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Create PDF slides from layers of an Inkscape drawing
#!/usr/bin/env python3
# Convert an Inkscape SVG file into a set of PDF slides for presentation
# or printing.
# Requires inkscape and pdftk to be installed and in the PATH.
# Inspired by mkpdfs.rb (
# Steven Bell <>
# By default, each layer in the SVG file produces one slide.
# Layers are ordered from bottom to top (i.e., the bottom layer is the first slide).
# A layer whose name begins with '+' will be added to the previous layer
# A layer whose name begins with '_' will be used as a "base" layer for all
# slides that follow.
# A layer whose name begins with '.' will always be hidden. This is useful for
# guides, templates, or just hiding things that aren't finished.
# There are a set of special tags that will get filled in when placed in a text
# field as ${tag}. Currently the only tag is ${slide}, which inserts the slide
# number. This only works for normal text fields, not text boxes.
from lxml import etree
import os
from sys import argv
def delete_temporary_files():
os.system("rm -f " + tempsvg)
os.system("rm -f slide-*.pdf")
# Configuration
if len(argv) < 2:
print("Incorrect number of arguments")
print("Usage: SVGFILE\n")
srcfile = argv[1]
tmpdir = './'
tempsvg = 'temp.svg'
coalesce_animations = False # Whether to flatten animations for printouts
# Load the file and get the namespaces
doc = etree.fromstringlist(open(srcfile)).getroottree()
ns = doc.getroot().nsmap
layers = doc.findall('/svg:g[@inkscape:groupmode="layer"]', namespaces=ns)
# Find all the text strings that we're going to have to replace
texts = doc.findall('//tspan', namespaces=ns)
subst_elements = [] # Text elements where we have to substitute something
subst_strings = [] # The corresponding strings of text
for t in texts:
if t.text is not None and t.text.find('${slide}') is not -1:
# First pass:
# Make all of the layers invisible
# and find the last layer which should be visible
last_visible_layer = None
for l in layers:
l.attrib['style'] = 'display:none'
label = l.attrib['{}label']
if label[0] is not '.' and label[0] is not '_':
last_visible_layer = l
# Second pass:
# Build up the layers and create files
slide_num = 0 # Number that we put into slides
page_count = 0 # Used to name the PDF files we export
base_layers = [] # Layers which are always shown once added
tvisible_layers = [] # Layers visible at the current point in time
for i,l in enumerate(layers):
label = l.attrib['{}label']
if label[0] is '.':
# Hidden, just skip this layer
elif label[0] is '_':
# Base layer, add it to the list but don't make a slide for it
elif label[0] is '+':
# Additive layer, just append it to the current list
# Normal case, reset all the layers and add this one
visible_layers = base_layers + [l];
slide_num += 1
if coalesce_animations and l is not last_visible_layer:
next_label = layers[i+1].attrib['{}label']
if next_label[0] is '+' or next_label[0] is '.':
# Then don't render just yet
for vl in visible_layers:
vl.attrib['style'] = 'display:inline'
# Do the string substitutions
for s in range(len(subst_elements)):
subst_elements[s].text = subst_strings[s].replace('${slide}', str(slide_num))
# Save the updated SVG file
doc.write(tmpdir + os.path.sep + tempsvg)
# Call Inkscape to render it
pdf_name = tmpdir + os.path.sep + "slide-{:03d}.pdf".format(page_count)
page_count += 1
print("Exporting {id} as {name}".format(id=l.attrib['id'], name=pdf_name))
os.system("inkscape --export-pdf={path} --export-area-page {temp}".format(path=pdf_name, temp=tempsvg))
# Restore things back to the way they were for the next run
for vl in visible_layers:
vl.attrib['style'] = 'display:none'
# Merge everything using pdftk
out_path = srcfile[:-4] + '.pdf'
if os.system("pdftk slide-*.pdf cat output {}".format(out_path)):
print("Failed to combine pdfs! Check that pdftk is installed")
print("Output written to {}".format(out_path))
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