On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 01:10:37 -0500, "Gary Pikula" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> When I looked at this project I couldn't could be more amazed at how
> terrible it is for users. So I closely examined what is plaguing this
> project. The main thing it always comes down to is that the users can not
> easily get in touch with the developers.

Thanks for telling us that we are incompetent. ;-)  Before replying to the
core of the problems that you mention, I cannot help but point out some
details in your message that make me doubt your level of expertise (since
you claim to speak for the "common user" or the "average user").  I hope that
I do not sound too patronizing, but here are some examples:
- You mention "Wilbur's wiki" but the GIMP mascot is called Wilber, not Wilbur.
- With some inconsistency, you write "TheGimp", "theGimp" or "the gimp" but you
  never use the correct name, which is just "GIMP" without "the".
- You mention the wiki and the mailing list, but apparently you have not seen
  the parts of the web site describing the IRC channels (which happen to be one
  of the main communication channels used by developers), the various blogs and
  planets, the newsgroup comp.graphics.apps.gimp and the many other web sites
  and forums that have their own communities of GIMP users.

> Example 1: Gimp wiki (Wilbur's wiki) This wiki uses your own software, while
> the common user is used to mediawiki software. As the majority of people are
> used to Wikipedia type editing this should be changed asap.

Wrong.  wiki.gimp.org uses (an old version of) MoinMoin wiki, which is among
the most popular wiki engines.  MediaWiki is well known because of Wikipedia,
but it is primarily designed for a "flat namespace" such as an encyclopedia or
a dictionary.  Other wiki engines are more suited for project collaboration
because they allow more structure (hierarchy of pages) and other features
designed for team collaboration.  The best choice would probably be TWiki
(http://twiki.org/) but it is heavier than both MoinMoin and MediaWiki so I
doubt that we would switch to that soon.  However, we could consider it if you
volunteer for setting it up and migrating all the existing content.

> It is largely the same story with the gimp user group forums. Everyone is
> used to phpbb forums and the software in use seems incomplete. (generic
> error messages for any registration error, inability to edit previous posts,
> etc...) I recommend changing to phpbb as it is pretty much industry standard
> for open source projects. In usual cases the developers also participate in
> forums with users on the main site, so move the forums to the main site.

The GIMP User Group (GUG) web site was set up by some volunteers who were not
associated with the developers.  They set up a nice set of tutorials and
forums that the main GIMP developers did not have the time to manage, so we
decided to link to their site as they were building up a strong community of
GIMP users.  I would not claim that the GUG forum is perfect, but on the
other hand I am not sure that phpbb would be much better.  Phpbb also has its
own problems and some people hate this software.  I do not care that much, but
if you want the current forum to be improved, then I suggest that you offer
your help to the GUG maintainers and see if you can work together and set up a
better forum.

Regarding moving the forum to the main GIMP web site, this would be very
difficult for the moment due to technical reasons.  But even if the gimp.org
servers were upgraded and could easily host the forums, I am not sure that we
should do that.  The GUG community is strong and I am afraid that it would be
harmed by a move to the gimp.org servers.  Also, there is currently less than
a handful of volunteers who maintain the web site.  It would not be wise to
run a discussion forum on our own servers if there is no volunteer who has
enough spare time to maintain it.

> The average user has never used a mailing list before as well and feels
> uncomfortable with them, take that into more consideration.

I am seriously wondering what you consider to be the "average user".  I think
that the "average GIMP user" is more familiar with mailing lists than the
"average web user".  I am aware of some studies showing that younger users
tend to prefer instant messaging and interactive forums while older users
prefer e-mail.  Well, maybe this means that the GIMP developers are too old?

I think that many GIMP developers do not like spending too much time on some
discussion forums and prefer to use some other ways of communication that
allow them to be more efficient: mailing lists, IRC and Bugzilla, etc.  If
the volunteers who work on the GIMP code are not interested in using
web-based forums, then setting up new ones would not be very useful.

> This has created 2 major problems.
> 1. TheGimp is no longer comparable to photoshop or corel. [...]

So what?  This would only be a problem if we were trying to copy these
programs.  We are not trying to do that.  If you want Photoshop, then by
all means get Photoshop, not a pale copy.  Parts of the product vision for
Photoshop and GIMP may be similar, but this does not mean that we should
design things in the same way or even offer the same features.

That being said, the developers know that GIMP is lagging behind other
programs (not just Photoshop or Corel) regarding support for higher bit
depths, color spaces, adjustment layers, layer groups and user interface.
We are trying to improve that, but it takes time...

> 2. Multi-window interface: If you haven't noticed the UI team has gotten a
> significant amount of theGimp mock ups with just one window. I have heard it
> is possible to change the gimp into one window, but it doesn't seem possible
> on Windows. Outside of the Gimp community this is by far the most complained
> about thing since with something like a browser window being open makes the
> user have to manually bring all of the windows to the foreground.

The developers are certainly aware of that.  This is not only a problem
outside the GIMP community, but also inside: many experienced GIMP users
would also like some improvements in the user interface.  This is probably
the oldest and most discussed GIMP bug.  And this is not only a problem
for Windows users: several Mac OS users or Linux users (who already have a
better window manager with multiple workspaces) would also like a better
way to group GIMP windows instead of being forced to dedicate a separate
screen or workspace for GIMP.

Some progress has been made recently for Mac OS, which has an experimental
feature allowing a single menu bar.  But this is only a small step in the
right direction and it will take a while (and a lot of work) until we have
a better user interface for all platforms (maybe as an option, because
some users prefer to have multiple windows anyway).

It is really unfair to imply that the GIMP developers are not aware of
this most frequently reported problem.  There is some disagreement about
how it should be solved and we all know that it will take a lot of work to
build a better user interface, but we are fully aware of the problem and
we are working on it.  If you are a programmer or you know someone who has
some experience with GTK+ and who is willing to work as a volunteer for
several months on improving the user interface and redesigning it together
with the UI team, then we would be very happy to hear about it.

> Please do something to get in touch with users, I could never honestly ever
> say theGimp could be a replacement for photoshop ever if this continues.

Well, GIMP is not trying to be a replacement for Photoshop, so that's fine.
Regarding "getting in touch with users", I think that most GIMP developers
are well aware of what is needed.  And contrary to what you imply, I think
that there is a good feedback cycle between the users and developers.

But we could also look at it from a different point of view: you are
requesting some changes in GIMP and telling developers what they should do.
But what can you offer in exchange?  Are you volunteering for improving the
code, the documentation or the web site?  Did you read the "Get Involved"
page?  How are you planning to contribute?  Your arguments and your
requests about what should be changed would have much more weight if you
had something to offer.

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