[Gimp-gui] About the "floating selection"

Hello everyone!

We have been pondering about the use cases of floating selections and possible changes for GIMP 3.

# Current behavior

Currently say you copy, then paste over a layer, you get a "Floating selection". You can do nothing so far except modify the floating selection contents (you can't select another layer for instance), and finally create a new layer off it, merge it to the layer below or delete it.

## Going simpler?

Beginners are often confused at this stage when they don't realize they have a floating selection and that they have to make a decision to be able to do anything else. We gave university classes with GIMP and the "GIMP is stuck!" issue is quite a common one (when the student shows the screen, we directly see it, but beginners seem to miss even the big flashy green and red buttons on the Layers dockable).

Yet even advanced users who are used to it seem to think it is bothersome. Indeed if a paste were just creating a new layer by default, then we'd spare one click if that was what you wanted to do (and if you wanted to merge, you could still do it in one click, so not better not worse). Also as its own layer, the data can be independently edited anyway. Finally no beginner confusion anymore. It seems like a total win.

## The only advantage of floating selection (at least only found so far)

When you paste to a mask, there is no concept of multiple mask per layer (so far), so the only direct action would be merge/anchoring. But then it means you cannot edit the pasted data before merging.

Indeed if you test pasting into a mask (click on a layer mask, then paste), your floating selection now acts as a mask itself and you get a preview of it. It's like the only time where a layer can somehow have 2 masks. So you can actually edit this pasted mask independently, move it, rotate it, paint in it, and finally merge it.

That's indeed a big advantage here, and maybe the only reason I see for floating selections so far.

# Proposition

So our idea (at ZeMarmot project) would be:

- When pasting on a layer, just create a new layer over the selected ones. Done. No floating selection anymore.

- When pasting on a layer mask, still make a floating selection (but probably name it "Floating mask" because the name "Floating *selection*" is weird anyway).

# Feedback

So the questions are:

- what do you all think?

- did we miss anything? Are there some use cases where floating selections over a layer are meaningful too? Are there other use cases of floating selection we miss at all?

- is there any reason why we'd want to leave a "Paste as floating selection" action (even if not default anymore)? I mean if there are no actual use case (other than pasting over mask which keeps the floating selection anyway), I don't see why we would. It only makes more maintenance burden with more code paths to take care of.

But if we missed something, we obviously don't want to lose any ability of GIMP which was only possible (or much easier) because of floating selections.

Thanks all!

GIMP team

ZeMarmot open animation film
Liberapay: https://liberapay.com/ZeMarmot/
Patreon: https://patreon.com/zemarmot
Tipeee: https://www.tipeee.com/zemarmot

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