sK1 vector  graphics editor gets maintenance update

sK1 vector graphics editor gets maintenance update

Just when users expected any news about PrintDesign (any!), its predecessor, the seemingly obsolete sK1 vector graphics app, got a maintenance update.

Probably the most important change in v0.9.2 is the use of Pango text layout engine which makes it finally possible to type text in pretty much any language—something the project had been missing for nearly a decade.

Pango-based text layout in  sK1

The other important change is support for LittleCMS v2 which means faster and better colorspace conversions, as well as support  for newer ICC profiles.

Among arguably less significant things:

  • decreased use of memory at startup (down to 40Mb from 70 Mb);
  • refactored and improved Cairo-based rendering of  the canvas;
  • the use of GTK+ printing system;
  • direct use of GTK+ dialogs (without Zenity);
  • exporting to PNG possible now..

Source code and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS packages are available at SourceForge.

Development of PrintDesign is still not exactly transparent, new code is being pushed to the project's SVN repository in big chunks, although recently developers started making commit comments that actually describe what's changed.

According to the team's manager, with departure of two programmers, they are finding it difficult to maintain crossplatform development. One possible solution they've already been working on is creating a widgetset abstraction layer, so that native interfaces could be plugged in one by one. A GTK+2-based interface is currently in the works.

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26 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. I don’t understand why do there have to be so many separate programs.

    The reason ALL of them lack is because everyone just focuses on new/separate programs/features instead of polishing existing ones and bringing them to the state of being able to compete with industry standards, which is why I also ditched OpenSource Graphics until an application, doesn’t matter which one, becomes serious enough to be usable in a professional environment.

  2. Alexandre Prokoudine 08 December 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Patrik, development of sK1 silently started as a fork of Skencil about the same time Inkscape was forked from Sodipodi. And let me tell you, back then Inkscape was seen by many as a knee-jerk reaction project. The team however was both passionate and skillful to move Inkscape so much further.

    The sK1 team doesn’t like Inkscape. Actually, they even used to pick on them because of how much memory Inkscape needs even for blank documents, and because of rendering performance. Don’t expect a merge there. That would be like Corel DRAW merging with AI.

  3. I use FOSS (graphics) in a professional environment and it works just fine.

    From making FOSS point of view there is no point in everybody doing the same thing. Sure sometimes there could be more collaboration but as long as i get needed functionality i don’t care if i have to use more than one FOSS bundle to do my work.

    What i don’t like all that much is seeing somebody doing hard work (“for free”) and somebody else nagging how that isn’t enough. I don’t feel this goes under “free speech” category and just expressing “my opinion” it has more to do with showing disrespect and not giving credit where credit is due.

    To each it’s own.

  4. FOSS, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mean to show disrespect towards anybody, on the contrary, I’m grateful for the effort, since no one is obliged to do anything for others yet they do, BUT there’s a lot to mention as to why OpenSource projects are way behind proprietary software, which is why many industrial designers don’t migrate and living in denial won’t help it.

    Let’s be realistic, there’s a lot to catch up with and I’ve outlined one of many reasons. I understand also Alexandre’s point and I agree.

    I see this also as a design student. Why do you think education is not based in OpenSource?

    My point was to take existing features of existing projects and tune them to be able to compete with proprietary software.

    If you take GIMP, for instance, there’s a lot to polish with far too many rough edges, so that those who are used to working with PS for many years have an easier transition instead of fighting a lot of clutter. That goes not only for the interface, but how tools work also.

    A lot to say about Inkscape and other projects. Personally I very much like Blender.

  5. The problem is: many of us who use FOSS software don’t get the needed functionality because of these forks. The libre graphics app portfolio (and many other end user tools for that matter) suffer from lack of developers, they’re years behind what their commercial counterparts offer, and they’re still want to fork because FOSS and freedom of choice…

    Meanwhile those who are using it have to switch between app A and B for a function because it either doesn’t exist in app A, or it’s useless, or inconvenient for the task we need to do. App switching is inconvenient, and wastes resources and unsafe (if you have the same document opened in more than one apps).

    As for nagging, yes, considering it may discouraged Gimp developers from communicating with users, but these users usually don’t have the money to support the FOSS projects they use, and don’t have the necessary skills to contribute.

  6. Alexandre Prokoudine 08 December 2014 at 2:28 pm


    Why do you think education is not based in OpenSource?

    Apart from lacking features you are probably hinting at? I’d say, there’s just too much inertia re using commercial software.


    As for nagging, yes, considering it may discouraged Gimp developers from communicating with users

    Could you please elaborate?

  7. @Negirno: in most FOSS projects there are always tasks for every skill level - bug testing, user support, translation, documentation, website, social media, server infrastructure..

  8. Still, sadly, i’ll keep using freehand (yep 10 years old software) AI, PS and Indesign, until any of OpenSource alts get at basic levels of development and that i can consider as real alternatives.

  9. Alexandre Prokoudine 08 December 2014 at 7:01 pm

    @quimkaos, what does “basic levels of development” mean to you?

  10. @Patrik

    For FOSS to penetrate in given education system you usually need “commercial entity” offering products to education system at “low bargains”. Currently educational systems are to rigid and not proactive and it can’t be expected education systems to adopt FOSS by itself.

    But not all is bad. FOSS projects usually provide good documentation and examples and tutorials and you don’t have to go to school to start learning. In school students usually are introduced to theoretical knowledge and therefore in a way it does not make that much difference what program is used.

    For example if you learn one programing language in school you will be able very quickly to adopt just about any FOSS programing language you find on the Internet.

    The point is i sure would like educational systems would use more FOSS but in the end once you learn how something is done you are able to do it in variety of tools available.

    It’s like saying if students would use GIMP exclusively they would not be able to use their commercial counterparts later on when they start to make projects.

    That reasoning is just wrong isn’t it?

    And you can already take existing features of existing FOSS projects and use them.


    AFAIK usually commercial application A still has competition from some commercial or FOSS application B that does some job better. Bigger commercial applications are sometimes “split up” for easier marketing. You don’t always have to use more FOSS applications to get the job done. I don’t see much difference in this regard sorry.

    About nagging the point was nobody is obliged to be exposed to it. Especially if somebody does something “for free” for others to use there is no excuse or need to be exposed to baseless nagging. Acknowledge the contribution and give credit or move on. Nobody owes you nothing and if you think you can do it or manage it better go ahead and do it. You probably wouldn’t do it for naggers in the end would you.


    To each it’s own.

  11. Oh man, people have to realize that people develop for open source projects because they like the project they’re working on or the fork they plan to do (sometimes because they’re being paid also. in this case a merge could be forced by whoever is paying, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, maybe).
    Forcing two projects with different mindsets is a recipe for disaster by either making the two teams go back to their previous projects or simple stopping developing altogether. It could work, but I think it’s higly unlikely.

    As for schools, I think they play a really important role in definying what’s “industry standards” nowadays, but sadly they focus much more in tools than in technique.
    Sure, most of the proprietary counterparts of FOSS media production software may be better for someone who is already a professional, but for the most important techniques (for someone who is still learning) they are comparable.
    I think schools are kind of irresponsible not to play the role that they should, at least presenting libre software as an alternative. I don’t think they’d even lose much customers, if they are really good at teaching the techniques behind the tools of course.
    FOSS software could really benefit from this kind of visibility, with more users, maybe more developers (in case of classes that teach programming, in universities maybe), more funds (if the schools educated their students about it), etc. This kind of difference was made clear to me when I was in Korea, where FOSS software is almost unheard of at the university I went, but in Brazil it’s much more common in universities and art schools.

  12. @Alexandre Prokoudine
    «@quimkaos, what does “basic levels of development” mean to you?»

    In that context, i mean that the software should do the main things that the other software(s) it’s “supposed” to “replace” do, be easy/friendly to use and pleasant enough.
    I know this is not easy to accomplish nor it’s a strait forward problem.

  13. @quimkaos

    AFAIK (based on using the tools myself) GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, Krita… (to name a few) do just that. If you are total beginner there are buttons you press and you have to learn what the buttons you press actually do. Or you know what you are after and you use the manual or web search engine to find out the tools (buttons to be pressed) you need to use to achieve what you are after. The same as with commercial counterparts.

    FOSS programs i mentioned are pleasant to use and easy to learn and are powerful tools enabling you to do advanced and creative things. You need to learn how to use them or you probably will not achieve much (the same as with their commercial counterparts). They are not simple tools like “Microsoft Paint” where you can open the software and master most of the tools it provides in short amount of time. With powerful software this is just not possible because it offers much more tools and beyond to learn.

    Anyway i use FOSS and i am quite happy when i visit sites like LGW and find some new programs i never heard off and they have potential. I would imagine majority of readers and followers of sites like LGW does the same. I am sometimes surprised to see nagging because of that. What is the point of nagging on sites where “libre graphic world” is covered and expressing stuff like “i don’t care about “libre graphic world” and i rather use 10 years old commercial counterpart and i came here to tell you that.


    Anyway this is not directed to any particular user and i don’t expect much will change it is my general view and i would say common sense and just take it or leave it.

  14. Well, everyone wants their own castle so you end up with a dozen forks because nobody wants to follow someone else.

  15. @FOSS
    No, I can’t consider myself a beginner, since I use graphic software since the early 90’s, and that I currently also use tools like Blender, Gimp, Darktable, Inkscape, Scribus, synfig Gravit, FontForge…  thou, lots of times, I find myself opening a VM with Windows and start using Freehand and photoshop.
    I couldn’t test SK1, since the application is giving me an error on my Arch Linux.
    Thing is I never had to learn freehand or photoshop, i just started to use them, and read a little of the help system to do my work. With most of Open Source tools I have to go thru tutorials and documentation.
    One tool that I can’t have enough is blender (and I was a 3DS user).
    IMHO a lot of tools could learn a lot from Blender development.
    One of the things that bothers me a lot is community feedback that consider opinions and experiences, as nagging and trolling, specially from people that consider them self Free and Open.

  16. @Valent Lau

    Yes and there is usually not much wrong with that and i use whatever fits my needs for given task.

    You know there actually are prominent programing philosophies build around this fact. For example do one thing and do it well. Ever heard of it?

    Look at it from another perspective. It’s like saying why do we have all this commercial graphic design programs why don’t everybody just stop doing what they are doing and let for example Adobe do it’s job.

    You would never buy that reasoning wouldn’t you? Why are you expressing it here then? I can’t imagine it has any value above intentional trolling.


    Yes i know now you will try to tell me you are professional and therefore you are speaking the truth. No offense but i have been there and done that. When i started using FOSS 99% environment around me was just as hostile but lucky i went on and it worked out.

    You made a statement earlier and the only real reasoning you provided is you sometimes have to start VM on your Linux system and use Windows to run Photoshop.

    Would you draw the same conclusions for Windows and Photoshop if for example you would sometimes need to start VM on your Windows system and use Linux to run Darktable?

    Would it make sense to pin this issue on commercial software and expect anybody serious would agree with the reasoning?

    About being open i have no issues with that and constructive criticism and agreeing with the fact sometimes you agree to disagree.

    But about baseless and disrespectful one line statements and trolling i don’t have to tolerate this. Tolerating this hurts FOSS.

    Just look at the list of FOSS software you gave and said you use it. There is one you said you particularly like and can’t get enough of.

    Knowing that WHY would you knowingly go to some FOSS graphic news site and start nagging and saying stuff you said?

    This doesn’t make any sense does it? You use something a lot and you actually like it but when credit should be given nagging prevails? Think about this for a while WHY do you act the way you do. It makes no sense.

    FOSS doesn’t have to put up with this you know. It doesn’t make you less open if you don’t tolerate this. In the end it is just (intentional or unintentional and conscious or unconscious) trolling and nothing more.

    P.S. Well don’t expect we will talk it over and agree in the end. And again you are not the only one this is intended to a spoke in general terms.

  17. @FOSS

  18. Alexandre Prokoudine 09 December 2014 at 11:04 pm

    @FOSS, personally I don’t see this as nagging (and I’m the website owner at that). I’ve been watching people reluctuntly grokking GIMP and Inkscape for about a decade now, and it’s just that: some people never get used to these apps, while others happen to just embrace them with both arms (at times, legs get involved as well). Both groups do professional-grade work.

  19. @Alexandre Prokoudine

    Yes exactly but in the end it’s hurting FOSS. Nobody is obliged to be exposed to this behaviour but is has been around for at least a decade indeed and we got used to it in a way we don’t see it as nagging any more.

    If somebody makes a (big) list of FOSS software it actually likes to use but at the same time makes (intentional or unintentional and conscious or unconscious) negative comments and believes it is the truth then something is wrong with this picture. How can we expect somebody from education system (if we talked about that) would actually step up and took the responsibility for using FOSS in education system if FOSS users using FOSS for years and actually admitting they love it make negative one line comments how FOSS is not even close to being on “basic level” of “whatever”.

    I occasionally bring up this topic because this is an area getting no attention. I tend to be not to harsh and try to explain this is not pointed to any given individual in debate but this is something bigger and should be talked about. Stereotype or a myth everybody repeats ignoring the facts.

    I don’t imagine me talking about this phenomenon will change this but it is a start. I can agree we disagree in the end to.

    It should be clear and it should be respected anybody is free to make whatever software and should not ask anybody for permission to do just that. It should not be obliged to be exposed to nagging doing just that. Following this simple rule a lot of great FOSS software was created and there you have it nothing is wrong here. Basic levels where already superposed decade(s) ago.

    Users using FOSS and actually loving it to be more positive in the future and more in line with reality. That would be something wouldn’t it? One can dream ,right?


    For real!

  20. @prokoudine
    > back then Inkscape was seen by many as a knee-jerk reaction project.

    That’s interesting, I’d never heard that point of view before.

    You say “knee-jerk reaction”, reaction to what?

    I always thought of Inkscape as a reaction to the sluggish progress of Sodipodi as opposed to anything else. Inkscape started as a hydra-october branch of Sodipodi and far as I understand it was only reluctantly forked.

    do you program?
    it may not seem like projects are all that different from each other but it is difficult to be fluent in many programming languages and toolkits. Even a skilled developer will be more skilled in one particular language and able to do more to improve a project in a language they know than struggle through in an unfamiliar language.

    Yes, there is a shocking amount of redundant work but occasionally we get projects like librevenge or OpenRaster that help bring things a little closer together. Having lots of slightly different tools wouldn’t be so bad if they worked together a bit better.

  21. @quimkaos One thing I have to agree with you, even though I think every libre program should go to route they please, is that it wouldn’t hurt to try following some of the things Krita and Blender’s foundation are doing right now. The amount of development they are able to put is just astonishing.

    I was even thinking about doing my final term paper (I’m really not sure if this terminology is used, but it’s a paper I have to write in order to graduate from university) on successful open source projects or something similar, but even though it seems interesting at first sight I think it’d be boring as hell after some time :P

  22. @Raphael Barros

    Actually we do need smaller and less prominent FOSS projects to keep FOSS ecosystem healthy.

    No point in everybody trying to be like for example Blender (big, feature rich, strictly organized and massive projects). We do have prominent Inkscape for example but it would be a shame if FOSS vector graphic would end here and luckily it doesn’t. Bottom line it probably would hurt if everybody would work on one single project.

  23. Well, I’m not saying that the projects should try to tackle every aspect related to their program, just that some aspects of their organization, how they do the branching, the cycle in which they release changes, the funding, among other things could be incorporated, even if in a smaller scale, in most projects. Like I said before, I also don’t think everybody should work on the same project if that’s not what they want.

    One of the things I love about open source software is the sense of community, of development revolving around the community and things like that, but there’s some FOSS that take forever to update some minor changes to the point that I ask myself if the project isn’t already dead and I think they could learn a thing or two from projects like Blender and Krita.

    I know that developers that don’t get paid have other priorities, but I think there are different ways to solve the problem of slow development or disorganization.

  24. Yes i agree it would be great if in the future FOSS would get a bit more founding.

    Not because i believe more founding is a magic bullet and everything would become better but because i feel it would be fair. Then again lately i followed some smaller but prominent FOSS projects trying to raise founding through fundraising campaigns and it ends up they where quite successful. It looks like we are already there in a way. It can be done and hopefully it will become easier and more common in the future to do just that.

    About that collaboration part i don’t worry. It already works fine.

    If there is something in one FOSS project that other FOSS projects would like to use there usually isn’t much trouble in doing just that!

  25. I have SK1 installed but when I draw something on the canvas nothing appears… I can see the handles when I click on what was supposed to be the “image. Any ideas of what’s happening?

  26. There’s also this huge memory usage by the Open Source software like Gimp and Inkscape. That issue should be addressed…My computer becomes unusable after I have Gimp and Inkscape open. I have to reboot the computer to make it work well again.