Inkscape Hackfest 2015

Thanks to the generosity of those who have contributed to the Inkscape Fund, seven Inkscape developers pioneered the very first Inkscape Hackfest, during the last week in April. This was an opportunity for them to meet each other in person, in some cases for the first time, for 3 days of intense code-writing (hacking) and decision-making about the future of Inkscape.

Hacking tasks included work on older, existing code (such as fixing some bugs) as well as the creation of new code. Parts of the code that have to do with geometric calculations were updated to current standards, and some of that work will help make the path operations more precise. Some new code was written that will improve how Inkscape is packaged. ("Packaging" is getting the Inkscape source code ready to work on the three different operating systems which Inkscape supports - Linux, Windows and OS X.) It will allow developers to build and test new versions faster.

Discussion topics included:
  • built-in code testing (helps prevent changes that a programmer makes to one part of the code from inadvertently breaking other parts of the code, also makes coding more efficient)
  • improved rendering performance (reducing delays on the canvas, when working with large files)
  • programming interface improvement (for writing extensions, filters, path effects etc.)
  • roadmap
  • fund-raising
  • accessibility issues
Inkscapers at the Hackfest 2015 in Toronto

As a result of these discussions, the Roadmap was agreed upon, and extended through version 1.0 and even a little beyond. (The Roadmap is just a guide which developers make, to keep work progressing in the best way possible. It's like the developers' "to do" list, but it's not "set in stone" and does change over time.) Decisions were made about the best development tools, programming language features, and software libraries (certain sets of code which perform particular tasks) to use, which together will result in more reliable software and faster bug fixes, as well as improved support for the OS X operating system.

Considering the bounty of new code and de-bugged or fixed code that was hacked, along with a slew of important topics that were discussed, and together with the work that has been completed since it ended, it seems the first Inkscape Hackfest was a resounding success! Timed to coincide with the start of the annual Libre Graphics Meeting, attendees were able to also meet and confer with programmers and developers of other free and open source projects, (such as GIMP, Blender, Scribus, and Pango) for the next four days following Inkscape Hackfest. (This is one of the benefits of the Open Source development paradigm -- sharing of ideas, resources, and even some code, with other open source projects.)

That collaboration resulted in more new decisions, and code as well. A commitment was made to improve Inkscape's accessibility. New code was written, which is already included in the upcoming new version, and which makes it possible for screen readers to read text, even if the text was converted to paths. And work has been started on supporting multi-language files for internet use (which helps the website run more efficiently).

Inkscape Programmers at the Hackfest 2015 in Toronto


Thanks to all those who attended Hackfest 2015, for their hard work, and for their commitment to making Inkscape, making it freely available, and making it great! And thanks again to those who contributed funds, enabling such talented programmers to meet, work together, and advance Inkscape's evolution by a giant step.