GIMP and usability

The other day I installed GIMP 2.2 on a PC and was delighted to notice a couple of improvements to help ease image editing. The most noticeable of these was the improved file dialog. The GIMP now allows you to “remember” favourite directories by dragging them to a special area in the dialog window. If you keep all your photographs in D:\data\images\photos, you’ll get there in one click. Also, if you are working on a project, you can give yourself easy access to the project. Once the project is over, you remove the directory from the list.

Cut-out of GIMP Save As file dialog
The GIMP file dialog has a list of favourite directories to the left. Copyright 2004 The GIMP Documentation Team.

This is in fact an old feature from the Commodore Amiga. There, you could use the MOUNT command to create special drives anywhere on the file system. So hd0:data/images/photos would become the PHOTO: drive. The GIMP approach is even an improvement to this method, as it allows you to store favourite directories at the application level. On the Amiga, you could end up with dozens of “drives” system-wide, because there was no way to attach a mount to a specific application.

I congratulate the GIMP developers with this improvement, and hope that they’ll get more and more used to the idea that not everything has to be solved at the system or window manager level.

GIMP 2 got the large version number for all the internal improvements that its main architects wanted recognition for. However, GIMP 2.2 seems to have all the improvements that users will immediately notice. If you thought 2.0 was a bit of a let-down, and haven’t looked at 2.2 yet for exactly that reason, I would like to encourage you to download 2.2 after all. It still hasn’t got all the really important stuff, like 16 bit per pixel per channel colours and better management of indexed images, but it has a truck load of small usability improvements that you will enjoy, such as improved guides management, previews for most of the filters, a shortcut editor to manage your dynamic shortcuts, a toggle for Advanced options in dialogs, and much more.

5 responses to “GIMP and usability”

  1. Brendan Orr says:

    I have to disagree, I like the shortcuts, but taking in account the parts that were removed from the original file dialog, I’d rather use the old one
    For one, it is impossible to load anything from a hidden directory (such as saving your made-from-scratch brushes and patterns to ~/.gimp-2.2/patterns, and slightly annoying to save to a dotfile or dotdirectory. I love the old dialog’s tab completion/browse feature.
    What the current dialog needs now, more than anything is a field to hand-type in the current directory, no reason not to have it.

  2. Brendan Orr says:

    Ok, correction, it isn’t impossible to go to a hidden directory, it just isn’t apparent. Who would’ve though Ctrl+L, still, that field should be integrated with the window itself, rather than a hidden dialog

  3. Branko Collin says:

    Yeah, I miss auto-complete, and I don’t like to have to hunt around for the complete file selector. So far I just figured there’s a setting somewhere, and that I was too lazy to find out how to keep the full file selector on.

  4. Max says:

    There is stilla significant problem with the shortcuts – I develop web applications for a living, and all my grahpics resources go into a directory called “images”. Now I have ten or twenty “images” shortcuts in the list (one for each webapp), which makes it totally useless…

  5. Branko Collin says:

    I would not say _completely_ useless. You can link to the directory above your images directory, which presumably has a unique and recognizable name.

    I recognize the problem though, and agree that something even better is in order.

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