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When Affinity Designer came out, I took the plunge and never looked back at Illustrator. Although, there is only one feature still missing, which I need from time to time: path offset.

In AD it can be achieved by outlining a stroke and clipping it from the original object, but this results in very messy paths:

enter image description here

In the past, I took a one-month subscription to Illustrator when I really needed this tool. But it's a bit silly to pay a hefty price for just this single feature.

Are there any other vector apps out there that can do the same without messing up the path structure?

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If you don't want to pay anything, have a look at inkscape(dot)org - it's Open Source, and has a dynamic offset path effect. It's different from Adobe Illustrator's offset, but it's free so what do you have to lose, except some time.

A quick demo of the Dymanic offset feature

enter image description here

After conversion of Dynamic offset to paths

enter image description here

  • Thanks! I just tried Inkscape and the results are very clean. The only issue, though, is that it does not allow numeric input. I need the offset to be an exact value. Is there maybe a way to achieve this using the Inkscape CLI? Let's say, open a file and offset all shapes -1mm for example. – wout Sep 13 '17 at 15:27
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    You could edit the XML in Inkscape, and simply type in the radius. Here's an example. I had two original shapes (left), made copies (right). Applied the dynamic offset to both shapes, and changed the radius attribute numerically. The result is an identical transformation. I think the units here are pixels however. – Billy Kerr Sep 13 '17 at 16:39
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    That might be a valid route indeed. thanks for pointing that out. I can just modify the Inkscape SVG and then convert it to Plain SVG to apply the offset to the path. Converting mm to px is not too hard: px = (mm * dpi) / 25.4 – wout Sep 13 '17 at 17:20
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You could try:

  • Inkscape, its not as clean as illustrator but its free.*
  • Gravit, but form what ive seen ist nearly as messy as AD.

Too bad makers of affinity designer didnt publish and api, because this would be really easy to make into the software.

* most people seem to be using the algorithm presented by pomax, which has this problem unless you tune it. But its not nearly as bad as the one presented by AD. Therefore had they an API it wouldnt take more than a few hour to port the pomax approach and then tune it.

  • I know the AD people are working to improve on it, but until they release it I need a viable alternative. As stated below, Inkscape works great but I need a numeric input. Downloading Gravit as we speak. Pomax looks very interesting. I would only need to offset all the paths in a file by a given value so that might be an option. Thanks! – wout Sep 13 '17 at 15:36
  • @wout Yes but not having an api is a mistake. You can do all you want in the making it department. But if you dont have an api your not limitted to your internal dev. Not releasing a API is weird it either means that the internal development is a big mess, a huge strategic mistake or there is some big underlying flaw in the software hat they are trying to fix. Like i said thsi could have been handles by the community if they just had released even a temporary API. – joojaa Sep 13 '17 at 15:40
  • I agree, it's strange to be that closed off. At some point, they will probably provide one but they go at it step by step. Just tested Gravit but it flips on compound paths. I'm thinking now about writing an SVG.js plugin to generate the required shapes programmatically. That way I can control the offset values easily while maintaining clean paths. – wout Sep 13 '17 at 15:57

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