Libre Graphics Meeting stories: Shared resources

2:14 pm freesoftware, gimp, inkscape, libre graphics meeting, scribus

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Graphics applications have lots of associated files that we call resources or assets, which help the artist achieve what he’s looking for.

Some of the resources which are used by an application like the GIMP are paintbrushes, patterns, gradients, fonts, colour profiles and palettes. On top of this, you can add things like clip-art and probably others that I’ve forgotten which are important to other types of application.

Three years ago, pretty much none of this data was shared between applications. The GIMP had long been using very simple formats for its data, designed to be easy to write and easy to parse. Some other applications, for example Krita, adopted the same file formats for some of the formats, and thus created some de facto  standards for things like dynamic bitmap brushes and patterns, but there wasn’t much sharing going on.

Through the Create project and the shared resources spec current practices and formats were documented and attention brought to what we could share. The OpenICC spec proposed a way to share ICC device profiles throughout the system for colour management. In the first and second Libre Graphics Meeting, progress has been made on improving the situation of shared resources. Today, you can share patterns between the GIMP, Krita, and Cinepaint. Palettes (or swatches) can be shared between Inkscape, Scribus, the GIMP, Krita and Cinepaint. Gradients can be shared between Krita, the GIMP and Inkscape among others.

Some areas where work would be useful would be in defining a shared access point for clipart to be used by all applications, and have the various applications (including OpenOffice.org) ship with a clipart browser which allowed applications to easily take advantage of the work of the Open Clipart library, and finally splitting out all of the resources which can be shared into a separate package, which would be installed in one place and used by everyone. But already, we have come a long way in being able to share all of the resources you expect among lots of different applications, in large part because of the collaboration that has happened at the Libre Graphics Meeting.

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