the summer. Makes me wonder when Illustrator will follow.

What does this mean for open source drawing programs like sodipodi, KIllustrator, GYVE or Sketch? I have no idea, but it depends on what the users will do. Will they even look at open source alternatives or will they just use what they already know from Windows or Mac? Here, "users" mainly refers to Linux newbies who come to Linux because its an alternative to Windows, e.g. because it's more stable and cheaper but not because they prefer open source software on principle. Can these users be convinced that open source is better even for end user applications, not just for the infrastructure (e.g. OS, servers and the like).

Not that the above mentioned programs don't have users or aren't successful (Hmm, I haven't heard much about Gyve lately), but I do wonder how the availability of commercial applications, especially those that can be downloaded for free, will affect the open source end user programs.

Of course, much of the above applies to all end user software. In the particular case of graphics applications, there are some prejudices to overcome and technical problems to solve before the open source solutions are even acceptable for professional artists.

Many professional artists seem to think that only Illustrator and Photoshop and perhaps Freehand are tools for real computer artists. Corel's programs, for instance, are only toys. Is there a chance that they might be persuaded to use open source tools?

At the moment, no open source graphics program really fits their needs, not even GIMP. The most important missing feature usually being support for pre-press stuff like separations/CMYK/process colors. Supporting commercial color models like Pantone may even turn out to be impossible or at least difficult in GPL programs, but I haven't even looked into that yet.

Enough of this rambling. There is more that I could write about this and I have the feeling that there's an article in here, if I only could frame my thoughts more coherently. Well, if I find the time, I might try my hand at an article.

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