The command line programs


Ipe supports the following command line options:

-sheet style_sheet_name

Adds the designated style sheet to any newly created documents.


With this option, Ipe will display the current configuration options on stdout, and terminate.

In addition, you can specify the name of an Ipe file to open on the command line.

Ipetoipe: converting Ipe file formats

The auxiliary program ipetoipe converts between the different Ipe file formats:

ipetoipe ( -xml | -pdf ) { <options> } infile [ outfile ]

The first argument determines the format of the output file. If no output filename is provided, Ipe will try to guess it by appending one of the extensions ipe or pdf to the input file’s basename.

For example, the command line syntax

ipetoipe -pdf figure1.ipe

converts figure1.ipe to figure1.pdf.

Ipetoipe understands the following options:


No Ipe markup is included in the resulting output file. Ipe will not be able to open a file created that way, so make sure you keep your original!

-markedview (PDF only)

Only the marked views of marked Ipe pages will be created in PDF format. If all views of a marked page are unmarked, the last view is exported. This is convenient to make handouts for slides.

-pages from-to (PDF only)

Restrict exporting to PDF to this page range. This implies the -export option.

-view page-view

Only export this single view from the document. This implies the -export option.


Run Latex even for XML output. This has the effect of including the dimensions of each text object in the XML file.


Do not compress streams in PDF output.

Iperender: exporting to a bitmap, EPS, or SVG

The program iperender exports a page of the document to a bitmap in PNG format, to a figure in Encapsulated Postscript (EPS), or to scalable vector graphics in SVG format. (Of course the result contains no Ipe markup, so make sure you keep your original!) For instance, the following command line

iperender -png -page 3 -resolution 150 presentation.pdf pres3.png

converts page 3 of the Ipe document presentation.pdf to a bitmap, with resolution 150 pixels per inch.

Iperender understands the following options:

-page page

The page to export. This can be a page number, or a page name (which you can set as the Section name in the page properties).

-view view

The view to save. This can be a view number, or a view name, which you can set with Views ‣ Edit view.

-resolution resolution

The bitmap resolution in pixels per inch when exporting to png format. The default is 72ppi.

-tolerance tolerance

The tolerance determines the precision used when rendering curves using straight line segments. The default is 0.1. Use a smaller value for higher precision.


Use transparent background when exporting to png format.


Do not crop page to the page bounding box.

Ipescript: running Ipe scripts

Ipescript runs an Ipe script written in the Lua language with bindings for the Ipe objects, such as the script update-master. Ipescript automatically finds the script in Ipe’s script directories. On Unix, you can place your own scripts in ~/.ipe/scripts.

The Ipe distribution contains the following scripts:

  • update-master, explained earlier;

  • page-labels, explained earlier;

  • onepage collapses pages of an Ipe document into layers of a single page;

  • add-style to add a stylesheet to Ipe figures;

  • update-styles to update the stylesheets in Ipe figures (in the same way that Ipe does it using the Update stylesheets function).

Ipeextract: extract XML stream from Ipe file

Ipeextract extracts the XML stream from an PDF or EPS file made by Ipe 6 or 7 and saves it in a file. It will work even if Ipe cannot actually parse the file, so you can use this tool to debug problems where Ipe fails to open your document.

ipeextract infile [ outfile ]

If not provided, the outfile is guessed by appending xml to the infile’s basename.

Ipe6upgrade: convert Ipe 6 files to Ipe 7 file format

Ipe6upgrade takes as input a file created by any version of Ipe 6, and saves in the format of Ipe 7.0.0.

ipe6upgrade infile [ outfile ]

If not provided, the outfile is guessed by adding the extension ipe to the infile’s basename.

To reuse an Ipe 6 document in EPS or PDF format, you first run ipeextract, which extracts the XML stream inside the document and saves it as an XML file. The Ipe 6 XML document can then be converted to Ipe 7 format using ipe6upgrade.

If your old figure is figure.pdf, then the command

ipeextract figure.pdf

will save the XML stream as figure.xml. Then run

ipe6upgrade figure.xml

which will save your document in Ipe 7 format as figure.ipe. All contents of the original document should have been preserved.

Importing other formats

Svgtoipe: Importing SVG figures

The auxiliary program svgtoipe converts an SVG figure to Ipe format. It cannot handle all SVG features (many SVG features are not supported by Ipe anyway), but it works for gradients.

svgtoipe is not part of the Ipe source distribution. You can download it separately.

Pdftoipe: Importing Postscript and PDF

You can convert arbitrary Postscript or PDF files into Ipe documents, making them editable. The auxiliary program pdftoipe converts (pages from) a PDF file into an Ipe XML-file. (If your source is Postscript, you have to first convert it to PDF using Acrobat Distiller or ps2pdf.) Once converted to XML, the file can be opened from Ipe as usual.

The conversion process handles many kinds of graphics in the PDF file fine, but doesn’t do very well on text—Ipe’s text model is just too different.

pdftoipe is not part of the Ipe source distribution. You can download and build it separately.

Ipe5toxml: convert Ipe 5 files to Ipe 6 file format

If you still have figures that were created with Ipe 5, you can use ipe5toxml to convert them to Ipe 6 format. You can then use ipe6upgrade to convert them to Ipe 7 format.

ipe5toxml is not part of the Ipe distribution, but available as a separate download.

Figtoipe: Importing FIG figures

The auxiliary program figtoipe converts a figure in FIG format into an Ipe XML-file. This is useful if you used to make figures with Xfig before discovering Ipe, of if your co-authors made figures for your article with Xfig (converting them will have the added benefit of forcing your co-authors to learn to use Ipe). Finally, there are quite a number of programs that can export to FIG format, and figtoipe effectively turns that into the possibility of exporting to Ipe.

However, figtoipe is not quite complete. The drawing models of FIG and Ipe are also somewhat different, which makes it impossible to properly render some FIG files in Ipe. In particular, Ipe does not support FIG’s interpolating splines, depth ordering independent of grouping, pattern fill, and Postscript fonts.

You may therefore have to edit the file after conversion.

figtoipe is not part of the Ipe distribution. You can download and build it separately. figtoipe is now maintained by Alexander Bürger.