By default, Inkscape creates documents in a frame with the A4 format. This frame delimits the area that will be showned by viewers and that will be exported. If, for example, your illustration will be part of a booklet in the A5 format, you should change the size of the frame to the A5 format and make the image so that it fills the expected content on the A5 page. Elements placed out of this frame can be thought as drafts or waiting resources.
To edit the canvas, go in the menu ‘File > Document properties…’ (or click on the next to last icon in the toolbar with general commands, or use the Shift+Ctrl+D keyboard shortcut), then in section ‘Page size’, select or define the expected format.
Note that the default mesure unit is SVG pixel. You may change this setting in that same dialog.
In Inkscape, the canvas appears white. Actually, it's transparent. If you export a drawing, areas on the page where there is not any object will be transparent. You can change this behavior in the section ‘View’ in the same dialog, setting the ‘Background color’ and its opacity.
I use Inkscape with no scrollbars and no snapping. You can hide bars you do not need in the menu ‘View > Show/hide’. Then you can move on the canvas using the middle mouse button.
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