Dear fellow developers,

Here are a few observations of mine on the UI, following Chris' mom's
observation that Gimp "looks terrible".

We should keep in mind that in people's ideas, Free Software is mixed
with "Freeware", i.e. small amateurish programs, often shoddily put
together - maybe good for gadgets, but not for any serious work.
We should dispel that false impression by conveying a good impression
making the user comfortable.

Here are a few remarks, for which I request comments. I do not want to
be inflammatory!

The installation process is frightening:

1. The user is presented with a dialog box "Welcome to GIMP" that is half
   full of legalese (NO GUARANTEE etc...).

   Perhaps the first installer screen should simply state that Gimp is
   a painting, touch up etc... program able to read various image formats
   etc..., and the legalese should be pushed to a second dialog box ?

   Maybe some small picture displaying a stunning example of Gimp work would
   be nice of the first box.

   This could be the occasion of explaining briefly, in this second dialog box,
   the interest of free software.

2. The current second dialog box shows a full list of files and directories
   that most users will never care about at first. Maybe we should add an
   indication that knowing all about this is not necessary to use Gimp?

   A program that seems to require knowing the function of about 20 files
   to be used does not look user-friendly indeed. 

   [Disclaimer: I do not say that you need to know what unitrc is about to
   run Gimp. I just say that this dialog box may make unsuspecting users
   think so.]

3. The installer runs a script that copies files and asks the user to spot
   an error in the execution of the scriptx and investiguate in case
   there is an error. [even worse in the Windows version]

   Come on. Users do not know about scripts, and they do not know what an
   error looks like [*]. The installation process should see by itself if
   an error has happened, and display a meaningful error message in that

   Furthermore, asking to investiguate an error even though no error has
   happened reinforces the prejudice that Gimp is "amateur work" that
   breaks often.

4. Adjustment of parameters
   Another frightening dialog box. We should really convey the idea that
   the default settings are OK, and that those settings can be changed
   at any time afterwards (otherwise the users may spend time pondering what
   to say here).

   a) The default tile cache size should be adjusted with respect to the
      installed RAM size. This should fulfill the need of most users
      (PCs with one console user). In the case of multi-user systems,
      the system administrator should be able to set other default values
      (maybe depending on the machine).

      Many people just leave the default of 32M, open a big image and claim
      that Gimp is soooo much slower than PhotoShop. If those people knew
      better, they'd heard their hard drive churning and understand that
      Gimp is swapping, but this should not be expected from most users -
      how do you think that computer resellers sold boxes with fast
      CPUs and only 32M of RAM ?

      Furthermore, we should add the precision that the value there should
      not be the total amount of RAM in the machine, but the size of the
      portion of that full RAM that should be used for Gimp images.

   b) The setting of the swap file in .gimp-x.y/tmp is a problem on
      NFS-mounted accounts (universities, for instance). Why not /tmp by

5. The resolution thing is OK.

Now for the main UI. We should have a way to remind people to use the RIGHT
BUTTON on the image. I bet many people think Gimp is some kind of small
MS Paint-like program because they have never been able to reach the filters.
Yes, I know this is the second tip, but...

David Monniaux  
Laboratoire d'informatique de l'École Normale Supérieure,
Paris, France

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