A freehand drawing tool


GESTICULATE IS a simple drawing tool that was developed as a platform to try out collaborative drawing techniques. The emphasis is on simplicity and generality eschewing the complexity of more fully featured drawing apps.

Many apps strive to provide a wealth of functionality that only makes their interfaces opaque and intractable to the average user. Gesticulate is not geared towards graphic design and is intended to be used for more casual scenarios where it is required to be able to sketch an idea with some notation and then to be able to export to a variety of formats.

I should note that the original intention when the project started some years back was to leverage touch technology that did not at that time exist. It remains an unfulfilled aspiration, it is unlikely that the program can be modified for touch, but work continues apace on a reworking of the concept for touch-based devices using the JavaFX framework. [image] My project Fondu is also a touch-enabled mockup of this concept.

Work over the last 18 months has been to flesh out the syncing framework that has long been part of the code base, a project I call ‘Fidget’. To this end a proof-of-concept has been demonstrated using a web-socket end point using a NoSQL backing store and a Redis cluster to provide synchronisation. Much work is required to scale out as a deployable service, but performance seems satisfactory.

Meanwhile Gesticulate implements synchronisation only as an abstract model implemented in code, the menu is active but you will only see logging from the terminal.



The app provides vector shapes and a curve-fitted sketching tool which allow grouping of shapes, arrow lines and other strokes including dotted, double and railway-tracks.

Rich Text

Formatted text is supported including bold, italic, underlined and three fonts. Text boxes are single-lined but provide input methods and may be oriented at any angle for easy labels.


Import bitmap images in the most common formats to the drawing, scale them and rotate them and use the drawing tool to highlight them, adding arrows and text comments.


There is a screenshot button at the top-right which captures a snapshot of the current drawing to the Desktop. Capture a series of screenshots as the starting point for a presentation.


Mapping viewports based on an image that update from a variety of Open Streetmap and Bing Maps sources, maps are easily resized and highlighted with the drawing tools.


Easily export a clean scalable vector (SVG) rendering of the current drawing for resolution independent output and export a bitmap version (PNG) for use in other applications.


A summary of changes — Changelog.txt




— download and launch the bundle and then drag to the Applications folder. The application will be associated with documents created with the .gst file extension.

Note Separate java installation is not necessary.




— download the setup application and double-click to launch, following the setup wizard. Start Menu items will be created and the application will be associated with documents created with the .gst file extension.

Note Separate java installation is not necessary.




— unpack the archive to a convenient folder and double-click to launch gesticulate.jar. If that does nothing this help site describes how to create a custom launcher for GNOME or Xfce4. Alternatively java -jar gesticulate.jar from the shell, assuming Java is on your path.

Note This will require a Java 11+ runtime to be installed.



— same instructions as above.

Note This will require a Java 11+ runtime to be installed.

Legal Notice: This software is free to download and use, but is provided at the user’s own risk and without warranty, express or otherwise. This software is not for redistribution.