we recently had a discussion about the healing tool and how much the 
sample merge option makes sense...

The perfect workflow for healing (and cloning as well) would be to work 
on a transparent layer. This would reduce the file size and keep the 
non-healed areas untouched (almost non-destructive editing).

As far as we understood the sample merge option is used for such cases. 
Checking the box the source of healing and cloning is taken from the 
visible stuff, not only from the active layer. But if you want to heal 
by "painting" on a transparent layer it doesn't work because is has no 
basic information that the heal tool needs. Now the question is: 
couldn't the "interpolation" code of this tool use the visible stuff as 
well? What sense does it make to take the source from visible but to not 
calculate the result based on all visible?

Or, if there are cases, might is make sense to add another checkbox to 
the tool options of the healing tool - so to say a 'sample merge' for 
the interpolation process? Call the first one 'Source Sample Merge', the 
second one 'Surrounding Sample Merge' (or whatever). Then, choosing both 
options would allow to heal on a transparent layer. Deselecting both 
options would allow to work regularly.

The whole discussion we had can be read here:

Thanks for your opinions!
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