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When I'm creating graphics in Photoshop or Illustrator, I often wish my work was entirely represented by some plain-text format so that I could dive down and make rapid changes without doing too much work. (For example: changing the properties of a bunch of text labels at once, or instancing a similar object several times, or globally changing a color that applies to multiple objects.) I suppose it would sort of work like a WYSIWYG web development application, where you would do most of your work with the UI toolset but dive down into the raw HTML/CSS on occasion. Postscript seems like a good candidate, but I don't think I've seen anything that uses it in such a way. Are there any tools like this already available?

(PaintCode looks similar to what I'm describing, but I don't think it's as robust as Illustrator for example.)

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Illustrator can import/export vector images in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format, which is text-based (XML) and supports style sheets, similarly to HTML.

Photoshop works mainly with raster images with binary file formats.

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I should have clarified: I'm specifically looking for real-time editing support. As far as I can tell, you'd have to export to SVG, edit, and then re-import in Illustrator. – Archagon Aug 21 '13 at 3:17
@Archagon, in that case, the best I can suggest is to try Inkscape's XML Editor mode (Shift + Ctrl + X). You can have the main drawing open simultaneously with the XML Editor and changes are reflected in both. – Mike Fitzpatrick Aug 21 '13 at 8:54
That sounds perfect! I'll be sure to check it out. – Archagon Aug 22 '13 at 8:58
We all need this tool by Bret Victor to become available! – beroe Aug 29 '13 at 0:26
@beroe, thanks for the link. Bret's new tool looks amazing. Hopefully it will be available soon. – Mike Fitzpatrick Aug 29 '13 at 3:42

Once upon a time there was a system called NeWS (/nee-wuss/) which offered much of what you describe. I'm working on an open-source clone, called xpost which has a goal of implementing an Illustrator work-alike that will expose (and re-parse, after editing) the implementation of any construct.

NeWS was itself inspired by earlier integrated graphics/language-environment systems like Interlisp-D, and Smalltalk. These earlier systems were hampered by being tied to (obsolete) monochrome bitmaps.

There another program I've used called Mayura Draw which exported nice, clean, editable postscript.

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