> That's why we need a Gimp PRO, Inkscape PRO, Scribus PRO - someone, a
> Firm / Govern / Foundation / Linux Distro / Billionaire ...or a
> mixture of them must hire core developers of all 3 projects - put them
> into a big WEB / DTP Core Linux project
> and manage development and releases.
If I remember correctly, there had been a "bounty" type system on things
such as GEGL since forever (several years, I believe). Yet even that
failed to motivate developers.
Also, if you want a program that works closely with the industry, well...
That said, the idea of forming an alliance with other open source programs
could be a nice idea. It might be a bit complicated in that there are many
separate open source programs around... but having a single main website
linking to each project, and vice versa, to let more people become aware
of complimentary programs to Gimp, could be helpful.
Personally, it's a pity I don't know how to program yet. I guess I'll have
to try to learn one day. But I've been giving a lot of thoughts to user
interfaces in general these days.
One of the main things people complain about Gimp is its user interface.
The way I see it, the problem is Not that it's different from Photoshop,
but that Like Photoshop, it's a tool-centric interface and not a
task-centric or even function-centric interface.
Let me explain: years ago I remember a relative buying Photoshop for his
Mac. Back then, I looked at him weird and warned him that he would never
know how to use it. That turned out true: he's attempted to figure it out,
and has never touched it since. Now he uses a program that shipped along
with his digital camera. It does:
- red eye removal
- color adjustment
- and that's about it. Everything is present as little buttons or the
likes at the top.
And whenever he shows digital photos to friends, he keeps saying how great
that program is.
Why? The answer is the task-centric approach. The program does one thing:
help users do a quick fix of photos as easily as possible. That's it. You
can't do anything professional about it, but it answers 90% of the needs
of 90% of casual users in the easiest-to-use way.
Similarly, I remember seeing this drawing program online... it has: a
canvas, a color selector, a few paintbrushes in one small corner. That's
Such task-centric interfaces are by far the most intuitive and
user-friendly. But obviously, they have very limited options.
Both Gimp and Photoshop, by contrast, are tool-centric approach.
Basically, it goes like this: give users a bunch of tools. Put as many
options on those tools as you can think of. Let users figure out what they
want to do with those tools.
Tool-centric approaches are by far the most powerful. Unfortunately...
they're not very intuitive. The users see a multitude of tools and a dozen
options... and don't know what to do with barely any of them. This is true
of Photoshop as well. Photoshop just benefits from incredible
documentation and training support. But examples such as the person I've
mentioned show that no, it is Not an intuitive program either.
Here's an example of where the two approaches would diverge: suppose a
person wants to paint something.
- in a task-centric interface, he'd be handed a few brushes entitled
"Pencil, charcoal, watercolor."
- in Gimp, he'd be handed the brush tool, and told "There are lots of
modes you can chose from: multiply, divide, grain extract, grain merge,
etc, etc." At this point, the person would start looking a bit lost.
The weird thing is that tool-centric interfaces can actually accomplish
much of the things the task-centric interface can (and much more). Take
the paintbrush tool, for example, select an appropriate brush shape,
modify the transparency and spacing, even add jitter, and suddenly you
have "watercolor, oil, pointillism." Not exactly on Procreate Painter
level, but close enough for the user to finally go "Ooooh!"
So I personally think that the future of Gimp is actually to make the
interface as configurable as possible, then make all the settings savable
and sharable. Then let people perhaps other than developers make up ideal
settings for each type of task, maybe include a short tutorial for each (I
should mention that I really like the tutorials included in Inkscape. I'd
never have figured out how to use it if not for those). The best
interfaces of each category should be included in each release. Users can
go find other ones though, and can experiment with the normal setting once
they're used to whichever one they like to use (thus making the learning
curve less steep).
So when a new user opens Gimp, he can choose the "Gimp-quick photo adjust"
interface, and suddenly the interface changes to only show layers, masks,
color adjustment tools, red eye removal, some commonly used filters such
as Unsharp mask and blur etc. He choses the "Gimp-paint" setting and he
has layers, color selectors, and a list of brushes that says "watercolor,
oil" etc, but are actually just the paintbrush with specific settings.
Shortcuts are also changed so that you can spend more time on the canvas
and less on toolbox.
And finally, users can create their own custom settings. So companies with
specific tasks can start out by creating the perfect interface (for Their
task), then hand it to all the other computers to use that interface.
Schools, laboratories, etc would thus find an interface tailored
specifically to their needs. Tutorial writers could offer their settings
for download as well. Little to no training required!
There's a lot that has already been done, really. The configurable
shortcut system is in my opinion a huge step forward. More can be done
though, and there are all sorts of enhancements suggestions already:
having a task bar where you can drag and drop just about anything (tools,
filters, colors whatever), grouped layers, grouped brushes, etc. It'd also
be nice if in the future, it reaches the point where you're not limited to
the current toolbox shape. When I'm (attempting) to paint, for example,
all I'd want is a small brush/color/layer preview on the side and
shortcuts to toggle between them, so if in the future, it reaches the
point where you can configure Gimp to look completely different (think
music player skins), it'd be even better. By that point, very few people
would complain about "Gimp's ugly interface."
All that's in the distant future though. There are more important things
to worry about in the short term, like GEGL. ;)
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