06 March 2008

Import Illustrator (.ai) files with Inkscape

One of the features which can be found in the soon-to-be-released Inkscape 0.46 is the ability to import PDF files (based on libpoppler) and as a consequence, .ai (Adobe Illustrator) files (which are based on PDF). Note: this feature was developed as part of the Google Summer of Code 2007. So how good is that import? I found it to be quite good.

But first a bit of history: for those who remember, the Bluecurve icon set was revolutionary for its time: an icon set for a Linux desktop created with vector graphics. But in those early days, without a competent editor available, it had to be created with Adobe Illustrator, which was for a long time a problem for contributors, which were not able to play with those icons without selling their souls.

Fast forward a couple of years ago, when we had the tool, Inkscape, and were thinking about the future of the Fedora icons: stay with Bluecurve, create a next-generation Bluecurve, adopt an existing icon set or create a new one from scratch (we pursued partly option 3 and 4, but this is not the subject of this post).

We still had problems with anything Bluecurve-related: no way to open the .ai files on a Linux desktop and without written guidelines, hard to re-create them from scratch. So the so solution was to export them as SVG with Illustrator and then freely play with those SVGs on Inkscape.

Today the Bluecurve days are behind us (if you still find a Bluecurve icon here and there on a Fedora desktop it is a bug and have to be fixed) but using the Inkscape 0.46 pre-releases (on Rawhide, but also easy to find for F8) we can play at last with the initial .ai files (after 5.5 years... good lesson to learn about file formats).

Below are two screenshots: one is the Illustrator created .ai files opened with Inkscape 0.46 pre2 and the other a SVG exported from Illustrator and opened with the same Inkscape 0.46 pre2. They look the same to me, bug for bug, which I find pretty good.

[illustrator import]

Update: and here is how they are supposed to look (Illustrator created PNG) - not sure if the small differences are caused by Inkscape bugs or features not supported by SVG:
[illustrator import]

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Now, if Inkscape could improve its EPS export and add an SWF export, I could dump Illustrator altogether.