I thought about this more overnight, and it occurs to me that I'm not even willing to concede that the new interface is the best possible design for the people at whom it is supposedly targeted. There's another way of accomplishing the same thing which to my mind would be better for GIMP's supposed target audience /and/ better for more casual users like me:

If a user loads an image in a non-XCF format, ask /at load time/ whether the image is intended to be /loaded/ or /imported/. If it's being loaded, then save goes back to the original file. If it's being imported, then save goes to XCF. Keep the warning about information loss in the former case if, e.g., the user tries to save an image with layers (i.e., if there is /significant/ information loss, over and above any information loss like compression that is inherent in the format being used).

Doing things this way would optimize /both/ workflows for /both/ high-end and casual users. It would enable the program to do exactly what the user wants, in a smart way, every single time. It would, in short, be better than what's there now without losing any of the intention of the new interface.

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