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 release?

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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