Gimp vs. the World [was Re: [] Creating image thumbnails]

Shlomi Fish shlomif at
Sun Apr 25 12:34:01 PDT 2004

Well, just to dispel the anti-GIMP FUD...

On Sunday 25 April 2004 15:40, Yuval Yaari wrote:
> >Well, without getting into Gimp vs. Photoshop religious wars here, (I
> > happened to find GIMP much easier to use than Photoshop), it is in fact
> > possible in the GIMP using the Perl bindings.
> I've been using Photoshop since Big Electric Cat and to be honest, the
> Gimp is nothing but blasphemy.

You are entitled to your opinion.

> In photoshop you have keybindings to everything and the menus are really
> comfortable.

You can configure GIMP to assign keybindings to whatever you want. I 
personally find the GIMP menus very nice. For the brief time I used it, I 
found Photoshop confusing.

> This is not a religious war - you can't even choose between them (using
> wine is cheating).

Not on UNIX, true. But GIMP is available for Win32 and MacOS X, where 
Photoshop can also be run. There you have a choice.

> Besides photoshop vs. gimp, I believe the gimp is a good example of bad
> UI... What about menus? Keybindings?

I personally never found the GIMP UI bad. Originally, its menus were all 
present in the right-mouse button context menu. This is fixed in GIMP 2.0. 
And there are plenty of keybindings in the GIMP, and you can easily assign or 
replace new ones. (in case you don't like the present ones).

> The gimp opening 138 windows really pisses me off... I can't find
> anything there.

Well, you can place them all on a separate workspace (that's the X-Windows 
philosophy). In any case, in GIMP 2.0.x there are dockable and tabbable 
dialogs, that can reduce the number of Windows.

> What's wrong with file/edit/view/windows/filters/layers? 

In GIMP 2.0.x there's 
file/edit/select/view/image/layer/tools/dialogs/filters/script-fu. It's 
pretty similar.
> What the hell 
> is Xtns???

The Xtns menu is intended for GIMP extensions. Most of it is for scripts 
(Turing-Complete) that people wrote for it and register it there for 
convenience. And stuff that support scripts.

Xtns is a common acronym for "Extensions".

> You can't expect graphic designers to use a tool that has an "Xtns" menu

Why not? Why should a designer care that the application menu-bar has such a 
menu, as long as the program does its job.

> (the complete menu is: file/xtns/help - that's it).

That's the GIMP application menu. The gimp image menu (menubar per image in 
GIMP 2.0.x, and context menu in all versions) has much more sub-menus.

> Heck, even I wouldn't use anything that has such stupid menus!

I have no problem in using the GIMP despite its three-menus menubar. There are 
many graphic designers (check GUG - the GIMP User Group), who share my views. 
I met a designer at an Instaparty who used Photoshop for several years, and 
was quite impressed from the GIMP.

> I've never seen anything really pretty done in the gimp either...

Do you mean that no nice-looking images were done in the GIMP? I find it 
hard-to-believe. For once, some of the Propaganda images, 
( are very pretty, and they 
were all done in the GIMP. There are some nice pictures at GUG, albeit many 
of them not original - just tweaked. There are also others which I've seen.

> The features I missed the most when trying to work with the gimp: layers
> panel, 

What's wrong with the Layers Dialog of the GIMP? In GIMP 2.0.x it is dockable.

> slices, 

I don't know what slices are.

> save for web, 

There is such a feature in the GIMP.

> layer effects, 

If I understand you correctly, there should be.

> history brush, 

What is it?

> decent     
> history panel, 
> snapshots (save a few states of your history), actions, 
> customizable keyboard shortcuts, 

There are customizable keyboard shortcuts in the GIMP.

> "Filter Gallery", color replacement 
> tool, 

There is a color replacement tool in the GIMP.

> layer sets, nested layer sets, the text tool is lacking tons of 
> features.

There's a new text tool for GIMP-2.0.x that can be downloaded and is under 

> Also, keep it in one window for crying out loud.

There was a discussion in the mailing list of making the GIMP support MDI. You 
can still keep everything in one X-Windows workspace.

> I honestly did try to use the gimp...

If you say so. Have you read the online books about it?

> I try to be objective: Gimp is a toy. Photoshop is a power tool.

I wouldn't call a program that took dozens if not hundreds of man-years of 
effort, and is fully feature-rich, and that some people will sell you the 
equivalent functionality for hundreds if not thousands of dollars a "toy". 
You can do some spectacular graphics manipulation in the GIMP. GIMP is very 
much a power tool.

So I wouldn't call your opinion "objective".

> Staying objective: Gimp is a pretty feature-rich program, especially
> when keeping its price in mind (I wouldn't believe if someone told me
> that a company sells it for money, though).

Actually, some bloke sells GIMP for Windows under a false name for money 
claiming that it is a stable version of the open source betas. Plus, some 
versions of GIMP for Mac OS X are sold for money. 

> >What you need to do is:
> >
> >1. Make sure gimp is kept running (or a daemon part of it - don't know).
> >
> >2. Make sure the Perl-scripts server is running.
> >
> >3. Write a Perl script that scans the images directory, and uses the
> >appropriate GIMP Procedural Database (PDB) functions to open the file,
> >determine its size, calculate the desired thumbnail size, resize the
> > image, and save it as a new filename.
> >
> >Part 3 at least can be done in batch mode, as opposed to Photoshop for
> > which it may not be possible, or the program may not be available on your
> > platform of choice.
> Photoshop's batch mode took me 1 minute to record and run on an entire
> directory...
> I found the "as opposed to photoshop" part funny, because they have this
> feature for a few years now.
> The Gimp doesn't have this at all, AFAIK.

GIMP does not need it because it has the procedural database for which you can 
write programs and scripts in C, Perl, Python, Script-Fu and any other 
language that was ported to use it. You can write a procedure that does it, 
and run it on as many files as you desire by another program.

By "batch" I meant that it can be called from the command line or from a Perl 
script. Imagine you have a site to which people upload images. Are you going 
to start Photoshop manually, and invoke your script on the appropriate file 
everytime someone does this? With the GIMP it can be done programatically. If 
there's a way to run Photoshop commands programmatically from outside 
Photoshop, then Photoshop is even to the GIMP in this regard. 

Remember the Joel Test: "can you build a package in one command?"

> It's also pretty fast... There's a huge problem with the platform (I
> would do anything for a Linux version of Photoshop).

Well, you can try talking Adobe to port Photoshop to Linux. So far, it's been 
a few years since Linux has been around, and the only application they ported 
so far is Acrobat Reader. (and meanwhile, people ported the GIMP from UNIX to 
Windows and Mac OS X). It may actually be faster to wait for GIMP to 
implement all these features. The source is at your disposal, if there's 
something you feel is missing.

> In PS you don't need to code anything or even be a photoshop expert to
> resize an entire directory of image...

Just let me know how you can do it from within your Perl script. And from when 
has the need to code something been a problem? In UNIX everything ought to be 
scriptable and integratable, and we don't give way for non-programmers.

I recall a time that someone asked in a computer magazine, how he renames a 
directory images from having the filenames image00.jpg, image01.jpg, 
image02.jpg to image000.jpg, image001.jgp, image002.jgp. (because he got more 
than 100 images). The poor guy eventually did not know what to do, and 
renamed all the files manually. Any half-decent UNIX guru knows it's a matter 
of a short shell or Perl script. The guy who answered him said there's a 
freeware program called "TheRename" that can do that after you fill in some 
stuff in a dialog. Naturally, I wouldn't need such a program, and I'm not 
sure if it has everything I would ever require. Most GUIs are not Turing 

> If it must be on the fly, use this Gimp approach because
> PerlMagick/ImageMagick's quality is poor.

Well, as Migo noted in a different reply, it is possible ImageMagick's 
conversion can have an increased quality than the default.

> Shlomi, are you sure the gimp must be kept open??? I would try that
> later, perhaps.

I'm a little bit hazy on it. It may vary from version to version. I suggest 
you (or whoever is interested) would ask for the advice of the knowledgable 
people (some of them the core GIMP developers) on GimpNet's #gimp channel. 
(or alterantively the GIMP mailing lists)

> I just resized an image in the gimp and I'd say it's OK. Not as good as
> I'd expect, though.
> Also that thing can't optimize pictures for the web so they come out too
> big or you lose quality.
> Otherwise, if you have access to all tools (Gimp/Photoshop/ImageMagick),
> I'd say you should see for yourself which one produces the best results.
> Also see which one is the easiest to run in batch mode.

And also which one can be used programmatically.

> I found ImageMagick's convert tool to be the easiest, and the Gimp the
> most difficult for batch mode.

GIMP is not very difficult to run in batch mode once you know how to do that. 
(which requires some research and trial and error). I wrote a few Perl 
scripts to control GIMP, and they worked pretty well.


	Shlomi Fish

>   --Yuval
> _______________________________________________
> Perl mailing list
> Perl at


Shlomi Fish      shlomif at

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.
        [Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.]

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