Giving Spotlight | Meet Øyvind Kolås, GEGL maintainer extraordinaire

Last month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Øyvind Kolås, aka “pippin,” about his work on GEGL — a fundamental technology enabling GIMP and GNOME Photos.

GIMP Stickers, CC-BY-SA Michael Natterer

This interview is part of a “Giving Spotlight” series we are doing on some long-time GNOME contributors who have fundraising campaigns. The goal is to help GNOME users understand the importance of the technologies, get to know the maintainers, and learn how to support them.

Without further ado, we invite you to get to know Øyvind and his work on GEGL!


The following interview was conducted over email. 

Getting to know Øyvind

Where are you from and where are you based?

I’m from the town of Ørsta – in the end of a fjord in Norway, but since high-school I’ve been quite migratory. Studying fine art in Oslo and Spain, color science research at a color lab and lecturing multimedia CD-ROM authoring in south-eastern Norway, and working on GNOME technologies like Clutter and cairo for Opened Hand and Intel in London, followed by half a decade of low-budget backpacking. At the moment I am based in Norway – and try to keep in touch with a few people and places – among others England, Germany, and Spain.

Øyvind “pippin” Kolås, CC BY-NC-ND Ross Burton

What do you do and how does it relate to GNOME?

I like tinkering with code – frequently code that involves graphics or UI. This results in sometimes useful, at other times odd, but perhaps interesting, tools, infrastructure, or other software artifacts. Through the years and combined with other interests, this has resulted in contributions to cairo and Clutter, as well as being the maintainer of babl and GEGL, which provide pixel handling and processing machinery for GIMP 2.9, 2.10 and beyond.

How did you first get involved in GNOME?

I attended the second GUADEC which happend in Copenhagen in 2001. This was my first in-person meeting with the people behind nicknames in #gimp as well as meeting in-person GIMP developers and power users, and the wider community around it including the GNOME project.

Why is your fundraising campaign important?

I want GIMP to improve and continue being relevant in the future, as well as
having a powerful graph-based framework for other imaging tasks. I hope that my continued maintainership of babl/GEGL will enable many new and significant workflows in GIMP and related software, as well as provide a foundation for implementing and distributing experimental image processing filters.

Wilber Week 2017, a hackathon for GEGL and GIMP, CC-BY-SA Debarshi Ray

Getting to know GEGL

How did your project originate?

GEGL’s history starts in 1997 with Rythm and Hues studios, a Californian visual effects and animation company. They were experimenting with a 16bit/high bit depth fork of GIMP known as filmgimp/cinepaint. Rythm and Hues succeeded in making GIMP work on high bit depth images, but the internal architecture was found to be lacking – and they started GEGL as a more solid future basis for high bit depth non-destructive editing in GIMP. Their funding/management interest waned, and GEGL development went dormant. GIMP however continued considering GEGL to be its future core.

How did you start working on GEGL?

I’ve been making and using graphics-related software since the early ’90s. In 2003-2004 I made a video editor for my own use in a hobby collaboration music video/short film venture. This video editing project was discontinued and salvaged for spare parts, like babl and a large set of initial operations when I took up maintainership and development of GEGL.

What are some of the greatest challenges that you’ve faced along the way?

When people get to know that I am somehow involved in development of the GIMP project, they expect me to be in control of and responsible for how the UI currently is. I have removed some GIMP menu items in attempts to clean things up and reduce technical debt, but most improvements I can take credit for now, and in the future, are indirect, like how moving to GEGL enables higher bit depths and on-canvas preview instead of using postage stamp-sized previews in dialogs.

What are some of your greatest successes?

Bringing GEGL from a duke-nukem-forever state, where GIMP was waiting on GEGL for all future enhancements, to GEGL waiting for GIMP to adopt it. The current development series of GIMP (2.9.x) is close to be released as 2.10 which will be the new stable; it is a featureful version with feature parity with 2.8 but a new engine under the hood. I am looking forward to seeing where GIMP will take GEGL in the future.

What are you working on right now?

One of the things I am working on – and playing with – at the moment is experiments in color separation. I’m making algorithms that simulate the color mixing behavior of inks and paints. That might be useful in programs like GIMP for tasks ranging from soft-proofing spot-colors to preparing photos or designs for multi-color silk-screening, for instance for textiles.

Which projects depend on your project? What’s the impact so far?

There are GIMP and GNOME Photos, as well as imgflo, which is a visual front-end provided by the visual programming environment noflo. GEGL (and babl, a companion library), are designed to be generally useful and do not have any APIs that could only be considered useful for GIMP. GEGL itself also contains various example and experimental command line and graphical interfaces for image and video processing.

How can I get involved? 

GEGL continues needing, and thankfully getting, contributions, new filters, fixes to old filters, improvements to infrastructure, improved translations, and documentation. Making more projects use GEGL is also a good way of attracting more contributors. With funds raised through Liberapay and Patreon, I find it easier to allocate time and energy towards making the contribution experience of others smoother.

And now a few questions just for fun…

What is your favorite place on Earth?

Tricky, I have traveled a lot and not found a single place that is a definitive favorite. Places I’ve found to be to my liking are near the equator and have little seasonal variation, as well as are sufficiently high altitude to cool down to a comfortable day high temperature of roughly 25 degrees Celsius.

Favorite ice cream?

Could I have two scoops in a waffle cone, one mango sorbet, one coconut please? :)

Finally, our classic question: what do you think cats dream about?

Some cats probably dream about being able to sneak through walls.

Øyvind Kolås, CC BY-NC-ND Ross Burton

 

 

Thank you, Øyvind, for your answers. We look forward to seeing your upcoming work on GEGL this year and beyond!


Please consider supporting Øyvind through his GEGL Liberapay or GEGL Patreon campaigns. 

Thank You, 2017 Newcomers!

As the calendar year comes to an end, we’d like to thank everyone who contributed for the first time to a new project at GNOME. The list below includes people who made their first commit, contribution, or joined a GNOME global team.

Please join us in thanking these excellent newcomers!

Design Team

Kate Lassalle-Klein
Tobias Bernard

Engagement Team

Anna Yin
Biraj Karmaker
Julian Sparber
Michael Hall
Neil McGovern
Shirley
Umang Jain
Yunfeng He (Jim)

Builder

Anoop Chandu
Georg Vienna
Kritarth
Lucie Dvorakova
namanyadav12
Xiang Fan

Calendar

Abdullahi Usman
Abishek
Andrei Ceapa
Carlo Lobrano
George Willian Condomitti
Jente Hidskes
Joyjit Choudhury
Nidhi Gupta
Novi-Novi
Orkun Tezer
Valentin Negoescu
Yash Singh

Files (Nautilus)

Adrian Zatreanu
Cristian Nancu
Diana Grecu
Eduard Čuba
Evgeny Shulgin
Horia Ion
Jan Tojnar
Kartikeya Sharma
Robert Stanca
Tiberiu Lepadatu
Vyas Giridharan
Waqar Ahmed

Games

Mateusz Sieczko
Radhika Dua
RoubyPA

Maps

Anup Agarwal
Nayan Deshmukh
RyuzakiKK

Music

Abhinav Singh
Jean Felder
Sambhav Kothari
Suyash Garg

Photos

Ankriti Sachan
Kartikeya Sharma
Katarina Gresova
Rashi Sah
Saksham Bhalla
Scott Cohen
Shivam Tripathi

Polari

Alexander Alzate Olaya
Augusto Cesar
Mjash
Justyn Temme
Zandr Martin

Recipes

Ekta Nandwani
Paxana Amanda Xander

Todo

Aeden McClain
Denis Ollier
Evgeny Shulgin
Jens Sauer
Kevin Lopez
Linus Probert
Rohit Kaushik
Utkarsh
Zack Lofgren

If you’re interested in making your first contribution to GNOME, we welcome you to join us! Here are some resources:

Thank you again to everyone who participated in GNOME, oldcomers and newcomers alike. GNOME exists because of you. Thanks for making 2017 another great year!

Meet Shobha Tyagi from GNOME.Asia Summit 2016

This month’s community spotlight is on Shobha Tyagi, one of the volunteer organizers of GNOME.Asia Summit 2016.


Courtesy of Shobha Tyagi
Courtesy of Shobha Tyagi

Shobha’s history with GNOME began when she participated in the Outreach Program for Women (OPW) internship in December 2013, with GNOME as her mentoring organization. She attended her first GUADEC in 2014 while she was an OPW intern, and met Emily Chen, who introduced her to the GNOME.Asia Summit.

Passionate about helping to spread GNOME throughout Asia, Shobha was resolute to rise to the challenge of bringing GNOME.Asia Summit to her home in Delhi, India. Fast-forward two years, Shobha is proudly leading the local organizing team of GNOME.Asia, which is ready to lift its curtain in Delhi, on April 21, 2016.

We chatted with Shobha about GNOME and her experience organizing GNOME.Asia.


Why did you choose to work with GNOME for your OPW internship?
To be honest, I thought that since GNOME organizes OPW, I would receive the most productive mentoring from GNOME. Sure enough, that happened! I decided to make my initial contribution to Documentation, and after that I met my guru and mentor, Ekaterina Gerasimova.

Courtesy of Shobha Tyagi
Courtesy of Shobha Tyagi

Do you have a favorite thing about GNOME?

My favorite thing about GNOME is its people. The same people who create it, maintain it, and use it – they are what makes GNOME really great. I really enjoy committing my patches directly to the upstream repositories and meeting the contributors in person. I also get great satisfaction whenever I tell people about GNOME and let them know how they can also contribute.

You submitted the winning bid to host GNOME.Asia Summit 2016; do you have any tips for those who are interested to bid for upcoming GNOME conferences?
Sure! It does help if you have attended a GNOME conference in the past, but once you have made up your mind to bid, have faith in yourself and just write your proposal.

Can you describe a challenge you faced while organizing the GNOME.Asia Summit and how you overcame it?
There are many challenges, especially when you are the only one who knows the ins and outs of the event and have a limited amount of time. I’m surrounded by very supportive people. Even so, people expect more from the person who lays the initial groundwork. I thank the summit committee members for their tremendous help and persistence through countless IRC meetings and discussion, without which, it would have been impossible to overcome all of the small obstacles throughout the entire planning experience.

What’s the most exciting part about being an organizer?
The most exciting part is learning new things! Writing sponsorship documents, calling for presentations, picking up basic web development skills, identifying keynote speakers, chief guests and sponsors, amongst other things. I learned first-hand what goes into designing logos, posters, and stickers. There were also other tasks that I wouldn’t have had to do in a normal situation like arranging a day tour to Taj Mahal for a big group.

Life after GNOME.Asia Summit Delhi; what is going to be your next project?
After the GNOME.Asia Summit, I would like to focus my efforts on establishing a GNOME user group in Delhi.

Advice for eager newcomers and first-time contributors?
My advice for them is to come and join GNOME! GNOME enables you and me to contribute, and when we contribute, we help each other improve our lives. If you are committed, you can commit patches too.

And now, some fun questions. What is your favorite color? 
Yellow.

Favorite food?
All vegetarian Indian food.

What is your spirit animal?
Cow! They have a calm demeanor, and symbolize abundance and fertility since they represents both earth and sky.

Finally, and this one is important; what do you think cats dream about?
Cats dream about being loved, cared for and pampered by their master.

Shobha is helping to organize the 2016 GNOME.Asia Summit while working as an Assistant Professor at Manav Rachna International University, and pursuing a doctorate in Software Engineering. She has been a Foundation member since 2014, and has previously contributed to the Documentation team.

Thank you so much, Shobha, for sparing some of your time to talk to us! We wish you a successful Summit!

Interviewed by Adelia Rahim.