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Integrating OSS Graphics Apps

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the gathering-tide-spreading-cheer dept.

Graphics 333

erikharrison writes "Newsforge had an article recently which proposed an interesting way to make an integrated OSS graphics "suite" - namely, get existing apps to standardize their look and feel. Now, in a short and insightful article, Bryce Harrington (of Inkscape fame) responds with specifics on the advantages and problems with this approach, and where development should go next in the pursuit of a complete OSS stack for graphic artists."

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333 comments

early post for jesus (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620564)

gooooooo jesus!

Re:early post for jesus (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620943)

Inkscape is a blatant rip-off of the amazing Sodipodi.

The Inkscape-developer is a fool who can not differentiate between C and Perl.

Sodipodi's interface is much more usable than anything the moronic Inkscape-developers have ever come up with.

PS: congrats for the fristy psoter

PSS: peace to my niggaz MC RMS and DJ ESR from the FOSS-cru

So, um, (1)

FosterKanig (645454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620574)

you wanna cyber? I'm wearing socks!

Only in the Bushland (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620750)

BUSH: HOLDING THREE JOBS 'UNIQUELY AMERICAN'
Tues Feb 8 2005 9:27:01 ET

Last Friday when promoting social security reform with 'regular' citizens in Omaha, Nebraska, President Bush walked into an awkward unscripted moment in which he stated that carrying three jobs at a time is 'uniquely American.'

While talking with audience participants, the president met Mary Mornin, a woman in her late fifties who told the president she was a divorced mother of three, including a 'mentally challenged' son.

The President comforted Mornin on the security of social security stating that 'the promises made will be kept by the government.'

But without prompting Mornin began to elaborate on her life circumstances.

Begin transcript:

MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)

Developing...

Filed By Matt Drudge...

I don't know... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620597)

I don't know what the question is, but SVG is obviously die antwort.

Re:I don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621038)

When I have a problem, I will usually think : "I know: I'll just use XML."
Now I had two problems.


dontknowwhosaidit

cut and paste (2, Insightful)

alfal (255149) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620598)

I'd be happy if software could standardize on copy and paste key sequences.

Re:cut and paste (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620805)

I would be happy if I could get to suck some thick man-meat tonight, but no... nobody likes me and I hate myself for what I am.

Everybody hates me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621219)

You see! Even moderators keep me down.

What I think should be focused on first (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620600)

Is getting the GIMP's UI to standardize on "NOT SUCKING"

Get back to me when you've gotten somewhere with that

P.S. Repeating "you're just not used to it" doesn't make UI problems go away. If you can't use a program until you learn to overlook its idiosyncrasities, that's pretty much the *definition* of a bad interface

Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (-1, Offtopic)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620627)

When will Photoshop add something useful to the right-click context menu for those of us who are NOT using an Apple mouse? GOD!!!

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (3, Insightful)

norkakn (102380) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620675)

Never (hopefully). Photoshop has a wonderful interface based on L hand on the keyboard and R hand on the mouse. I like it, artists like it, and it works a hell of a lot better than any other complex raster graphics program that I know of.

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620709)

So you have only one finger on your right hand or why do you need another hand to press a second mouse button?

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (1)

norkakn (102380) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620733)

It confuses it mentally. Anything too confusing to use drunk will not fly with the art crowd. And in general, artists do not think like geeks do.

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621186)

good point, either drunk on alcohol or high on some hallucinigenic drug. Either way if you put something there with a right click, and they meant to do a left click but hit the wrong button... they might freak out and jump of a bridge, and we already know how high the suicide rate among artistic types is.

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620752)

As a frustrated Linux only user, I'm with you. I started in imaging using the gimp and ended up raised thinking it was MEANT to be hard working with pixels.

After years with GIMP I used Photoshop (my sister has a Powerbook). If there's ever a poster boy for the advantages of proprietary software it's photoshop. It's a dream to use, and for the work I do so much faster on smaller hardware than my gimp box. It uses RAM like nobody's business, but then I buy my hardware in the expectation the software will make use of it.

Now I'm still stuck with GIMP on my own box, and finding it harder to justify my use of it by some kind of moral & price advantage when it's really stifling my need for it to work as a graphic tool.

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621004)

Photoshop works fine in WINE. So you really aren't tied to the GIMP if you don't mind paying for Photoshop.

I am assuming you have a x86 Linux computer of course.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620814)

Where "not sucking" means "actually honestly evaluating UI issues and actively addressing them where necessary, instead of responding to every complaint of any form with 'you just want photoshop you're just not used to it la la la'"

You know, just basically considering interface design to be the developers' problem, not the users'

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (1)

Luthair (847766) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621051)

I find photoshop is only steps behind GIMP on a bad interface; I like the Jasc Paint Shop Pro interface but as they've add more features it has gone down hill.

Re:Where not-sucking == like photoshop? (1)

LPetrazickis (557952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621233)

More, importantly, when will Gimp and Photoshop abandon their useless right-click crap and just do the sensible Paint Shop Pro thing of reversing the Foreground/Background colours of the command when it's issued with the right mouse button?

Re:What I think should be focused on first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620633)

Maybe you should try a recent version of The GIMP.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620742)

I'll swear on a stack of bibles (not like that means anything) that I've -never- used any commercial graphics editing tools newer than Dr. Genius or whatever the fuck it was called that came with Genius mouses 15 years ago.
I do however regularly use a recent version of the Gump, and I still hate the interface. It's just not good.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620650)

The problem is, you're talking to a crowd who's big complaint about the GIMP UI is that it's not CLI.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620653)

When people quit defining Adobe's UI as "not sucking". Buttons that you hold down to get more buttons?

Re:What I think should be focused on first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620847)

Well, you can try it with the other mouse button and it opens instantly

Re:What I think should be focused on first (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620666)

Implementing a Apple level interface technology for the GIMP is never going to happen. For to do so would be to admit to its current abysmal state.

Just like the idiotic K-garbage the juveniles working on KDE apps will never go away, because to change now...

Re:What I think should be focused on first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620667)

P.S. Repeating "you're just not used to it" doesn't make UI problems go away. If you can't use a program until you learn to overlook its idiosyncrasities, that's pretty much the *definition* of a bad interface

Well you are preaching to the wrong crowd here. These people think that a browser that requires "about:config" to make the speed of image loading, etc, even half-way decent is acceptable.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (4, Insightful)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620678)

-shrug- I know this is heresy to UI wonks, but there are some tasks that are too complex for an idiot-proof interface.
That's not to say that friendly and discoverable interfaces are unattainable, just that making an interface without _any_
learning curve might be unrealistic.

If anybody has achieved this for a featureful graphics-editing application, I haven't seen it yet... Photoshop is
incredibly non-intuitive in my limited experience with it, Paint Shop Pro only slightly less so... but then, I'm just
"used to" the Gimp.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

goates (412876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620825)

I don't think that anyone really expects to make an interface without a learning curve. Only that each program should provide consistency where it makes sense. Like copy and paste functions being in the same menus and working the same way. Put the preferences or options in the same menu (it's always an adventure with Windows and Linux to see where this ends up in each program).

Oh, and make it obvious that an option exists without having to right click to even get the menu in the first place.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621026)

This is what I hope for in gimp.
You know how with gmail, your mail is in the same page, but there is a button to detach it to a new window? DO THAT! give us a choice to either have the menus and graphics in the same window or not. I heard that that was possible in the latest version, but I havn't checked it out so I can't say for sure.

Other than that, I like Gimp's design though. it's no photoshop, but it'll get non-professional work done which is about 50% of what is done out there. Hell, a guy at my office was using mspaint to edit graphics... I installed gimp for him since we have no budget for photoshop or anything else... I can't imagine doing stuff like that in paint... shutter...

Re:What I think should be focused on first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621047)

Yes and no. It is true that for some tasks an idiot-proof interface is very complicated. But not just because of the UI. The first time someone uses a graphics-editing application, that person will have to learn how such a program works and, no matter how good the interface is, it will take him quite some time to start using it correctly.
However, once you know the basics of editing images, you should be able to use any other graphic editing app quite fast, as long as it has an intuitive UI.

Just as an example of this, you should use Corel Photopaint 9 (the later versions have changed the focus of the program and are, in my opionion, quite worse). It is as powerfull as The Gimp (if not more), but it only takes a few minutes to start being productive with it. And when you need to do something you know that can be done, but haven't done before, it is easy to find the option, as the UI is intuitive and consistent.

The Gimp 1.x had one of the worse UI interfaces I've ever seen. The Gimp 2.x is slightly better, but I could still use it to teach how not to design UIs.

BTW, Photoshop's interface wouldn't win any awards either. But it's consistent and, once you know how to use it, is quite powerfull.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (4, Interesting)

As Seen On TV (857673) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621193)

There is no need for the interface to be "idiot-proof." It just needs to be good. And there's no task too complex for a good interface.

Consider Final Cut Pro. Editing video is among the more complex tasks people do with computers. Lots of tracks, lots of elements, many transitions, stuff overlapping with other stuff, keys, color corrections, audio effects ... it's a lot of stuff.

Final Cut Pro has one of the best user interfaces for its task. Just the basic way windows work is great. Put two windows next to each other: they snap in place. You can grab the edge between them where they meet and drag it: both windows resize. Arrange four windows so they meet at a common corner, and you can drag just the corner point. All four windows resize.

The net result is that you can change the way the windows are arranged to suit your project and your screen, but you can very easily make maximum use of your screen space. No floating palettes or windows at all, so nothing is ever in your way. And the interface works as well at 1280x1024 as it does at 2560x1600, as well for 2.35:1 content as for 4:3 content.

The user-interface code that makes windows work that way is a framework called ProKit. It's compatible with AppKit, so it's incredibly easy to write programs that take advantage of it. If only Apple would release it as a standalone SDK instead of just using it for their internal products.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621215)

I agree photoshop is non-intuitive, as is illustrator . . . But Canvas, IMO, has an incredible interface. I find it incredibly intuitive, and also very powerful. I'm not sure how well the interface would apply to gimp, since it's not exactly designed for the same work.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620722)

what does gimp have to do with this.

besides you being just tooo fucking retarded to figure out a menu system.

seriosuely, the interface is not that wild and hard to use.

if you cannot figure it out in 5 seconds, stop using a computer. you are basically an idiot.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (2, Insightful)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620855)

what does gimp have to do with this.

Gimp is one of the applications discussed in both articles

seriosuely, the interface is not that wild and hard to use.


if you cannot figure it out in 5 seconds, stop using a computer. you are basically an idiot.

Yes, it is hard to use. Figuring it out is not the problem. The biggest problem for me is that I like to edit the images maximized. All those tool windows and dialogs disappear the instant you click on the image, or you can set them always on top and they get in the way of your image. Also, the icons are fixed-size and low contrast (dark grey on light grey). On a high resolution monitor, they're REALLY hard to see.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

zootm (850416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621008)

It's an intrusive interface. There seems to be a seperate toolbar for everything, all of which want to be on-screen at once. I understand that this is "more customisable", but a less-customisable, or more difficult-to-customise, UI with a more subtle style would be preferable. Regardless of the usability issues in Photoshop which come from a lack of two-button mouse awareness, the troubles with GIMP run more deeply.

It's an app I'd dearly like to be able to use, though, and it'll be good to see how this goes. As for the OSS advocates yelling "fix it yourself!", they seem to forget that not only do a lot of people simply not have the time to fix it, many don't have the technical know-how.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

bicho (144895) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621113)

On the other hand, the don't take up space on the display, and I just get one off the menu when I need them.
So your con is my pro.

about the icons, I think they are themable (yes, I am talking about gimp's icons here) Or so I remember I read somewhere. I don't know how to change them though.

Only problem with the icons is they are rather small. I suppose they could be svg and resizable... maybe...

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621153)

Yes, it is hard to use. Figuring it out is not the problem. The biggest problem for me is that I like to edit the images maximized. All those tool windows and dialogs disappear the instant you click on the image, or you can set them always on top and they get in the way of your image.

Yes, that's annoying, but as with many complaints about GIMP it is an issue of window handling, which comes down to window management, which, because GIMP was designed to run on X, is the responsibility of the window manager, not GIMP. I don't tend to have the issue you describe. I use the "maximise to available area" feature in the window manager I use to maximise the image window to be as large as possible without overlapping any of the palettes. Combine that with the docking of palettes to each other, and the toolbox available in 2.0 onward and there really is no problem whatsoever.

That, of course, doesn't mean you don't have a problem (only that I don't). My point is that if you are using GIMP on X then you should be complaining to the window manager coders that they need to implement a more complete feature set. If you are using GIMP on Microsoft Windows... unfortunatelty GIMP is targeted at X11, and development of the Windows version is only really starting to kick into gear. Handling all the issues with things working differently on Windows is a huge task indeed. You need to accept that GIMP on Microsoft Windows is a young project and will continue to have issues for quite some time.

Jedidiah.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621130)

Flamebait? Maybe? Insightful as fuck? Definitely.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (3, Insightful)

pronobozo (794672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620818)

Maybe stop complaining and try to do something about it
Become part of the project.

Whining all the time will get people down on a project they have spent lto of time on.
So how about you go to them and say, "This program is great, be here are a couple things that I think should change and this is how I can help."

Open Source "Community"

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620929)

Ah, yet another holier-than-thou "we are open source so we are enlightened" moron.

What you'll probably get is:
"No, it's fine as it is." or you'll be ignored. Egos exist in the open source community, probably to a greater extent than anywhere else in the industry.
You don't think someone hasn't gone to the group and said, "Y'know, the interface for Gimp is.. well.. ass." (or something more polite I'm sure)? It's been around for a long time, so why hasn't it been changed if so many people think it sucks? Probably because someone doesn't want it to change. Just because it's open source doesn't make it a great environment for comments/feedback.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621068)

Well, yeah, I hear that one around these parts a lot. I also hear how he could download the source code, alter it to be the perfect application, just the way he wants, recompile it, and use that instead. But, you know, that's kind of a lot to expect from some random person.

Maybe he's not a programmer. Maybe the most he has to offer the community is the voice of someone who's displeased with the application. Maybe he's not a UI expert and can't even explain how to make the UI good, and all he can do is explain why he thinks it's bad. Maybe that's the most he can offer a project.

You think the GIMP project is going to be really receptive to that help? If he goes to them and says, "This program is great, but here are a couple of things that I think should change and I can help only by telling you this," is that going to hold a lot of sway with the community? I'd guess not, since these sorts of complaints have been around for quite a long time and the improvements that I've seen to GIMP seem more aimed at those who already have a high opinion of the app.

IMHO, one weakness of many open-source projects has been that they aren't active enough in gathering feedback from people with no association to the project. This lack of feedback keeps software in the state of "scratching a personal itch" rather than good generalized solutions fit for public consumption. Feedback from general users should be treated as participation in the community, rather than being treated as nonsense from ignorant outsiders.

(BTW, this isn't not a complaint about OSS as a whole, but only a rebuttal of the "You don't like it, fix it" attitude expressed by some.)

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

pronobozo (794672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621176)

Well he doesn't have to program, maybe he can help out with project management, maybe look after a messageboard, maybe give some music, integrate whatever skill they have avaiblable.

Someone can always contribute something useful.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (2, Insightful)

As Seen On TV (857673) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621237)

I also hear how he could download the source code, alter it to be the perfect application, just the way he wants, recompile it, and use that instead. But, you know, that's kind of a lot to expect from some random person.

Particularly when there's absolutely no possibility of making a profit from your work. Thanks a lot, Gnu. Ask me again why people aren't tripping over themselves rushing to contribute to your projects?

Re:What I think should be focused on first (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620881)

The bigger problem is, its based on GTK which is FUCK UGLY on windows and indeed any NON GNOME system

DUMP GTK.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620901)

You know what? I'm tired of people always complaining about how horrible the Gimp's UI is. It's not that bad. In fact, it's almost good. Case in point: my sister.

Having bought her a new computer, I decided give her the choice - Linux or Windows. I showed both to her - she wanted KDE because it was prettier. No joke - my sister the future graphics designer believes KDE looks better than WinXP's nasty blue. So, I showed her both the GIMP and Photoshop - she's barely used photoshop, so she didn't have preconceptions about what a UI's supposed to be. She was immediatly hooked on The Gimp. Yes, it took her a little bit to learn to use the Gimp - just like it took her a little while to learn to use Linux. But you know what? She loves it. Now, in her Digital Imaging class at high school, she's using Photoshop - and she can't stand it's interface - she claims it's counterintuitive! For what she does (simple photomanipulation, cropping, photo editing, drawing, etc.) the Gimp works perfectly.

So, I find it very funny that something that "sucks" would work better for someone not already indoctrinated into the photoshop way of doing things.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620979)

Why the FUCK didn't this guy get modded Troll?

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1, Insightful)

randallschleufer (807425) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620980)

GIMP is pathetic beyond all comprehension. That mess is inexescusable, and only surpassed by the crap-UI of BLENDER. There is a acceptable threshold, an allowable learning curve for most tools. It takes a little while to get used to driving a new car- wipers/headlight switches are in a different place, shifting may be smoother, the whole car acts differently. But you can still DRIVE it out of the parking lot. If GIMP was a car, it would have you strapped to the bottom of the chassis, looking backwards and steering with your feet. Anyone that has a rebuttal consisting of "Following Adobes UI design would be stupid because it lacks right button support, blah, blah, blah"... YOU DON'T HAVE AN ARGUMENT. Sticking with GIMPS UI flaws, simply because you don't like Adobe (as a company), or Adobes particular UI doesn't fix anything. In fact, it is what leads GIMP to its paralyzed pathetic UI state that we have now. Adobes interface follows UI design that is consistent with EVERY Windows/Mac program I have ever seen. While there are massive differences between Photoshop and PaintShop Pro, I can easily jump between the two progams almost seamlessly because they share a common design theory. GIMP literally requires me to rewire my brain to think the way "someone with extremely bad organizational skills" would think. Copying Photoshops UI won't solve anything. But if people would simply get over the fact that Adobe DIDN'T INVENT GOOD UI DESIGN, you'll quickly understand that Adobe simply follows the rules of good design. Beyond that, you can add right-click menus, etc. Firefox is indeed a good example here. The visible UI is so identical to Internet Explorer that I often forgot that I was using Firefox under normal browsing conditions. It was only when I needed to change options, and other "under the hood" items that I realized how different it is. And "under the hood" is the only place where the real differences should be.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621012)

You have mental problems. Calm down, fuckwit.

I just love that word (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621078)

fuckwit

I don't know why, but that word always makes me laugh. It's almost as good as my all-time favourite "teabagging cocksmoker".

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

randallschleufer (807425) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621020)

What the hell happened to the formatting of my text? Honestly, there WERE paragraphs in my post. Apparently, I'm a gimp.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621052)

Spot on with this. Firefox nails this. It is not copying Adobe's design, it is using a standard method that is generally useful and that almost EVERY app follows (word processors, spreadsheets, mail handling, web browsing).

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621011)

Is getting the GIMP's UI to standardize on "NOT SUCKING"

I'd be interested to see a good discussion of what exactly it is about GIMP's interface that makes it suck. I've seen lots of complaints that "It sucks!" but less in the way of explanations of what the problems actually are. Certainly there are some minor quirks (discoverability of drawing straight lines for instance), but almost all programs as complex as GIMP have similar quirks. Besides, many of those elements are just that: quirks and minor issues that are being corrected. It doesn't explain the "fundamental suckiness" of the UI.

The most common fundamental complaint about GIMP that I've heard is to do with window handling. This is certainly somewhat of a problem in the Microsoft Windows port, but the port is just that: a port of an application that isn't being developed for that platform. You'll get issues like that in such ports. I have heard that there are patches/plugins that allow GIMP to operate with a root window MDI interface on Windows anyway.

So then we're down to the issue of window handling on X. The complaint seems to be that GIMP doesn't have an MDI interface, and that that is fundamentally bad. Realistically however GIMP is doing things the right way. It delegates window handling to the window manager. The problem with MDIs in applications like GIMP is this: GIMP then has to write its own (usually remarkably inferior) window managing code. This is silly when, on X, we already have a seperate application that is supposed to do all the management of windows. The problem is not, as so many complain, with GIMP, but rather with X window managers. Choose a good window manager that implements window groups and the GIMP interface issues that people describe suddenly vanish. The problem is that few window managers implement window groups, and the ones that do are often lacking in other areas. If you have a problem with window handling for GIMP you should be complaining loud and long to the Metacity and KWin and *box developers that they need to implement a good powerful window group management facility (preferably one that is hintable from applications). That's where the real problem lies.

I've written a description of a particularly power user oriented (extract the greatest power and flexibility out of the concept) window group system [stuff.gen.nz] . It's still relatively simple to use, and if only a subset of this functionality was implemented it would be entirely possible to have a simple easy to use window group system that would eliminate most of these complaints. The problem is getting such a system implemented by mainstream window managers.

Jedidiah.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (4, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621161)

It's very easy to spot a bad UI, but a lot harder to actually pin down why its so bad. UI design is hard. It just looks easy.

One of the problems with GIMP is that the toolbar feels very divorced from the wok area. While the X philosophy is that windows just sit there on the desktop, there are better ways of doing this. Why does clicking on a button on the Tools window affect things on the paint window? It's a different window. How many other applications do this? Most X applications don't work like GIMP. Gimp is trying to combine the Photoshop control layout with the X methodology. It would make things easier if they put the controls, work area and menus in the same area as panels. This would work for X. I don't know if its a good solution. Like I said - UI design is hard.

But this is still wrong for Windows. Windows applications use MDI. Consistency is part of good UI design.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (1)

merdark (550117) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621201)

The problem is with having all the menus in the right click context menu. Most programs have a menu bar where the file menu and other menus reside.

I'm not sure exactly when right clicking is usefull, but it's certainly annoying when it's used for everything.

Perhaps the only way out of this dilemma is to have a single mac-like menu bar. Otherwise, the only solution is something like MDI, were the parent window holds the menu bar.

I suppose you could also put the menu bar on top of each graphic window, but that would clutter things up an aweful lot and doesn't seem like a very good solution.

The other problem is that it's easy to lose the many tool windows. Mac solves this by having the tool palletes dissapear when an image window is not in focus. With GIMP, I find it difficult to minimize all those little tool pallets when I really just want to click minimize once and have them all go away.

There may be some solutions to some of these complaints, I'm not a gimp expert. But that is my first impression of gimp, and why I haven't used it.

Re:What I think should be focused on first (2, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621037)

Is getting the GIMP's UI to standardize on "NOT SUCKING"

In case anyone is skeptical, I'll just point out two minor ways that The GIMP's UI sucks:

The "Open File" dialog box has no text-input field. That's right, there's no place for you to type in the file you want. A knowledgable person could pop up a separate mini-window to type in a filename (which will then be lacking a scrollable list of files & folders), or do a type-ahead search, but neither of those options justifies removing the simple text field. Taking out that field was doubly bad: once for the actual functionality lost, and again for the fact that it's very different from every other Open File dialog out there, which will confuse users.

I could also go into the Save File dialog, and now that's wrong. Basically, it has the reverse problem: you can type in filenames, but can't see a list of what's already there. (Files or directories)

And of course, those two specific problems (recently introduced in version 2.x) were on top of the longstanding GIMP interface complaint: the inability to dock toolbars onto the edge of the image window makes the overall interface too dependent on the WM.

How about... (3, Interesting)

Gruneun (261463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620629)

Each person makes the best possible tool for the application and not stifle creativity or new solutions to the UI by trying to make things "marketable" as a package.

If it's good, users will use it. If it's not, making it part of a suite won't guarantee that they will.

Re:How about... (2, Interesting)

KiltedKnight (171132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620695)

That's what I've always liked about X. You just need to choose a window manager based on features, etc, which you then can configure certain behavioral aspects plus appearance.

As long as your window manager conforms to the necessary standards, you're free to pick and choose what you like.

How about... reading the article (3, Insightful)

ikkyikkyikkypikang (214791) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620738)

He's not talking about marketability, but rather consistency and interoperability.

He even addresses the issue you are berating him for. From the article (titled "Achieving higher consistency between OSS graphics applications"):
This is often mentioned as establishing a "suite", however I think what is desired is more about establishing ourselves as a "team". To me, a "suite" conjures up the notion of corporate software giants bundling applications together to try to kill off the competition.

Re:How about... reading the article (1)

Gruneun (261463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621121)

Thanks, I did. You miss my point.

The moment you require consistency, you introduce constraints. Constraints limit creativity. If a standard exists, it should be a result of evolution, not mandate. If the goal is to influence people to use certain applications together, you can call it whatever you want... it's still marketing.

Besides, the simple fact that OSS developers release their applications and code for free use already makes them a tight team.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620754)

Boy, that method sure has worked well so far...

Re:How about... (4, Insightful)

Inkieminstrel (812132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620760)

If, on the other hand, you have to have your graphic designers use several graphics applications, you've got a problem.

You have to make the decision of whether to give them 2-4 disparate applications, each with its own learning curve and quite distinct UIs, or to just give them a handful of Adobe products they already know and use, which are all fairly similar UI-wise.

At some point $1000 worth of software really is cheaper.

That's the beautiful thing about OSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620766)

How about some people make the best possible tool for the application and does not stifle creativity or new solutions to the UI by trying to make things marketable as a package.

And some other people take the tool the first people made and, while leaving the first group off alone and free to exercise their creativity, make it marketable as a package.

That's the strength of OSS development, it can do more than one contradictory thing at once...

Re:How about... (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620840)

You have a point, but it also shows a certain disregard for the way designers work. When you're working on something, (using Adobe's apps as an example) there's a good chance that you're not going to use *just* Photoshop or *just* Illustrator or *just* InDesign. There's a good chance you'll use all of them at different points during the same project, so while you want each program's interface to be optimized for their individual tasks, you also want some continuity between GUIs so that you don't have to "switch modes" in a terribly jarring way when you move to the next task.

So while I agree that, if some developer wants to go his own way, he should be allowed to do so, I'm not too worried about that. Given that it's open source, you can't really not-allow them anyway. However, having a tightly integrated, easy to use, feature rich, and complete GPL graphic design suite would be quite a nice thing to see (for a variety of reasons)

Hmm... (1)

warderz (839772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620647)

And I see a Newsforge banner ad just for that right above the article. Now that suggestion will stick for a while on the front page :)

palette plugins (4, Interesting)

soupdevil (587476) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620663)

The lack of pantone compatibility is a major roadblock. I suggest that the OSS design apps create an open palette plugin format, which would allow users to create and to load in palettes. Then some enterprising soul, who would of course have no connection to the apps themselves, could create a pantone-compatible plugin, which could be downloaded separately from the apps.

This is similar to what happens in the audio world with mp3 encoders.

Re:palette plugins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620762)

there are CMYK equivs to pantones... i use em everyday.

but spot color is important for offset, just not in digital printing (which is getting bigger).

What I'm waiting for someone to figure out (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620672)

This newsforge article is directed at the community. That's nice.

The community isn't who needs to hear this. The community already uses these OSS graphics apps.

The people who a suite like this would appeal to are people outside of the community-- people who shop at wal-mart.

The people who need to hear this are businesses.

If some company could have the foresight to gather together the OSS graphics apps, clean them up, tie them together make their interfaces consistent with Mac OS X and Windows UI guidelines, put this all in a nice pretty box, and sell it for $30 at Wal-mart, there's a decent chunk of cash to be had in this. The fact the OSS community has already done all the hard work in developing these applications means you'd be able to offer a very attractive package for a discount-rack price. And the people who would buy something like this wouldn't know how to download and compile software themselves if they wanted to, so they won't mind they're paying for GPLed software.

Just a thought.

C onsistency (1, Interesting)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620756)

Consistency is a valid goal in (almost) anything.
B ecause if you're not consisten
t then usability is affec ted
and people won't
even
rea d this
f
a
r, I believe

Why do they want them to standardize? (2, Funny)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620773)

...namely, get existing apps to standardize their look and feel.

...so they can just copy exactly what some other program is doing, and the OSS designers don't have to be innovative or creative on their own? Come on now, do you own work...

Why would you want a standard interface anyway (No, I didn't RTFA)?? That would be absolutely horrible if any major (or even minor) advances, tweaks, changes, etc are made... you're still stuck in an outdated "standard" that probably won't apply to whatever you came up with. Even if you update the "standard", that's just wasting needless time.

Re:Why do they want them to standardize? (1)

renderhead (206057) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620923)

Let me see if I understand you. You don't want to read the article, but you feel perfectly comfortable dismissing its premise outright while demanding that other people defend it to you?

Read the article, THEN you can tell me why it's a bad idea.

Re:Why do they want them to standardize? (1)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621235)

I never demanded that people defend it... there's always an "ignore" option in life. I just think that standardizing an interface for a graphical application (besides the general sense for management in the parent environment) is bad and will reduce user efficiency.

Can you tell me that a photoshop (or GIMP) interface will work great for photo editing, or 3D design?

Sure the OSS community might benefit from having a standard in terms of a learning curve for each application, but the usability and efficiency of each application will be hindered because of it, and THAT is why I think a standard UI would be horrible... the bad outweighs the good. I'd rather spend time relearning a UI then having a poor UI hold me back.

It's all good intentions, but I'm just trying to think in the general sense. From an engineering perspective, normally standards I come across just makes for more work (and cost) in the long run... and I'd like to see a lot of that avoided.

Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621076)

Why would you want a standard interface anyway?

Try asking any Apple user.

Re:Why do they want them to standardize? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621200)

...so they can just copy exactly what some other program is doing, and the OSS designers don't have to be innovative or creative on their own? Come on now, do you own work...

Yeah, I know. I heard Honda will be coming out with a new car in a couple years... but it'll be using WHEELS and an ENGINE! I heard they're even going to use FUEL of some kind! What's the point of just copying other car designs, huh? That's not innovative. There's nothing creative about a car with wheels.

That would be absolutely horrible if any major (or even minor) advances, tweaks, changes, etc are made... you're still stuck in an outdated "standard" that probably won't apply to whatever you came up with. Even if you update the "standard", that's just wasting needless time.

Yeah, standards suck. Why would we want standards when there's an outside chance it might change. Like HTML... it was so stupid, because we had to come up with XHTML, and sooner or later we might come up with something else. This proves that HTML was stupid and should never have been used. If only we got rid of all standards, the Internet would be a much cooler place.

Re:Why do they want them to standardize? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621234)

so they can just copy exactly what some other program is doing, and the OSS designers don't have to be innovative or creative on their own?
RTFA. They're talking about wanting the GIMP, Inkscape, etc. to be consistent with each other, not to copy Adobe! The goal is simply to create a good workflow. Do you have a problem with that, troll?

Project Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620786)

So far, I've been a huge Linux advocate/fan/user.

I'm getting somewhat disillusioned about the lack of project planning / management. I see the community trying to implode upon itself, mired in political crappiness.

If Linux is going to supercede Microsoft (the community has obviously better code at times), the community has to out-do the project management abilities that Microsoft has.

Re:Project Management (3, Insightful)

Trolling4Columbine (679367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620937)

If Linux is going to supercede Microsoft...

Stop right there.

Since when was the purpose of Linux to 'supercede' Microsoft? Isn't it enough that Linux already provides a free, open alternative to an inferior operating system?

Re:Project Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621002)

So start a project, and manage it. Haven't you been paying attention?

SVG bloat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620823)

As I recalled, the WYSIWYG HTML editor generates a lot of bloated codes. Does the same thing happen on drawing apps exporting SVG format? If I include raster objects in SVG document, will Inkscape/GIMP include them as the bloated mime-64 strings, or do they save them in XOP [w3.org] ?

Standards and IPC (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620867)

When these apps use standard data formats and simple IPC, we can write our own GUIs (or CLIs) and make them look like they're integrated. Without standard interop, they never will.

Re:Standards and IPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620900)

What about UNO from openoffice?

Do this first: (4, Informative)

melted (227442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620880)

1. CMYK and LAB color mode support in GIMP
2. Complete color management support throughout the app
3. High bit depth graphics support - 48 bit and floating point (to stay a bit ahead of Apple/Microsoft).

That's all I want. I couldn't care less about how things look and feel if they do what I want. Well, at least if we're not talking about Mac apps, where look and feel are more important.

Re:Do this first: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621013)

why should anyone care what you want.

seriousely, stop ordering people to do your bidding.

either start coding, or shut up

Re:Do this first: (1)

Sweetshark (696449) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621065)

All those are already on the roadmap IIRC.
However, by discussing consistancy now, one might prevent it to clobber the roadmap later.

Ummmm how far is this likely to go? (2, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620889)

The competition from Adobe and Macromedia is already tremendously robust on a level that in a 1:1 competition between say GIMP and Photoshop that the OSS apps can scarcely approach the level of functionality that their commercial competitors can. We are talking about very well-financed, extremely aggressive competitors here, not lumbering monoliths that can only succeed half the time by pulling on past successes.

It's worth doing, but no one should get their hopes up that Adobe or Macromedia will be phased by this. They are simply too good at what they do to be caught up in the same software vietnam that Microsoft has found itself in with Linux, Apache, OpenOffice and Mozilla.

Standards Conflicting with Egos (4, Insightful)

Trolling4Columbine (679367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620891)

We'll never have very rigid standards in anything OSS because, I believe, programmers let their egos get in the way of creating the most usable program possible. They resent the notion of someone telling them how their project should function, and offen interpret any feedback as an attempt to stifle their creativity.

A lot of people like doing things their way, and that's fine! But when we see such fragmentation, forks, redundancy, etc. in OSS projects, we can't be surprised when interoperability is next to impossible.

So if you need to make your project work in a way that only you want it to work, don't be surprised when nobody else uses it.

Mirrored (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620895)

I had NYUD mirror the site before it got slashdotted:

click here [nyud.net]

(posted AC to avoid karma whoring)

Mod down, troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621105)

Do you really think that people will click that link when hovering over it shows the URL is "http://minigirls.biz.nyud.net:8090"?

Proper GUI Design (5, Insightful)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620922)

Proper GUI design, at it's core, is really a matter of widget selection and placement. When displaying things to the user, keep things left to right, and top to bottom (reverse for Arabic and Hebrew - in other words, KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE).

Use the proper control for the task, and don't clutter your windows. Example: Don't use 2 radio buttons when one checkbox would suffice, don't use more than 5 radio buttons when a combobox would work better.

Also - for God's sake - LINE UP YOUR CONTROLS. If you're a Windows Developer, whether it's VB/C/C++/C#, it's just a matter of laziness to not align your controls. If you're using Java - use a layout manager or a number of layout managers. If you're using GLADE or QtDesigner, take the extra 3 seconds to line up your controls.

Also, tab order should be logical. Focus should go left to right, top to bottom (Arabic and Hebrew - see above). You should also support keystroke shortcut keys that make sense, in fact, if you can make them user definable - do it. Not everyone uses a Qwerty keyboard, and not everyone uses the US character map. Don't make the user move his or her hands unless necessary. Also, right click (or Ctrl-Click) context menus are great - use them.

Finally, some people prefer SDI style apps (OpenOffice.org, IE), others prefer dockable MDI style apps (Visual Studio), and some prefer a collection of floating windows (GIMP). Internally, it's all the same, just each window has a different parent - provide the option to your user. Organize your code properly to handle this from the beginning..

Also - don't pick a color scheme - let the system color it. Same for fonts - that red and green text might look pretty nifty, but to a colorblind person there's no discernable difference. In fact - don't use specific colors at all to convey status. Here in the States, Red means Stop, but this is not true in all cultures. Plus... some people are colorblind. Changing an indicator from green to red is meaningless to them.

This really should be common sense, but I can't tell you how much GUI stupidity I've fixed in my career. Most of it can be attributed to 2 things: laziness, and the GUI done as an afterthought. This is a problem, because while your code may kick all kinds of ass under the hood, if your GUI looks like it was done during amateur hour at the YMCA, the user will think the rest of your app is just as bad.

Also, don't be afraid to consult a graphic designer about your user interface, especially when it comes to icon selection. They excel at conveying that kind of information. Chances are, you have at least one in your marketing department.

I never found that disturbing... (1)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620925)

If I find an application worth using, it seldom has to do with the UI in itself. Tabbed browing as an example is nice, but if that ment that I would have a list widget to the left instead, that would work as good for me, maybe even better when you think of what you can do with it.

Unified GUI's are just another way of saying "we're not like them". But we are not like the others, and that's why linux is good to begin with. I think people are trying to figure out ways so that linux will be more popular amongst windows users, but I don't think it has anything to do with the GUI.

Let GUI's evolve and the featureset and usability will gain from it, with KDE and Gnome everything kinda looks the same anyway.

And if you're developing OSS for windows only, yeah, have it your way, because then I don't really care.

Albert

Re:I never found that disturbing... (3, Informative)

isolationism (782170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620981)

If I find an application worth using, it seldom has to do with the UI in itself.

You've obviously never used Sodipodi [sodipodi.com] , Inkscape's parent project. Its interface is enough to make mothers abort and milk curdle; it's why Inkscape exists at all.

Very intelligent discussion. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11620928)

This is a huge issue and addressing it so openly is a very GoodThing(tm). To work between these apps is technically doable now, but improving the consistancy between the apps lets them become tools and not just exersises for programmers to work on. Artists don't want to think about what keystroke does what, they want to have it become second nature so that they can use all that mindshare on making art. The discussion of having community standards created to drive these standard interfaces will do a lot to help artists feel like "if I learn these new rules they will still work in the future and will work with all of the other apps I need". which is one of the reasons why users of applications do not migrate to every new app that someone comes up with. Until users feel like the effort will be worthwhile, they will not migrate. When you are thinking about how to structure your composition on an art piece, the most frustrating thing in the world is to have to break your concentration to go google for how this one tool works in comparison to the same tool in another app you are used to. I am VERY hopefull for this effort.

Wish Lists, Cloning, and Integration (3, Interesting)

Eberlin (570874) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620973)

Wish lists are nice. They let developers know what features they want in a particular project. However, to paraphrase the Wesnoth dev team, "we wrote the program the way we did because that's how we like it. If we use some of your suggestions, it's because we like those, too." These folks write code to scratch their own itch. Scratching YOUR itch is merely a by-product.

Yes, software use and usability is a good thing, but in the end, it comes down to whether coders want to implement it or not.

Cloning: most "users" have a reference point when they use software. People used to windows will find a mac interface foreign and "wrong." Photoshop users will start out not being used to how GIMP works. Same with Word users and OO.org -- just the nature of the game. The real question is: do we have to clone popular interfaces? I suppose. At least maybe some sort of "Photoshop Interface" toggle. Then again you can be a smug developer and say "Use it or not. Go 'way."

Integration: While we're making a list, here's mine:
I want a Quanta that integrates to GIMP which supports editable text mask layers, editable bevel/embossed layers, and that whole color management thing. Integrate that with a managed FTP client thingy kinda like Screem advertises, too. Oh, and integrate that into something that can do Flash animations, too...which will dynamically embed itself onto a Quanta-generated xhtml-valid page. And and and I want a pony!!!

The integration idea is nice. I suppose there's an argument to be made to integrate now and polish later but I think the focus is to make each individual part work well first, then consider integrating later.

Generally the same (1)

mwielgosz (838127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11620985)

Most GUI/UIs that I use and have used have been presented to me in the same manner. Buttons, check boxes, text fields, and the etc all generally appear the same. So what if they have a slightly different appearance or placement, the application designer is in charge of that, not some silly standard.

Some things need standardization, others should have it, and then there are things that shouldn't be standardized simply because it isn't necesary in the least bit. If you want to use a program, you will learn how the UI interacts no matter how abstract it is.

Why not port Scribus to Gnome? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11621167)

As far as integration goes, I think it would be a good idea for a company like Red Hat or Novell to step in and sponsor a port of Scribus to Gnome. Some really interesting things could be done when Inkscape, the Gimp and Scribus are native Gnome apps.
This has nothing to do with KDE. Its just that the other two productivity apps mentioned (the Gimp, Inkscape) already run on Gnome, as do most other best-of-breed Linux applications. Don't get me wrong, better integration between KDE and Gnome is a good thing, but there is no harm in porting some of the most popular apps to the other platform is that fills a void. After all, this is open source, and porting Scribus (clearly an excellent app) should be much easier than porting Windows apps to Macintosh.

Open common formats (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621175)

As a professional artist and MFA candidate, I can say that there are a few things I'd look for in an OSS suite:
1. It can open photoshop, illustrator, and quark Xpress formats. You wouldn't be surprised how many people use those formats...

2. I agree with standard cut+paste, and I would go further to say standardized "layers", and at least the buttons looking similar, i.e. a little paintbrush is the standard paintbrush-type feature, not some random crap in one place and some other random crap in another place.

3. Cross-application automation throughout the suite. A lot of regular graphics tasks are repeated a ton of times, and if I could: scan in a document, auto-level it, crop whitespace, and generate a thumbnail, that would majorly cut down on the time it takes me to get a new artwork online.
4. Way easier to customize elements. I'd love to make my own brushes & effects a bit easier and consistently, but I know that's tough.

Major improvements have already happened (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11621228)

Close to 1 year ago, I conducted an extensive test of clipboard compatibility between the major Free Software desktop applications. (OpenOffice, Mozilla, KDE Office, Abiword, Gnumeric, and The Gimp). Scores were dismal, especially for The Gimp, which usually appeared to be using a clipboard system completely disjoint from the other applications.

Quick retests conducted today, using the newer 2.0 GIMP series, show tremendous improvement.

Today, The GIMP is capable of accepting graphics pasted from Kword, OpenOffice.org, or Abiword. And material copied from it can be pasted into Kword or Abiword.

The GIMP's new recognition of X11 clipboard protocols is a major step forward. (There is no excuse that it took so long, though)
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