Inkscape‘s 0.42 release is a thing of beauty. For moving the marker ahead a hundredth of a version, it’s seen a lot of progress. UI refinement, a highly usable gradient-fill tool, some very pretty new icons.

Its alignments dialog is still nowhere as nice as Corel Draw’s — that being arguably the thing Corel did perfectly. I’m also still waiting for a “duplicate object” feature that works like Corel’s, where you dupe an object, move it, dupe again and it appears the same distance from the last as you moved the first dupe from the original. Between that and layout guides, it takes me about five seconds to lay out a sheet of business cards. Corel Draw is the only Windows program I miss.

This version also removes the plugins/ directory, and puts more emphasis on scripting-language extensions. I think that’s probably a wise move, since there weren’t many (any?) plugins.

I’ll stop missing Corel Draw when there’s another tool I can use quickly and feel confident that things like business cards are aligned, and will print out millimeter-perfect on a business card template, not guessing that I got the margins right. That means usable layout guides, good alignment tools that behave predictably, a duplicate command that places things as precisely as the human at the console can with aid, and in general, a balance between precision when needed and getting out of the way so art can be made.