Jeremy Nell wrote:

> What is the reason for the colour picker not being able to pick colours
> on layers outside of the currently active layer?

I'm not on the design team, so what follows is pure speculation on my 
part, but it would seem to me that good interface design would be to 
have all tools work as closely to the same way as possible. Thus, if one 
cannot paint, draw, fill, or rotate, &c. on any but the active layer, 
one would assume that the color picker would also work only on the 
active layer.

But if you're going to pick colors off of some other layer than the 
active one, one would have to specify which layer one is picking the 
color from, as otherwise the tool would not know which color to select, 
that is, there might be content in more than one layer. So one would 
have to specify which layer to select from in any case, which means that 
in many instances, even if one could choose from a layer that is not 
active, it would be necessary to specify exactly which layer, and in 
this case, it is probably not any more effort to temporarily make the 
layer containing the desired color the active layer, and then switch back.

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