Olivier Ripoll wrote:

Hey! If you think the FAQ section in (the excellent) "Grokking the Gimp" is a proof that the interface has to be improved, then you should install Gimp 2.0 or even 2.2. ;-)

I'm running 2.2 and still find the FAQ invaluable.

As an example, I thought I'd try toggling a selection. Bunks mentions in Ch.3 that it's easy to forget that you've toggled a selection so I thought I'd see if this is still the case:

I opened an image and used the lasoo to make a quick selection. Hmm, that's odd... no marching ants. Let's try again, making sure the start and end points overlap... nope, still isn't working. Oh well, scrap that and use the elipse select. Use control-T to toggle its visibility. Is there any indication that visibility is switched off? No, which is why Bunks has "scratched (his) head many times trying to figure out why...the GIMP no longer seemed to be working."

In trying that just now, I (genuinely) couldn't get the lassoo to work. This is an example of the sort of problem I come across every time I try a new tool, or come back to one that I haven't used in a while. Because I've been using GIMP for a little while now, I'm getting used to the idea of holding down modifier keys. So it didn't take me long to figure out that I needed to hold down shift to make the selection. With a bit more playing, I finally figured out what the default lassoo action actually does. Maybe there's a good reason for having the primary action intersect and the secondary action add. Whatever it is, it's not to aid learning. I figured it out relatively quickly, but unless a newbie cottoned on to the idea, he would probably remain lost.

I've quickly come to accept that the GIMP cannot be learned by mucking about with it and picking things up. One can't just launch the application and start making graphics with it. One needs to sit down with the manual, or a book, and learn it that way. Clearly the GIMP works well for some people, but not for me. It's an application that I'm starting to get, but the learning curve is often a frustrating one. Most people just simply wouldn't bother; they'd go use something else instead, regardless of whether or not it's free, proprietary, better or worse.

In direct contrast, I was making some pretty cool graphics in Inkscape within minutes of first launching the application. I learned to get loads out it long before I ever looked at the manual. In fact, the manual, which I eventually discovered under the help section (a place I visited out of curiosity rather than necessity), merely served to confirm many of the operations I'd already learnt by myself. Granted, it's still a new app and has a long way to go before it becomes complicated, but, no matter how complicated it eventually becomes, it will always be childsplay to make graphics with it, because it's childsplay now.

Write a set of "typical" tasks to be performed (e.g. "removing red eyes from a photo", "cropping and rescaling an image", "opening, rotating right -or left- and saving to a new name and location") and find some volunteers to perform these tasks (classify them in several categories such as "experienced gimp user", "experienced PS user", "totally new to image manipulation", "granny / aunt Tilly"). Then observe them while performing the tasks (one volunteer at a time), take notes of their comments, frustrations, the places they expected to find the functionnality, the time they spent, everything.

Such a survey is always useful. Before launching it, present the protocol to us for comments of course.

I don't think I'll be able to find the volunteers, but I can certainly document my own experiences with the GIMP, if you think they will be helpful.

Kind regards,


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