GIMP 2.8: understanding UI changes

GIMP 2.8: understanding UI changes

There's quite a lot to tell about GIMP 2.8: better interface, new features, improved tools and so on. Would you like to use it to its full potential?

Instead of working on a full review of GIMP 2.8 forever, how about explaining essential changes in digestible chunks? Let's start with changes in user interface.

Save And Export

You'd probably expect the review of UI changes to start with the single-window mode, but let's break the pattern for once and start with the most controversial change.

Since v2.8 the application exposes the internal difference between saving and exporting and doesn't let you just Ctrl+S your JPEG or PNG file anymore. Why, oh why did the team do it, one might ask...

What Was Before

First of all, GIMP doesn't really have any special modes for different file types. Internally it only deals with capabilities of its own project file format, XCF. When it opens a file that isn't in the native file format, such as JPEG or PNG, it actually creates a new project and imports this file to it.

It might even preprocess the imported data, in case of e.g. FITS. But once it's imported, GIMP handles non-native data as its own, allowing you to add more layers and group them, draw Bezier curves etc.

Still with me?

Now, this is important: many of those original file formats cannot store all the extra data that you created. So when you tried to save it back with v2.6, here is what actually used to happen:

  1. You tell GIMP what destination file format you need.
  2. GIMP activates the required plug-in for storing data in that file format.
  3. The plug-in tells GIMP which information can be stored, which can't and which needs processing (e.g. rolling multiple layers into one) before it can be stored.
  4. GIMP might ask you to specify details relevant to the file format you chose.
  5. Then it saves data.

Sounds boring, eh? Well, the user-visible effect was that every time you saved to a non-XCF file, you had to confirm that you really did mean to lose all the extra data, thank you very much.

In other words, GIMP used to assume that you don't mind accidental loss of unrecoverable project data and bothered you with confirmation dialogs. It was a convoluted logic, but people got used to it.

What The Team Did

In 2006 the team sat down with Peter Sikking of man + machine interface works and came up with a project vision (previously lacking) that basically says:

  • We want GIMP to be a tool used by professionals who work on complex projects.
  • This is our target audience, and it has certain workflows.
  • We want to change GIMP to honor those workflows.

The separation between saving and exporting is the direct result of that decision. In a nutshell, the new logic is:

  1. GIMP is targeted at hi-end use and work with multiple layers, extra channels etc.
  2. Only GIMP's own file format can store all of that reliably (PSD is alien).
  3. Therefore GIMP can only open and save its own files without losing anything essential.
  4. Hence everything else is imported and exported.

The major benefit of this change is that it fully supports the primary use case when you work on a complex multi-layered project and save a flattened representation for sharing and/or review. The additional benefit is that GIMP won't bother you with confirmations for flattening layers while exporting to JPEG or PNG.

Let's observe how it actually works.

The New Primary Workflow

For example, you can work on complex images stored in a private Dropbox folder as XCF and then export to PNG to a public folder a client can read and periodically overwrite the file with just a shortcut and no annoying dialogs.

Here is what it looks like. You created an arbitrary multilayer image, saved as XCF, but haven't exported yet:

When you export for the first time, GIMP asks you for settings just once and never again.

Now that you exported, all subsequent exports will be available via Ctrl+E by default in an non-interruptable manner, and the filename will be appended to the menu command.

You can keep pressing Ctrl+S to save the project file and Ctrl+E whenever you need to export.

The New Secondary Workflow

What about a different workflow, when you open a single-layered file such as JPEG or PNG, quickly edit it and want to just resave it to the original file?

GIMP 2.8 supports this workflow too. While it still imports rather than opens non-project files, it understands the kind of image you opened, so instead of “Export to %filename%” you get “Overwrite %filename%", without a shortcut:

Choosing that command will save your changes back to the original file, and, once again, it will not warn you about multiple layers, if any are present.

If you choose to save to XCF, GIMP will understand that as saving the state of the image to a new project file and will stop caring about that source image you “imported”. The connection to the original file will be gone:

And if you export to e.g. TIFF, it will be “Export to %filename%” again.

Hate The Change? Relieve The Pain

What if you absolutely hate this new behavior and will never or rarely need saving XCF? You can configure GIMP to do that.

Use Edit / Keyboard Shortcuts menu command to open the shortcuts configuration dialog, then type in “over" in the search filter:

Click on the cell that says “Disabled" for overwriting. You will be asked to confirm that you want to remove Ctrl+S shortcut mapping from the Save command.

The new assignment will be remembered:

Now you can try opening an image file:

Just as you've grown to do, if you don't mind the menu item to be called differently. There will be just two behavior changes to get used to.

First of all, when you close that image, you will be warned that you didn't save the whole state (you imported that image, remember?)

But if your images are small (e.g. screenshots), you don't have to bother closing them all the time: the new single window mode is a major relief when you have many windows open. You can just close all at once periodically.

(Personally, I rarely quit GIMP and often find myself closing images I edited a week or two ago. I only ever quit it to rebuild a new revision and test something, and I only have 2GB of RAM while running GNOME 3.)

Finally, when you create a new image from scratch and just want to save to JPEG or PNG, you will still have to export (Ctrl+E) first.

Why Couldn't They Just Add A Checkbox?

Isn't it possible to just add a checkbox in the configuration dialog somewhere? It is.

Would it be a good idea? No, it would be horrible. Let's have some reasoning again.

  1. In general, options complicate code and make it less manageable. Every option virtually increases amount of cases where application can fail. A snowball can soon become an avalanche.
  2. Certain planned changes such as better native CMYK support presume that color separation is done a special mode for exporting. Maintaining a related behavior switch, when you have such a feature, would be hell.
  3. Behavior options make documentation convoluted and lacking consistence.

It's quite possible that none of that bothers you as a user. It's a developer's issue, no? Well, consider this: after you've read the product vision, do you feel like you are part of it, or maybe you only used GIMP, because something like Pinta wasn't around?

It's one hell of a question. People still take offence at this change, and there is probably no cure for that other than repeating again and again: the team doesn't hate you, they just refocused on a group of users for whom this makes a lot of sense.

Single-Window Mode

There isn't really much to say about it:

  • The toggle is here: Windows / Single-Window Mode.
  • The forced combined elements are image windows and the toolbox. You can still float dockable dialogs and move them to a second display.
  • Image windows are grouped in tabs which have thumbnails instead of file names (sadly, not configurable).
  • You can pick a layer in one image, drag it and drop onto a thumbnail of another image's window to append that layer.

Tabs in single-window mode

Here is a dirty trick you probably would never figure other than accidentally. GIMP merges docks to the single-window mode based on their position in relation to the main window. So if you want the toolbar to the right, do the castling (as in chess):

Castling of windows

Re-enabling the single-window mode dock the toolbar to the right:

Toolbox docked to the right

If you want to temporarily hide all dockable dialogs in the toolbox, the Tab shortcut is still available

The much anticipated optional single-window mode is actually side A of the whole LP. The B side hasn't yet been delivered in a form of a specification, and the dedicated developer is mostly absent these days anyway.

So things like being able to view multiple images at once in the single-window mode or even sync navigation in them will hopefully happen later. Even so, the change was greeted with mostly cheers and few muted boos.

Multi-Column Dock Windows

Since v2.8 you can join dockable dialogs horizontally. You can probably think of many uses, but the one I have in mind is when you have a really complex project with tons of layers, and you need to see many of them at once.

Image courtesy by Alexia Death

All you need to do is just pick a dockable dialog and drag it to another dockable dialog till you see a highlighted vertical line that marks the connection.

The Slider widget

In the past GIMP abused a combination of a label and a slider, and sometimes even a spinbox widget. And since no label was equal to another in the tools' options dialog, widgets were misaligned. What's even worse, that bloated min width of the dialog. As if it wasn't bad enough, the default slider widget wasn't easy to use with a Wacom stylus.

So Michael Natterer implemented a new experimental widget based on a brainstorming idea by Peter Sikking. The new widget that combines all those three widgets. The label was placed inside the slider area, and the slider area was made more prominent.

The size of a change step depends on the position of the mouse / stylus pointer:

Position of pointers

The widget has several deficiencies such as lack of a logarithmic scale. The team is in agreement that the tools' options have to be redone to become more compact anyway, so the next 10 weeks an intern will be working with Peter Sikking on a concept of a new widget set.

Simple Math Expressions In Size Entries

Sometimes you need to adjust an image just a little bit to make it fit an area. Or you know you need to resize it to a certain percentage of the original size. Whatever the reason, you are lazy to calculate the resulted image size and you'd rather have GIMP work it out for you.

The new version of GIMP allows you using arbitrary units is size entry boxes. Let's say you are working in pixels and you need to reduce the width by 20%. Easy! Just type this in. Pressing Enter or Tab will complete the computation:

Math expressions

You can mix any units listed in the Edit / Units dialog: pixels, inches, percents. GIMP will take care of conversions for you.

This is probably the only UI change that nobody really hates.

Interestingly enough, the size entry widget was rewritten during Google Summer Of Code 2011 and is likely to become part of v2.10. On a user-visible level (and that's not all there is to it) the widget has unit selection inside the entry field.

Our next stop will be working with layers in GIMP 2.8.

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217 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. For me the new Gimp is absolutely awesome. I can’t imagine that someone uses gimp and never saves in xcf. The only thing that I still miss is higher bit depth, but hope to see the 2.10 soon:)

  2. Great article! One thing:

    “The much anticipated optional single-window mode is actually side A of the whole LP” (Line 657)

    What is “LP” an abbrevation for?

  3. agh I hate the math entry thing, I used to keep notes for my math class in those fields and was absolutely dependent on the error messsage that popped up to stop my notes from going to waste, now they’re just computed! GIVE ME THE OLD METHOD BACK THE GIMP TEAM HATES US USERS

  4. Many thanks and good job for the Gimp developpers for all this work.
    Here I welcome most of this features very well.

    1. Save and Export

    I understand the statement, the research, and all what leaded to this choice. I like the feature, and I think it adapt very well for destructive image format as JPG, or exotic files like PSD.
    I don’t understand why the same treatment with *.PNG and *.ORA or other non destructive and open-format. Here I work exclusively with Open Raster , to communicate in a workflow with Mypaint and Krita. Of course one of the first thing I do is to remap the Ctrl+Shift+S to Export as, and Ctrl+S to Overwrite.
    But it makes the name in task bar always ‘untitled’ ; and also ask everytime ’ the document is not saved’ on close if not a *.xcf document was done… What a workflow breaker for painter.
    I don’t want Gimp to become so centric around *.xcf ; and *.xcf have poor colaboration with other softwares. So, please let a little place for *.ora and *.png :) thanks in advance. 

    2. Single Window mode + tabbed multidocument

    Really good. ( a little note : when the file dimension is really high and not large, like 1:10 ; the area to select the thumbnails on the tab is really little, a minimum width can maybe be required ). I also would appreciate vertical thumbnails for screen with modern ratio ; I work on book-cover illustration ( portrait ) and the height of the screen is something really to economize in my workflow.

    3. Widget

    I love them. They probably takes a bit of precious spatial size in the dockers ; but they are smart solution.

    4. Math in field
    I love it. For publishing, for webdesign for artworks. It’s so simple to enter the desired lenght+crop or lenght+side lenght + back lenth to do a case or packaging.

    So , again many thanks. I hope the Save/Export will be a bit less strict and centric , to keeps Gimp collaborating for Blender textures artist ; for 2D painter with Mypaint and Krita ; and for all other usage who don’t work with *.xcf only.

    @Alexandre : good article ;)

  5. @Alexandre: Oh, of course! Why didn’t I think of that. Thank you for the explanation. :)

  6. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 4:16 am

    “Why, oh why did the team do it”

    Exactly. The length of your explanation only starts to show how difficult it is to both understand and explain this very weird decision. Bad design needs convoluted explanations indeed.

    “Save as…” means both name and format IN EVERY OTHER APPLICATION ON ANY OS OUT THERE. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel and this is exactly what the team has done here. Badly.

    The “Export” idiom refers in EVERY OTHER APP UNDER ANY OS OUT THERE, to “try to put this picture’s data on a file that’s not a picture file hence doesn’t belong to the category of a paint/retouching software”. The same meaning is reserved for the inverse “import”. PDF is the most obvious example (PDF is NOT an image format). ASCII art might be another.

    If I open a PNG picture and then save it after I change a few things, asking me to “export” it is just plain absurd. Moreover, if I just save it and the program saves it to its native XCF format, I will freak out. The “overwrite” solution is just a workaround most users will miss most of the time.

    I’m sorry to say this, but it smells like “let’s force our users into our internal format nobody was really using”. (Just wondering: is PSD encumbered in any way?)

    This is definitely bad design. Please reverse it for 2.10.

  7. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 4:24 am

    “the team doesn’t hate you, they just refocused on a group of users for whom this makes a lot of sense”

    I don’t think any development team hates users. I do believe, however, that too much FLOSS developers simply ignores its users needs or just can’t understand them. I tend to think this decision lies on the latter group (not understanding the users’ needs).

    Just show some evidence of those imaginary users for whom “this makes a lot of sense”. Or show the demand for this change nobody asked for. Or maybe show how people “hate” the way this is done in EVERY OTHER APP UNDER ANY OS OUT THERE, from word processors to high-end compositing systems.

  8. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 4:31 am

    Oh, BTW, the rest of the changes are just great and I’d say they put Gimp ahead of Photoshop in more than one sense.

    I’ve been working in the computer graphics industry for more than 20 years and I used to recommend the Gimp mildly, asking people to wait for this release.

    Unfortunately, I find the saving menus design is just embarrassing. Hopefully the devs reconsider this decision before the true GEGL Gimp version comes out and the program can be recommended without reservations for professional work.

  9. Alexandre Prokoudine 16 May 2012 at 4:58 am

    Aleve, I find it quite interesting that you have to shout about EVERY OTHER APP UNDER ANY OS OUT THERE when it is as far from truth as it could get.

    All NLEs, all DAWs (and even Audacity) carefully maintain save vs. export separation. Even LibreOffice exports PDF instead of saving (now that you mention word processors).

    So no, I’m sorry, but just shouting won’t do it.

  10. I love the new gimp and think the save vs export change makes perfect sense. Thanks team, and stick to your guns!

  11. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 6:25 am

    “Aleve, I find it quite interesting that you have to shout about EVERY OTHER APP UNDER ANY OS OUT THERE when it is as far from truth as it could get.”

    Of course it’s the truth. Keep reading.

    “All NLEs, all DAWs (and even Audacity) carefully maintain save vs. export separation. Even LibreOffice exports PDF instead of saving (now that you mention word processors).”

    I have explained what “Save” and “Save as…” are for in every app under the sun, but I’ll be happy to explain it again:

    “Save” means “overwrite the original file”, period.

    “Save as…” means “save to a new file with a different name and/or format”.

    “Export” means “put the contents of the current document in a file of a nature this app isn’t intended to handle”. (At the same time “Import” means “bring data from an alien file and convert it into what this app is intended to handle”.) For instance, saving a spreadsheet to a text file or a word processing document to a non-editable file format (PDF or picture). In the Gimp, Export should be reserved for PDF, ASCII art or any other file type that isn’t a picture.

    And these are the meanings every well designed app uses and for a good reason: the basis of the WIMP paradigm is that once you learn what basic UI idioms mean, you don’t have to relearn them for the next app.

    “So no, I’m sorry, but just shouting won’t do it.”

    Maybe I shouted too loud and you couldn’t hear the rest? I hope it’s clear now.

  12. I do hope that after the main GEGL features get implemented. They work more on modernizing the look of the user interface. give it a dark grey look, like Photoshop and Painshop Pro X4 has.. Easier on the eyes.

  13. Alevi, Audacity can handle ogg, wav and mp3 perfectly fine, but still:

  14. The new GIMP is simply amazing and magnificent!

    Finally it got to the area of pro software.
    Now some thigns like bigger color depths and on canvas editing for features like iWarp, none destructive editing and GIMP turns into the best image editor. The single window mode alone improves GIMP enormously!

    Good work GIMP team, bravo to you!

  15. Bob K., you do know you can theme GIMP? Perhaps they should include more default themes … but see e.g. how Ramon Miranda has it

  16. Thank you very much for this wonderful article!

    The GIMP developers did a really great job with version 2.8. It improved enormously in many ways, but I am also a bit unhappy about the saving changes. I can understand why they did it, but I agree with David that it is a pity to neglect the .ora format.

  17. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 9:40 am

    k: I don’t think Audacity is doing it right either. They seem to believe their application is not about editing audio files, but managing “audacity projects” which happen to handle audio files. That’s why they “save” or “save as” projects, not the audio files themselves. This is definitely convoluted, that’s why I think is wrong. To prove it further, they need no less than six entries in a menu just to manage three common audio file formats (something that might happen to the Gimp if they concede requests like those from Deevad, who asks for “some place for .ora and .png”...) A proper UI design would use “Save/Save as…” for audio files (supporting many more formats without overcrowding their File menu) and a separate “Save Project/Save Project As…”

    The Gimp devs probably think their users manage XCF “projects” too. Well, they’re wrong. Photoshop, Krita, Pixelmator or Gimp users open picture files and save picture files. Eventually they do “export” their work as a non-picture file, such as a PDF or an ASCII art file.

    It’s fine that XCF is the default file format for a new file, but forcing the user to workarounds like that non-standard “Overwrite” instead of the obvious “Save” is just crazy.

  18. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 9:44 am

    @Bob K.: I also vote for a dark theme included by default.

  19. Well, if you actually have to post a lengthy explanation about UI changes and why they’re supposed to improve the UI for users - that’s usally not really a good sign that those improvements have been what users actually wanted. ;)

    Also, as with many improvements in Gimp’s UI, they somehow improved something - but in a weird, gimp-ish way.

    Yes, the single window mode is FINALLY there; a large proportion of users wanted it desperately. But why can’t I not just simply drag all components - indicated by some tiny dragging icon for example - within the window around until I’ve got an arrangement suiting my needs?

    Instead, I need the aforementioned trick to switch back to multiple window mode, re-arrange the windows and switch back to single window mode.

    I see the thinking behind the Export-Save concept and it’s actually one of the changes which are implemented rather smoothly (same goes for the new text tool) - and even though I don’t like it as well, it’s at least well behaved and has a well-rounded, explorable workflow. So, this feature is exactly the other way around: I don’t like the feature and I completely disagree with the underlying concept, but it’s clear, straightforward and good to use in terms of “using it”.

    And that’s what every so often is missing: the well-rounded, smooth, clearly flowing steps for an interaction within Gimp.

    The new tagging mechanism for brushes and palettes is a good idea, but it’s weird to use.

    The new feature to preset tool options and save them under a new name is EXTREMELY nice and very practical - but also not easy (enough) to use. I also vaguely expected to be able to combine two tools into one preset (e.g. circle selection of radius x and bucket fill with forground color y) and clicked around a lot - but it seems I can only preset-and-save per tool.

    The text tool on the other hand has a lot of “works as I expect” and “oh, of course it behaves like I’m used to from application X” and that is one part of “usability” which makes me like the new text tool. I can mark idiotlike single letters with cursor keys or the mouse, just press anything copy-paste-ish and it actually just copies and pastes the highlighted letter into whereever I activated the paste (same layer, a different layer, another image..) and it just “there” - a new layer - no *CENSORED* floating selection, nothing. If I click it, it’s a text-tooled object again.

    Exactly how I expected it to work, no weirdness. (The only part needing some polish is the synchronization of foreground color, font etc. options in the tool dialog versus the on-canvas dialog)

    Nonetheless - I have very mixed feelings about the UI changes in 2.8…

  20. Regarding a dark theme: Just start Gimp with a different Gtk theme of your liking with:

    GTK2_RC_FILES=~/.themes/SomeTheme/gtk-2.0/gtkr /your/path/gimp-2.8

  21. Alexandre Prokoudine 16 May 2012 at 12:47 pm


    To prove it further, they need no less than six entries in a menu just to manage three common audio file formats

    They don’t. It was fixed in 1.3.x ages ago. That means you haven’t really seen Audacity in a long, long while :)

    “Export” means “put the contents of the current document in a file of a nature this app isn’t intended to handle”.

    Is there an ISO standard that says so? :) Or is it another case of “stands to reason” argumentation? :)

    NLEs export video files. Are they not intended to handle video files? Please name three commonly used NLEs that actually open and save video files difrectly.

    DAWs export audio files. Are they not intended to handle them too? Please name three commonly used DAWs that actually open and save audio files difrectly.


    I can understand why they did it, but I agree with David that it is a pity to neglect the .ora format.

    ORA was first developed for long-time archival with minimum project data (layers) and later became a kind of interchange file format for free image editors. It’s not exactly suited as a native file format, even though it’s being worked on to support more features. But it will probably never store additional channels or adjustment layers which makes it an exporting material.

  22. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 12:58 pm


    “They don’t. It was fixed in 1.3.x ages ago. That means you haven’t really seen Audacity in a long, long while :)”

    It really doesn’t matter. I was responding to a picture shown as an example of how Export is used instead of Save “properly”.

    “Is there an ISO standard that says so? :) Or is it another case of “stands to reason” argumentation? :)”

    You probably missed my words “de facto”. Yes those are standards too. Of course it also stands to reason, unlike your convoluted explanation of why the new behavior is such a good thing.

    I won’t reply to your fallacy regarding NLE or DAW suites. They don’t fit the same use case we’re talking about here and you know it perfectly well.

  23. Alexandre Prokoudine 16 May 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I won’t reply to your fallacy regarding NLE or DAW suites. They don’t fit the same use case we’re talking about here and you know it perfectly well.

    Oh, but they do :)

    Where do you edit your home video? NLE.

    Where do you edit a MIDI file? DAW.

  24. I think that the “save as…” and “export” changes was a very bad decission in terms of usability. It breaks users workflow and its very counterintuitive. Aleve Sicofante explain this issue very well. Gimp developers must reconsider this change. I know, as a software developer, that this this types of changes are done to improve the software in one way or another, but we need to keep in mind that we develop the software for the users, so when we make a change and the users start to complaint about it, we, as developers, must stop and think about it.
    Btw, Audacity menu is wrong too, as a lot of other FOSS programs that are not developed with usability in mind, maybe because their developers don’t know anything about it or don’t cares about it. It’s really sad when you must read the source code of a program to try to figure out how you can use a dialog that is developed with reusability and easy maintenance in mind but not user usability. Want an example of this? Try to use the resize images (2 dimensions) plugin of kipi-plugins and start to cry in a corner of your room.

  25. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 1:29 pm

    OK, I’ll bite and feed you. :-(

    An NLE takes several video clips and then puts them together. The thing to save is the editing, not the final video itself, hence the need for the distinction. An audio editor is the exact same case. (Again: you already knew this. That’s what I call trolling.)

    Now you might say that the Gimp can be used to bring multiple images into different layers or that multiple layers will be created during some specific workflows (the ones that needs layers, duh!) so it’s the same use case. When I point you to half of the users of Photoshop/Gimp/Krita or any other image processing app never ever using layers to process their PNG, JPG or TIFF files you’ll argue they don’t need this type of tool and send them to use Picasa or whatever, right?

    I’ve already argued somewhere else that telling half of your user base “go somewhere else, this is not your place” for an application with such a minuscule user base is well beyond arrogant. A simple look at the forum/mailing list will tell you how important this issue is for a huge number of users and how misguided you and the developers of the Gimp are. Michael Natterer’s reply is an amazing display of disdain. Not even Mark Shuttleworth is so arrogant.

    But hey, this is a “scratch your own itch” type of software, not the “serve your users well” type of software, right? This is the new FLOSS trend: WKB (We Know Better) (TM), right?

    I hope I saved you some typing, but feel free to keep the trolling going on.

  26. Alexandre Prokoudine 16 May 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Btw, Audacity menu is wrong too

    Audacity is a multitrack audio editor :) It’s bound to save projects and export single audio files.

    If apps don’t do things the way you want them to do, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong. Could be that you are not using them right :)

  27. Alexandre Prokoudine 16 May 2012 at 1:48 pm


    An NLE takes several video clips and then puts them together. The thing to save is the editing, not the final video itself, hence the need for the distinction. An audio editor is the exact same case.

    That’s no different from a typical use case when you open a JPEG and add some text, then save XCF so that you could later change the text or move it around the image.

    A simple look at the forum/mailing list will tell you how important this issue is for a huge number of users

    Yes, there were maybe 10 or 15 people who argued against the change in the mailing list that has at least 1K participants.

  28. Folks, user interfaces have to be learned. The fact that Gimp’s new Export and Save structure doesn’t match your previous experiences does nothing to disprove its validity.

    Every time an existing behavior is changed – even slightly – on a website’s or application’s UI (or any tool/product people interact with) there will always be people that take it as a personal offense. Does that validate the argument that these things should never be changed or reassessed? No.

    If you don’t like it you are certainly free to use other FREE products. Thoughtful critiques are helpful. Childishly yelling at the developers or anyone involved with the Gimp team will do nothing to make your perspective seem more rational or validated.

    Also keep in mind that you are yelling at people for something they generously do for your benefit in their free time.

    Projects, businesses and people that dutifully create their strategy based solely on the logic of “because that’s the way everybody else is doing it” will never succeed at doing something great.

    They might change their minds about some decisions eventually, but as long as the goal is to create an awesome professional graphics editor we will all benefit.

  29. Thank you Alexandre for the additional information on .ORA. I am a simple user and don’t know much about the technical aspects.
    And I understand that the programmes’ native formats will (probably always) be able to store more information than alien ones.

    But as we in the FLOSS world are in the happy position to have more than one useful software I think it’s important to have fine and easily interchangeable formats.
    (I wouldn’t mind a MyPaint accepting .XCF files, btw… ;-) )

    I agree with Jason that we have to get familiar with new interfaces, but when such general functions like saving, loading, new files etc. are concerned, I think, a consistent handling is very important.
    E.g. I don’t want to think first about what programme I am using before saving. Could badly influence ones workflow.
    As the shortcuts can be rearranged this won’t be a huge problem. I just mentioned it to give a general idea.

  30. I think the save/export issue should be viewed in term of just what it was meant to achieve, and is there a better, simpler way of achieving it.

    First of all many applications have different save / export functionality. Adobe Indesign, 3ds max, Corel Draw, AutoCad - all have separate save and export features. This is nothing new.

    The change was made to make GIMP conform to the expectations of the same crowd that uses those apps - professionals. As a professional, I can testify that I very rarely use Photoshop to directly modify a JPG or PNG. 
    The problem is, GIMP’s feature set is currently lacking - and professionals just aren’t using it. This is not criticism; I know the team works very hard on bringing Gimp to the next level; this is just a statement of fact. So instead, the people who do use it are amateurs who do a lot of single-image tinkering. They may open up a JPG to correct the lighting, delete some ungainly pimples or edit out some faces in the background. Then they save the image and upload to Facebook where the image is being downscaled and any artifacts produced by re-saving a JPG are lost anyway.

    I’m not sure what should be done. Perhaps the developers should come to term with the current user base before attempting to appease high-end users. I think creating an “image editor for the rest of us” is not such a bad idea. But it is up to them.

    As a quick fix, I believe making it possible to use the CTRL+E shortcut to overwrite the original image is the best way to go. This will make it possible to save the original without too much hassle. I have a hunch that the reason this was not done is because of the problem of assigning the same keyboard shortcut to two distinct commands - and if that is the case, I think the overwrite command should be ALWAYS available.

  31. @Alexandre

    Mmmm, no. Audacity menu is bad in usability concerns. Why? Mainly because the handling of project and audio files are mixed. You can open an audio file from the “open project” (Ctrl+O) entry but you can’t overwrite it with the “save project” (Ctrl+S) entry. Instead, a modal dialog is show to you telling that you are going to save the project as an audacity project. The modal dialog is only a sympton that something is really wrong.

    A solution: separate project handling from files handling. It can be do with different menus (or grouped menu entries) for file and project. The point is that the user must has clear the application behavior before he does the action, not after he do it.

    But this is not about Audacity. Lets talk about Gimp.

    In Gimp 2.8, you treat all the “opened” (1) files as projects (that can be saved as xcf). But a png file is not a xcf. It can be saved as a xcf in any point if you want to create something more complex, with layers and other type of project specific data, as line guides, text layers, ... But this must be a user request as a corner case, not imposed by default when you want to just edit a simple image. It’s just common sense, nothing more. And this is what the user expect.

    (1) Actually, Gimp IMPORTS them to a new project instead just open it. This confuses the user because the image that he want to edit is not anymore a png, it is a project that can be saved as the main project file, xcf. As the Audacity case, the concepts behind user actions are starting to mixing up. It confuses the user.

  32. Alexandre Prokoudine 16 May 2012 at 4:07 pm


    I’m not sure what should be done. Perhaps the developers should come to term with the current user base before attempting to appease high-end users. I think creating an “image editor for the rest of us” is not such a bad idea. But it is up to them.

    Well, there are many free image editors on Windows and Mac and even Linux that are simpler and have basic editing features. So people who need simple workflows are already taken care of.

    I have a hunch that the reason this was not done is because of the problem of assigning the same keyboard shortcut to two distinct commands - and if that is the case, I think the overwrite command should be ALWAYS available.

    I’d have to check back with Peter if this is the case. Maybe there could be some other simple shortcut for overwriting available by default.


    (1) Actually, Gimp IMPORTS them to a new project instead just open it. This confuses the user because the image that he want to edit is not anymore a png,

    As you can see in Michael_gr’s comment above, it doesn’t confuse the target group of users. This is what I keep hearing from pro users these past few weeks.

  33. As a new user to Gimp with very few months experience, I personally don’t mind the Save/Export changes and it makes sense to me. I think it’s because I haven’t established my workflow in Gimp 100 % yet though, so it may be easier for me to adapt to usability changes. It is understandable that users who have used Gimp longer than I, prefer the old ways of saving though.

  34. Luciano Dato 16 May 2012 at 4:42 pm

    For those guys that are complaining, go and use photoshop and don’t came back or be more respectful with the devs, for god’s sake, they are doing this for free!.
    Gimp is the shining diamond of free software, it will succeed for sure you have to be patient and cooperate to improve it, not complain.

  35. Count me in as a professional who loves the new save/export UI. It makes perfect sense to my photography workflow…

    1. Process raw photo file in darktable, export .png.
    2. Import .png with GIMP, make edits, export new .png/.jpg/.pdf for distribution or review, save XCF for future edits.

  36. So we had to wait for the 36th comment to get the standard useless “don’t complain it’s free” and “use photoshop” argument…

    The GIMP developers are doing a marvellous job, but this doesn’t mean that wie have to accept everything they serve without any (= positiv and negative) feedback.
    Without constructive feedback no improvement.

  37. Well, i work as a web designer/programmer in an advertising agency. Most of my projects/designs are stored in large PSD/XCF files. I been using both photoshop and GIMP, but the process is always the same:
    1.- A big layered project file to work with.
    2.- Exported compressed images for presentations.
    If i need to quick open-retouch-save a single image or many, change format, size o just brightness/contrast, i can get away with GThumb.

    So to me, Gimp’s new export/save comes like fallen from heaven! So reading things like <<The Gimp devs probably think their users manage XCF “projects” too. Well, they’re wrong. Photoshop, Krita, Pixelmator or Gimp users open picture files and save picture files>> makes me think some people would be better using MS Paint or Photoshop elements, after all, if you always “open a image file, do stuff and save to that same image file”, ¿What’s the need for layers & layer groups? (Hell, the time i’ve been expecting those - like when i had projects with +30 layers)

    I like the new workflow. It’s easier and faster (at least for me) and i didn’t had any problems adapting to it (like 5 minutes?)

  38. Aleve Sicofante 16 May 2012 at 9:56 pm

    “Perhaps the developers
    should come to term with the current user base before attempting to appease
    high-end users.”

    A thousand times this. But remember we’re in a new era of FLOSS were “We Know Better” is the mantra of developers. Read Michael Natterer to get a sense of his feelings towards the current Gimp user base…

    I’m laughing out loud at the idea that we have “many” photo retouching applications on Linux. We have very few quality applications on every field, including photo retouching.

    Last but not least, let me try to rephrase the convoluted explanation by Alexander here: “The devs and I believe the Gimp is closer to an NLE or a DAW than to the other common everyday apps. It’s not meant to do simple picture retouching but very complex layered image editing, so its main document type is not ‘pictures’ but ‘the editing process’” There.

    Those of you who are using Gimp to do simple edits are not welcome anymore. We don’t care you probably represented the majority of our users, we don’t want you. We’re aiming only at very high end professionals NOT YOU.

    Message received.

    (I’m also laughing out loud at the idea that the Gimp team is expecting professionals to leave Photoshop and come to them, but hey, they can dream, can’t they?)

  39. Alexandre Prokoudine 16 May 2012 at 10:26 pm


    Those of you who are using Gimp to do simple edits are not welcome anymore. We don’t care you probably represented the majority of our users, we don’t want you.

    Maybe you need to have a day off so you could go outside, meet some amazing people, have some fun in your life and get back having had a great time and a well-deserved rest?

    Because you’ve just perverted everything I wrote and made a huge amount of assumptions that you can’t even back with facts.

    It’s certainly not the kind of an argumentation that I would expect from someone “working in the computer graphics industry for more than 20 years”, but if it’s the best you can do, so be it.

  40. Aleve Sicofante 17 May 2012 at 12:30 am

    Whatever, Alexandre. Arguing with a sector of the FOSS people is futile. I know you guys pretty well already.

    Be careful when you step down from your high horse.

    Oh, it’s been exactly 26 years since I started developing flight simulators for the Spanish and Jordanian Air Forces. Just before I went into pioneering computer graphics in Spain and SGI was a little bit more than a startup. But some youngsters think computer graphics were invented yesterday…

  41. @Aleve

    “it’s been exactly 26 years”

    “I started developing flight simulators”
    Waist bow.

    “Just before I went into pioneering computer graphics”
    Waist bow.

    Take a vacation.

  42. Sure, at first the new save/export handling seemed weird to me too. But once you grasp the concept behind it and overcome the “it’s always been this way”-thinking, you will realise that this change actually makes a lot of sense. And I guess the distinction could become even more important once non-destructive editing is implemented. I, for one, have gotten used to it rather quickly and have come to appreciate the clearer workflow. Even as a non-professional user.
    Congratulations to the GIMP-Team for an awesome programm! I love working with GIMP and I’m looking forward to see some more exciting features and changes in the next releases.

  43. Luciano Dato 17 May 2012 at 4:52 am

    ^ Well said!
    Alexandre has said it very clearly, the minority is complaining about this, and actually it’s not that hard to get used to it. Remember GIMP is free software, you could fork it, or even use the old one.

  44. Daniel Gordillo 17 May 2012 at 10:19 am

    some youngsters think computer graphics were invented yesterday and some old dogs can’t learn new tricks.

  45. Aleve Sicofante 17 May 2012 at 1:15 pm

    1. I’m old but I’m not a dog. I learn new tricks every day.

    2. Changes must have some logic behind them. The new behavior lacks a lot of logic and breaks usability rules. That’s a fact.

    3. If a program opens a PNG file it should be able to save it too (not “export” to it, let alone “overwrite” it just once). If the new Gimp’s document support is XCF and only XCF, then PNG, JPG, etc. files should be imported, not opened. That’s what’s logical.

    4. A look at the forum shows that most issues have around 5 comments tops. This issue has raised more than 120 comments and counting. That’s by no means a minority and that discussion deserves attention from responsible developers.

    5. The Gimp developers have responded with disdain and arrogance to that discussion.

    6. I’m unsubscribing to this threat and won’t take part on the discussion at either. This is one of those cases where developers are imposing their views no matter what. It’s that “no matter what” what makes them poor developers, not the decision itself, and what makes discussing with them a waste of time, on this or any other subject, because it show they’re not up to the task. They wouldn’t be able to develop any piece of commercial software where the user is the one to serve, not themselves.

    Have a good day everyone.

  46. I remember when, a few years ago, after I had been using GIMP regularily for a while, it clicked in my head all of a sudden and I understood why I was able to add layers and what not to a JPG — because GIMP had *imported* the JPG into its native file format and I was working in the full function space!

    So, after that “click”, my workflow (even when just fixing a JPG or PNG) was pretty much aware of this concept. (But I do have to admit, I have lost some layers etc. once in awhile by saving and closing a JPG and probably absent-mindedly ignoring any warnings.)

    Thus, I welcome the new save / export split very much and can’t say that it took me more than a few seconds to switch to. Thanks, GIMP team, and please keep it like this.

  47. Actually this new version of Gimp was very good. However I am having problems using my Wacom tablet Ctl-470. And the Gimp 2.8 was heavier than its previous version. My system is Windows XP SP3 with a Dual Core processor, 3GB of ram and 512mb video, and yet he is slow at times, especially when working with very large images.

  48. I hate the change in save dialog.

    I feel that once again, developers decide for users and users have to cater towards the developers.

    I hope that one day I can have my own gimp version, the way _I_ decide that it shall behave, without a developer coming from heavens and telling me “no you are not allowed to save this in .png or .jpg format, you must use xff”

    I hope the XCF format dies.

  49. Daniel Gordillo 18 May 2012 at 12:24 am

    Hell Yeah, fork the Gimp and make your own app, nobody’s gonna stop you.

    No wonder developers ignore this kind of childish nonsense.

  50. Thanks again Alexandre for the informative article. I had been following the devel branch already, so these changes are not so new to me, but it is great to see all the hard-fought changes get merged into stable. I think the GIMP team are really achieving some great momentum, and as a long term ‘professional’ user I welcome and support every move they are making (although I personally wont be making the move to single-window mode).

    It seems there will be naysayers with every alteration, so I hope the devs can ignore the vitriol and maintain the conviction to their ‘project vision’. I would much prefer to see a project continue to strive towards innovation with a few failings along the way, than a project stalling or regressing on its vision simply to appease those too stubborn to move on.

  51. Regarding the recent change to how files are saved and exported, I think the core of what people are wanting is ease.

    It’s up to the Gimp developers to implement things the way they want to, but I feel there could be some changes to the save/save-as window to make it easier for users.

    I remember reading a while ago that Blizzard, a game development company, design and create things in games for their hardcore players, then they spend the rest of their time making those features accessible to their casual players.

    From a user-experience standpoint, I can understand that people who are used to save and save-as being something that overwrites the file they opened may find the new change in Gimp 2.8 to be a little strange. Not that it’s a bad idea to do things the way they are now in 2.8, but it’s different, and perhaps some people don’t understand what’s going on, or would prefer there to be more ease.

    And since you can re-map Ctrl+S, that ease is still there, so it’s not so much a question of functionality; it seems to be one of accessibility.

    An idea:
    Perhaps when a user saves/saves-as the interface could convey what is actually happening in a more visual, user-friendly way (see iPhone and web apps for inspiration), with an option to bring up the export dialogue and re-map Ctrl+S to “overwrite source file” from the save-as dialogue.

    More casual users and those who just like the functionality the way it was prior to 2.8 would then have easier access to the functionality they desire (that is already available to them in 2.8 in the form of re-mapping Ctrl+S and the export feature), and the new “save/save-as being for .xcf” functionality would remain.

    Advanced, experienced users don’t really need things like that, but I still think they can benefit and appreciate from interface elements that make things easier.

  52. The “Export” change is simply unacceptable for me.  I am not looking for a Photoshop replacement; I just want to be able to load a PNG file, edit it, and save it.  I understand that they have decided whom they want to serve, and they have decided that that’s not me, so they will not serve me.  Aspiring to replace Photoshop is okay in itself, but I am disappointed that instead of just “not serving” me, they have deliberately and knowingly gone out of their way to make my experience painful.

    This change renders GIMP unacceptable for my use case, and so now I have to stop using GIMP (or at least, not upgrade to the version with the change, or MAYBE create my own fork of the package).  I am surprised that a “professional” interaction designer did it, on purpose and knowing the consequences.

  53. I have to agree - I’ll jump off the upgrade wagon and just stick with what I’ve got.  I’d like to pick up some of the changes, but whatever.  I haven’t yet seen a replacement open-source image editor that has everything GIMP does, but if one does come along, I’ll go to that.  Or maybe wait and see if someone forks GIMP and undoes this. I’m definitely too lazy to fork it myself.

  54. Alexandre Prokoudine 19 May 2012 at 6:46 am


    Aspiring to replace Photoshop is okay in itself,

    Would you mind sharing how you came to conclusion that it has something to do with Photoshop? I’m genuinely curious.

  55. “We want GIMP to be a tool used by professionals who work on complex projects.”

    In context given GIMP’s history, that means a replacement for Photoshop.  The “professionals” who might use GIMP, currently don’t, and complained about the interface of earlier versions thus motivating a review of the interface, are exactly the “professionals” who use Photoshop.  To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

  56. Note also that just a few sentences later you mention PSD *specifically* - and no others - as the “alien” format it’s not good to save into.  Someone would really like GIMP users to convert files from PSD to XCF and not convert them back.  So, that is the optimized use case.

  57. @Matthew I’m not entirely sure how to best reply this, because you are seeing things in a completely different light from me. Let’s just say it looks like you are trying to tell me what I’m thinking. I’m sorry, but I know it better.

  58. You owe me an apology for your tone.

  59. Alexandre Prokoudine 19 May 2012 at 8:25 am

    @Matthew Could it be that you completely misunderstood the tone and missed the message?

  60. Sorry, removing the ability for me to open a generated TIFF panorama, then use File Save As and save it to a JPG by simply changing the filename doesn’t make this convenient at all. Exporting doesn’t help, because when I export it as a non-XCF file, the image window suddenly loses its title (no more filename in the window). In many many years of using GIMP, I’ve almost NEVER used XCF format OR NEEDED TO, and thoroughly resent being forced to store my data in a proprietary format. In that sense, GIMP has become just like Adobe or Microsoft: forcing people to use it’s “proprietary” format.

    I wish the GIMP team had done something useful with their time, like give GIMP something it desparately needs in my workflow: 48-bit color support.

  61. David, xcf is not a proprietary format; the specification is open for anyone to read and there are no patent restrictions nor does anyone have to reverse engineer anything. Sorry, but you are twisting the meaning of the word.

    And really, who are you to demand what others do with their time off?

  62. Sorry, you’re right, it’s not a proprietary format. But do any other programs such as Photoshop read it? If not, it’s effectively a closed format.

    I think if the GIMP team is serious about reaching graphics pros, 48-bit color is much more important than forcing GIMP users to use the XCF format.

    Sorry, not demanding, but it does sound like an attitude of “like our changes or lump it” is creeping into things. Not user friendly, in my opinion.

    By the way, I installed GIMP 2.8 from Debian Sid 2 days ago. It worked once. Then it informed me that my package manager (apt-get) for some reason had let me install GIMP 2.8 even though it required a newer version of GTKPixBuf than was installed on my system ... sorry, that’s not a package manager problem, that’s a packaging problem! Probably not the team’s fault, don’t know if the Debian Sid maintainer is part of GIMP’s team ...

    Anyway, will be patiently waiting for GIMP to attain 48-bit color support.

  63. PS, a comment about the GIMP UI vs the Adobe UI. The GIMP UI is a whole lot easier to use than the Adobe UI! Unfortunately, the Adobe UI is the way it is because it’s been refined since 1990 (in the case of Photoshop), primarily for pro graphics folk who use only Adobe products.

  64. But do any other programs such as Photoshop read it? If not, it’s effectively a closed format.

    Oh? How is that? :) Being closed or open isn’t defined by availability of a converter.

    BTW, neither PSD nor XCF are recommended by their respective developers to be used directly in 3rd party software. Both consider their own file formats to be too dirty for direct manipulation outside of the actual application.

  65. David, by 48-bit, do you mean 16-bit per R/G/B channel? If so, they announced that in git master the day after the release of 2.8:

    It is possible to work on more than one thing at a time – especially now that use git and work in different branches. (I wouldn’t expect the UI people to spend their time trying to learn how to work on internal stuff like bit depth, or just sit around waiting until it’s “their turn to do something”.)

  66. Regarding whether XCF is an open format:

    - the source of GIMP is available, so anyone wishing to write their own readers/writers have the full reference specification there (note that this is better than having just format documentation, documentation can be wrong, lie or omit stuff (or be based on a never-implemented version, as in that Office XML proposal that Microsoft sent to ISO), while the GIMP code _is_ the format)

    - there are already third party tools that work on XCF (, even if Photoshop doesn’t. The reason that other programs than Photoshop read PSD is because it’s so ubiquitous; had GIMP had the same market share, more programs would read XCF, it has nothing to do with the format itself.

    - there are no EULA restrictions on reverse engineering, you are legally free to implement your own XCF reader/writer (many programs have EULA’s that demand you do not reverse engineer the format in order to use the program)

    - there are no patent restrictions either, you are legally free to implement your own XCF reader/writer even if you live in a country that assumes software may be patented (compare with e.g. H264 or MP3, where implementations must involve patented procedures)

  67. A few random thoughts:

    *The save/export change is not unwelcome for me, just something I need to get used to doing. I totally understand the need for it.

    *Having a setting window do the math for you is a Godsend! If I read this right, it won’t be available until the next release?

    The slider is a welcome addition, although I’m still getting used to it.

    *I likely won’t go to single window mode, but I can see where people would like it.

    I’m looking forward to reading about new layer features.

  68. Rick, math in the size entry is already available in 2.8. Give it a try :)

  69. Alexandre, thanks for the info, that’s great to hear. Now I won’t have to open up a Chrome window just to figure out border sizes.

  70. I agree that a preference to change the exporting behavior overall would be a bad choice, for all the reasons you’ve listed.

    However, a lot of the end-user pain would be mitigated by adding a smaller, more focused option. Right now, there is _already_ a choice for “Confirm closing of unsaved images”. That could be split into two options — the existing Confirm Unsaved, and “Skip confirmation for closing overwritten images”.

    The problem right now isn’t just the inconvience of the additional dialog, but that the burden of keeping track of which files have been saved (“overwritten”) is shifted from the software to the user. That’s no good, because software is very good at that kind of thing whereas user memory is weak.

  71. isn’t it possible to keep at least the name of the exported file in the title after an export, instead of a “Untitled”?
    Isn’t it possible to disable the warning that the file was not saved and “I will loose my work”, because when I’ve just exported to PNG, I’ve saved everything I needed?

  72. the single window is nicely done but i have learned to use the multi windows to great advantage.  the change however has other advantages.  i love both.  the problem of “slow” seems to be global.  2.8 seems to use lots of CPU.  the screen profile simply pushes it over the edge.  after many edits it seems to grow problems.  i am sure those will be sorted out.  the save vs export isnt hard to use but for now is frustrating.  i have edited some 40,000 photos in gimp, photo shop, and others.  i like gimp so use it mostly now.  however after 40,000 times doing it one way .. wow you cant believe how hard it is to change my very fast work flow.  i do it wrong almost every time.  it seems so easy to fix this and i don’t see any big advantage in not fixing it .. allow me to set a default output.  in fact a new mode with, for instance, an automatic save in high quality JPG with an added letter to the name followed by an internet sized JPG with another name addition,  followed by replacing the photo with the next in line.. wow that would dramatically improve my work flow. (script?)  when you do hundreds of photos at a time, little things make a huge difference. changes to the work flow better improve things so much that it justifies the effort required to change long learned habits.  i use XCF only for reusable graphics and overlays, never for one shot photos.  i love the work Gimp team is doing.  its a learning experience for all.  i am so proud that such incredible work can be done today.  it shows that greed is not the only driving force for accomplishment.

  73. I understand the new export theory and it’s OK with me but I can’t figure out how to make it simple for my work flow.

    Old work flow - open source image (usually jpeg) work on it. Save As finished jpeg picking appropriate options, close image.

    The best I do with the new version is - open source image (usually jpeg) work on it. Export finished jpeg picking appropriate options, but now when I close the window I’ve got an extra Close without saving dialogue to contend with. Working with hundreds of images this extra dialog becomes very frustrating.


  74. As a programmer, this type of change is something that I always try to avoid, as it forces the user to do things the way I think they should work.

    As a GIMP user, the export instead of save looks a little strange and forces me to a new (and only used in GIMP) way of working, as I am used to make a change/ctrl+s to save it. Yes, I know that I can change the shortcut to make ctrl+s do what I need, but it shouldn’t be needed.

    Another thing I noticed (but that can be a result of lack of practice of using GIMP) is that when I am forced to do an export, it forces me to the folder it thinks I want to save, instead of using the one I just used the time before, and that is not helpful at all.

    PS: Photoshop also has a unique (and a little strange) way of doing things, but the only time I had to use Photoshop for more than 10 minutes I immediately started understanding the logic of the commands and I started working faster, even if that is not the type of work I am used to do.

    PPS: I hate Adobe’s way of doing things as they want instead of the people are used to, but in the case of Photoshop I understand it.

    PPPS: these complaints are not enough to make me stop using GIMP and start using something like Paint.Net, but I will stop suggesting it to Windows users instead of Paint.Net.

  75. I love most of the new in 2.8. The single window view is a life saver on a smaller screen.
    I really have to take issue with the logic behind the save change. You claim that this is to serve proffesional, high end users but these are exactly the people for whom this change will be the most vexing.
    Like it or not Adobe and Microsoft define the way pro apps work and the new way of handling save just serves to make the GIMP even more of the odd man out that is always has been in the pro sphere.
    I have been in prepress for decades and I have used every “pro” image editor there has ever been and not a single one of them handles save the way 2.8 does.
    You do not appeal to professionals by introducing a behavior that is out of step with every other app in the professional tool kit.

  76. Agreed.  This is a really atrocious design change.

    It’s semantically less consistent.  If you must export a PNG why do you not *IMPORT* it as well?  Hmmm!  Yay for half-baked poor UI choices.  It also raises the issue of reduced functionality.  Gimp 2.8 adds an unnecessary step to saving(!) non-XCF files, makes it more difficult to shutdown Gimp in a clean manner, and makes the window titles pretty much useless.

    I don’t need or want to save intermediate XCF files.  Despite being an “open” standard, by virtue of nothing else using this file format it *is* functionally proprietary.

  77. “Gimp 2.8 adds an unnecessary step to saving(!)”

    If anybody bothers to remember, the previous saving UI in Gimp required that you reconfirm the image file quality settings and location every time you saved to anything other than XCF.

    The new approach makes repeated saves to the same file beautifully simple. One keyboard shortcut. The previous interface was horribly inefficient. The new one is a move in the right direction.

    Besides, most of this griping is due to a bug that causes the “Overwrite original” option to be unavailable in certain situations. Once that’s fixed you can all go back to the same workflow, using “Overwrite original” instead of the old catch-all “Save”.

    But the new workflow makes saving easier once you learn HOW you want to save the image you have open.

  78. “But the new workflow makes saving easier once you learn HOW you want to save the image you have open.”

    Yeah, once all the “bugs” get fixed. lol.

    Sorry, no.  If I’ve got to confirm that I want to overwrite a file I am exporting (nee saving) *every* *single* *time* that’s a pretty big regression.  With the old UI I could hit save and only be prompted for image quality settings *once*.  With the old UI I could *save* a file as a PNG and maintain the window’s title.

    Still not sure how making an artificial distinction for writing files but not for reading files makes things *more* consistent.  If you’re going to play BS semantic games, at least go for consistency.

  79. Ah, sorry, I misspoke.  Not only do I get to confirm that I want to overrite a file I’m merely trying to save, I now have to confirm the image quality settings each and every time.  Also, revert to saved is rendered useless unless you use the XCF file format (which *nothing* else does).

    But, you know, as long as the workflow is improved for hypothetical professional users who rely on features not actually in Gimp yet… that’s what counts, right?

  80. Thank you so much!

  81. >>In other words, GIMP used to assume that you don’t mind accidental loss of unrecoverable project data and bothered you with confirmation dialogs. It was a convoluted logic, but people got used to it.

    No, Gimp used to assume that when I was editing a JPEG, I wanted a JPEG.  That’s not convoluted at all.  But it’s seriously convoluted for you to tell me that by, in effect, automatically changing my jpeg to another format, you’re sparing me the inconvenience of being asked if that’s what I really want.

    I’m doing a video project where I’m editing images frame by frame.  That’s a lot of images, and I don’t want to linger.  I use the command line to open them ten at a time, and now, with GIMP 2.8, all of a sudden I have 6 or 7 clumsy, counterintuitive added steps with each image.  Why?  in order to convert my jpeg into a jpeg.

    It’s all about courting professional users, but doesn’t a professional user KNOW how to save the file in XCF format, if that’s what’s needed?  Why can’t I edit the file extension any more?  Why do I have to go back to the first page of the menu to port my jpeg into a jpeg. 

    Gimp 2.8 seems pretty horrible to me, as someone who uses Gimp every day.  but I don’t have any doubt that in the end, it’s going to be fixed.  KDE4 was horrible at first, and now it’s better than usable. 

    I’ve reinstalled Gimp 2.6, and I still love it.  People are going to keep using 2.6 as long as they need to.  So this time, I’m not going to get upset.  It’ll be okay.

    I’d love it if I could back up a file simultaneously in a seperate folder XCF while saving the edited file as a jpeg.  That way, the confirmation dialog would no longer be necessary.

    >>If anybody bothers to remember, the previous saving UI in Gimp required that you reconfirm the image file quality settings and location every time you saved to anything other than XCF.

    I remember.  I did it 100 times today.  You reconfirm by hitting Enter.  That’s nothing compared to what I have to do to save my edited jpeg file as a jpeg file.  That’s the REAL convoluted logic.  The quote above is actually saying that by not

    If the only decent image editing software for Linux is really going to abandon everyday users in favor of professionals, I’m going to have to stop suggesting Linux to my friends.  But do professionals really need to have the ability to save jpegs as jpegs taken away from them?

  82. Alexandre Prokoudine 06 September 2012 at 8:08 am

    Hey blackbelt_jones, any chance you could set up shortcuts as suggested in the article?

  83. >>Because you’ve just perverted everything I wrote and made a huge amount of assumptions that you can’t even back with facts.

    >>It’s certainly not the kind of an argumentation that I would expect from someone “working in the computer graphics industry for more than 20 years”, but if it’s the best you can do, so be it.

    Well, here’s what you said:

    >>We want GIMP to be a tool used by professionals who work on complex projects.

    >>This is our target audience, and it has certain workflows.

    >>We want to change GIMP to honor those workflows.

    I’m sorry, but it’s not a perversion to think that everyday users are not important to gimp, based on this statement, and on this new version of GIMP.

    I don’t want to shout.  I want to be respectful of the fine work you’ve done, and the many ways that it has empowered me.  But if you feel misunderstood, you need to take responsibility for being understood.  It’s the only thing that’s going to work.

    What I think is going to happen, about the time Gimp 4.8 makes it to Ubuntu, is someone is going to start talking (idly) about forking Gimp 4.6, and there’s going to be a lot of complaining and raging, and in the end you’re going to fix this.

    Is it possible to fix it without the raging and complaining?  It would be nice to find out for a change, but this free software method really does work; it’s remarkably self-correcting.

  84. >>Hey blackbelt_jones, any chance you could set up shortcuts as suggested in the article?

    No, because now that I’ve reinstalled Gimp 4.6, there’s no chance that I’m not going to leave well enough alone.

    Any chance that I could have used these shortcuts to save JPEG files as XCF, if that’s what I really wanted to do?

  85. Hey, I changed my mind!  I see that there’s a command line application (xcf2png) that converts xcf files to png.  It would be easy to write a script that automates the process of converting 1000 xcfs to png, which are as good as jpegs for my project.  As far as I’m concerned, if this works, that solves the problem, and I might be willing to give gimp a try.  I like the idea of having xcf versions as backup.

    I still think this is a bad choice, and telling me that it’s because I haven’t read enough is not a good way to convince me I was wrong about your GUI not being intuitive.

    But don’t let my honest criticism mislead you into thinking that I don’t appreciate the great job you’ve been doing. When I say that in the end, you’ll fix it, I don’t mean necessarily mean that I think you’ll fix it the way that I would. 

    As far as I have the light to see, GIMP smoked Photoshop ages ago.  Much thanks.

  86. Well, I tried Gimp 4.8 again.  The shortcuts are indeed helpful, but it’s still painfully counter-intuitive to have to have to click “Close without saving for a file that I want to save” 

    With all respect, I know that I could learn to live with Gimp 4.8, but I’m going to continue to support Gimp 4.6, because I believe that the free software community is going to need it.  Gimp is becoming less intuitive in pursuit of an elite target user group.  That’s the developers’ prerogative, but I think the interests of the free software community lie elsewhere.

  87. I’m going to reprint something from another discussion, and then go away for a long time.

    If they wanted to change the “save” default, that would be inconvenient, but not maddening. But there no longer is such a thing as “saving as JPEG”. In GIMP 4.8, you can only “save” in xcf, you can only “save as” in xcf. You have to go to an entirely different menu: “export” to choose a file image.

    So when I export my file to JPEG, Gimp doesn’t consider my file saved. So when I close the window, I get a confirmation dialogue:

    “Close without saving?”

    This drives me crazy. I’m being asked if I want to close the file THAT I JUST SAVED without saving! Everything in my being makes me stop when I see that question, and rightly so.

    When I was saving my file as JPEG, I used to get a warning that I’m going to lose some data. I stopped reading those years ago.  Anyone with an IQ over 75 understands that he’s going to lose data when turning two layers into one layer. I just hit “Enter” and I’m through.

    But this “close without saving” thing, applied to something that I want to save, stops me dead in my tracks. I can’t just breeze through that.  It’s painfully confusing. When I’m trying to do a lot of these at one time very fast, it’s kind of tortuous.

    And what happens when I get used to it?  What if I start clicking on “Close without saving” without really thinking about it? 

    And the reason why they’re doing this is to avoid bothering me with confirmation dialogues?

  88. i know the team is trying to help me.  and i can help that effort by providing constructive suggestions.  well here is one of those.  add a new term to the “save/as” menu “SAE”  (Save All Edits). do that in XCF.  let me set the default “save as” to whatever format i am working in at the time.  i edit thousands of photos.  work flow is fast. not like it used to be years ago. i sure cant afford to take days or even hours anymore on a single edit.  not even complex ones.  almost every edit is a finished product. and there are often hundreds of those in a day.  you cant send anyone a gimp formatted XCF output. that is not a finished work.  its not usable by any customer, internet mail or professional printer.  its an intermediate solution to an unfinished project.  i might do many photos in one day. maybe the last one doesn’t get finished.  fine, i “SAE” that so i can resume work the next day.  if i am going to reuse that art then fine SAE that also in XCF.  but that’s not my finished product and i cant send that to anyone.  its an internal intermediate result.  if something goes wrong with my final JPG then i simply start over with the original (that i never touch).  it happens so rarely that there is no need to worry about all the steps it took to mess it up.  if you are turning out real work then it must be in a form that your customers can use.  and i don’t know one that wants me to send them an XCF file.  there is a few areas (for me) that can use XCF save.  that’s graphic art, where it takes days or weeks to produce a masterpiece.  even then an SAE would be ideal.  still the final version will not be XCF if its to be published, sent to a customer or outside duplicator. then of course how many masterpieces are you going to turn out in one lifetime. advertising with reusable art can use XCF to advantage but SAE would work there also while satisfying everyone else.

    my backup for recent work is a good chunk of a BluRay disk.  that includes original and final high quality JPG (usually).  also once in a great while an intermediate result(XCF).  storage is relatively cheap but can you imagine all that as XCF.  especially where less than 0.01% of it will ever be edited a second time. 

    i an not sure if i am in the targeted group but i sure hope so.  and i sure hope i can help make it better.  they have done a great job so far without me.

    “save “save as” for saving finished work” (ssasf)

  89. Any one who is really unhappy with GIMP 4.8 should be aware that you’ll have the option of using GIMP 4.6 for a long, long time, if you’re willing to make the effort.  I use Slackware, which gives me a really nice level of control over this sort of thing.  I’m typing this on a laptop that runs the latest stable version of Slackware (13.37) with KDE3.  Yep.  KDE3!

    It might be more complicated with a different distro, but I suggest you get a live CD.  A live CD can also be used if you want to use 4.6 someone of the time, and 4.8 the rest of the time.  You can always get what you need in Linux. So do your best to respect the hard work and good intentions of the developers, if you want them to respect your pain.

    If I was working with a few images and a lot of layers, I might appreciate the changes.  My project requires a lot of images, and few layers.  That’s just my bad luck.  I can make do, if I need to. 

    The “Close without saving” dialogue for a file that I just saved is where I draw the line.  I refuse to get used to that.  I’ll be sticking with GIMP 4.6 until that’s resolved.

  90. i am happy with gimp 2.8.  the advantages outweigh any disappointments.  but i dont recommend it for new people just yet unless i can spend some time with them.  i can live with a system not designed for me specifically.  after all i use windows sometimes.  its nice to know i can go back to 2.6 but never had to.  i have a lot of ideas that would make it even better but no one will ever know unless i say something.  i love the idea of Gimp and the cooperative way its done.  maybe that’s a precursor to the way great thing can be accomplished in our free society.  and yes that “close without saving” is counterproductive for every thing i do.  now thats more an improvement suggestion than an complaint .

  91. Hello!

    For me GIMP 2.8 redesign is the best thing that happened to GIMP. Single window mode is just so wonderful. While I have single monitor set up, single widow mode is a blessing. The way new features works are also best thing that happened. As I come from other image editors it is very understandable procedure regarding saving and exporting images. Now GIMP works as most industry standard software.

    Now I can;t wait for GIMP 2.10 the unified modification Gizmo is very needed so no more scale, move, rotate tools, one single unified solution to do that, I really wait for this. I hope the iWarp working directly on canvas will also be available.  The deeper color support is also a very nice addition. So GIMP 2.8 and future releases are on a very good road improving usability . GIMP 2.6 never was attractive for me because it was really not convenient. And it was not convenient for almost every friend I know who had interest in GIMP, but GIMP 2.8 really changed that and now is really well tailored image editor.

    As a designer I am telling you, GIMP developers took a very good road for GIMP with 2.8 and 2.10 is looking to be another really impressive achievement in developing GIMP which indicates a very bright future for GIMP 3. 

    And when thinking, GIMP 2.8 didn’t change that much from 2.6, just got a lot better. See Blender for a reference, Blender 2.5x and 2.6x differs from previous versions as day and night, but it was also a very good redesign that made Blender be more attractive to users. And finally GIMP is also as attractive as never before. So looking from the evolution point of view, GIMP 2.8 is the best GIMP release ever made and next release of GIMP might even bring Golden age to GIMP, especially if the node editor will be merged to the trunk in time.

    GIMP developers, you have made very good steps with 2.8! :)

  92. Yesterday, I edited about 125 images, and closed them all the same way: Close the window, save, hit enter twice. Simple and intuitive.  It’s not my imagination that GIMP 4.8 makes this procedure more complex and painful, and it’s not because I’m not used to Gimp 4.8.  After I get used to Gimp 4.8, closing and saving images as JPEGS will still be more painful.  The reasons given don’t really satisfy me, but they seem to satisfy others.

    I’ll keep using 4.6.  This will resolve itself in the end.  Or maybe it already has.  I can’t think of a thing in Gimp 4.6 that I’d like to change.

  93. Sorry about the times I got the version number wrong.  I can’t seem to stop doing that.

  94. Disagree with the save - export change. 

    Design advice - Don’t make the majority of professional users suffer to protect professionals that dont pay attention to thier work. 

    It frustrates me to know end.  Going to go to an old version it was bad enough some pop up box has to warn me about layers.  Of course I know about the layers I was working on the image 3 seconds ago.  GOODNESS!!!!! 


  95. OK, so I just did a quick edit on an image for web posting.
    I used the over-write choice then was confronted by a confirmation to discard changes when I went to close the image.
    That is confusing. I just told GIMP to over-write the existing file with the new file containing my changes. Given that this is the case, what changes are GIMP asking about when I try to close the image?
    Seriously, GIMP is great but the new save workflow is awkward and confusing.

  96. Here’s another thing that drives me crazy:

    I edit a jpg image, and then I want to save it.  There’s no such thing as “save as JPG”, so “save” is not and option, there is only “save as” so even though I have one choice of format, GIMP has to stop and ask me if I want to choose my one choice.

    I’m not a professional graphic artist, so I can’t say definitively that this isn’t dumb, but I believe, with some certainty, that this article doesn’t explain why this isn’t dumb.  It is NOT less convoluted, and it doesn’t give me less confirmation screens to click through.

    All that I can see that it accomplishes is a relentless literalness.  GIMP talks to the user as if it was Sheldon from the “Big Bang Theory”  The computer, if it’s capable of forming an opinion, probably thinks Gimp 2.8 is less convoluted.  Human beings will have a different perspective.

    This will work itself out in the end.  Gimp is a great application.

  97. Re exporting instead of save as. Congratulations. You have added a layer of difficulty, just to blow your own trumpet. Or maybe a vuvuzela, since it’s so annoying. I have liked Gimp for years because it is so capable and I find it *more* intuitive than Photoshop. You seem to be working hard to change that. The idea that it’s OK to make an application hard to use just because it’s aimed at advanced users is, frankly, retarded.

  98. Apologies for using “you” in the post above. My criticism is clearly aimed at the developers.

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