Leonardo Interview

Leonardo Sketch: ‘Now that the basic drawing tools are done we want to focus on collaboration.’

Jessica Thornsby

JAXenter speaks to Josh Marinacci about the Leonardo vector drawing tool reaching its 1.0 release.

The Leonardo Sketch project has just announced its
first full release. In this interview, JAXenter
speaks to Leonardo creator and co-author of Swing Hacks, Josh
Marinacci on the project reaching 1.0 status…….

JAXenter: What is Leonardo Sketch, and what
makes it unique?

Josh Marinacci: Leonardo is a vector drawing
tool. It is meant to be used for quick tasks like mockups, drawing
diagrams, simple presentations, and quick drawing sketches. It is
not meant to compete with a full drawing tool like Illustrator.
What makes Leonardo different is its focus on collaboration. You
can export to PDF, SVG, PNG, and even HTML Canvas. It can even
export directly to an email (Mac only) or your Twitter account.
Leonardo also lets you search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed
images to put in your presentations, all without leaving the
application. We think this focus on connecting to the web gives it
a unique advantage compared to other drawing applications.

JAXenter: Leonardo has just celebrated its
first full release. What functionality is included in 1.0?

Josh Marinacci: 1.0 is what we call the Minimum
Viable Product. It certainly has bugs and is missing features, but
it does enough now to be genuinely useful and not too annoying. I’m
using it every day for my UI mockups. It also gives us a stable
base to work from and encourage others to get involved. For this
first release we focused on basic drawing features (rectangles,
ovals, curves, polygons, and image import) and selection tasks
(group, union, align), and making it fast enough to use. Since we
were building from scratch this first release took about 6 months
to complete. Now that we have a stable base we can push out new
releases with new features much faster. We hope to have a new one
by Christmas.

JAXenter: What are the plans for the next

Josh Marinacci: 1.0 is called Ruby Red. Our
next release will be Glowing Green. Now that the basic drawing
tools are done we want to focus on collaboration. Right now you can
save shapes to your symbols panel. We’d like to let you share your
symbols with others over the internet with some sort of webservice.
Then you could search for prefab symbols created by other Leo
users, edit them, then share the changes back. Since I’m primarily
a client side developer I’d love to find someone who knows server
side features like OpenID, OpenAuth, and persistence layers to help
us build the web service.

In addition to more collaboration support we plan to polish the
UI, add transform tools, more translations to other languages, and
fix tons of bugs. Oh… and of course make it faster… things
could always be faster.

JAXenter: Leonardo is affiliated with Amino –
what is Amino?

Josh Marinacci: Amino is the UI toolkit that
Leonardo is built on. I spent many years working on the Swing and
JavaFX UI toolkits. I created Amino as a new toolkit not tied to
AWT, using the lessons I’ve learned from previous toolkits. It
should feel familiar to developers used to Swing, but with a few
changes like the event bus. It has built in support for background
tasks, remote webservice requests, building app bundles, and
skinning the UI with CSS. It’s still fairly immature (version 0.5),
but we think it has a bright future for rich desktop applications
like Leonardo.

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