[Gimp-developer] Fedback and personal comments about Gimp 2.8

Hello people.

I've been kindly invited by Michael Natterer to discuss the recent issues 
I filed in Gimp buzilla (see bug #680584). I am a happy Gentoo user since 
2004. I'm only using safe CFLAGS (tell me if you think they're relevant to 
this discussion, I'll provide them). My machine is a Core i3 running GCC 

Globally I must confess I'm pretty disappointed with important interface 
redesigns in version 2.8. I'm no hardcore Gimp artist nor user but there 
are a couple of features that now make Gimp rather stand in my way than 
help me. These are mostly usability issues of features that once were 
straightforward and now are less to not intuitive at all, or even counter 

I've really tried my best to adapt but in the end I can't. I'm also of the 
opinion the software must adapt to people and not the contrary. But as 
I've been an enchanted Gimp user for years I decided to swallow my pride 
and give this new version a try.


Here's why.

GIMP 2.8 annoyances

I. "Two-faced" sliders
   1. Behaviour
   2. Usability
   3. Relevance
   4. Impact upon shortcuts
II. Brush dynamics
   1. Usability and friendliness
   2. Relevance
III. Tablet-specific issues and regressions
   1. Pen/Eraser consistency
   2. Unintentional floating
   3. Dialogs and menus
IV. Conclusions


I.1. Two-faced sliders, behaviour

There's no more brushes of various sizes in this new version, I'm okay 
with that. It just means the size sliders are now critical components of 
the interface. Fair enough.

However the behaviour of those sliders has [almost] nothing to do with 
ordinary sliders, hence I dubbed them "two-faced" sliders. It actually 
took me quite a while to figure out what was going on when I saw my 
current brush wizz to an unbelievable size!

Nothing clearly advertises the behaviour of Gimp sliders. With this 
version, you *must* be careful to the proper half you're picking, which is 
*not* how sliders work in general. So if your sliders break the usual 
behaviour, make it obvious.

My own suggestion: don't make such use of sliders!

Gimp 2.6 coarse and fine tuning was almost right (progressively increasing 
rate). It just needed to be not too fast in the end.

I.2. Two-faced sliders, usability

I have nothing against coarse and fine grain tuning for brush sizes but the
sizes I generally work with (i.e. 1-100px) (and I'm sure I'm not the only 
one) confine the usable range to 1-10% of the whole slider area!

I don't care of sizes such as 1000 pixels (which is less than the max. 
size when the cursor is slid to the far right) when I can only aim into an 
area as tiny as 10-20 pixels to tweak my brushes between 1 and 100 pixels. 
Note that the work range even go beyond the right limit of a slider, i.e. 
to the opposite side of the screen! (I don't see that as an inconvenient 

Another negative impact I see with those sliders is how accurate one needs 
to aim with a pen. As per my own experience, I've never missed a 
coarse/fine tuning with the mouse, which makes sliders more appropriate 
with mice. Does that mean I must use all of my three input devices, 
keyboard, mouse and tablet? God, I hope not! With Gimp 2.6 I could at 
least put my mouse aside; managing my Xfce desktop with a pen has proved 
less disturbing than manipulating Gimp!

I.3. Two-faced sliders, relevance

For example, I've placed my brushes tools to the left of the screen 
(1920x1080). When the size slider is dragged to its right edge, my brush 
size is about 1000 pixels. But I can also drag it to the right side of my 
screen, which gives me a brush about 8900 pixels wide! Of course, Gimp 
starts to lag when I paint at such sizes... I never work with canvas that 
big. Not sure everyone else does.

In short sliders are non-practical for very small brush sizes.

Also not the use of decimals. What is the point of decimals when:

a. they're only useful with small sizes,
b. small sizes are confined in the lowest 10-20% of a slider's range ?

I.4. "Two-faced" sliders, Impact upon shortcuts

Notwithstanding the fact that sliders complicate the overall usage of the 
interface, they also drastically multiply the number of shortcuts. With 
Gimp 2.6 only two shortcuts sufficed: «up» and «down». Now it's 
«up», «up skip», «down» and «down skip». Add that the mouse has 
its own increment style, which makes six "shotcuts" for just *one* slider! 
And my tablet has only 4 (four!) buttons. What should I do? Should I vote 
for size? Opacity?

Mind you, there are sliders for

. brush size
. brush opacity
. layer opacity
. brush aspect ratio
. brush angle
. brush rate
. brush flow
. brush spacing
. scattering amount
. smoothing amount
. smoothing weight

and I've inventoried only the most obvious ones. That would make 
approximately 44 -- forty-four! 8-o -- shortcuts to a minimum! C'mon guys! 
Is that really what you had in mind? Of course I don't want one shortcut 
for each of these features but you can't deny you've divided by a factor 2 
the possibilities of tablets, keyboards...

I loved Gimp 2.6 up/down buttons. They were a nightmare to use when the 
repetition rate was too high but at least you could make your way through 

II.1. Brush dynamics, usability and friendliness

I have no idea why, all of the brush dynamics in Gimp 2.8 cannot be 
changed. I need to create a custom dynamics and use it whenever I need to 
change the dynamics parameters... Wait a minute: so you're now telling us 
*all* we need to do is clone a dynamics "preset" and edit that? And we 
just need to delete it when done? Why not reboot the computer twice while 
we're at inventing oddities?

You cannot be serious?

II.2. Brush dynamics, relevance

So if we have to clone a dynamics set each time we want to check this or 
that parameter, what's the point of

1. making that many dynamics sets,
2. making them *all* read-only?

If you had wanted to complicate Gimp and give the feeling it stands in our 
way, well, goal reached.

Add that I had to figure out how to create a new dynamics set. Okay, I 
took much less time than I needed to figure out how sliders work but it's 
just one more obstacle to Gimp usage being straightforward and intuitive.

My suggestion: make *all* of those dynamics preset editable! Just like 
Gimp 2.6. And I honestly don't give a damn whether they store my 
modifications or forget them as soon as I quit Gimp. I just don't want to 
battle each time I need to get around a new feature that's been placed in 
my way!

III.1. Tablet-specifics, Pen/Eraser consistency

First thing I noticed in 2.8 is that I now need to select the eraser tool 
when I flip my pen to use the eraser. I didn't have to do that in 2.6.

Also, and it pisses me off hard, believe me, the eraser and pen share the 
same size. So whenever I flip my pen and use the eraser, change the brush 
size, flip it again, have to restore the paint size again...! This is 
getting obnoxious, really.

III.2. Tablet-specifics, Unintentional floating

A bug, probably. I don't have that issue with the mouse: many times, as I 
select an item from a drop down list (brush dynamics, brush...) using my 
tablet's stylus (paint or eraser tool) the list becomes a floating window 
and I need to dock it again... sighs.

III.3. Tablet-specifics, dialogs and menus

A bug, which was present in 2.6 and is still not totally fixed in 2.8: 
using menus with the stylus sometimes (in 2.6 it happened all the time) 
makes dialogs unusable. They need to be used with either the mouse or 
keyboard. The best work around is to close with the ESC key and do it 
again... or use the keyboard/mouse... In short it depends how fast or slow 
I tap the menu item with the pen. I happened to be able to use dialogs 
with the pen if I was *extremely* fast to tap.

This is one more argument in favour of the keyboard/mouse/tablet triplet. 
I just wish I had one more arm for ten fingers definitely seem not enough 
with everything I exposed.

IV. Conclusions

Well, there's a good side anyway. These annoyances made me want to dig 
MyPaint deeper and use it, another great open source paint software.

I find it even more sad, however, because Gimp has been my tool of choice 
so far whenever I wanted to paint. Now it stands more in my way than it 
used to help. I hope it will change.

To summarize my suggestions:

1. Make sliders behave like sliders the way we all know.
2. Restore Gimp 2.6 progressive rate (using up/down controls, why not).
3. Make *all* of the brush dynamics editable, even not remembering custom 
   settings, it's not that important. To me at least. You might need to
   ask for other people feedback.
4. Stop forcing users to run through additional steps to restore the 
   behaviours they once loved, e.g. create/clone dynamics to have editable 
   dynamics: all we want is editable dynamics. Period.

Please bear with me, it took me 2 hours and a half to write this. I 
wouldn't have bothered at all if I weren't *really* annoyed.

Thanks a lot in advance,
Vince C.

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