Potrace 1.10 released with DXF exporter

Peter Selinger released a new version of Potrace, his console application for vectorization of bitmap images. The biggest new feature is writing vectorized data to DXF files.

The new DXF back-end works just like any other. You take e.g. this car blueprint, graciously provided by the-blueprints.com:

Source design draft

Convert it to PBM (potrace only uses 1bit images) and run the conversion command:

$ potrace -b dxf car-top.pbm -o car-top.dxf

The output is a DXF file that you can open in LibreCAD or DraftSight:

DXF opened in LibreCAD

It's quite easy to guess that area of application here is somewhat limited, because Potrace doesn't yet support centerline tracing. So automatic digitization of CAD designs is mostly a no-go for Potrace users yet.

We asked Peter for comments on that and he replied that while he's definitely interested in centerline tracing, he is essentially lacking time to implement this feature. He already evaluated existing source code in autotrace, another console vectorization tool, and while porting centerline tracing over to Potrace is doable, a lot of work should be done additionally to ensure high quality output.

Less important changes in Potrace 1.10 are:

  • the gimppath backend (SVG output optimized for GIMP) is now compatible with newer version of GIMP;
  • the EPS, PDF, and SVG backends now use high-resolution bounding boxes;
  • the default scaling of the EPS, PDF, and SVG back-ends is now fixed at 72dpi
  • a new --flat argument available for SVG back-end merges all Bezier curves into one;
  • another new --tight argument removes whitespace around input image.

Both source code and builds for various operating systems are available at Potrace's homepage. Potrace is heavily used in Inkscape's internal tracer, so we'll see if any related new features will be used in upcoming Inkscape v0.49.

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