From the beginning, Macs had a certain WIMP interaction style based on selection of visible objects and (mostly generic) operations that could be selected from menus or invoked through keyboard shortcuts on the selected objects. In particular, there was a set of generic operations (cut, paste, ...) that would apply to all applicable types of objects. In a file manager these generic operations apply to files. In a text editor they apply to sequences of characters. I have never used the old Xerox ALTO computers but I guess that was already the case back then.

Gimp uses a different model and I am trying to understand the pros and cons. Each type of object comes with its private operations. I delete selected image pixels with the Edit->Clear command. I delete layers with the Layer->Delete Layer command. In the Text tool, I delete selected text with a Delete command from a special context menu. I cannot use the operations from the main Edit menu for editing the text. When in path edit mode, I delete control points with Ctrl-Shift-Click. This deletes the point under the mouse irrespective of which points are currently selected. You get the idea. BTW, when I hit the Delete key while in path mode, guess what happens?


An avantage of the Mac model is that there is a lot of consistency. The user learns once that if they want to act upon an object, you select it and then you pull down a menu and click on an action. The select-cut-paste paradigm works througout, whatever the type of object. Keyboard shortcuts are always the same. But you always need two steps: select, act.

With Gimp, you do not first have to select the object to act upon. Ctrl-Shift-D duplicates the current layer in whatever mode you are in. You can duplicate a layer while in text editing mode, no problem. You can thus do certain actions more rapidly without first having to change the mode or tool.

I would be interested in knowing if Gimp users consciously prefer the model with "private" non-shared operations. Or has it evolved like this for historical reasons? Clearly, the choice of interaction model affects the Gimp learning curve.

Regards,
Andreas

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