------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:              Sun, 25 Nov 2001 13:27:08 -0500
From:                   Ed Halley <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To:                     "Branko Collin" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject:                Re: [Gimp-developer] Bug week like thing for GIMP?

On Sun, 25 Nov 2001 15:51:38 +0100, "Branko Collin" 

> Let me repeat that I was not talking about bugs (and their 
> destruction), but about community involvment. 
> Are there any other such ideas that have been floating around?

 (It appears that the mailing list server isn't accepting my
 emails to the group.  Not sure why.  If this is the appropriate
 kind of idea list, please forward to the developer list.)

I will give my input on "community involvement" and the GIMP project,
but first I want to give the disclaimer.  These are my opinions, and 
don't expect everyone to agree or align with my opinions.  I speak
candidly, not out of disrespect for those people who I criticize, but
out of the utmost respect that says I must speak candidly so that the
project can grow and improve.  Thanks.

1.  For community involvement, the main GIMP website really must be
    up to date.  Most of the GIMP script links are stale or broken. 
    Any whiff of "dead project" will turn off many people who would
    otherwise get involved and help GIMP grow.

2.  A much bigger gallery of GIMP work should be on the website,
    with brief notes on each work that explain how various effects
    were achieved.  Showing how complex compositions are structured 
    layers, or how various source materials were filtered and 
    is a big part of how to get going with a complex tool like the
    GIMP.  Call for artists to submit their own image projects,
    they'll love to get the exposure.

3.  A page on the GIMP site should be dedicated to the topic of "How
    transition from Photoshop to the GIMP successfully."  The
    community would be a lot larger if more people realized that 'you
    get what you pay for' is a false statement; get professional
    artists interested in GIMP and the development potential would
    skyrocket.  Once professionals depend on GIMP, then we may even
    see some corporate funding for making GIMP do all the things that
    need to be done:  CMYK, serious halftoning, and easy font work
    come to mind, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

4.  In that same vein, establish and *support* a Users' Questions
    Ideally, there should be a link to it in the GIMP help menu
    itself. Users who don't know how to get certain effects or who are
    getting problems with scripted effects.  Some of this turns into a
    FAQ and some turns into various HOW-TO documents as they become
    established.  The whole web development area can be done by people
    who are not developing the central GIMP code.

This is just my opinion, but from what I've seen, many GNOME
developers unfortunately don't seem to value users and their problems,
basically stating "if you can't code it, why should we?"  As a new
developer who is very experienced in other systems, but not
experienced in GNOME or GIMP structures, I found it very hard going to
get "into" the GIMP hacking scene. One reason was the difficult
compile environment (especially since GIMP relies so much on recent
revisions of GNOME libraries that are not yet in mainstream Linux
distros like Red Hat).  Another reason was the "sink or swim" attitude
that some developers showed in the IRC channel.  I can grok not being
accepted with open arms; not everyone goes there to support new
developers.  This goes far beyond being ignored; people have even been
scolded and told that 'criticizing GIMP is inappropriate' in that
channel! Getting *some* people interested in helping out some new
developers (with architectural and documentation and at least) will be
very important to the continued growth of the project.

The intersecting group which is both developer and artistic is very
small; the group who would *like* GIMP to succeed is much much larger
and could ultimately be the union of all OSS developers and all
OSS-supporting artists.  Shunning artists' input is not how to make a
strong and diverse community, and ignoring the experience of artists
with other tools like Photoshop is not going to make a strong and
intuitive user interface for newcomers to discover and enjoy.

Lastly, the mentality of "we don't care if you use it, we develop GIMP
for us" is the keystone of exclusivity and elitism, and I have
definitely run into that with GIMP moreso than with many other OSS
projects.  If you don't care about new users, how can you possibly
care about the project at all? Making a tool useful for a few people
is interesting, but making a tool that is useful for the widest
possible userbase is far more rewarding.  The days of GIMP being
useful for its developers alone are over.  Like it or not, the GIMP is
in the position of being in a monopoly position over raster artwork
tools in all OSS distributions.  With that widespread distribution
comes a certain responsibility to break open the doors and develop a
strategy for dealing with the millions of Linux, BSD and Windows users
out there who think GIMP is almost good enough, and who have valuable
insights into where GIMP should go next.

Thanks for hearing me ramble.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

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