List of free Vector-drawing programs

If you want to look at alternatives for CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator, this list gives a brief overview of some possible applications to look at. They all handle drawing, layout of (usually) single pages and insertion of bitmap images.

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  • I have used Inkscape twice, to create posters. Starting from a PDF and once starting from a PowerPoint template saved as a PNG file to use as background. Support of layers, snaps and grids is there and also insertion of images, clipping, Boolean operations and decent font support. While I still believe I am more flexible and productive in CoreDRAW (which I used quite a lot), it gets the job done. On Windows, OSX and Linux, no less. Native format is SVG, but it has decent support for other formats too.
  • I don't know Xare Xtreme, but if it used to be commercial, it might have some good productivity laying behind it.
  • I tried the 3.0.0 version of Draw once and it behaved really bad. Maybe it was the bad OSX port or maybe it was just released too soon, but alignment of text was not properly stored and I had lots of interface complaints. I hope, really hope, that the current version is better. It could not possibly be worse than the version I tried. Anyway, for a 3.x release it was unacceptable.
  • Skencil has a nice name, but have not had the chance to try it out.
  • sK1 is a "fork" from Skencil, meaning it derives from Skencil but has been growing on its own. They promise support for CorelDRAW files, which might come in handy to port my older drawings to e.g. SVG or PDF.
  • Karbon14 belongs to KOffice, so if you run KDE it's probably installed already. I think I launched it a few times, but not much more.
  • Don't know Xfig. Interface looks a bit dated, so it could need some getting used to.

Anyway, I still really like CorelDRAW and never got really productive in Illustrator, so if you need some vectorial graphics (e.g. presentation of a design project on a poster), be sure to al least try to see if any of these suits your working style. And let me know if you use any of these in architectural design!