[OS X TeX] OT: looking for a public-domain EPS file editor

Bruno Voisin bvoisin at mac.com
Wed Apr 25 05:28:44 EDT 2007

The short story

Is anybody aware of a public-domain EPS file editor, offering similar  
functionality to Adobe Illustrator and running on Linux?

The long story: why

Yesterday a student of my research lab asked about ways to crop an  
EPS file, removing unwanted white space around a figure (the  
streamlines of a flow) produced by Tecplot on Linux.

I first thought about pdfcrop, part of MacTeX and gwTeX.  
Unfortunately, applied to the EPS file (after conversion to PDF) it  
produced no visible effect.

Looking at the EPS file with Illustrator, it turns out there is  
nothing to crop: the content of the file is delimited by a large  
frame (an invisible rectangle), inside which there are lots of white  
space and the actual figure.

With Illustrator it's easy to solve this, by ungrouping the content  
of the EPS file then erasing the unwanted rectangle. But the student  
works on Linux and has no access to Illustrator, other than asking me.

He had tried to edit the BoundingBox comment directly in the EPS  
code, but that wasn't successful. And we tried to identify in this  
code the part creating the unwanted rectangle, so as to remove it,  
but the code seems so optimized that it is absolutely undecipherable  
(at least to us).

The long story: how

After some search I found Inkscape <http://www.inkscape.org/>,  
already mentioned on this list IIRC and which is precisely a public- 
domain vectorial graphics editor, meant as an alternative to  
Illustrator. And there's a Mac OS X version, running as a stand-alone  
executable (actually calling X11).

Alas, Inkscape works with the SVG format, not the EPS format. It is  
said to be able to import and export other formats, including EPS.  
Apparently this functionality requires pstoedit, for which an i- 
Package exists. However:

- pstoedit, as installed by i-Installer, doesn't seem to know about  
SVG. From "pstoedit -help":

> Available formats :
>         psf:                    .fps:   Flattened PostScript (no  
> curves)       (built-in)
> -------------------------------------------
>         ps:                     .spsc:  Simplified PostScript with  
> curves      (built-in)
> -------------------------------------------
>         debug:                  .dbg:   for test purposes        
> (built-in)
> -------------------------------------------
>         dump:                   .dbg:   for test purposes (same as  
> debug)      (built-in)
> -------------------------------------------
>         gs:                     .gs:    any device that GhostScript  
> provides - use gs:format, e.g. gs:pdfwrite  (built-in)
> -------------------------------------------
>         ps2ai:                  .ai:    Adobe Illustrator via  
> ps2ai.ps of GhostScript   (built-in)
> -------------------------------------------

- Even if it did, there's no indication in Inkscape's doc on how to  
interface pstoedit with Inkscape.

Any idea?

Bruno Voisin

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