WPDFD Articles: Article about GIMP

started by Mlybbert on May 1, 2004 — RSS Feed

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Some of the points brought up in the article were adressed on the Slashdot website (slashdot.org), however, in defense of the GIMP:
1.  "Open source" means that the software license complies with the Open Source Definition at www.opensource.org.  In a nutshell, it means the source code is available without the need to pay royalties to the developers.  Also, the source can be modified and distributed without paying royalties to the developers.  Open source programs may be available *only* in source form, *or* they may also be available in a "ready-to-roll" form.  You may pay for the download, but you aren't required to pay royalties to the developers.

2.  Menus in the GIMP *are* attached to windows, just as they are in Microsoft Windows.  This is normal behavior on some platforms.  To be honest, it bugs me, because my wife is a Mac user (and Photoshop user), and I can get KDE (you can say "Linux," and it will mean the same thing to you, although it won't be 100% correct, see www.kde.org) to put the toolbar up at the top of the screen, but GIMP and other applications won't cooperate.

3.  The icons are organized (at least in my version of GIMP).  The organization isn't Photoshop's, but it is there:  the first row has selection tools and fourth row has drawing tools.
4.  Some tools do show up more than once, since some users are familiar with that tool being in different places in competing programs.  More often, however, slightly different tools, with similar names, are thrown about.  There is a suggested menu for each new filter or tool, and with the ability to modify the program, there shouldn't be as many inconsistencies as there are.

5.  I don't know why MacGIMP wasn't configured to start in the more common Mac directories.  That isn't a realistic way of supporting a program.

6.  Opening any file from your digital camera (if the file is not first copied to the hard drive) will always take a long time, since it is going through a USB wire that is considerably slower than a hard drive.  I don't think this is GIMP's fault.

7.  There a several tools with a live preview, and nearly all can be undone.  I don't know if previewable tools are in the majority, but there are a good number.

8.  The non-antialiasing problem isn't GIMP, it's X11.  X11, by default, does not support anti-aliasing, although it can be made to.  I'll look into the steps when I have more time.

9.  The help browser feature works in Linux.  When the program was ported to Mac, this should have come along for the ride.  Contact your vendor and put in a feature request, especially since this is a pretty easy task.

(BTW, I am a web designer, and I use GIMP on Linux.  My wife is a print graphic designer, and she uses Photoshop on Mac).

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

Thanks for your comments about the Gimp. You have to realise that it was a culture shock for me.

My review was about MacGimp, I've never seen it running on Linux nor have I ever used Linux - except for remote server administration. So, my attitude is that of a Mac user (since 1984) who has also worked with high end print and video systems.

The digital camera file was already on my hard disk, I don't use USB for anything other than keyboard and mouse. At 17 Meg, it's not a particularly large file, I've worked with 170Meg photocomps - even way back in Photoshop 3 on a Mac 2fx!

As I pointed out, contact with the vendor is fruitless. To distribute a complicated program with no Help system makes no sense.

I don't see the significance of X11 not supporting anti-aliasing. Mac OS didn't support anti-aliasing until recently and the anti-aliasing in Windows is still a joke. Photoshop has given excellent anti-aliasing on both platforms since version 1 regardless of the OS.

I know it's probably not fair comparing Photoshop with MacGimp and that if you run Linux, Photoshop is not an option, but I believe that people use programs, not OSes, and the tail shouldn't wag the dog. If you do graphics for a living, Linux wouldn't be a good choice.

Amake Amake
Posts: 2

I have never used MacGIMP2, but I have to say you have been swindled.  I suggest you give Gimp.app a try.  It is free, has a more Aqua-like interface, and supports native OS X fonts out-of-the-box.  And I'm not sure why exactly you had problems with antialiasing, but it works just fine for me in Gimp.app.  In the text tool, anyway, I have found that turning off Hinting gives better (or at least more Photoshop-looking) antialiased text.

Another tip for you is that depending on your screen you may have to adjust the "Resolution" setting in the preferences.  The default pixel density is set to 75x75 per inch.  On my 12" iBook the true density is 106x106.  If this setting is wrong you might have been seeing some messed up drawing.

Vapula Vapula
Posts: 1

I want to point out some things out of the article about The Gimp

- You don't need to get any commercially packaged version of the Gimp, see http://gimp-app.sourceforge.net/

- The Gimp was at first made for Unix environments. The file selectors are "common" Unix one. Unix also use 3-button mouses with contextual menu on right-button. Mac use 1-button mouses so you can expect to "lose" some of the ease of use.

- The antialiases text support depends on an external font renderer in the X11 environment (font server).

- From your comments, MacGimp seems to be The Gimp 1.x based. But The Gimp 2.x are available now. Among other changes is the menu available both on Right-click (that thing you found so disorienting) and as a standard menu on the canvas window. But there were also many other improvements.

I'm not a graphic designer but I'm used to do some (basic) editing under The Gimp. Once, I had to use Adobe Photoshop and I found it quite dificult to use and sometimes un-intuitive... I guess that when you're used to one way of putting the things together, other ways looks difficult to use...

There are still many facilities that are missing in The Gimp... The slices and "save for web" for example. But it's only a matter of time before it'll be implemented... And The Gimp remains a big archievemnt in Open Source Software (like Linux, Gcc and some "opened projects" like Mozilla, Openoffice and Blender).

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

The MacGimp I reviewed IS version 2. I do have a three button mouse on my Mac.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

amake said:
Another tip for you is that depending on your screen you may have to adjust the "Resolution" setting in the preferences.  The default pixel density is set to 75x75 per inch.  On my 12" iBook the true density is 106x106.  If this setting is wrong you might have been seeing some messed up drawing.


I think you are confusing screen resolution with document resolution. My document resolution is 72 ppi, my screen resolution is 86 ppi. Neither of these factors affect the quality of font rendering only the absolute size of the setting.

Ahzz Ahzz
Posts: 1

May I make a few points here.

First, You are a mac user. You have been trained by years of using the Mac way. Me? I find the Mac methods of menus to be unuseable. My wife (who has never touched anything other than a WinTV system) found Linux and the Gimp to be QUITE logical and useable. Couldn't figure out Photoshop on a friend's machine. Not after an HOUR of messing with it. On the gimp, she was drawing, selecting, and using the plugins within 15 minutes. Both systems were attempted after reading multiple online tutorials.

To give you another perspective... It's about the same as if a person that speaks american english goes to a country where most speak english, but it's been heavilly influenced by their native language and culture. It sounds really really wrong.

The point is, you are used to one method of interfacing with something and you interface with something else that does it a different way because of culture you end up lost and feeling like you are on a diferent planet. It isn't bad design. It's culture shock.

If reporters like you were to stop claiming that their culture shock was "bad design" and "counter intuitive" then we would hear the real story about articles instead of a slam fest.

Remember, X support on a mac is half assed and an after thought. It's going to loose a LOT of functionality when you try to merge it into an incompatible interface method.

My advice: Before you start reviewing programs written with another systems standard of interface, learn that new interface. I mean REALLY learn it. Don't just take a crash course and complain about the differences of the interface system.

Second: The tools are ordered logically, not artisticly. You are anticipating things to be one way based on your familiarity with photoshops methods. Just because another program doens't attempt to clone your program of choice and thus confuses you does not mean it's badly designed.

Third: I can open a 64MB scan in ~ 2 seconds on my machine. I have no idea why your machine is so darn slow. Athlon XP 2000+, 1GB ram, 7200RPM ide drive. Entry level by today's standards.

Fourth: WTF is this "unix's own stupidity" !?!?! That was a cheap shot. As a reviewer you have to either leave out the cheap shots, or explain your conclusion. To me, it's perfectly logical to have the OS own the majority of the filesystems. And to have a single directory tree for the user files. The mac does it the opposite way. The user sees the system as THEIR system and the OS resides in a subset of that. This is yet another example of "difference in culture" that is messing you up. A mac is to a UNIX machien as a vw beetle is to a ford utility truck.

BTW, I still don't use Mac based systems or programs ported from Mac to other systems because the interfaces are so alien and disjointed in MY environment. I hate how the Mac system treats you like you are incapable of choosing from more than 1 to 3 choices at a time. On linux I have COMPLETE control as the master of my workstation. It doesn't try to hide things from me.

my .02 cents and alternative perspective.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

Thank you for sharing Ahzz.

Amake Amake
Posts: 2

Forum said:
I think you are confusing screen resolution with document resolution. My document resolution is 72 ppi, my screen resolution is 86 ppi. Neither of these factors affect the quality of font rendering only the absolute size of the setting.

This is neither the document resolution nor the physical resolution of your screen that I am talking about.  This is what GIMP thinks the physical resolution of your screen is.  To be honest, I don't know exactly how this setting is used by GIMP, but I can tell you that things looked weird on my machine until I corrected it.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

The Gimp allows you to set the document resolution, as does most other graphics programs. The screen resolution is immaterial, a pixel is pixel, between one and four bytes of video memory that translate into a coloured dot on your screen. The dot pitch of the monitor determines how big that pixel is. This has nothing at all to do with image quality, only size.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Forum said:
The digital camera file was already on my hard disk, I don't use USB for anything other than keyboard and mouse. At 17 Meg, it's not a particularly large file, I've worked with 170Meg photocomps - even way back in Photoshop 3 on a Mac 2fx!


That's interesting, since as a programmer I can't think of any reason one application could open a file faster than another.  There are cases where applications will open themselves faster, due to certain tricks, but reads from the hard drive and writes into memory should take the same time no matter who asked for the reads and writes.  Those tasks are handled by the operating system.

Then again, I haven't ever read GIMP code, and getting data from memory and to the screen may take some calculations, and those calculations may be optimizable if you write for a particular platform.  There are other things (such as how the memory is accessed) that could slow the computer down some, but I wouldn't expect it to be noticeable.  However, the rule for programmers (even open source programmers) is don't make assumptions about performance, prove it.  This is an area that needs work.

Forum said:
As I pointed out, contact with the vendor is fruitless. To distribute a complicated program with no Help system makes no sense.


I said that, because the other response is "fix it yourself, you have (or can get) the source."  Of course, that  only works when talking with programmers (and not always then, see http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/luxury-part-deux.html).

So, yes, you found a bad vendor, and there are many others out there.  This may be an area where an open source Mr. Dell could make a fortune.

Forum said:
I don't see the significance of X11 not supporting anti-aliasing. Mac OS didn't support anti-aliasing until recently and the anti-aliasing in Windows is still a joke. Photoshop has given excellent anti-aliasing on both platforms since version 1 regardless of the OS.


That's true (although I was unaware of this until you pointed it out).  The answer, BTW, is to include FreeType, which makes true type fonts available, but also anti-aliases text.  GIMP could include FreeType by default, and thus would have antialiasing available on all platforms (since GIMP does require X11, and FreeType works with X11).

Forum said:
I know it's probably not fair comparing Photoshop with MacGimp and that if you run Linux, Photoshop is not an option, but I believe that people use programs, not OSes, and the tail shouldn't wag the dog. If you do graphics for a living, Linux wouldn't be a good choice.


Actually, it turns out that Photoshop can be made to run on Linux, under emulation.  This is also something I didn't know before reading this article.

Forum said:
My review was about MacGimp, I've never seen it running on Linux nor have I ever used Linux - except for remote server administration. So, my attitude is that of a Mac user (since 1984) who has also worked with high end print and video systems.


Well, I had originally planned to defend GIMP, but rereading both this post and my original post, I realize that I'm only making excuses for GIMP.  I had once thought that a good users manual could bring GIMP to the masses of people who now have video cameras and want something better than Photoshop Elements.  Now that I can see the entrenched problems a little more clearly (again, see "The Luxury of Ignorance," above), I can see where some work can be done.  I hope I can make a name for myself doing that work, but I'm sure it will go to somebody else.

Eugenia Eugenia
Posts: 2

>That's interesting, since as a programmer I can't think of any reason one application could open a file faster than another.

MLybbert, my husband and I just did a test. We opened the same 660 MB TIFF file with gimp-app and PS CS. Joe was right, TheGimp is not only slower to read from the disk, we had to wait a much longer time to decode the file, and if that was not enough, if you resize that window that holds the picture, you have to WAIT for gimp about 10 seconds to place the picture in the center of the resized window -- no, I am not even talking about resizing the picture, I am just talking abour re-placing it on the center of its  window (this is fast dual G4 2x1.25 GHz with 2 GBs of RAM). Trust me, the Gimp IS slow and it didn't even read all the data out of the TIFF because gimp doesn't support 16bit per channel. Additionally, PS CS had only 120 MBs of RAM available to it as we had another image open at the time with PS, and so it was swapping (PS can only use ~1.1 GBs of RAM on Macs, even if you have 2 GBs of RAM, because of the way OSX works). Even under these conditions, PS was much faster and it could "fit on screen" or resize almost instantly. The Gimp on the other hand, was a DISASTER.

>That's interesting, since as a programmer I can't think of any reason one application could open a file faster than another.

Nobody wants to run Photoshop under the buggy WINE or under VMWare. PS is a pro tool, every bit of memory and CPU time is needed. Running PS non-natively is a lost cause.

> a good users manual could bring GIMP to the >masses of people who now have video cameras >and want something better than Photoshop Elements.  

PS Elements doesn't have a lot of the PS features, like the healing brush or 16bit support, but it is still a MUCH better app than The Gimp is.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

I don't see how MacGimp (or any other version) could possibly run as effortlessly as Photoshop. Photoshop has a number of major advantages...

a. It is written as a native MacOS application and optimised right down to Altivec level. It doesn't have to sit on top of a 'windowing' system that was never designed for the task and who knows how many other levels of intervening strata.

b. it has the substantial experience and resources of Adobe, Inc behind it. No program is just code any more than a movie is just a sequence of pictures. Sadly, there aren't many Ridley Scotts and Thomas Knolls in this world and people like that don't come cheap.

c. A program is not just an engineering job, it is a product that has to be directed, produced and marketed. It has to be crafted at many levels and then tested with the target audience and the results of that testing fed back into the mix. It costs money to do that but who is going to pay for it when there's no revenue base?

Enthusiasm alone has it's limits.

Temsa Temsa
Posts: 3

Forum said:
I don't see how MacGimp (or any other version) could possibly run as effortlessly as Photoshop. Photoshop has a number of major advantages...


ok... on Mac

Forum said:


a. It is written as a native MacOS application and optimised right down to Altivec level. It doesn't have to sit on top of a 'windowing' system that was never designed for the task and who knows how many other levels of intervening strata.


YOU have a windowing system, as there is one (or more) under Unices and Windows System.

PS sit on top of your windowing system... but it's not the same as the gimp original unix one, that's all (the Gimp windows' version, contrary to the mac one, sit on top of the window managing system, and not the unix one)

Forum said:


b. it has the substantial experience and resources of Adobe, Inc behind it. No program is just code any more than a movie is just a sequence of pictures. Sadly, there aren't many Ridley Scotts and Thomas Knolls in this world and people like that don't come cheap.


The Gimp has substantial experience and resources of the whole earth planet.

There are more Ridley Scotts and Thomas Knolls in this world than you believe... They just don't pass on TV, this is the main difference.

The Gimp is not cheap, it's free. You don't understand what it means! Everyone can help improving it, not just a *small* (comparing to the whole world) company like Adobe.


c. A program is not just an engineering job, it is a product that has to be directed, produced and marketed. It has to be crafted at many levels and then tested with the target audience and the results of that testing fed back into the mix. It costs money to do that but who is going to pay for it when there's no revenue base?

The Gimp is directed, and produced by the Gimp developper team(thousands of programmers). What's the need for a product to be marketed? Could you explain it to me?

Why do you think tehere is a developper version of the gimp? Don't youy think it's for alpha&besting testing?

If you find a bug, just put it on the bugzilla (Gimp.org>bug)

Enthusiasm alone has it's limits.

With Gimp, you're never alone

Baxter Baxter
Posts: 157

Yeesh. Lot of vociferous Gimp fans. I wonder..
How long would it take a Gimp user to compile a list of "10 things that really bug me about this program I use all the time"
How long would it take a photoshop (or fireworks) user to compile the same list.

Who's the more realistic user. I see a lot of explaining and apologiizing for the Gimps shortcomings, both perceived and real.

I don't think the explanations or apologies are necessary.  The Gimp could could be a viable addition to the toolkit, and may even be all the graphics program many people need. The price is certainly right.

But it's not  professional-grade. Not yet, anyway. That's not a slam on it. It's a young product, it has tons of potential.

I think the biggest obstacle it has to overcome is that which faces nearly all open-source software: a lack of a clear interface/usability vision. Most geeks don't really understand the human factor, and really don't care. Even the ones who do care can only do so much. But that's really another topic.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

I think the biggest obstacle it has to overcome is that which faces nearly all open-source software: a lack of a clear interface/usability vision. Most geeks don't really understand the human factor, and really don't care. Even the ones who do care can only do so much. But that's really another topic.

Yes, there is some really good open source software. Mozilla/Firefox are prime examples of how things should be done. Nobody has to make excuses for those at all, they are bleeding edge and have the 'right' interface no matter what platform you use.

Vladimir Vladimir
Posts: 53

Forum said:

Yes, there is some really good open source software. Mozilla/Firefox are prime examples of how things should be done. Nobody has to make excuses for those at all, they are bleeding edge and have the 'right' interface no matter what platform you use.


Yes, I agree. They actually give you both sides of the coin. You can install extensions and use them to configure the settings you want, or you can open some text files and change what you like.

When I started to develop PHP/MySQL on my own computer, I downloaded PHP, MySQL, and Apache. I wondered, how on earth was I supposed to make them work together so I could test them in Dreamweaver or some other program?? Took me days of searching the MySQL 'manual', which in fact was a single HTML file that was 3,395 KB large...hmmm..... It also took a while copying and pasting commands into text files for Apache so that the PHP module can be added... But the worst thing was I didn't even understand how they all could be connected/used together. I know PHP is the module that helps Apache process PHP files, and I know Apache is the HTTP server, and MySQL the database...but there was no user interface to combine them together into one usable package that I could understand. All these commands and folders of hundreds of files on my C drive..no EXE file...bloated help files...confused me even more. It finally took me a book on Dreamweaver to how to view and publish files on the server....by that time I had already figured it out......costly.

What I'm saying is, there is no need for such complexity. I'm sure most developers won't need to change all those fancy settings but rather just get down to work on their actual web applications. Help files are hardly of any use...they are overly technical. MySQL should come packaged with a user interface (such as phpmyadmin) rather than forcing the user to use DOS while instructing the user how to do that with an enormous HTML file that is impossible to navigate through... You get the idea

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Just a quick by the way:

Vapula said:
There are still many facilities that are missing in The Gimp... The slices and "save for web" for example. But it's only a matter of time before it'll be implemented...


I don't know what the "save for web" feature is, but I'm sure it's trivial (I'm guessing it's either saving to a webserver--which can be implementd using GIMP's plug-in feature--or limiting yourself to the "web-safe palette"--which is no longer relevant).

However, if by "slices" you mean the ability to have your image editor cut the picture up into something that can be placed into an HTML-generated table (put on a webpage), then not only is this implemented, it is one feature I'm aware of that was implemented in GIMP first.  How do I know?  Because the last time I looked at Photoshop, the box bragged about adding this function to the product, and it had existed in GIMP for some time.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Eugenia said:
>That's interesting, since as a programmer I can't think of any reason one application could open a file faster than another.

/* MLybbert, my husband and I just did a test. We opened the same 660 MB TIFF file with gimp-app and PS CS. Joe was right, TheGimp is not only slower to read from the disk, we had to wait a much longer time to decode the file,
*/


It's nice to have a test case.  Again, I can't think of why this is, but it is intriguing.

Eugenia said:
and if that was not enough, if you resize that window that holds the picture, you have to WAIT for gimp about 10 seconds to place the picture in the center of the resized window -- no, I am not even talking about resizing the picture, I am just talking abour re-placing it on the center of its  window (this is fast dual G4 2x1.25 GHz with 2 GBs of RAM).


This is also interesting.  I have a 3 megapixel digital camera, that takes 1 MB JPEGs, so I haven't run into this.  I'll need to take a look at the code and see what's up.

Eugenia said:
Nobody wants to run Photoshop under the buggy WINE or under VMWare. PS is a pro tool, every bit of memory and CPU time is needed. Running PS non-natively is a lost cause.


I didn't say that anybody wouldwant to run Photoshop on WINE, but one post related to this article (on slashdot.org) came from somebody who does.  I can't figure it out, but my remark was just that it is possible, but I agree, it isn't desirable.

Eugenia said:
> a good users manual could bring GIMP to the >masses of people who now have video cameras >and want something better than Photoshop Elements.  

PS Elements doesn't have a lot of the PS features, like the healing brush or 16bit support, but it is still a MUCH better app than The Gimp is.



Well, IMO, that depends on what you plan on doing.  My vision was to write a "GIMP for Amature Geneologists" manual, because (1) my mother is an amature geneologist (that is, her hobby is keeping track of the family tree), and she exhibits the same drive to keep at a problem 'till it's figured out that a programmer does, and as such I think she'd overlook the steep initial learning curve, (2) in my experience, amature geneologists are the kinds of people who would love GIMP's unnecessarily large number of filters (and not just the "age this photo" one either), and (3) these guys spring for a digital camera to record history as it happens, and the included software usually can't get rid of red-eye (again, my personal camera).

For this market (amature geneologist), the healing brush would be essential.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

OK, this is more of what I'm used to responding to:

Forum said:
I don't see how MacGimp (or any other version) could possibly run as effortlessly as Photoshop. Photoshop has a number of major advantages...

a. It is written as a native MacOS application and optimised right down to Altivec level. It doesn't have to sit on top of a 'windowing' system that was never designed for the task and who knows how many other levels of intervening strata.


This is funny (not in the "ha ha" sense, but not really even in the wierd sense).  GIMP started out as a UC Berkely class project because the other project the students were working on ran into unexpected difficulties.  Since the class was about programming on UNIX computers, and the main choice for windowing on UNIX is X11, the choice was made.  After the grades came in, the original developers dropped it.

Later others, including Miguel de Icaza of Mono fame, took the baton and began really developing GIMP.  The funny part is that a portion of GIMP became useful for other projects, and took on the name GTK (for GIMP Toolkit, GIMP, BTW means GNU Image Manipulation Program, which is why I capitalize it).  GTK (www.gtk.org) provides most of what an average programmer needs in order to write a graphical application, and is used in most GNOME (www.gnome.org) programs.

X11 uses the old "Postscript fonts for printing, bitmapped fonts for display" model that Apple teamed up with Microsoft to abandon.  Apple and Microsoft created True Type fonts, which are easier to antialias.  Anybody out there who uses Quark XPress should be used to dealing with crappy-looking bitmapped fonts on the screen and high-quality Postscript fonts when printing.

Unfortunately, GIMP uses the bitmapped font for both screen and printing (actually, once you put in the text, it's a picture, not a font or string of text).  If you plug in FreeType, your True Type fonts will be antialiased, and GIMP will not have this crappy font problem.  Most new versions of Linux come with FreeType, but this is an issue that needs adressing on the Mac platform.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Forum said:
b. it has the substantial experience and resources of Adobe, Inc behind it. No program is just code any more than a movie is just a sequence of pictures. Sadly, there aren't many Ridley Scotts and Thomas Knolls in this world and people like that don't come cheap.


It doesn't take a whole lot to write a useable application anymore.  Microsoft proved that with VisualBasic.  BASIC is about the worst language to use to write any complex software, because the programmer has to keep track of mountains of details, but handling graphics and windows used to be outside of the normal programmer's reach.  VisualBasic handles the graphics and windows for programmers, who are then free to develop buggy software in BASIC.

There is a development kit out there (Glade) that uses GTK to write programs that can run on anything GIMP runs on.  It handles the graphics and windows.  Glade supports languages that are much easier to write decent-sized applications in than BASIC.

I consider myself a programmer, but I'm really just a second-year computer science student.  However, there are only a few programs I run across and really have no idea how they work.  GIMP is nothing more than a large table that says "paint row 1, column 1 green, ..."  Even antialiasing isn't a secret.

GTK, BTW, is the reason GIMP's menus are attached to windows.  On other platforms that is the normal place for menus, and making a change for a single platform often comes back to haunt the programmer.  For instance, since many contributors assume each window can have their own menu, the article pointed out that more than one window does have a menu.  How would that be handled under the normal Mac way?  Perhaps the menu at the top could change each time a new window was clicked on ("I can't find menu item XXX."/"Which window did you click on last?".

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Forum said:
c. A program is not just an engineering job, it is a product that has to be directed, produced and marketed. It has to be crafted at many levels and then tested with the target audience and the results of that testing fed back into the mix. It costs money to do that but who is going to pay for it when there's no revenue base?

Enthusiasm alone has it's limits.


This is the standard attitude many people have.  It's understandable because software companies have told us for ages that software can only be built by trained professionals with lots of money.  However, consider that while open source is a new (i.e. 199 term, the ideas of open source reach back into the earliest history of programming.  Once upon a time (i.e. pre-197 computer programs couldn't be copyrighted or patented.  Back then companies relied on trade secrets to protect their crown jewels; but, publishing research papers that gave away other secrets was a way to show the company's ability.  For instance, in the early 1970s, AT&T was under court order to not sell software, so it gave away early versions of UNIX.  Ken Thompson (one of the two programmers who created UNIX) even taught programming at UC Berkely using UNIX code.

After a while, though, UNIX code was pretty much locked up.  Companies like IBM, HP and Sun paid a lot of money to AT&T to write their own versions.  In the mid-'90s, a group of researchers compared these different versions of UNIX with each other, and found they stacked up to pretty much the same thing, which isn't surprising, they were built on the same foundation.  Just for kicks, this team tested Linux, probably expecting it to crash and burn.  Instead, Linux beat the others hands down, which is why open source became attached to security and reliability (see "the Cathedral and the Bazaar" at www.catb.org/~esr for more).

The reason is simple:  some UNIX code dates back to 1969, while the oldest Linux code dates back to 1991 (1984 if you define "Linux code" just right).  By itself, this isn't a big deal (especially since Linux uses techniques that date back to 1969).  But many companies consider software complex like a cathedral ("Cathedral and the Bazaar" or a pyramid (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs--http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/sicp.html), while open source culture considers software complex like a bazaar or an organism (same sources).

Read up on how Microsoft describes Windows.  Really, I've read Steve Balmer say "it's a feat of engineering we can make such a large program work at all, let alone work so well."  That's a cathedral, or a pyramid, if I've ever seen it.  And Linus Torvalds?  Well, see http://kerneltrap.org/node.php?id=11 for an idea.

Building on a foundation that dates back to 1969 is a classic cathedral attitude.  Being willing to throw out large chunks of code when a better model comes along (like driver interfaces in Linux 2.6) is a classis bazaar attitude.  Use whichever one you wish, but the evidence (above) suggests the bazaar/organism model makes for more solid engineering.

However, as you said "A program is not just an engineering job, it is a product that has to be directed, produced and marketed."  Well, I'm not sure about "directed," but yes, it does have to be produced (which GIMP is), and marketed, which is where an open source Mr. Dell (maybe www.lindows.com) would come in handy.  Back to Torvalds: "This is what I meant by inbreeding, and the problem that UNIX traditionally had with companies going for one niche.  (Linux companies also tend to aim for a niche, but they tend to aim for _different_ niches, so the end result is the very 'many different directions' that I think is what you _want_ to have to survive)."  In other words, having several companies market GIMP in several ways may not be a bad thing for GIMP.

"It has to be crafted at many levels and then tested with the target audience and the results of that testing fed back into the mix."

That is why open source projects work so hard to get users and feedback.  Where Eric Raymond says "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow," Mozilla says "given enough users, all feature needs are obvious."  However, yes, there's a current lack of talent in this area, and some projects have very stringent guidelines for submitting feedback.  There's no excuse for this cluelessness (Apple, for instance, has a manual about good UI design available at http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/OSXHIGuidelines/).

However, this discussion has given me something to look into.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

And finally: "It costs money to do that but who is going to pay for it when there's no revenue base?  Enthusiasm alone has it's limits."

You probably hate hearing it, but Red Hat is worth 1.5 billion dollars.  Novell isn't a tiny company either, and both IBM and HP made over a billion dollars (each) on Linux last year as well.  There's revenue out there.  But, for another way to look at it, consider http://people.mech.kuleuven.ac.be/~bruyninc/linux/economy-oss.html, especially "Most Open Source programmers would probably not write software and give it away if it cost them something to do so. However, they don't perceive the effort of writing it to be a cost. ... Economics purists would point out that there is indeed a cost to giving away the software -- the opportunity cost of not selling the software instead. However, for many programmers, the process of selling their software is more trouble than it is worth, so the effective opportunity cost is actually zero."

For many programmers, competing with the big boys' marketing teams, like Microsoft or Adobe, just isn't fun.  They like to write software anyway, and as such they are perfectly willing to do so and give it away.  A Mr. Dell-minded person can then pick up that code, dust it off, and start out much closer to opening a viable business than otherwise.

And that is exactly the part of the chain where these big companies make money off open source software.  In fact, GIMP is very well-known for selling CDs (didn't the reporter compain about paying for "free" software?).

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Vladimir said:
When I started to develop PHP/MySQL on my own computer, I downloaded PHP, MySQL, and Apache. I wondered, how on earth was I supposed to make them work together so I could test them in Dreamweaver or some other program?


I know how to make them work together, though I've never seen a need to test them in Dreamweaver.  If you'd like some help, I'll give you what I can.

Vladimir said:
Took me days of searching the MySQL 'manual', which in fact was a single HTML file that was 3,395 KB large...hmmm.....


LOL.  Sorry.  That HTML file wasn't the real manual.  That file was generated from the real manual, which was written in XML so it could easily be turned into a PDF file and printed in a real book.  If you'd like that book, I could probably tell you where to go find it.

Vladimir said:
It also took a while copying and pasting commands into text files for Apache so that the PHP module can be added... But the worst thing was I didn't even understand how they all could be connected/used together.


Dealing with Apache and PHP on this level is usually something your system administrator does for you.  In other words, usually you rent space on a server, and the guys you pay take care of this part.  That's why it's not an easy "click here" task.  Those companies are expected to know a little more than the average Joe about some topics (like the network stack)

Vladimir said:
I know PHP is the module that helps Apache process PHP files, and I know Apache is the HTTP server, and MySQL the database...but there was no user interface to combine them together into one usable package that I could understand.


That's because they aren't there for that.  PHP and Apache work together through the Common Gateway Interface (yes, that CGI), which is nothing more than a way for webservers to work with modules.  That interface is taken care of for you, and that's the promise PHP and Apache make.  PHP and Apache don't promise to give you a nice slick program to write your webpages easily, you'd have to look at something like Dreamweaver for that.

BTW, if you can't think of any other way to do it, draw up a mock-up static HTML page in Dreamweaver, with text like "body text goes here" or "site menu item 1," then edit the file by hand to replace that text with PHP code that will generate those items.

Vladimir said:
All these commands and folders of hundreds of files on my C drive..no EXE file...bloated help files...confused me even more. It finally took me a book on Dreamweaver to how to view and publish files on the server....by that time I had already figured it out......costly.


And you would have preferred it if the guys who wrote Apache and PHP had included Dreamweaver's manual with their software?  How would they know you wanted to use reamweaver and not something else?  They solved the problem by being compantible with HTML files, and it's up to you to find a tool compatible with HTML as well, be it Dreamweaver, Composer, or your own brain.

There's a very simple division of labor:  Apache makes the connection with the other computer, PHP asks MySQL for information, and expands that information into HTML fields, and you (via Dreamweaver, or your own skill) put that HTML together to form a web page.  PHP's manual covers the "how to ask MySQL" and the "how to expand MySQL's answer into HTML" because that's exactly PHP's job.

In other words, PHP does the job it was meant to do.  I'm sorry you thought it did a larger job.

Vladimir said:
What I'm saying is, there is no need for such complexity. I'm sure most developers won't need to change all those fancy settings but rather just get down to work on their actual web applications.


True, but most users won't ever see those settings.  That's what the system administrator does.  Remember, when you send your check in each month to rent server space, you're also paying for this.  If you choose to run your own server at home, then you should realize system admins make money for a reason.

Vladimir said:
Help files are hardly of any use...they are overly technical. MySQL should come packaged with a user interface (such as phpmyadmin) rather than forcing the user to use DOS while instructing the user how to do that with an enormous HTML file that is impossible to navigate through... You get the idea


Well, that might be a problem, since many web servers don't have the ability to draw graphics on their screens (although they can send pictures down the pipeline to your computer).  When Microsoft bought Hotmail, for instance, none of Hotmail's machines had that kind of software installed since it would just waste space.  Most sysadmins actually prefer using the command line for various reasons, such as it is pretty much identical no matter which version of the OS you're using.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Vladimir said:
When I started to develop PHP/MySQL on my own computer, I downloaded PHP, MySQL, and Apache. ... (long complaint I already replied to) ... Help files are hardly of any use...they are overly technical. MySQL should come packaged with a user interface (such as phpmyadmin) rather than forcing the user to use DOS while instructing the user how to do that with an enormous HTML file that is impossible to navigate through... You get the idea


It is well-established that Help manuals should be about finishing a task, not about programs.  You would have been a good customer for a book with a title like "Publishing Dynamic, Database-driven Web Pages" and covering the task of publishing a web page, which would cover MySQL, PHP and Apache as far as publishing dynamic, databse-driven websites goes, instead of leaving you to figure it out by reading manuals about each of those programs in isolation.  That, BTW, is why the Linux Documentation Project (www.tldp.org) has documents called HOWTOs.

Guymac Guymac
Posts: 1

Your bias seems to be that 'open source' translate into 'not ready for prime time'. For one, who compiles anything anymore? All free software distributions have excellent package management. For instance, in the one I use (Mandrake Linux), to install Gimp I'd just click the checkbox next to it's name, click install and it will install a pre-compiled binary, handle all dependencies and initial configuration. I believe in OS X you have something called Fink which does the same thing.

For two, there are many excellent free software or open source packages. After all, the core of OS X is itself open source (Darwin). 'Open source' means you are free to redistribute it to whomever you please, including your own modifications (if any). 'Free software' means there is a mechanism for this freedom to be preserved.

Finally, it's been a long time since I've used Photoshop (version 2.5 on Solaris), but the Gimp is very very similar, down to the multiple undocked windows, etc.

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

Your bias seems to be that 'open source' translate into 'not ready for prime time'.


No, that is not the same as 'ready to eat' - which was the metaphor I used.


For one, who compiles anything anymore? All free software distributions have excellent package management. For instance, in the one I use (Mandrake Linux), to install Gimp I'd just click the checkbox next to it's name, click install and it will install a pre-compiled binary, handle all dependencies and initial configuration. I believe in OS X you have something called Fink which does the same thing.


Well, I don't know what pre-compiled binaries, dependencies or intitial configurations are. Is that like a chicken receipe book? Why can't you understand that all computer users are not programmers and don't want to be programmers. - just the same way that programmers don't want to be hardware engineers!


For two, there are many excellent free software or open source packages. After all, the core of OS X is itself open source (Darwin). 'Open source' means you are free to redistribute it to whomever you please, including your own modifications (if any). 'Free software' means there is a mechanism for this freedom to be preserved.


MacOSX certainly isn't free, nor would I expect it to be. Mozilla is free, but I can download it and drag it into my applications folder and use it right away. So, I'm not biased against open source, just open source aimed at people who know what 'pre-compiled binary' means.


Finally, it's been a long time since I've used Photoshop (version 2.5 on Solaris), but the Gimp is very very similar, down to the multiple undocked windows, etc.


Photoshop 2.5 on Solaris? What's Solaris? I've used PaintBox on Quantel but it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds so I'm not likely to buy one. It has one monitor that is all menus - gesture driven - and another monitor with the image.

I prefer Photoshop and my Wacom Cintique because I can draw straight onto the monitor as if it was paper. When you are drawing, the more transparent the technology the better. Pencil on paper is the most immediate but Photoshop (or Painter) gets as close as possible using a computer. I'd rather that the computer part would disappear completely and just leave 'virtual' pencil and paper.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

First, let me note that I recognize the title "Web Page Design for Designers makes it very clear who the audience is.  As I conceded in an earlier post, there are definite problems in the version of GIMP that was reviewed, and I am grateful that the reviewer actually explained and identified those problems well, so that work can start on getting rid of them.

My last several posts weren't meant to hush anyone up; they were more along the lines of defending the choice to develop according to the open source way.  It makes sense to me.  The problems with the version of GIMP we are talking about aren't somehow isolated to open source, and (in my opinion) are not necessarily a permanent plague.  However, it doesn't do any good to pretend they don't exist, or that GIMP users must try harder.

Forum said:
Well, I don't know what pre-compiled binaries, dependencies or intitial configurations are. Is that like a chicken receipe book? Why can't you understand that all computer users are not programmers and don't want to be programmers. - just the same way that programmers don't want to be hardware engineers!


Again, I recognize the audience for this article isn't computer science students.  My wife, a graphic designer, makes this point sometimes.  However, she knows the terms "resource fork," "rebuild the desktop," and "XTension."  I would bet that most of the Mac-using audience knows those terms as well.

I, by the way, know the terms "Pantone," "CMYK," "HSI," "RGB," "trapping," and "stripping."  I also know that (in the US, anyway) "font" is different than "typeface" and 1 inch is a little more than 72 points.

People are sometimes willing to learn things outside their area of expertise.  Over time, those issues stop seeming alien to the job.

However, so you know, "pre-compiled binary" is a UNIX term for "ready to run" software, i.e., not pure source code.  The version of GIMP reviewed was a pre-compiled binary.  The problem wasn't the package format (i.e., source or compiled), but that the compilation wasn't properly adjusted to the OS X environement, and that the promised support sucked eggs.

Dependencies and initial configurations are just what they  sound like.  Quark XTensions depend on Quark XPress being available on the computer, so Quark XPress is a dependenciy for Quark XTensions.  X11 is a dependency for GIMP.  The initial configuration is the configuration the software has before you muck with it.


Forum said:
Photoshop 2.5 on Solaris? What's Solaris?


Sun's version of UNIX.


Forum said:
I've used PaintBox on Quantel but it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds so I'm not likely to buy one. It has one monitor that is all menus - gesture driven - and another monitor with the image.


There are some people out there who might choose GIMP over Photoshop for very similar reasons.  GIMP supports RGB and HSI color models, but not CMYK (at least not the version I have).  GIMP, therefore, is not suitable for print work.  Somebody, who is not used to the Photoshop interface, working on a small family website may choose to get the much cheaper GIMP and a book (such as those listed at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/102-3745794-2641701).

Forum said:
I prefer Photoshop and my Wacom Cintique because I can draw straight onto the monitor as if it was paper. When you are drawing, the more transparent the technology the better. Pencil on paper is the most immediate but Photoshop (or Painter) gets as close as possible using a computer. I'd rather that the computer part would disappear completely and just leave 'virtual' pencil and paper.


I have a nice tablet for our new Macintosh, but we've not had any reason to use it yet.  Since we don't have GIMP installed on the Mac, and the tablet isn't PC-compatible, I don't know what kind of support GIMP has for tablets.

In the end, you may be surprised to know that open source software has a very strong foothold among some designers.  Everybody who touched the movie Sinbad, for instance, used a Linux computer.  Not just the renderers, but also the designers, animators, illustrators, and others.  They handled the retraining just fine.  (Please note, I am not saying "resistance is futile," I am saying "designers can do this too, it's not an impossible tak."

Joe Gillespie Joe Gillespie
Posts: 528

In the end, you may be surprised to know that open source software has a very strong foothold among some designers.  Everybody who touched the movie Sinbad, for instance, used a Linux computer.  Not just the renderers, but also the designers, animators, illustrators, and others.  They handled the retraining just fine.  (Please note, I am not saying "resistance is futile," I am saying "designers can do this too, it's not an impossible tak."


I don't know about 'Sinbad'. Last time round, it was Ray Harryhausen but 'special effects' have come a long way since then. Cheesy special effects had a certain charm but then you get films where the special effects are the heros - and that's wrong!

If you look at what computers are being used for television and movies you will find that different companies prefer different setups. Pixar has just changed to Macs (no big surprise, thanks to Mr Jobs!). Many companies use Windows, some use UNIX boxes of some sort or another. There is no *right* answer. In the end, there is a job that has to be done, a budget, a timescale and many other factors that influence the choice.

I'ts exactly the same with the web. I don't give a hoot what operating system or even software is use for a site. When I interview a designer for a job, the only thing that matters is a portfolio that showcases their talent. If they can stun me with work done on an etch-a-sketch, that's all that matters. The 'mechanics' are the easy bits and only a means to an end.

Calande Calande
Posts: 1

I tried to use the GIMP on Linux, I read the doc, I tried to do a real good job, but I just can't do what I've done on Photoshop. Plus, the design looks bad. The organization of the program (no main window that occupies the whole screen) puzzles me a lot too. I went back to Photoshop CS, and put the GIMP aside for now.

Mlybbert Mlybbert
Posts: 12

Translation:

"The GIMP designers can't read my mind."

Let me try:

I'm a GIMP user.  My wife wanted me to clean up some old photos we scanned in, and since the scanner isa ttached to her Mac, I tried using Photoshop on Mac to do the job.  We have a couple of "How to do things in Photoshop" books, and I read them, but I couldn't find several of the tools I was used to.  Specifically, I took a good amount of time finding the unsharp mask tool, while I know where to look in GIMP for the same thing.

Conclusion A:  Photoshop is poorly designed.

--or--

Conclusion B:  Adobe didn't ask the GIMP developers where they would put tools, and so things aren't identical.

Continuing:

Plus, the design makes me want to vomit.  I mean, why cover the whole screen with a huge window?  Is that some subliminal message that Photoshop must have my complete attention, and will suck up my life an hour at a time because *I* am not familiar with it as a beginner?  Really, people, minimal design.  A window just large enough to hold my tools, and a window just large enough to hold my picture please.  If I need more for a particular task, I'll ask the program for another window, which I'll close when I want to.

Conclusion A:  Adobe designers are arrogant, and probably don't bathe either.

--or--

Conclusion B:  Design decisions must be made based on the audience.  There are several wrong decisions, but few 100% right ones.  Usually differing ideas need to be tried; some of those ideas may be 90% what one group of users need, and only meet 30% of another group's needs.

You decide.

Zero0w Zero0w
Posts: 5

calande said:
I tried to use the GIMP on Linux, I read the doc, I tried to do a real good job, but I just can't do what I've done on Photoshop. Plus, the design looks bad. The organization of the program (no main window that occupies the whole screen) puzzles me a lot too. I went back to Photoshop CS, and put the GIMP aside for now.


Make sure you check out GIMP 2.0 and change to Photoshop hotkey if required.

Sabri Dino Sabri Dino
Posts: 45

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