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Graphics Software

Integrating OSS Graphics Apps 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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Integrating OSS Graphics Apps

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:35PM (#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
  • How about... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gruneun ( 261463 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:37PM (#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.
  • palette plugins (Score:4, Interesting)

    by soupdevil ( 587476 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:39PM (#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:How about... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KiltedKnight ( 171132 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:41PM (#11620695) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:46PM (#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.
  • C onsistency (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:46PM (#11620756) Homepage Journal
    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
    rea d this
    r, I believe
  • Re:How about... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:53PM (#11620840) Homepage
    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)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:59PM (#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.
  • by Eberlin ( 570874 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:05PM (#11620973) Homepage
    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 -- 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.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:22PM (#11621161) Journal
    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.
  • by As Seen On TV ( 857673 ) <> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:24PM (#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.
  • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @04:11PM (#11621773) Homepage
    Most high end photoshop users are probably using a Wacom tablet instead of a mouse, though.
  • by joshsnow ( 551754 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:43PM (#11623548) Journal
    Wah, wah, wah! Quit whining. These people are working for free to give you software. You should be grateful.

    I'm never grateful for stuff I can't use and if they want me to use it they should be open to feedback from me. And no, I can't specify who "they" are any more than to say that they're the same "These people" you're referring to.

    There is plenty of interoperability. Maybe it isn't all polished and marketable as you would like, but there is interoperability galore in the form of starndard file formats, protocols
    Think someone mentioned interop at the API level. Basic automation and so on.

    Doesn't seem to be a problem with The GIMP or OSS in general. We wouldn't even be talking about The GIMP right now if nobody was using it. The fact is that The GIMP is extremely powerful and works well for those who want to use it. The only people I see complaining in this thread are users, not the developers.
    Well, doh! Of course the users are complaining, and they're doing so legitimately too. The bottom line is this; Following your distinction, USERS (as opposed to developers) use the GIMP on Linux because there's no other realistic alternative. If ,say, Adobe GPLed a linux version of Photoshop7, how many USERS do you think would continue using GIMP?

    And therein lies the rub. The famous desktop OSS applications (OpenOffice, Moz) either started life as commercial products or currently have / have had some form of commercial backing. So somewhere in those products life the devs have had to take USER feedback and that's why they're OSS poster boy apps now.

    You can argue until you're blue in the face about users needing to be grateful or users becoming devs or users using something else. These complaints won't go away until they're addressed or something better comes along.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...