Friday, September 4, 2009

Reactions on GIMP 2.7.0

A couple of weeks back we took one important step closer to a GIMP 2.8 release by releasing GIMP 2.7.0. One of the enjoyments of contributing to a project like GIMP is that a lot of people is affected by your work and you get immediate feedback on what you do.

GIMP 2.7.0 was mildly received, which is understandable since none of they highly requested features were implemented. A lot of people over at Digg are disappointed about us not doing a single-window mode for 2.8. But again, that will come in 2.10. Then there's the usual stuff about requests for non-destructiveness and higher bit depths, which is also scheduled for 2.10. And as usual, most people are pretty clueless. I was happy to found one guy that knew what he was talking about, drag.
Update: Just to avoid confusion: after this post was made there was a change in plans and the addition of a single-window mode is now planned and in progress for 2.8.

A lot of people over at want the old save and "export" mechanism back. The conclusion to draw from that is that they are not part of the user group we are targeting. We are not trying to make GIMP into an excellent JPEG touchup application, we are making GIMP into a high-end photo manipulation application where most of the work is done in XCF.
Update: Based on this poll it seems this was just a matter of a vocal minority. I would also like to clarify that "they" were referring to this vocal minority, not as a site which I really like.

The reactions over at GimpTalk are much nicer. Not any complaints, just comments on the release. GimpTalk just became my favourite GIMP community!


At September 5, 2009 at 8:59 PM , Blogger abc said...

People are talking crap... GIMP is getting better ,Guys!
Why people aren't happy that you guys work on GIMP?

At September 6, 2009 at 3:00 AM , Anonymous Pigeon said...

People are not happy because the developers are determined to go their own sweet way while refusing to listen to the people who are not happy.

I can't believe the sheer arrogant ignorance of this comment:

"A lot of people over at want the old save and "export" mechanism back. The conclusion to draw from that is that they are not part of the user group we are targeting...The reactions over at GimpTalk are much nicer. Not any complaints, just comments on the release. GimpTalk just became my favourite GIMP community!"

Or in other words: "If we don't like what you're saying we will ignore you because you're not in the Party, and only listen to the people whose comments we do like".

Well, Soviet Russia was run along those lines and it didn't work out. Let us hope that the same fate befalls those in charge of GIMP development.

And just what the heck is this? "And as usual, most people are pretty clueless"? No, sunshine, we DO NOT AGREE. We are not "clueless" at all. We know what we want, and you are taking it away from us and then insulting us when we complain.

At this rate I am going to have to spend more time hacking each new GIMP release to remove all the pointless awkwardnesses and put it back to a usable condition than I will spend actually using it.

The save/export "distinction" is purely artificial and does nothing but get in the way. There is no such thing as "export". There is only "save", in whatever file format is appropriate.

Having an empty window floating around the screen for no reason at all when I don't have an image open is simply pointless and stupid.

Cramming everything into a single window is *really* stupid. What are people who don't have a six-foot monitor supposed to do?

Why is none of this stuff *configurable*? The menu and windowing structure should be defined in an XML file which is read at startup, so it can be set to what the *users want*, rather than what the developers see fit to force down our throats. It should *not* be hard-coded into the program.

Up until now GIMP has been a useful application. But in the future it appears that potentially useful improvements in the core functionality will be counterbalanced by pointless awkwardnesses being placed in the way of actually using that functionality, because the developers are so in love with their silly ideas about the UI that they refuse to provide us with the facility to switch those ideas off.

At September 6, 2009 at 7:47 AM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

Hi Pigeon and thanks for the feedback. I might be entering deep water here, but allow me to retort.

First of all, are you familiar with interaction design methodologies? I am by no means an expert, but your idea that everyone can be pleased is simply not true. I would suggest you read a book on interaction design. Personally I found "About Face 3" by Alan Cooper a nice book on the subject, it was in many ways an eye-opener to me.

The "no complaints is good" comment was partly intended as a tongue in cheek, but of course I like communities that seem to like the software I am contributing to. That's not saying I don't listen to critical opinions.

When I say that most people are pretty clueless, I mean when they say things like "it would have been a surprise if they added single-window mode" when that has been planned for a long time, when they think we think our brush system is good, when people are constantly using terms like "MDI" wrongly, when people think the name GIMP is what keeps us from widespread usage when it is the lack of features, when they show no understanding about our limited developer resources, and when they claim we should get in contact with interaction design professionals when our belowed peter has been contributing for a long time.

And you are hacking on each GIMP release? That's great! I strongly encourage you to join the developer team. You speak of "the ones in charge of GIMP development" when you are just as able as anyone to change GIMP. All you have to do is contribute. In the world of open source, the ones writing code is the ones in powers, and anyone can help writing code.

And regarding the save and export distinction. Do you really think that being able to save a multi-layered image into .jpg and having the save-dirty-flag cleared makes any sense? A composition can only reasonably be considered saved when the file that has been written contains all the information necessary to recreate the composition.

The rest of your post contains some big inaccuracies that I will refrain from commenting on due to a too big risk of calling you clueless ;)

At September 6, 2009 at 2:04 PM , Blogger ZuperTruko said...

The problem of the current save dialog is that doesn't allow XCF.BZ2 format.

At September 6, 2009 at 2:28 PM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

Strange, it works for me. Please file a bug report with step-by-step instructions on and we'll figure out what the problem is.

At September 6, 2009 at 6:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do find the save/export useful, i mean i take hours making a great painting, airbrushing, manipulating, moving, putting layers, masks...etc and saving it as JPG/PNG is a lost case, i want to keep the full image(XCF) for later manipulation, and to later export it to JPG and upload it to several websites...

So why so complaining? I have seem other programs using that method, and if GIMP want to be better, it should not lack of a default method of saving everything! And can't we just export it directly to JPG if we just want to save it like that?

thaanks for making great GIMP

At September 7, 2009 at 6:57 PM , Blogger Raymond said...


It's true that the save/export is weird. If you try to overwrite your png or jpeg after a small change you can't do that in the save menu. Lot of people will try to do that and will again find Gimp unusuable. We will spend time in the forums to explain that there is a "overwrite" menu changing in "export to" after a first export. I like Peter's works but this time I am not convinced of the usuability to force xcf format against natif format of the file.

Second point : nobody speak about raw support. Why ? (I did'nt test it myself because my camera is not supported by libopenraw )

At September 8, 2009 at 12:17 PM , Anonymous Devvv said...

Hi Martin,

I personally really like the new behaviour as it allows a faster workflow and I'm excited about your work (=the work of all developer). Thank you.

I also just read your comment about our site and I had to make a poll to show you the other side:

Currently only less than 10% don't like the new feature (maybe some also change their mind after trying by themselves), more than 70% explicitly find it useful already! Many users don't even post if they agree - so you morely see the people that don't like it.

Also you should not compare a forum (gimptalk) where you can only post as a registered user with We allow unregistered user to comment too. Many users only want to drop a comment without being registered in a forum. This offers you the chance to get feedback that is probably more true (if not at least it shows you other opinions of another group of people using GIMP). Most of them are not clueless.

Thanks for your work!!

At September 8, 2009 at 7:43 PM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

Hi Devvv,

My comment was not regarding the site, just the vocal minority. I like a lot and have updated the post to clarify this.

Thanks for making that interesting poll, and thank you for keeping up and running!

At September 9, 2009 at 3:14 PM , Anonymous Dave said...

I left a comment on as an unregistered user. I use The Gimp primarily for "High End" photo manipulation. My workflow is normally RAW to Tif I then normally work on files in Tif and only output to jpeg as a final stage. If I have layers etc. which I need to save I save as xcf, and archive as xcf.bz2. I'm a Windows user, and one of the reasons I don't use xcf as my main working format is that there seems to be little support for viewers etc to have a quick look at the many files I have. If Gimp were to incorporate some sort of file management and viewing then this would be a great help.
Being "forced" to save as xcf is a nuisence to me I'm afraid. As I said in my comment on GIMPUSERS, I don't really see the problem that this addresses. Why not just allow the user to select the format files are saved in? Why not have an option to choose the default? Just finally to say that whatever the outcome the work put into this excellent tool is much appreciated. Thanks Dave

At September 10, 2009 at 12:41 AM , Anonymous Nicolas Robidoux said...

Would calling "save"/"export" "save workspace"/"save image" instead make things clearer?

At September 10, 2009 at 7:13 AM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

@David: There is only one format an XCF composition can be saved it, so being able to choose other formats simply doesn't make sense.

@Nicolas: I doubt it :)

At September 15, 2009 at 1:09 PM , Blogger Trisidian Networks said...

What the hell is going on with GIMP lately, every time I 'upgrade' things get WORSE.

Save/export is such a stupid idea, why are you guys wasting time on things like this? Seriously, I have used gimp for years, I have managed to get many people to use it over that time but I am going to stop singing its praises because I don't know if its going to be usable in the coming years.

Save/Export makes everything so much slower!!!! What was wrong with having everything in save, what benefit does this give us???? I am simply amazed at how mad this 'feature' is, and there seems to be know way of turning it off.

Now there is more of this crazy talk regarding MDI being replaced with one window. Professional designers with large/multiple screens LOVE being able to place each element individually, an SDI would again ruin and slow down productivity.

Do some proper work and fix bugs or add features but stop making changes to the UI, its NOT BROKEN!!!

I am so angry about this, I really feel like forking, gimp devs seemed to have lost touch with reality. I am now going to have to waste my working time to uninstall 2.7 and get 2.6 back and christ knows how long I can avoid updating.

At September 15, 2009 at 7:35 PM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

@Trisidian: Read the UI spec for details on what problems the new save+export solves. Multi-window will not go away, the single-window mode will complement multi-window. "Do some proper work" you tell me. How about you do some proper work and get your facts straight instead of coming with useless comments? Thanks.

At September 15, 2009 at 11:32 PM , Anonymous James Hughes said...

What can it possibly solve?! other than absolute non-sense about layered files being forced to be saved in XCF.

Some of us like to be the ones who chose to work in XCF not forced into a format. You guys could have at least made it an option, but no its forced on us, so now when I work with hundreds of images in varied formats each day I am forced to mess around with the export menu. There was simply no need.

People keep asking for new features, but instead you guys are messing around with UI, I did not mean to sound so harsh by saying you should do proper work but these changes really alienate your long time users and advocates and the fact that you see those comments as useless only further makes me question if gimp can carry on in its current way.

These changes address a problem that did not exist and will cost me time that I do not have because of unessary over design.

and btw i DID read the spec thank you, and it makes no sense at all, take point 2 "enforce that what is on the canvas is only safe when saved as an xcf file—or its compressed variants; " I do not need my graphics package to 'enforce' safety, if the user is so stupid as to spend 50 hours working on a 500 layer master piece then saves as a JPG then that's THEIR fault in my book. You making it impossible to jump in and out of non-xcf files without exporting or overwriting is mad.

My facts were strait, your logic was deeply flawed. But don't worry I guess you don't care what your users think since we are just a 'vocal minority' who gimp no longer targets.

At September 16, 2009 at 7:15 AM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

So in your book GIMP should present inaccurate information (showing an XCF composition as saved when it is not) and then you call the users that trust this information stupid? Wow I'm glad you are not in charge of the future of the GIMP UI. You are right in that some old users are alienated with the new save+export, but not having a broken UI and fulfilling our product vision is more important than pleasing retrogressive old-timers. And no you did not get all your facts straight, you thought we would get rid of the multi-window interface which has never been an alternative.

I appreciate that you take the time to complain about this and discuss this with me, but to me you're completely off track, sorry.

At September 16, 2009 at 9:42 AM , Anonymous James Hughes said...

No your basic argument remains deeply flawed, up until now GIMP has been an image editor and your turning it into an XCF editor. When I open a jpg or a png and do work on it then press save I want to save as a jpg or png I do not consider it an XCF composition.

Its clear your only intention is to bolster your personal format at the expense of making things very 'clunky' and it simply serves no point. You already had warnings about jpg only taking flat images when saving. If you were really only concerned about lost data then a simple help window popping up when you save as non-xcf informing you of the fact your losing the layer and extended information. Thats whats known as human-interface-design, making intuitive, sensible improvements. Not what you guys have done, which is not just overkill on a very minor issue but actively makes the interface less intuitive. I can only imagine the backlash from designers if something like photoshop started forcing every image to be in PSD.

Btw your own post says "are disappointed about us not doing a single-window mode for 2.8. But again, that will come in 2.10" and now you have just said your not moving to SDI, well which is it? I have very little faith that you will make it an option to switch between the two if you can't make something as simple as the save dialogue work in the way some of us have gotten used to it for over a decade.

At September 16, 2009 at 1:23 PM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

Yes, we are turning GIMP into an XCF editor. That you don't want to use it as such is not an argument for not making GIMP an XCF editor. The GIMP product vision is to make GIMP into a high-end image editor, and you can't be high-end without layer support, and if you have layer support you can't consider images "saved" in e.g. PNG as saved. Having warnings about saving in JPG as we previously had is not an elegant UI solution.

When my post was made, single-window was planned for 2.10. After my post, there was a change in plans and now single-window is planned (and in progress) for 2.8.

If you haven't, which I suspect, I suggest that you read a book on interaction design. I found "About Face 3" by Alan Cooper to be a good eye opener on the subject.

At September 16, 2009 at 9:04 PM , Blogger Raymond said...

Warnings about saving in JPG is not an elegant UI solution, OK, but opening a JPEG file, retouching it and clicking on SAVE button without being able to save in JPEG is another UI problem. And please don't wait seriously for beginner to be aware of a OVERWRITE button below four entries of menu.

At September 16, 2009 at 9:31 PM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

Retouching a JPEG is a secondary workflow and thus not optimized for. I think the 'Overwrite ...' item is pretty easy to discover given the error message when trying to save, but again, it's not a very big issue since that is not the primary workflow. At least "resaving" in JPEG is almost as simple as in 2.6 if you know how to do it.

At September 17, 2009 at 9:45 PM , Blogger Raymond said...

Retouching a JPEG is a very popular workflow. Popular workflow should not be considered as secondary. The challenge for GIMP is not doing simple for people who knows but for people who don't know.

Aniway feedback is feedback and could be adressed here but if it stay like that issues are issues and they should be adressed to bugzilla.

At September 18, 2009 at 7:09 AM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

Whether or not to consider a workflow secondary has nothing to do with popularity but all to do with our product vision. And feedback should not go to our bugtracker but to the gimp-developer mailing list.

At September 19, 2009 at 9:58 AM , Blogger wiorys said...

I've just read Peter Sikking post.

If I am not wrong, you won't be allowed to have many WINDOWS with your images in single-window mode.
It just sucks.

People need single window interface like in Photoshop or Photo Paint or some other good program. Because it works.
There should be single window with tools and area with projects windows (so maximizing image window will fill this area). It's used in many programs where you need to compare something (c++ editors etc), because it works.
I can't believe that you can't understand it.
It looks to me that maybe you want to make something new - it's OK, but what's the price? Next weird GUI, with single window(good), but where you can't place 2 projects side by side. *slapface

At September 19, 2009 at 11:25 AM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

The point of the single-window mode is to allow users who don't like to manage windows do don't have to. With a windows-in-window interface that you seem to want that problem is not solved. In Peter's proposal you *can* compare images also in the single-window mode, so exactly what is the problem again?

At September 20, 2009 at 9:40 PM , Anonymous Tobias said...

Sorry if I’m late to the party. I haven’t seen Gimp 2.7 yet.

If I load a PNG image in Gimp 2.7, crop it and then press Ctrl-S. What will happen? Will it save back to PNG or will it open a dialog asking for a filename to save as XCF?

If it is the latter, then that’s is just broken. Cropping an image, saving it, and then closing the app again can’t be a secondary use case. It’s so fundamental! And there weren’t even any actions that introduced XCF only features.

What user would want to have an extra XCF in that use case?

At September 21, 2009 at 10:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

the use case you give is served better just by clicking the new overwrite button. In fact it is far faster (clickwise), with fewer mistakes to be made. A user need only learn this simple workflow once. On the other hand....

"Cropping an image, saving it, and then closing the app again can’t be a secondary use case"
You are arguing things that are already easy to do should be considered before things that are more complex and therefore a given user spends more time learning that task.

It seems to me you have not even questioned your basic assumptions.

At October 2, 2009 at 10:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Gimp were an island, this might make sense, but in the larger world, I think it relegates Gimp to a second class citizen. I'd like to see a poll showing what file formats people edit in Gimp.

I don't think many are asking for a high-end XCF editor. Maybe a high-end PSD editor. Definitely some nice JPG editors. Probably some nice TIF/RAW editors.

For me, Gimp will continue to be something I try out (now less frequently) before returning to Corel PhotoPaint/PSE/Paint.Net.

At October 15, 2009 at 6:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your taking Gimp in the right direction. I spend many hours in Gimp editing images. Yes I could use CS4 but prefer Gimp as I started using it years ago. I love the new selection tool and the way it acts. Keep up the good work. And don't listen to people who use Corel!!!

At October 24, 2009 at 7:41 PM , Anonymous Rolf Steinort said...

I second that - keep the way that you have taken.

I understand "Save" as being safe for all what I have done. And so I want to keep my layers and stuff.

And learning an easy new way to overwrite a flat file should be doable - I can make a video about it. ;-)

At November 5, 2009 at 3:26 PM , Blogger chang said...

hi! it's a Great article easy to download

At November 6, 2009 at 9:44 PM , OpenID philho said...

Interesting exchange of views... For the record, I use Gimp 2.6 (and I like the evolution from .4) and don't know 2.7 and above...

"if the user is so stupid as to spend 50 hours working on a 500 layer master piece then saves as a JPG then that's THEIR fault in my book"
A bit harsh. In deviantART forums, I see lot of newbies in despair because they made such error... Saying "it's your fault, stupid" doesn't solve the problem.

I agree that sometime I just want to do a quick edit on a Jpeg, PNG or Gif image, and to hit Ctrl+S to save the change.
If I have to "export" the file, maybe it makes sense, but it is against lot of acquired workflows...
The "overwrite" button might be a solution. But might I try and propose an idea?
Why not analyze the buffer first? If it has only one layer, and it is in compatible format (still palletized for Gif, for example), etc., why not just do the save? If it has layers and other stuff, maybe a dialog should ask whether the user want to export to a flat format, or use a richer format (XCF of course).
Sorry if that's actually the currently chosen way.

Just a note on the mono-window mode: that's an excellent thing! Perhaps I am just clueless, but I am tired of having the edited image to go behind the layer dock when I hit Numerical+

At November 7, 2009 at 7:53 PM , OpenID philho said...

A case to illustrate my remark above...

At November 23, 2009 at 5:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with philho, that 'Save' should analyse the buffer first and offer to 'overwrite' if is compatible (with an option to save as XCF).

In addition, could 'Overwrite' be put in a more prominent position next to 'Save'? Whether overwriting is a primary or secondary workflow, it is surely the primary or only GIMP task for many users.

At January 25, 2010 at 2:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest a couple of improvements:

1.- A fast access key for 'save for web'
2.- A text tool compatible with psd's, for view font, size, style...

good job, keep weel, working hard.

At February 27, 2010 at 2:13 AM , Blogger blitux said...

Ok, and what about CMYK? I think this would be a really important step to replace photoshop in production and print environments.

At October 3, 2010 at 7:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Martin Nordholts:-
I agree with your logic on the 'save/export' discussion, but the suggestion by 'philho' is a very good/efficient one. Everybody wins surely ^^-)

At November 2, 2010 at 11:05 PM , Blogger JohanG* said...

There's really no logic in separating similar functions as with 'save' and 'export' as GIMP-dev has done. Imo 'export' should be as in PS, either to 'non bitmap image formats' (eg. eps, pdf) or specialized export functions as PS's 'save for web'.

It all comes down to usability. Having different meny-option and dialogs just for different image formats makes no sense in that regard. I really liked being able to 'save as' just using the file suffix, that was an awesome function I'd like to see in more apps - and you discarded it, hehe...

And my background is (professionally) in PS since v. 1.x something, back in the early 90's, and GIMP since 4 years...

At November 13, 2010 at 8:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am by no means a professional, but I think that when working with layers you need to save it as XCF with the option to save a secondary file of your choosing which would be a greater flexibility. As I hate to save first to one format and then flatten it to save to another format. This way it would be quick and easy. Just my 2cents

At April 9, 2011 at 8:50 PM , Anonymous Maksym Kozub said...


I understand your logic about layers etc. not saved in, say, JPEG, but I also suggest an analogy. THink of some text processing software. It is almost a standard for its UI to have "Save as..." menu option next to save. Suppose you make a nice page, with bold and italics, sophisticated layout, etc, and then you try to save it as plain text. Or maybe you type some Cjinese hieroglyohs and try to save your text in ISO-8859-1. The software will remind you of all nice things to be lost, like fonts, or non-Latin characters, etc. However, I am pretty sure it will not have that menu option called "Export" or "Overwrite".
I understand that image editing and text processing are two different types of activities, but you hopefully get my point :).

At September 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM , Anonymous UltraMegaAwesomeOver9000 said...


...would be a good shortcut for "Overwrite". It is annoying not having a proper shortcut, other than [Alt+F, release Alt, W].

Anyone who wants it to be the same as it used to be can still use the older versions though... perhaps add an option in preferences.

At September 25, 2012 at 11:26 PM , Anonymous MegaSuperAwesomeOver9000 said...

okay so i read this:

You can change the Ctrl+S shortcut to perform Overwrite, you just get nagged to Discard Changes when you go to close the image.

At October 1, 2012 at 11:30 PM , Blogger Jonathan S Farley ACR said...

I want to be able to save to whatever format I want from one dialog. The Save/Export idea is retarded.

I think everyone who uses the program can be expected to use it the way their work regime dictates and can be relied on to chose xcf when the need demands. But to get a dialog telling me that I now have to back out of the save menu and go into an identical menu called export is a needless waste of coding.

It is so annoying, I have reverted to the previous version. Obviously, I am not the 'Target' user so I had better look for something else.

A shame, Gimp used to be so good.


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