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:
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.
gimp-user-list mailing list