Why GIMP Is NOT Inadequate

Troy Sobotka, who appears to be a very accomplished commercial artist working in video, illustration and photography, made a relatively brief list of problem areas for Gimp on his blog: http://troy-sobotka.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-gimp-is-inadequate.html

He makes some good points, but the last half of his post is a lot of alarmist speculation. The obvious answer to improving Gimp is to contribute to its development. Complaints about difficult developers sounds like a bunch of complaining. With any open source project you have to earn the respect of the senior developers through consistent work, usually the not-so-exciting kind. With any open source project there are more users than developers and certainly more users suggesting ideas than making any attempt to squash bugs, write documentation or provide objective and helpful feedback. Opinions and assholes.

Anyway, I left a LONG comment today and wanted to duplicate that comment here. The only thing I should have added is a need for Gimp to continue improving color management and that’s why I just said it. Anyway, here’s my comment:

I’m a professional graphic designer. I use Photoshop and Gimp at a very high level of proficiency. Just to point out where I’m coming from. I like Pshop and Gimp for their different strengths, but some of the above arguments are wrong. Gimp certainly has room for improvement, but anyone that actually used Photoshop in 1996 knows that Pshop itself has come a LONG way in 15 years.

I would like to point out something that needs to be understood about the importance of bit-depth. I am constantly working with hi-res jpegs from a wide variety of professional photographers every day. You know how many of those files use 32 bits/channel? None. You know how many of those files use 16 bits/channel? None. They are ALL in 8 bits/channel. It’s certainly great to have the higher bit-depth options, but the importance of that capability in terms of graphic design/manipulating images for press is greatly exaggerated.

Also, CMYK color space in Photoshop is misused by graphic designers because most of them know very little about color space and/or color management. Some of us know (I don’t mean to offend anyone) but the majority of designers I have worked with are completely oblivious. I’ve even seen creative directors explicitly instruct their designers to select “discard color profile” when confronted with the “What should I do?” dialog in Photoshop. The need for CMYK color space, though useful and great, is also greatly exaggerated.

I also think the complaints about the UX are very subjective and usually only illustrate how little effort the commenter put into learning about and using the Gimp.

Two things that would greatly improve Gimp and many people’s impressions of Gimp are:

  • better image scaling/anti-aliasing algorithms
  • layer groups and layer styles

Those two things are certainly complex, but if they were implemented, and it sounds like they will be soon, I would be extremely satisfied with Gimp’s capabilities.

I think it’s healthy to critique software, but the Gimp rarely receives praise for its remarkable capabilities.

Resizing Adobe App Windows In OSX

I just realized something sweet about Adobe apps. Well, those in CS4 or newer that are running on Apple’s OSX at least:

Adobe App windows in OSX can be resized by clicking and dragging on any available edge!

This is the way all application windows work in Windows and Linux as far as I know, but Apple is unique in only providing this capability from the lower-right corner of each window. I think their reason for this is to simplify their user interface and to be consistent with the lower-right “grip” being the only indicator on most windows that they can be resized. I don’t subscribe to that reasoning.

I know it’s a small detail, but this saves me a lot of trouble, especially in Photoshop when working with multiple windows that I seem to be constantly resizing. Lately I’ve found the “full-workspace window” to be a very efficient way to work on a single file in Photoshop, but until today I was apparently wasting a lot of time moving windows by the titlebar so that I could bring the bottom of the window onto the screen and, finally, adjust the window’s size via the lower-right grip.

I generally have very few good things to say about Adobe products, but this is definitely a great feature that I hope Apple will one day propagate to all windows in OSX.

Pinboard – antisocial bookmarking

Nice replacement for Delicious.com that seems more likely to be reliable and around for years to come since it actually has a modest business model. http://pinboard.in Also, note that the “Basic” fee is a ONE-TIME-ONLY fee. I heard about this site a long time ago, but I was hesitant to join because I thought it was an annual fee. The only annual fee is for the $25/year caching service.

Gnome Global Menu: Apple Immigrants Rejoice!

If you are a Linux user that either used to or still does use Apple’s OSX, the Gnome Global Menu might be just what you were looking for to feel at home on Linux. At least if you’re running Gnome or XFCE.

Anybody that has every run an Apple computer with a mouse knows that every application on a Mac displays its menu bar (File, Edit, etc.) in the top-left of the system’s overall screen. This is in contrast with Windows and most Linux window managers that show each application’s menu bar within its own windows, even if that application employs more than one window. This difference is one of those things that most people love one way or the other religiously.

I’ve always preferred the Apple-way since it’s more efficient, especially when it comes to applications like Photoshop or Gimp that are frequently used with multiple windows actively being used in a non-maximized state.

I always assumed this difference was central to how each individual OS’s worked and managed windows. The Gnome Global Menu project seems to make it look pretty easy though. The only programs that don’t cooperate on my system are Firefox and OpenOffice. From what I understand this is due to both having developed their own OS-independent methods for generating their primary menu. (I have a fix for Firefox that I’ll blog about later. Check out the “Tiny Menu” addon.)

All you have to do is install the Global Menu packages and then add the Global Menu Panel Applet to your main menu bar. I also replaced Ubuntu’s custom menu applet with the single-icon Gnome Menu applet, placing it directly in the left corner with the Global Menu applet directly to its right. Looks just like home (on a Mac)! You might need to restart or log out/in to see the menus removed from all of the individual windows, but as you can see in the screenshot above, the Global Menu works great.