The GIMP usability

3:34 pm gimp

Over the years, the GIMP has taken a lot of stick about its usability – there’s even a mini-fork to work around some of the most common complaints.

But fairly quietly, without any huge fanfare, Sven Neumann, the GIMP’s co-maintainer along with Mitch Natterer, has been working on making usability part of the GIMP’s DNA. First, he started working with Ellen Reitmeyer from KDE and OpenUsability, implementing techniques like paper prototyping. We brought Peter Sikking to the Libre Graphics Meeting in Lyon in March to discuss usability with the GIMP developers. And recently, we co-announced that OpenUsability would be funding work for a student on the GIMP.

In the past I’ve been critical of Sven, sometimes he can come across as abrupt, and there is no room for interpretation when he disagrees with you. But I have been very impressed with his management of the project and in particular with respect to usability, and I think that we’re going in the right direction as a community.

So – I know we don’t say it often enough – thanks Sven. Your leadership and example have kept the GIMP alive over the past few years.

4 Responses

  1. Janne Says:

    It is kind of amazing how many complain about the usability of the GIMP. I mean I can’t be the only one who thinks GIMP doesn’t have major usability problems and is infact really powerful as it is.

    Most people complaining about the GIMP UI are the ones that have not bothered to learn how GIMP works and expect it to work exactly like PS or PSP. Since it doesn’t copy the PS interface as it is, it must be worse.

    How many really know how to use PS without learning to use it’s interface? Who can easily figure out that a button in a dialog might change it’s text and function when you press the alt/mac/whatever key?

    Well maybe it’s just me, but I think GIMP has a great UI.

  2. nonnano Says:

    The question about the MDI or whatever interfaces isn’t imho really important. The #1 usability problem with Gimp for me is that it doesn’t have the functionality that would enable one to effortlessly do things. In short, Gimp developers have settled in for tweaking and polishing instead of going forward and implementing the most crucial modern features.

    Until GIMP has got dynamic effect layers with good stacking methods it’s really not worth using for any creative work. The present logic of manually going through workflows with layers simply doesn’t support “crafting” sort of working with images – which would be greatly more efficient. Working with present system is a constant source of frustration, going back dozens of steps to fix something and getting back to see the results. It’s really, really inconvenient.

    The worst part is that I’m not even hopeful about the proper usability features (I count them as such because you CAN do everything without them, it just is a horrible experience that drives you instantly back to PS) getting implemented soon…

  3. Abbas Khan Says:

    I do ALL MY PHOTO EDITING in GIMP, (sorry for the caps), and i really would like to see a change in gui. So it’s not only users who don’t want to learn to use GIMP that feel the need for UI changes. i never heard of gimpshop but thanks to your post now i can still use GIMP but with a GUI the fits more to my needs, FOSS is all about choice, i await the day the official GIMP has some UI changes that concentrate more on usability.

  4. Sven Says:

    It’s shocking to see how few the people who added comments here, actually know about GIMP development. About the hard work that Pippin is doing to prepare gegl for GIMP into the integration which will finally bring layer effects and more to GIMP. Nor about the plans that we are are developing for the user interface after GIMP 2.4. It seems that I need to blog about this stuff more often.

    And I should probably also point out that all this would have happened already if we had more people contributing. A handful of developers can only achieve so much in the spare time that they can afford to invest.