Code:Free – a reminder that our software is for doing stuff

community, freesoftware, gimp, inkscape, scribus 5 Comments

I recently came across Code:Free, a webzine (made with Scribus) which showcases some great examples of art created with free software tools, and tutorials on how to achieve some nice effects – it’s kind of a compilation of the best of Deviantart made with Free tools. After seeing Ton Roosendaal keynote the Maemo Summit last weekend, it was a reminder that the goal behind creating software is to have your users take it & do cool stuff with it.

The webzine itself is gorgeously laid out and the art in it is very good indeed. Congratulations to Chrisdesign (of gimpforums.de fame) in this great initiative, long may it continue!

Will we pass $5000 today?

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The Libre Graphics Meeting fundraiser has been inching higher in recent weeks, and we are very close to the symbolic level of $5,000 raised, with less than a week left in the fundraising drive.

I am sure we will manage to get past $5,000, but I wonder if we will do it today? To help us put on this great conference, and help get some passionate and deserving free software hackers together, you still have time to give to the campaign.

Thanks very much to the great Free Art and Free Culture community out there for your support!

Update: Less than 2 hours after posting, Mark Wielaard pushed us over the edge with a donation bringing us to exactly $5000. Thanks Mark! Next stop: $6000.

Libre Graphics Meeting fundraiser update

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With little fanfare, this year’s Libre Graphics Meeting fundraiser has been progressing nicely.

Click here to lend your support to: Support the Libre Graphics Meeting and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

In the three weeks since the announcement of the launch of the campaign, we have raised almost $3,000 in community donation – mostly smaller than $50 – from 71 individual donors. Much of the credit for the campaign this year has to go to Jon Phillips of Creative Commons, Inkscape and OpenClipart fame.

The campaign has started earlier this year than last year, when we were really caught unawares by our difficulties in getting sponsors, and has lacked some of the frenzy of the last campaign, but Jon has been doing stellar work keeping the fire burning, and ensuring a regular stream of donations from supporters of projects related to Libre graphics.

It is hard to overstate the importance this conference has to the communities working on projects like Inkscape, GIMP and Scribus, among others, and to overstate the progress we have made because of these conferences in the past few years in the realm of graphics applications on Linux.

It’s useful to point out that in the Linux Foundation desktop linux surveys, the most popular applications which companies and individuals want for Linux are graphics applications – Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier, Autodesk AutoCAD, Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft Visio are the top 6 applications which people are missing on Linux. This conference is all about encouraging the development of applications destined to fulfil those needs. Also worth noting, when asked whether they wanted the applications above ported to Linux, or they wanted to use equivalent Linux applications where possible, a large majority want to use native equivalents, rather than ported commercial applications.

For any of you looking for a good cause which will go directly to supporting high quality applications that you use, I’d encourage you to contribute to the Libre Graphics Meeting. The conference is only as worthwhile as the people attending it, let’s ensure that we get a critical mass once again and provide energy and momentum to all of the participating projects for the coming year.

Libre Graphics Meeting stories: colour management

freesoftware, gimp, inkscape, libre graphics meeting, scribus 1 Comment

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Continuing the series of articles I started last week (part 1, part 2), the next fall-out which has come from past Libre Graphics Meetings is the movement towards colour management everywhere over the past few years.

Let’s look back to where we were 3 years ago. Outside of Scribus and CinePaint, there was essentially no colour management in free software graphics apps, in spite of the existence of a high quality color management library, little cms.

In 2005, that story started to change a bit – the GIMP started conserving ICC profiles in JPEG files and allowing the user to see the list of ICC profiles with the 2.3.2 release, in July 2005. Scribus added support for soft proofing in version 1.2.3 in September 2005. Krita released version 1.5 with support for color profiles in December 2005.

In the first Libre Graphics Meeting, one of the most popular presentations was by Marti Maria of little cms, who gave an overview of what color management is, how ICC color profiles fit into the picture, and finally what applications need to do to integrate color management support. One of the outstanding memories I have from the conference was Carl Worth of Cairo being very excited about the conference, and in particular about meeting Marti.

Since 2005, things have changed significantly.  Color management support has been completed for the GIMP in 2.4.0. Inkscape added support for ICC profiles in 0.44, in June 2006, soon after the first Libre Graphics Meeting in Lyon, and this support has been further improved in the recent 0.46 release.

And since, color management has become almost ubiquitous – via the “ICC profiles in X” spec, all applications who support the spec (including, at last count, the GIMP, Eye of GNOME, Krita, UFRaw and Inkscape)  get soft proofing for your screen when X contains the ICC profile atom.

I’m not so presumptuous as to attribute the advent of color management to the Libre Graphics Meeting, but at least in the case of Inkscape, the work started at the conference. And for other developments, the bridges built and conversations started during LGM and other similar conferences has played a significant part in improving the state of affairs.

Libre Graphics Meeting stories: Shared resources

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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.

Almost $2000 in 2 days campaigning

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Support the Libre Graphics Meeting and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

I woke up this morning to find out that we are fast approaching the $2000 level in our fundraising campaign! As I write this, we have now raised $1780 in the two days since the campaign opened on the 2nd of April, bringing us to 9% of our goal amount, with 14 days left in the campaign.

As of tomorrow, the community will be listed on the Libre Graphics Meeting website as a silver sponsor, the same level as Google, Intel and the Free Software Foundation,  and as we continue to pass the sponsorship levels, we will move the community to Gold, and then to Cornerstone sponsor levels.

I am deeply in awe of the generosity of the people who are donating, and deeply impressed by the passion of the user community of these applications which we’re helping improve by hosting this conference.

Thank you all very much!

Update: One hour after posting this, Sebastian Bober pushed us over the $2000 mark – we’re now at over 10% of our objective!