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The Gimp Graphics Software

The Gimp from the Eyes of a Photoshop User 1199

Posted by michael
from the eye-of-the-beholder dept.
Eugenia writes "Many in the F/OSS community are raving about the Gimp, however pros who have actually used Photoshop think differently: This Mac professional designer goes through the steps of getting Gimp 2.0 up and running on his Mac, only to get baffled by the chaotic interface in general and its non-standard UI compared to other Mac apps, its slowness to open large files and to apply filters, the unintuitive tools that accompany it and its very visible bad quality of text and lines/shapes. That designer even bought a 'supported' version of MacGimp by an OSS-Mac company, Archei, but he never heard back for his support requests (free Gimp for Macs here). I think that's one of the best-written articles I've ever read about the reality of most open-source geek-driven projects vs their equivelant professional/proprietary ones. Personally, before I get persuaded to use Gimp again for my photography projects, I would need --in addition to the author's peeves -- full 16-bit per channel support, high-quality scanning/printing drivers with integrated GUI (a'la SilverFast), and a 'crop and rotate' feature (as seen in PS/PSE). Besides, both Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop Elements cost bellow $100 (with PS Elements getting bundled with most scanners/printers/digital cameras, albeit without the much needed 16bit support either)."
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The Gimp from the Eyes of a Photoshop User

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  • I agree... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by necro2607 (771790) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:46PM (#9023690)
    We use photoshop here at work (digital-based photography business) all day long, and a few of us have tried using GIMP for image editing. We all found it fairly awkward. I've tried using it more than everyone else and I just find the whole "right-click to do everything" approach fairly disorienting.
    • Re:I agree... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by letxa2000 (215841) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:51PM (#9023739)
      I agree. I have always used Paint Shop Pro for years under Windows. Now that I've switched to Linux I've all but abandoned Microsoft Office in favor of Open Office. I use Opera instead of Eudora. I used Kate (awesome!) instead of notepad. I use Xine for movies and DVDs and XMMS works great for music.

      But when it comes to working with images I still have to run Win4Lin to open a Win98 session and run Paint Shop Pro. The interface on The Gimp is just unusable to me. And maybe it has all the same features as Paint Shop Pro, but at least with PSP I can find them.

    • Re:I agree... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ejaw5 (570071)
      I just find the whole "right-click to do everything" approach fairly disorienting.

      I think if you keep using it you'll start to appreciate the right-click-on-the-image deal. Say if you want to select a region and apply a sharpen filter, you can draw your box, then at the location, bring up the menu and select sharpen. Instead of having to go up to the top of the screen.
    • Re:I agree... (Score:5, Informative)

      by 13Echo (209846) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:30PM (#9024118) Homepage Journal
      I think that it just depends on what you are used to using. A GIMP user with a lot of experience with the program, may have the same problems when migrating to Photoshop. I know I do. I'm not very familiar with anything but Photoshop basics, but I'm quite familiar with GIMP.

      Many of problems that the author sites in the review are problems that are native to the Mac version. I agree that GIMP does need some help in many areas, but the program isn't ideal for Macs right now, without some work.

      A) It requires an X11 server on top of the MacOS.
      B) The filesystem issue is related to the fact that GIMP wasn't designed for OSX, even if it can be compiled for it.
      C) The font issues are related to the fact that it is using a different font renderer than OSX. There is no sub-pixel hinting going on in his makeshift X-server, and it looks like it is using an inferior render.

      Really, I don't disagree with the reviewer. They are legitimate points, but the majority of the problems are simply related to the Mac install.
      In regards to other complaints...

      Tools *ARE* organized; e.g. first row has selection tools, and fourth row has drawing tools.

      I'm not sure what was up with his copy, but JPEG images (over 30 MB) open up within a fraction of a second for me.

      The "reviewer" hasn't familiarized himself with how the drawing tools work to get them to function properly. I personally feel that this person is just looking for a Photoshop clone, which GIMP is not. It is similar to Photoshop in the sense that it performs most of the same functions, but it is not a clone by design. The UI seems practical to some of us; even novice users that I know. But hey... To each his own. Again, the GIMP does deserve criticism in some respects, but 3/4 of the problems that the reviewer sited were not the fault of GIMP or its design.
      • Re:I agree... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pieroxy (222434) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:30PM (#9024556) Homepage
        A GIMP user with a lot of experience with the program, may have the same problems when migrating to Photoshop

        I seriously doubt that and find this argument a little boring, to be honest. Everytime someone talks about usability of an open source software, the OSS community unite itself under the voice of "That's because you're not used to it".

        I didn't have to get used to Photoshop, I just found all the stuff I needed naturally.

        Now The Gimp is another matter altogether. I don't know anyone that got used to its clumsy 12 windows that fill in your task bar. None of the user interactions are standard (Like Esc to simulate "Cancel", Tab, Space, Enter, ...) nothing works like the rest. If that is the price for writing a portable app, then they might as well forget about the portability. For a normal Windows user, The Gimp is a step back of 15 years in terms of UI.
  • Interface (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Snowman (116231) * on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:47PM (#9023697) Homepage

    (donning asbestos underwear)

    FYI, I am a programmer and web app designer, not a graphics artist. That being said, I feel that any GUI application with a well-designed interface should be fairly intuitive and I should be able to get up to speed in a few minutes (I learn quickly).

    I tried The Gimp on Linux. I tried The Gimp in Windows (the new native version). I still cannot get it. I try Photoshop and I can be halfway productive instantly. The result suck, remember I am not a graphics designer and I cannot even write legibly let alone draw with a pencil or a mouse, but I can get around the filters, tools, etc.

    My experiences with other peoples' work proves that The Gimp is capable and powerful. My experiences with my own work proves that The Gimp has a steep learning curve mostly due to its odd interface.

    • Re:Interface (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tsg (262138) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:40PM (#9024191)
      That being said, I feel that any GUI application with a well-designed interface should be fairly intuitive and I should be able to get up to speed in a few minutes (I learn quickly). ...
      My experiences with other peoples' work proves that The Gimp is capable and powerful. My experiences with my own work proves that The Gimp has a steep learning curve mostly due to its odd interface.


      I think you're confusing "easy to learn" with "easy to use". An interface that is simple and intuitive can often get in the way of productivity. Often used functions that are easy to find may take several mouse clicks to use when a keyboard command, while not intuitive, would make it much easier to do the same thing. Blender [blender.org] is a great example of this. "Intuitive" is the last thing I would call the interface, but once you learn it it's incredibly productive. Whether or not Gimp falls into this category, I don't know as I'm not a graphic designer nor do I have much experience with either Photoshop or Gimp. But how easy it is to learn should not be the sole, or even primary, metric on judging an interface. For serious work, where someone is going to take the time to learn the application beyond the hobby user level, how easy it is to perform common tasks is going to trump easy to learn every time.
    • Re:Interface (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tyrione (134248) on Friday April 30, 2004 @11:24PM (#9025515) Homepage

      I'm a programmer, server-side developer (Cocoon 2), graphic designer and site designer.

      Operating Systems I learned include HP-UX, IRIX for Wavefront during Animation at WSU while persuing second B.S. in Cptr Science. First was in Mech. Engineering (I understand Design applied to Systems and Machines), NeXTSTEP(self-taught, loved it so much left my second B.S. behind to work at NeXT Software), Mac OS 6 - 9 (Used it sparingly while working at Apple focused on Rhapsody than OS X), Windows(95/98/NT/2k/XP), worked with various graphics applications on various operating systems.

      All my graphics are now done with the following products:

      • The GIMP 2.x prior was 1.3.x
      • SodiPodi/Inkscape for SVG and other Vector Based Graphics Needs
      • Xfig (I'm an Engineer by education and it was like a warm welcome after years of no machine design)
      • CinePaint for 16bit needs for Photo quality for Unsigned Integer/RnH Short Float up to 32-bit IEEE Float supported.
      • I picked up LyX about 9 months prior and then Kile LaTeX editor to write everything from Technical Manuals to Novels to Resumes. Professional Publishing bar none. I publish in PS, PDF, DVI, HTML, Docbook, etc..
      • Blender for Animation
      • Cenon 3.6 for GNUstep that has to be used to appreciate its applications for Technical Designs and Product Manual uses
      • ....

      What they all have in common is I run them on Debian GNU/Linux via KDE 3.2.2 along with GNOME and GNUstep.

      When I use OS X which is becoming more often doesn't mean I'm going to not use Linux. I'll leverage them both and make myself as productive and useful as my damn mind can handle.

      Stop fucking whining, become a Keith Ohlfs and contribute your ideas of UI Design so that people can benefit from these vast wellsprings of insight.

      I see a need I research tools available and I learn new skills. Jack of All Trades, but I tell you my M.E. background has taught me to produce first rate results and learn on-the-fly.

      The GIMP needs a more cohesive UI but if you can get your Mind around Photoshop you can get your Mind around the GIMP. User Tutorial Documentation also needs to be massively increased. If one doesn't know Python the odds of fully leveraging the GIMP with scripts on Images is very remote.

      On OS X I will reach for the Stone Design CD, use Create and all the other apps that come with it, and continue on my merry ways.

      The Best Applications on OS X aren't the ones from Adobe, Macromedia, etc... They are from the Minds of Developers who had the headstart of Getting Cocoa and its Capabilities. Apple is making it clear how to do it, finally!!

      Personal observation after having to downgrade from working at NeXT to merging with the Zealots at Apple, YOU WASTED 4 YEARS WHINING AND WHAT WE HAVE IN A BEAUTIFUL OS IS NOT EVEN WHERE IT SHOULD BE. BUT COMPROMISE IS A BITCH AINT IT?

  • FreeType for GIMP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Inhibit (105449) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:48PM (#9023703) Homepage Journal
    On the matter of Text, use FreeType for the GIMP. It produces beautiful scaled, rotated, and angled text output.
    • Obligatory Link (Score:5, Informative)

      by Inhibit (105449) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:51PM (#9023740) Homepage Journal
      And I almost forgot. The Obligatory link [gimp.org] for the google impaired. :) Hinted, Kerned, and Anti-Aliased to your hearts content.. fully buzzword compliant!
    • by wibs (696528) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:00PM (#9023828)
      It's great that FreeType exists, but it's still missing the point. You shouldn't need to scour the web looking for plugins to make your program do the (simple) things you want it to do. If we were talking about something only a small set of advanced users would ever need, I wouldn't see a problem... but text rendering? Everybody needs that!
      • by Dalcius (587481) <chrism3413+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:32PM (#9024134)
        It's great that FreeType exists, but it's still missing the point. You shouldn't need to scour the web looking for plugins to make your program do the (simple) things you want it to do.

        Very true. The problem with articles like this falls under not understanding the material under review (e.g. expecting it to be a Photoshop port to Linux) and not doing research before proudly exclaiming that "Gimp Sux0rs!"

        A competant review includes things like "There was a plugin for it which I found eventually, but it's a bit silly that the default text tool is so poor."

        I feel that Gimp has a long way to go, but with script-fu it has some serious potential and can already make a lot of sweet images. Photoshop is still better for professional work I'd venture, but Gimp surely does not suck.

        And I still fail to see why the user interface is perplexing. Confusing for a new user, sure, but if you can't understand anything that isn't presented to you in the same fashion as every other app you use, I won't feel any pity, especially when you're dealing with such a powerful tool. Powerful tools can justify (and often require) a non-standard interface to be useful.

        That's my rant. :)

        Cheers
  • UI in the OS world (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rabbitt (741607) * on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:49PM (#9023712) Homepage
    Unfortunately, I have to agree with the author here. Most applications in the OS world are obvious in the sense that they are written by Developers (apps that I work on included). That is probably one of the biggest things missing in the OS world - UI people. People who understand how to ogranize all the options / bells&whisttles / etc into something meaningful and intuitive to the average 'joe' user. While there are definitely great strides towards creating more UI friendly apps, it is still one of the gravest detriments to our community as a whole.
    • by gidds (56397) <slashdot AT gidds DOT me DOT uk> on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:49PM (#9024265) Homepage
      I've said it before, and I'll say it again: we're not all UI experts, but we can all improve. IMO that's the main problem with the UI of many packages -- not that developers don't have the UI skill so much as they don't care.

      Half of UI design is simply forgetting what you know about computers in general, and your bit of software in particular. You'd think it'd be easier to forget than to learn! You just have to step back and ask questions like: what's the user trying to do here? What mindset will they start off with? What will they expect? How can we make it easy for them? How little do they need to learn to do it?

      Yes, sometimes coming up with the right UI will involve lots of UI experience, having learned techniques and tools, or having that mindset. But I reckon half the time it's simply down to caring about the UI, stopping for a moment and asking whether this whizzy bit of code you're keen on is really the best thing for the user, or whether something simpler or less clever will be better.

      The other thing you need is discipline. Sometimes providing two different ways to do something is worse than just providing one, especially if neither do it properly. Sometimes you need to keep things simple and uncluttered -- having to shoe-horn stuff together that doesn't naturally fit is often a sign of deeper problems in your underlying model. Sometimes you need to restrict what your users can do. After all, it's better to do one thing really well than several things badly. And sometimes you need to respect platform/system/community standards, even if you don't like them.

      As usual, I've rambled too long. But if all developers cared about their user interfaces, and had the discipline to do what was needed, then all software would benefit.

  • by Mantrid (250133) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:49PM (#9023715) Journal
    I do my image stuff with Paint Shop Pro - but I was wondering about a post effect software (like Adobe's package - like Photoshop for film). I'm pretty sure I remember reading about a film version of gimp - anyone had experience with it and know if it's any good?
  • Missing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe Tie. (567096) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:49PM (#9023717)
    In the price comparison I think she's missing one of the major points of the gimp - it's open source. I don't think many of the developers are working on it so I don't have to shell out some money for paint shop pro, they're more likley developing it because there's a gimp shaped hole in the open source comunity that needed filling.
    • Re:Missing (Score:4, Troll)

      by RatBastard (949) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:00PM (#9023832) Homepage
      Who cares if it's open source? I don't. What I care about is being able to use it. If the interface is horrid and badly thiought out I'm not going to bother with it. Yeah, PSP isn't free, but it's interface is easy and well thought out. That lets me do what I need to do.

      I use the best tool available in my price range. If that tool is free, geat. I'll use it. If that tool is not free, fine. I'll save up my lunch money and buy it.
    • Re:Missing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phatsharpie (674132) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:10PM (#9023929)
      The first paragraph stated that GIMP is free and open sourced:

      ...have no idea what a 'Gimp' is but computer users of a UNIX persuasion will recognise that it as the name of an open source (read 'free')...

      This is a review by someone who uses image editing program professionally, so to her, time is money. She may save herself quite a bit of money, but she would have to spend a large amount of time to learn the program before she can utilize it for work. All that time is lost revenue for her. In addition to the steep learning curve, she is complaining about the quality of the resulting images from GIMP - this would be a big no no for someone who does graphics editing professionally. If she can't produce top quality work, how is she suppose to satisfy her clients? In another words, more lost revenue. Pretty soon the lost revenue should equal to or surpass the money she saves from not buying PhotoShop.

      -B

    • Re:Missing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Uber Banker (655221) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:11PM (#9023943)
      1. In the price comparison I think she's missing one of the major points of the gimp - it's open source.

      You may or may not know this, but open source does not mean 'free'. Sure the GIMP is 'free' but open source in no way means it is free.

      2. I don't have to shell out some money for paint shop pro...

      Time is, literally, money. If you spend 100 hours using the GIMP in a month, but doing the same task in PSP, PS, etc, would take 70 hours you'd have saved 30 hours. In this 30 hours you could could do casual work in the local gas station, bar or mall earning at least mininum wage (say $7ph) which works out as $210 in those 30 hours - that is OPPORTUNITY COST! By buying a product you have made money! Needless to say, if you were a graphic designer or used graphics anywhere near regularly you'd use such a program for more than a month (the opportunity cost of $210 only refers to a month, besides your hourly wage would probably be more the $7ph). A layman using such a program for a year would also save big-time!

      That is the meaning of opportunity cost and TCO. You may pay for a product, but if that product is superior you may easily end up saving. Photoshop (and PSP maybe - don't have much eperience with that compared to PS or the GIMP) is a demonstration of that principal.
  • by SYFer (617415) <syfer&syfer,net> on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:49PM (#9023720) Homepage
    I am Photoshop certified and use the app every day in my work. I have also enthusiastically installed and am a sometime user of GIMP (on Mac) and I've gotta say this guy is right on target.

    Enthusiasm for the GIMP reminds me of Samuel Johnson's famous comments on women preaching [samueljohnson.com].

    Historical sexism aside, his point was that when we see something hard being done by someone unexpected, we sometimes fail to notice how poorly it's actually being done.

    In the OS community, everyone gets so excited about having a "free" (as in beer) app which potentially replaces an expensive commercial app, that we get a bit carried away in our enthusiasm.

    Its like the do-it-yourself TiVo's that aren't really anywhere near as convenient or feature rich as the real deal.

    GIMP gives us a glimpse of the tremendous potential of Open Source software, but anyone who thinks its "as good as PS," isn't a serious Photoshop user.

    • by mveloso (325617) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:58PM (#9023809)
      There's an old quote that says it better:

      "It's not that the dog talks well, it's that it talks at all."

      This is the problem with a lot of open source: people are happy that it talks at all. Maybe someday they'll get around to talking well?
  • Adjustment Layers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skyshadow (508) * on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:50PM (#9023725) Homepage
    One place where Photoshop still owns the GIMP is in the availablity of adjustment layers.

    One of the really cool things you can do with adjustment layers is work with an image you're turning into black and white and make it look like an honest-to-God black and white image (as opposed to merely a desaturated color image). In some ways, it's almost like taking an internal picture of your subject and adjusting the tones and hue on the fly, which can turn out some very nifty results. In GIMP, you just don't have that flexibility.

  • GIMP is FREE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fons (190526) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:51PM (#9023736) Homepage
    A lot of people who think photoshop is great forget that they didn't pay for their copy BECAUSE IT IS EXPENSIVE.

    You get what you pay for. It's that simple. And considering The Gimp is free it's a GREAT DEAL!

    If they would be honest A LOT of home users SHOULD use the GIMP instead of using an illegal version of Photoshop.
    • Re:GIMP is FREE (Score:5, Insightful)

      by letxa2000 (215841) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:57PM (#9023798)
      Everything on my Linux system is free, except Win4Lin. The Gimp doesn't measure up to even the other open source programs I use. I actually prefer OpenOffice to Office, I prefer XMMS to WinAmp or CoolPlayer, I prefer Opera to Mozilla/Eudora on Windows.

      There are plenty of quality apps with a GUI for Linux. That The Gimp is free is no excuse to have a crappy interface that is completely unintuitive.

    • Re:GIMP is FREE (Score:3, Interesting)

      by XaXXon (202882)
      I wouldn't go with all the caps, but you're right on target -- though I'd argue that with the gimp, you get well more than you pay for.

      From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, I'm sure an free illegal version of photoshop is more useful than a free legal version of the gimp, but if people would use gimp instead at least then we'd hear one fewer company whining about people infringing on their copyright and about how it cost them $X million a year.
    • Re:GIMP is FREE (Score:5, Insightful)

      by merdark (550117) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:59PM (#9023819)
      I think the point here is that maybe the GIMP developers should *listen* to the designers. Some of these things (like the interface) are not impossibly hard to fix.

      Then we'd have a usefull free program. But no, for some reason the designers of GIMP just will NOT listen. They like their crazy interface, regardless of how many professions tell them it's crap.
    • Re:GIMP is FREE (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532)
      Price is a valid point, but I think we're beyond the late-1999 era of OSS being the golden child for free things. It's 2004 now and the mentality is, "Okay it's cool that it's free, but I need results. What can I actually DO with this software?"
    • by werdna (39029) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:49PM (#9024266) Journal
      considering The Gimp is free it's a GREAT DEAL!

      Read that again. Once more. Think about what you are saying.

      Consider the degree of difficulty necessary to achieve making something that is free a "great deal."

      If we in the open source community are to satifsfy ourselves with having given value by creating something that doesn't have negative utlility, then its time for us to stop the madness entirely.

      We must do great work with our energies, or spend the time doing something else. Imagine that Steve Jobs or the corporate slavedriver of your choice were constantly riding you to make "art rather than crap." Imagine that your livelihood depended on making it great, and that you were worthless if it weren't. Otherwise, don't bother.

      Anything less, and you are a poser wannabe.

      Sorry, I don't buy it. Nothing we do is a "great deal" because its free. It should be a great deal at any reasonable price, and an astonishing piece of wonder because it is free (both in terms of price and liberty).

      And for the record, that reviewer paid for the software, and found it wanting at any price. It had negative utility for her, and frankly, that sucks -- notwithstanding the wonder and excellence of the effort.

      Its ok to say, "hey, that's not for you, sorry it didn't work out for you." But to say, "hey, its free, what did you expect?" Sorry, it just ain't the hacker ethic.
    • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:01PM (#9024373) Homepage
      The Gimp is free in terms of money. It is most certainly not free in terms of things like time spent configuring and downloading it, or wasted time spent trying to get used to its interface before realizing it just can't be done. The article we are responding to notes the Gimp to be monetarily free and then gives it a "value for money" score of 10%. I would be inclined to agree.

      I made a concerted effort to start using the Gimp, beginning with the assumption that anything about the interface that didn't feel right to me was merely becuase I wasn't used to it and that once I got used to its idiom I would be as efficient with it as I would be with Photoshop. This turned out not to be the case.

      What I would consider an acceptably designed tool is that once you are familiar with it, it just melts away into a comfortable sort of overlay where what you find yourself thinking of is what you're doing, not thinking about how to make the tool do what you want. It turns out that the Gimp interface, with its tools which do not work in logical or naturally synergistic ways and its interface consisting entirely of totally unrelated features scattered over a huge mess of heirarchal menus that seem to have the features sorted into them in random order, was just something I cannot get into a comfortable state with, no matter how much time I spent fighting with it. In fact, it was bad enough I couldn't actually manage to complete a single attempt at an image, no matter how small, to my satisfaction. The interface just got in the way too much. I would posit that this is the Gimp's fault, not mine.

      Now, given, this was Gimp 1. The new Gimp that came out a couple weeks ago, I haven't used. But to be firmly honest I see no reason why I should. These people have given me no reason to believe they can design a useable interface. Installing this software would be a mere matter of typing "sudo emerge gimp" into my Gentoo box at home before I go to bed and letting it grind for the next day and a half. However, it would require a large investment of time in terms of learning, testing and playing with the Gimp2 interface, and I simply lack any reason to believe that there will be any sort of worthwhile payoff for this cost of time. I would prefer to continue with my current situation of using imagemagick to convert formats and only being able to edit images while in a computer lab on campus. To be honest, while I am somewhat embarrased to be saying this, if I DO eventually try out Gimp2, it will be for the sole reason that once I do so I will be able to respond to Slashdot discussions about it like this one in an informed manner. The software program itself simply does not offer anything I am interested in using.

      If they would be honest A LOT of home users SHOULD use the GIMP instead of using an illegal version of Photoshop.

      I disagree. There are other free and inexpensive alternatives to the Gimp that perform their jobs far better. One that comes to mind is GraphicConverter, a very cheap shareware graphics app for OS X that I used for years (though I haven't used it much since the OS X switch) that while by no means professional is totally acceptable for a large variety of applications. It doesn't have as many OH SUPER LEET TEXT EFFECTS as the Gimp does but I or anyone else could sit down, immediately understand how to do what they want, and perform tasks of relative complexity without being stymied by the interface. The same is not true of the GIMP. I am not familiar with windows freeware but I would imagine a similar situation exists there.
  • A long way to go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EchoMirage (29419) * on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:52PM (#9023743)
    This article re-illustrates something that serious graphic designers have been pulling their hair out in trying to tell the GIMP community for years: the GIMP - though a nice project - is completely and totally off in a little world of its own.

    There are some major beefs that graphic designers and Photoshoppers have with the GIMP:
    (1) The interface sucks. Nobody likes working with 16 different open windows
    (2) The interface sucks. Nobody likes menus in different windows and toolbars
    (3) No 16-bit/channel color support
    (4) No [good] CMYK support = will never be used in prepress[1]
    (5) Repeat (1) and (2)
    (6) [Lack of] Speed
    (7) Dependencies (GTK+, etc.)

    Most importantly, I think, the GIMP community needs once again to have its teeth kicked in for its idiocy in choosing the name 'GIMP.' Yes, we here on Slashdot all know that it stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and we've all heard how it's "just an acronym" and not supposed to mean anything. But for reasons of political correctness, common decency, etc. the program's name will continue to be a major reason that it never sees any serious adoption.

    So, GIMP developers, clean up the interface and change the product name, and your program has a decent chance of seeing the light of day in the real world.

    [1] In the GIMP developer's defense, most/all of the CMYK process is patent protected.
    • by dameron (307970) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:58PM (#9023815) Homepage
      (7) Dependencies (GTK+, etc.)



      I'm having a hard time with this one....

      -dameron

  • by phoxix (161744) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:52PM (#9023744)
    [..] UNIX has this wonderful habit of trying to protect users from their own stupidity without recognising its own. [...]

    s/UNIX/OS-X

    Yeah ... now it sounds rite ... Unix doesn't hide anything, and thats where the power is (and the great ability to screw up the entire system).

    Sunny Dubey
  • by Gary Yogurt (664063) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:52PM (#9023745)
    gimp

    n : disability of walking due to crippling of the legs or feet

    I suggest they rename it to Firehercules or Spartacus.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:52PM (#9023751)
    Sorry, Big difference between professional photoshop users and the general "I wanna edit my digital photo" public.. Surely no one in the world would argue that any current version of FREE software would compare favorably in the eyes of a photoshop professional. But there IS an arguement to be made that the GIMP is more than sufficient for the majority of everyone else's needs. One day the cost of photoshop will drive a savvy UI person to paste a PS emulator on the front of the GIMP and s/he will be endlessly praised by the rest of the OSS community... I can wait :)
  • gimp not bad anymore (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apreche (239272) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:53PM (#9023753) Homepage Journal
    Gimp 1 had a terrible interface. No bones about it. Gimp 2 however, has a decent UI. It's not super amazing, but its good enough, above average.

    The problem is that these Photoshop users are used to photoshop. Any other UI no matter how slick and perfect will be worse for them. They are trained on photoshop so well that using anything else kills their efficiency. Like driving stick for the first time after driving automatic your whole life.

    I'm no graphic wizard, just a programmer. And I recently got gimp 2 for windows and linux. I couldn't do fancy things right away, but its not because I couldn't find the buttons or they were in bad or hidden places. It's because I don't know anything about making graphics. If graphics people start out on the gimp instead of photoshop they will be just as good on that.

    So don't try to convert people to gimp. Just get new people who are about to pirate photoshop for the first time to use gimp instead.

    That's about it...
    • by KagatoLNX (141673) <kagato@NOSpam.souja.net> on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:12PM (#9023959) Homepage
      I have to agree on this one.

      Read one of the above complaints that mentions not liking "menus in the windows". I hate to break it to you, but that's not a GIMP paradigm--that's a is-not-a-macintosh paradigm.

      I also don't buy the right click thing. I use right click religiously and find it infinitely more useful that having to go all the way up to the top of the window just to select a menu option.

      The interface (in those respects) doesn't suck, it's just different.

      As for CMYK, patents aside, it's scheduled for next release, we'll see about it all then.

      Also, if you haven't tried it since 1.0, look again. 2.0 uses the new GTK and it's a hell of a lot smoother. I really think next version will be serious-production-useful.

      That said, I use it more or less daily and can vouch for one thing it does well that Photoshop (even with the right plugins) does horribly--Scripting.

      If anyone read the comments in the article about Scribus, they noted one of the QuarkExpress guys raving about how it could autogenerate their catalog based on a database.

      Gimp does this sort of thing insanely well. Between Gimp-Perl and Gimp-Python (and Script-Fu in general), you can automate processes in Gimp in insane ways. Automated photo-processing can be awesome.

      As for "people who prefer Gimp to PS aren't serious PS users", I'd have to call BS on this one. After working with PS on OSX (even with OSX's crispy Unixness) actually seems to crash more. It also has issues of not really being able to tweak extensions (in OS9 you could turn them on and off in the extensions folder, now you can't, that can suck).

      Similarly, I have problems getting PhotoShop, OSX, Postscript, and HP Designjets to kick out the correct colors. It does badness.

      In short, PS has its share of problems as does Gimp. I would also argue that PS's interface has some serious suckage to it as well. The only thing I miss about it is the space-bar as a shortcut key--that was handy.

      I think with the completion of 16-bit buffers and CMYK, you'll see a lot less complainers next version.

      The thing to remember is that it's free (not beer-free, freedom free). That means that every advance it makes stays with it. It can't go out of business or get "phased out" with the next release. It's there for you, as long as you need it. When Microsoft buys the DOJ, SEC, and FCC and then Adobe, the PS people will have a rude awakening about exactly why Open Source is good. For that matter, if Apple bought Adobe, they might find out as well...

      In parting, I'd remind all of you PS users that Adobe themselves pioneered the legal doctrine that copying look and feel is not copyright violation. If we reskin GIMP to look EXACTLY like PS, would that make you happy?
  • by Wylfing (144940) <brian@[ ]fing.net ['wyl' in gap]> on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:56PM (#9023786) Homepage Journal
    Dump several hundred million dollars of development capital on The GIMP folks and I'd wager we'll see it advance pretty quickly. Repeat after me: The correct way to view FOSS applications and drivers is "Does it work at all?" Yes? Then choose one of the following:
    1. Shut up and wait for features you want
    2. Give dollars to the developer(s)
    3. Contribute code or documentation to the project

  • by strredwolf (532) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:57PM (#9023800) Homepage Journal
    I've used all four in comic artwork, and here's my option:

    [b]PHOTOSHOP:[/b] A bit overkill, but it's the best for most any application. It's better on a Mac, though, than on a PC, due to interface issues.

    [b]GIMP:[/b] Next best thing, I can do almost 100% of the stuff I can do in Photoshop. Speeding stuff up (like employing multiple CPU's or servers) will help, and 16-bit/channel may help photo artists.

    [b]Paint Shop Pro:[/b] If it's what you got and you can't get the others, it'll do. Most of the stuff above you can do.

    [b]Photoshop Elements:[/b] DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT GETTING THIS!!! BAD! BAD!! The interface is confusing for even old Photoshop users, and to think I used Photoshop *BEFORE* going with Gimp!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

    Most of the time, you (the common user) don't need something heavy-handed as Photoshop. You just need to tweak Gimp/PSP to use more memory. I have it using half of 1.5 gigs here, may push it back up to a full gig. That speeds filters up fast (when you don't have to swap!)
  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by .com b4 .storm (581701) on Friday April 30, 2004 @06:57PM (#9023802)

    When I was primarily a Linux user, I used GIMP for many hours out of each day, tinkering with my photos, working on images for web sites, etc. It is a good tool, and it has a lot going for it. The new interface is nice, but... in so many regards, GIMP is no Photoshop. I quickly realized this after I got a Power Mac and Photoshop 7.

    Even though I do not use Photoshop in any professional context, it is a phenomenal product even for my personal use. Here are the major things that keep me from using GIMP on the Mac beyond occasionally playing with it:

    • No easy automation that compares to Photoshop. Click a record button, do your thing, and you're set. Then you can use that macro manually, or apply it to a collection of images.
    • All the builds of GIMP I've tried for Mac very obviously do not take good advantage of my dual processors. When I can actually see the redraw process for simple layer changes, etc. that is a bit disturbing. That just should not happen on a dual 1ghz G4 system.
    • It requires X11, and a whole host of problems goes with that - for example, no support for international input (i.e. I cannot compose images and include Chinese characters in them by typing them with the text tool). Not to mention that I've yet to find a way to get GIMP to support Mac keybindings, like OpenOffice does. Then there's the small matter of X11 using Option-Click to emulate the right mouse button, whereas almost everything else on the Mac uses Control-Click ...

    Don't get me wrong - GIMP is a nice program, and for the price it absolutely kicks ass. But just that handful of problems listed above will be enough to turn off serious photo/graphics folks. Hell, I'm a geek that has used Linuxy and UNIXy stuff for years, and I am seriously bothered by those issues I listed, among other nit-picky ones.

    Adobe doesn't have much to worry about at the moment. But if an Aqua native version of GIMP came out and could offer similar performance on high-powered Macs, then they might have reason to start sweating.

  • by digidave (259925) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:19PM (#9024029)
    I just got my latest eWeek mag and it had an enterprise case study for upgrading from MS Office 97/2000 to OpenOffice.org vs. upgrading to MS Office 2003. OOo held its own with most users.

    OSS isn't always harder to use than commercial software. The Gimp has ALWAYS had its UI as a major complaint. KDE isn't harder to use than Explorer. Kopete isn't harder to use than ICQ. VNC isn't harder to use than PCAnywhere.

    The Gimp is damn hard to learn and use.
    • by prockcore (543967) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:57PM (#9024724)
      The Gimp is damn hard to learn and use.

      So is Photoshop. Go to any bookstore and there are more photoshop books than any other book. Photoshop isn't easy or intuitive at all.

      Every graphic designer has spent hundreds of hours learning photoshop.. so when they use any other application, their first complaint is "this isn't photoshop".

      That's not to say that the gimp couldn't use a lot of UI work, but any complaint from a photoshop user should be taken with a grain of salt.

      I'm always reminded of the battle between Lightwave and Maya users. Each set swears up and down that their application is easier, and that the other application is a disaster.
  • Ouch... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by identity0 (77976) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:20PM (#9024036) Journal
    Did anyone catch the part where the reviewer said it's not worth the money to get the Gimp at $30 or $50? I doubt he/she would think it's worth the price at free, either.

    The bar chart at the end should be a wake-up call to developers; the reviewer rates the 'features' at 80%, yet the 'value' is 10% and the 'must-have factor' at 1%. It doesn't matter how many features you've crammed in, if you hide it in a confusing interface and the overall product takes up more time than saves, it's just not worth bothering with.
  • Backwards! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:20PM (#9024038) Homepage
    I found this bit of the article strange:
    "When I got used to the fact that the 'open' dialog wouldn't show me any of my 'ordinary' Mac folders or anything in my 'files' hard drive I started thinking 'UNIX' and moved some photos into folders where they could be accessed. UNIX has this wonderful habit of trying to protect users from their own stupidity without recognising its own."

    My impression of *NIX type OS's has been that if you ask it to point a gun at you and pull the trigger, it'll do so without a second thought (cough)rm -r *(cough). He seems to have confused the "imaginary" file system that is his OS X folders, with the actual file system underneath. Funny how people see the system they're accustomed to as being "real" even after it has had reality abstracted away to another system underneath it.

  • by Eloquence (144160) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:22PM (#9024056) Homepage
    The point [of open source] is that it is not a ready to roll program

    No, that is not the point. You know what I do if I want to install gimp?

    apt-get install gimp

    That's it. That covers installation and download. I don't need to start some nonstandard installer program or reboot my machine like on Windows (I guess on MacOS I would have to drag and drop something, as that seems to be the way Apple likes to do everything). If that's not "ready to roll" I don't know what that is.

    Open source developers primarily support the platforms they work with -- mainly Linux and FreeBSD. If you use a proprietary platform like MacOS then don't whine that there are no ready-made binaries for whatever you want to do.

    The point of open source (or free software) is freedom - even if you never touch the source code, you know that no single company has control over what you can or cannot do, can decide to suddenly remove certain features or add certain requirements -- if that happens, and the majority of the community doesn't agree, then the program will be forked, i.e. someone will create THE BLIMP, the truly free alternative to THE GIMP. This is what just happened with X-Window, and it could never happen if a single company had control over the source code. If you don't care about freedom, don't use open source software.

    Opening MacGimp for the first time was like stepping out onto the surface of an alien planet

    That's because that is exactly what you are doing. MacOS is not Linux, it has its own proprietary desktop. If you take software that was developed under completely different conditions - one key condition being that the programmer doesn't know and doesn't need to know what underlying desktop the user works with (there's that pesky freedom again) - and you thrust this software into a proprietary environment where these choices do not exist, then yes, that's like stepping on an alien planet.

    Most of the complaints of the author are the result of two things:

    • The GIMP is not a MacOS application
    • The port of the GIMP to MacOS is not particularly good (font engine, X11 requirement etc.)

    The few complaints that are valid (chaotic menu structure, lack of previews) can only be addressed through contributing money, code, or detailed ideas. Whining about open source software is like complaining about the quality of a Wikipedia article.

    So: Mac user rambles about obscure GIMP port to MacOS not being like other MacOS applications. Nothing to see here - move along.

  • by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:25PM (#9024081) Homepage Journal
    I'm using the gimp in Linux since 1996. I'm also a Mac user who has used all previous photoshop versions since 1992. The gimp is a fantastic application which is in my opinion comparable already with photoshop.

    In the long run, there is no question, what will prevail. Photoshop is 14 years old, the gimp 7 years. Photoshop 2 was already a good project and I preferred photoshop 3 for many years since it was much faster then the photoshop 4/5 hogs under the old Mac OS. Having seen Adobe pulling Premiere from the Mac platform, I would not even bet on whether Photoshop will exist on the Mac in 10 years. The sudden death of closed source projects makes me nervous. The sudden disappearance of applications like Adobe dimension or Canoma is something which should make you think. I have more faith in open source projects. The gimp steadily improves while photoshop essentially stagnated.

    Yes, the Gimp has a different user interface, but this is a minor issue. What is important for me is that the application is stable, also with memory intensive tasks, that it starts up fast and I'm done quickly also with working on hundreds of files at once "gimp *.jpg" My experience is that the gimp on linux starts a multiple times faster then photoshop or the macromedia fireworks on a mac with a similar CPU. The slower Gimp OSX performance might be related to the fact that X applications still run way too slow on the Mac. But this is steadily improving.

  • by Alan (347) <arcterex.ufies@org> on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:25PM (#9024082) Homepage
    First of all, the main problem is that you are running on a mac. Seriously, macs rock, I'm on one now, but they only run "big" X11 apps so well. First of all, running under X11 makes it slower than running natively under linux. Run it under linux and see what you think. The toolbars issue... well, that's a Linux/Windows thing, Mac users just aren't used to having menus show up in application windows. That's a reflection of what you're used to, not the fault of the app.

    Having to click on buttons several times to active is also a symptom of running under X11. I have GIMP2 on my powerbook and it's *horrible* to work with because of the way that focus works in a mac so each time you click from window to window in the gimp you have to click once to give the window focus, and then again to activate the menu/tool/etc.

    Tools probably aren't grouped in the best way, but they are grouped with reasonably. The selection tools, manipulation tools (rotate, scale, etc), fill tools, and drawing tools. Again, they aren't perfect, but they are definately not "thrown down".

    The open dialoge is standard GTK and if you were running in GNOME under linux, would look the same as the rest of your desktop. It doesn't look like your standard open dialoge because it's GTK, not aqua!

    Some of the performance issues again are no doubt due to the emulation, again, same with the font handling. Try it on a real linux computer.

    Also, GIMP isn't trying to be photoshop, I don't think, it's the poor man's photoshop. Hopefully now that 2.0 is out the devs will be able to concentrate on polishing the UI, adding in some of the niceness that is in elements, etc.
  • by hattig (47930) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:31PM (#9024128) Journal
    but that article author is entirely correct.

    I used to use Gimp an awful lot before I found Photoshop. Photoshop was bliss compared to the Gimp's UI. I then heard that Gimp 2 would fix a lot of the UI issues. However I was very disappointed when I tried Gimp 2.

    I had been led to believe that this version would fix all the UI issues with the previous one.

    The new text tool was so deficient that I was longing for the old text tool back. The UI was meant to be dockable ... well, with a fuck load of effort I got separate windows to dock into the main toolbar. In other ways it was an improvement over Gimp 1 though, with brush preview and all that. Shame that this is all stuff that DPaint had in the 80's.

    The Gimp can't be fixed. It needs a whole new front-end designed in collaboration with the users. A few prettier icons doesn't fix it.
  • by gabbarbhai (719706) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:32PM (#9024137)
    It doesn't look like the author was out to bash an open-source program just for kicks.
    Why not take such reviews as constructive criticism? It's actually good for programs like gimp that professionals or people who can influence the professionals have started to pay attention to free software.
    So don't take it personally, guys. It's a good sign :-)
  • by Kjella (173770) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:35PM (#9024159) Homepage
    There's essentially two factors deciding how good an OSS project will be:
    1. The total users for that tool
    2. The fraction of users developing that tool.

    Everybody needs a basic kernel, word processor, spreadsheet, drawing program etc. Many users, low percentage develops but still many developers.
    Geeky stuff like a regex parser may have few users, but relatively many developers.

    A professional class graphics tool? Few people need it, the "professional class" at least. Few geeks are really great artists, and so relatively few developers. A low-low score = bad.

    The only reason Photoshop comes up more often than other software is that users need the basic features, and well - if they're first going to pirate something, they go for the top product.

    Yes, if I was doing graphics professionally, I would most likely get a professional tool, just as if I was doing movie editing, audio editing, 3d modeling or just about any other job.

    If that is what you do for a living, simply do the math. How much time would it save you, or how much would it increase the quality and value of your work. If it's above sales price, buy.

    I don't expect a bunch of programmers to sit down and make something for me that they don't need themselves - or well if they did, it would be because I'm paying them, which is indirectly what I do when I buy software. Obvious, isn't it?

    Kjella
  • by greymond (539980) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:48PM (#9024250) Homepage Journal
    it's made by open source programers for open source users.

    Honestly Graphic Designers are NOT programers. There visual people who like pretty things and easy to use GUI's - thats why Apple is a great platform for us :) We want to be able to use ourcomputer quickly and efficiently. IE: I Hit record in photoshop, do some coomands hit stop and I can now use that macro for anything.

    Theres no need for me to write a script or make sure I have some other dependency programs/file sinstalled. The Program works exactly like the other programs I use in the print industry Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign - they all use a similar UI.

    Theres no reason for a graphic designer to touch linux ever. Maybe a windows machine, always an apple, but never linux.

    The makers of GIMP are open source programmers who know nothing about graphic design in the professional world. Look at the prettines of their site compared to adobe's. The GIMP could have millions of dollars of money put into it and never be as good as phhotoshop, because they don't know or understand that CODERS ARE NOT GRAPHIC DESIGNERS and vice versa.
  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:48PM (#9024255) Journal
    Open Source software is brillliant... it's wonderful, and the beauty of collaborative invention is somethign profoundly important today in a world that seems to be committed to singular interest and personal competition as a natural form of self expression.

    That said... OS projects involving the arts, need to get more artists to participate. More right brained thinking folks involved who will ultimately be using the applications. The kind of people who write code, typically want tools who's UI is consistent with the environments they use. These prople have tremendous mental muscles in those linear skills usually associated with coding and designing software. In applications whose ultimate user base will be artists, those considerations are second to having a tool which elegantly allows them to visualize, create, give birth to artistic expression. Powerful file handling features are great for somebody intending to perform batch operations on a slew of graphics files... however more photographers are looking for ways to get a clear sense of their work, and how to improve it. Most don't care what algorythms the programmer chose to operate on the graphic... they just want to see the operation quickly so they can compare this or that.

    WIRED did a great article on OS last November... at OS as it's beginning to influence law and science. We need to have a fair representation of all human endeavors involved in this movement, so they can cross pollinate and create the kind of tools, resources, and infrastructure needed to grow a distinctly different kind of culture. One that is more interested in the common good, the general benefit to all, than the need to control or own one another. A shift from the an 18th century mentality to a truly third millinium mindset. I look forward to the evolution of OS... I see it as an underlying force for expressing what's best in being human.

    Genda
  • Only real problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adrianbaugh (696007) on Friday April 30, 2004 @07:49PM (#9024273) Homepage Journal
    is the lack of 16-bit per channel support. Everything else is incidental. It's meant to be an image manipulation program. Text and vector stuff isn't really within its core remit; albeit it makes some effort in that direction there are far better tools for working with text/graphics combinations or with vector graphics.
    But to be able to cope adequately with scanned images it really really needs 16-bit depth support. I know filmgimp supports it but the interface on that is really clunky (yes, even by GIMP standards!) and I've never managed to get xsane working happily with it. I don't care about ELQ's proposed spiffy scanner interfaces - xsane does everything I'll ever need, though I wish some of the ranges would revert to +/-400% rather than +/-100%. lcms colour management would be nice, but for home users (ie most users) it's not a can't-live-without feature. 16 bits-per-channel support is; I know there are plans to support it in future releases via libGEGL, but progress on this seems achingly slow. There seem to be plans to polish gimp-2.0 and release a 2.2 later in the year; I'd far rather that was shelved and the developers worked on libGEGL as the basis of a new GIMP core.
  • by ebbomega (410207) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:06PM (#9024401) Journal
    Come on.

    Most open source apps?

    I agree with the assertion that GIMP has got absolutely squat on Photoshop. Honestly. That's why I see no problem in dropping the big bucks on PS. But MOST open source apps being the same? Highly doubtful.

    OpenOffice handles legacy Word documents better than the "latest and greatest" from Microsoft. Heck, I've had compatibility problems between the equivalent versions of Word for Windows and Word for Mac that have been resolved just by opening the document up in OO.

    Bash rocks cmd's socks off. If geeks do one thing exceptionally well, it's command-line tools.

    Ogle vs. Any DVD player for Windows: Killer. Just learn your bloody keyboard mappings already (not that hard to find) and it's exactly the same as any given DVD player except no lock-outs, so you can skip all the bullshit previews the companies decide to force feed you with (also, you've read the FBI Warnings before, and if you haven't, you're not about to start now. Suffice it to say you saw the FBI warning, can you please skip it already?)

    Like I said, GIMP definately has serious disadvantages over Photoshop. But a lot of the other tools that are out there are not as lacking. 99% of the stuff I use that's open-source is in most cases as good as and in many cases better than its proprietary counterpart. The one thing people seem to forget is that in the geek world aesthetics take a back seat to functionality. I don't mind learning curves myself so I find myself able to do a lot more with a fully open source system over a system loaded with its proprietary counterparts.
  • Early Photoshop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:36PM (#9024965)
    In the early 1990's, Mac's ruled my university's computer labs. Though I used vector programs for my engineering studies, my roommate was Industrial Design major so he was always talking about the paint apps.

    The hot "paint" program back then was something called "PixelPaint" and it seriously grabbed the Architecture and Industrial Design students of the day. Everyone wanted it because of it's large pallete size, gradiant fills, and razor-like precision.

    One day, a program called PhotoShop showed up in the labs (legally installed by a student who forgot to delete it before s/he left). It was cool, but PixelPaint still out classed it. Every line you drew was "fuzzy". The pallete size was so big, that it was hard to select a particular color. And overall, things just seemed blurry even when printing or copy/pasting to another app.

    The designer's names were in the about box and I actually saw the lead developer post to the comp.sys.mac.* usenet newsgroups so I wrote him some email to complain about this horrible little app in both it's interface and ability.

    He actually responded to my critiques and spent some time explaining just how programs like "PixelPaint" could really only make good-looking "on-screen" graphics due to low colors and resolutions. His app "PhotoShop" was aiming at photographic images where razor-sharp lines looked fake. He even replied about my suggested interface improvements and told me what they had planned for the next version which was even better than what I suggested.

    This really impressed me. I know that this type of interaction between commercial programmer and user doesn't exist anymore, but it was amazing the patience that he used to point out my misunderstandings (and I wasn't even a real customer at the time).

    The interaction I've had with the GIMP community hasn't impressed me. I'm a little more technically savvy than some of the Mac users out there, but getting the GIMP installed and usable is a pain. The GIMP is capable of a lot of things, but its defaults really don't impress me. I feel like I really have to work to get it out of PixelPaint mode into Photoshop mode (and I'm not really knowledgeable enough to say that I get those changes right). The online communities just aren't as open or friendly to answer the questions that I've asked even if I've tried reading TFM and FAQ.

    If I were tight for money, I think I'd pay my bucks for GraphicConverter (a Mac shareware app that has a similar PixelPaint feel) rather than waste the time on the GIMP.

    I'm a big supporter of Open Source software, but I've thought for a while that a group of people really need to decouple the engine from the interface and produce a "better" photo manipulation software in the way that Camino (and later Firefox) successfully rebuilt alternative user experiences on the Mozilla web-browsing engine.
  • by Soldevi (776054) on Saturday May 01, 2004 @02:19AM (#9026082)

    I do a lot of graphics work. I've also used a large number of the true graphics programs (3d, 2d, vector, etc... not MSPaint) out there at one point or another. In addition to this, I also do freelance development from time to time. It is the user interface alone that makes or breaks the program, in my opinion. Without a good interface, it doesn't matter what the rest of the code does.

    Here are my remarks on a few of the ones I've used at one time or another:

    Photoshop [adobe.com] - Easy to use interface. Provides an easy introduction for those unfamiliar with the program and provides the power necessary for advanced users.

    GraphicsConverter [lemkesoft.de] - Another easy to use interface. Though it lacks the power photoshop has, it makes up for it in the large number of image formats it can read and write.

    Paint Shop Pro [jasc.com] - I am not overly fond of this interface. For one, I think there are far too many icons used. Drowning out interface buttons and such with icons is very irritating for a novice user as they generally have to hover the mouse and wait for the tooltip to figure out what something is. Further, it has the "too much help" syndrome that seems a standard on windows. I much prefer that the help system be delegated to something else and not be built into the program.

    Poser [curiouslabs.com] - This is definitely a unique interface, but it still provides simplicity for novice users and control for advanced users. The largest downside is that by not using default system-provided user interface widgets, some of the details you would expect are not there whereas they would be there if the system versions were used.

    Bryce [corel.com] - Bryce is extremely easy to use. It was my first 3d program and is still one of my favorites due to its simplicity. I have yet to find another 3d program with an object placement system that I like more than bryce's.

    Blender [blender.org] - Not a big fan. Though it is quite powerful, the learning curve is very steep. On Macs, the interface text is quite small in some places and hard to read. The interface is also a bit clunky. Sections are not as clearly divided as I would like.

    Carrara [eovia.com] - I have not used this one for some time (and as such, newer versions may be different than what I remember), but I found it quite user-friendly when I did. All tools were placed in a context-sensible place and it had the camera system that I liked from bryce.

    The Gimp [gimp.org] - I don't like it. The user interface is extremely clunky by my standards. Consolidating a number of the windows into one and reorganizing the tools would go a long way towards helping it. There is also the fact that I am used to my nice Aqua interface and it has the drab sharp bevels and general lack of detail that is natural to most x86 OS's under default configurations.

    Illustrator [adobe.com] - I do not use this program frequently, but being from adobe, it has a very similar interface to photoshop that makes it very easy to use.

    Fireworks [macromedia.com] - I'm apathetic about this one. It provides no real functionality that I cannot get in a program whose interface I like better and has more stuff I can use.

    Freehand [macromedia.com] - Pretty much the same as Fireworks. I've only mostly toyed with this one as I found Illustrator more appealing.

    One other feature I like about photoshop is that it is extremely easy to do image versioning. When doing web designs, I will

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