Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.
In contrast to raster (bitmap) graphics editors such as Photoshop or Gimp, Inkscape stores its graphics in a vector format. Vector graphics is a resolution-independent description of the actual shapes and objects that you see in the image. A rasterization engine uses this information to determine how to plot each line and curve at any resolution or zoom level.
Contrast that to bitmap (raster) graphics which is always bound to a specific resolution and stores an image as a grid of pixels.
Inkscape can import and display bitmap images, too. An imported bitmap becomes yet another object in your vector graphics, and you can do with it everything you can do to other kinds of objects (move, transform, clip, etc.)
While Inkscape does not have all the features of the leading vector editors, the latest versions provide for a large portion of basic vector graphics editing capabilities. People report successfully using Inkscape in a lot of very different projects (web graphics, technical diagrams, icons, creative art, logos, maps).
* Exporting of masks has been substantially improved in all Cairo-based output formats.
* Several crash bugs in the node tool have been fixed.
* Rulers are redrawn properly with recent versions of GTK.
* Unlinking an orphaned clone no longer causes a crash.
* Problems with extensions sometimes not working at all on Mac OS X have been fixed.
* Inkscape should no longer crash due to missing icons at startup or when opening the document properties dialog.
* Shift-clicking on the top rounding handle of a rectangle will no longer cause a crash.
* Inkscape builds correctly with recent versions of Poppler.