Friday, February 4, 2011

It’s Open-Source, Live with it!

Today, I saw something concerning, something which I think that I should share with you. Since GIMP’s call for help and developers, there was a small thread in the Blender Artists Forum that tried to raise support for GIMP, and make people aware of the lack of developers. While some replies were great to hear, and made me feel good as a GIMP developer, some simply pissed me off. Another event which amazed me, was to hear the reactions of some ungrateful people to farsthary’s job offer from 3D Coat (link is broken, he removed the post). I have to say that I’m a great fan of Blender, GIMP and Inkscape, and these are some of the most amazing projects that prove the ability of a community to build something together. But community is a double-edged sword – it can sometimes destroy things that took years to build.
This post is going to be long. If you don’t want to read it all, you can jump to the bottom line by clicking here.
I’ll begin by quoting a comment which I saw in the first page:
Gimp - the software which never matured.
I am not stating that I am Photoshop lover - I mainly actually use a different paint / image tool which is faster and snappier then Photoshop but Gimp never made me feel comfortable.
Gimp is painfully slow with bigger images and the interface is not very intuitive.
The lack of CMYK further more limits the usage to specific areas.
I am not sure about the reason for such a low amount of devs since I assumed that such
a popular product would attract many. Maybe the never fixed limitations of Gimp for
some reason also make it not so attractive to look into - i dont know.
Why spend time on something when it is not that greatly used compared to other products.
I don’t think Blender would have gotten to were it is now, if when few people used it, no-one would have contributed to it because it’s not used enough. In “ancient times”, when Blender was “just another 3D program”, it still got developers. It was and is still a great example of open-source, and the way people donated money to release the sources is something which I consider an historical moment.
GIMP isn’t perfect.
I’ll lie if I say it has the same abilities of PS.
Many people contribute to GIMP and other open-source projects, or at least show they care. I would like to thank all these people – you make me happy in ways that it’s hard to imagine. Even if the project you are using isn’t perfect, you still appreciate what you have.

Be happy

Now, I’ll jump a bit and talk about farsthary’s amazing news – he got hired by 3D coat. First of all, I have to congratulate him. For those who don’t follow Blender development, he is a volunteer Blender developer from Cuba, who implemented the most amazing features in Blender – volumetrics, advanced ray tracing, and many many more.
Farsthary is the person who inspires me in my work – he is an amazing developer, that when he wants something done, he researches and codes until it’s done. I’m a student, with great interest in CG (CG was the reason I started to learn programming when I was young), and he inspires me in the last year in lots of what I do.
When I saw the news about the job offer he got, I was truly happy for him. Most people also shared my feeling, and they did express their feelings and congratulated him. However, when I read some of the comments about his announcement, I wasn’t smiling so much:
Good for you. And I wish all the best. ;)
But it’s not good for the Blender community.
Why didn’t you join BF instead? BF would hire you with arms widely open. That’s because there is a lack of recruits in BF (money is not the problem). But it’s to late now…. BF lost a potential B developer.
Thinking that you will still work on Blender is being naive.
Can’t you omit that part of the comment? Can’t you just be happy for someone, without leaving a bit of bitter taste in his mouth when he reads it?
congrats. I really hope that you finally release your unlimited clay branch for blender, so people can have some fun with it. When you join 3dc and start developing it for them as well, if you still havent released it on blender, it would look like as if you are not so keen to release it anymore, because they want to have it exclusively on 3d coat, but not for free on blender. Everybody knows that you can’t compete with free
Again, be happy for a developer that had success and try to do it without reservations. I agree that Blender potentially lost a great developer, but why spoil his special moment by telling him that?

So, I’m different – Should you dump me?

Back to GIMP - So, is it’s lack of features a reason to kill it? According to some users, there are some other reasons:
But the main result is that it should possibly attract then more users by having a more classic and appealing interface, and with more GIMP users it would certainly mean some more developers coming.
Hearing this from a Blender user, the program with the most unique interface in the world (which I consider an amazingly good interface), simply made me smile.
Now seriously, you can’t be great without developers that will help you be great. And speaking about UI, GIMP just published about internships to work on GIMP’s usability (details here).
Some people used the thread above, to also say bad things about other open-source projects that need more work (For example, Inkscape’s UI was mentioned as suckish compared to the one of AI). That was not the place, since not only it’s off-topic, it was just saying “it’s bad” without “I want to contribute” or even “You can improve it by …”.
I agree, many stuff in open-source needs work, and it in many cases is no competition for commercial products. Does it mean that we need to stop developing these projects?
Without open-source, in order to do many simple tasks, we would need either to be software pirates, or billionaires since commercial products can sometimes cost thousands of dollars. Since money does not grow on trees, and most of us have enough conscious that prevents us from doing illegal stuff, we need open-source.


You can’t say that since an open-source programs sucks, it shouldn’t be developed or used. You don’t need developers if you are great, you need developers if you need work. Open-Source developers are in many cases volunteers, which spend many nights on coding instead of sleep, because during the day they have life to live. Saying that what we produce is crappy, will not make us feel good and develop it to be better. And why do we spend all this time instead of sleeping? Because we care about you, the anonymous user who is reading this post now. Even if sometimes it seems as if we “ignore” the community, trust me that we don’t – we are doing this for you.
The community is what that makes an open-source program – many people donate and contribute (money/code/other) to see the projects that they like evolve. However, there are few people who simply don’t know to appreciate the efforts being made. If you don’t like it, don’t use it, and I’ll still respect you. But please, don’t blow the spirit needed for development out of me, with non helpful comments. We are human beings, we are affected by emotions, we appreciate support and we are developing for you. Try to understand us, to be happy for us, try to see our side.
Again, many thanks to the major part of the community, which simply makes me smile every day, knowing that I’m doing good. I owe you many thanks, for giving me the spirit needed to continue.


  1. This is a sad thing indeed, I share your anger. But the little experience I have in Open Source had thought me that most people who say things like that are less important.

    They will sit all day in front of the screen and will do nothing except complaining. They will never contribute to anything, and just shout out loud about how things should be done.

    Even though it is quite difficult, you should mostly just ignore them.

  2. lol those people know nothing about gimp and in which direction it's going! Further more they know anything about developing an application!

    Gimp is getting better and better and in my opinion faster and faster ;)

    I wish all OS devs and contributors everything THE BEST!

    ‘To position your custom artwork using the template provided, you will need an image editing program such as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop and a basic knowledge of the program’

    I bet it’s nice to see it mentioned offhand in such places, though.

  4. Good post.
    Ignoring community isn't fine, but I'd ask if these guys proposing that our imperfect tools shouldn't be used or developed unless they're on par with commercial apps, are really part of our community.
    They should be ignored. They don't understand what FLOSS is and probably will never do.
    I think we should put our focus on finding new ways to make development sustainable in order to get full time developers getting paid for the less glamourous parts of the job (like bug tracker management, code documentation, etc.) so volunteers can jump in to contribute with most exciting tasks like new features, UI changes, etc.
    This is the real challenge. Blender already found how to achieve that with their open movie projects, a model that's certainly harder for apps like GIMP and Inkscape.
    Community should focus on that. We should help making it possible instead of demanding specific features.
    Specific features will come if everything else works.

  5. hey,
    I use Gimp and think it is pretty awesome. THANK YOU :)
    I think ppl complain because they have got used to photoshop 's interface and would not like to take the effort to learn a new softwware . So i would suggest u ignore them.

    The new single window interface should bring many new users to gimp.

    I wish all the best for gimp's further development.


  6. Well i have some ideas to promote more the FLOSS. and specially Gimp wich i love since the first moment. and obviously a Great Software is made with lot of efforts!Gimp doesn´t have the same investment like PS+ID wich in cases even copy some ideas from Gimp.No flameee.
    I like the way you have wrote about coders. Passion! that moves the least ideologically because we live with money. I think we should be more accessible to the Users. and write more things like you have done. Developers like human persons. huge potential i f we could meet developers ,present to the users , telling wich is his role, with a photo of She/he ,telling something about their lives. Imagine a video promoting Gimp with good quality and good music, presenting it not as "weak" soft or cropping photos tool, but with lot of powerfull images of photo retouch, painting scenes and put all in 3d with flashes of light .more marketing!gimp is good but unknown really to the big audience.
    We can look Big projects like Blender and learn from them adding our own "touch of color" or spirit.Ig Gimp seem to be cold there is a lot of ways to warm it. and that catches also the audience.
    We could do challenges between coders with prizes.
    We could promote the "coder of the week" or something like this, again with photo. Rewards are greatly apreciated always. your work recognized internationally" that sounds good.

    more social network pressence like facebook and tweeter..
    This is my opinion.and again Thanks to ALL developers who work hard in this project.
    Thank you

  7. Hey really good post, sometimes is easy to think devs are kind of machines :>
    Like el amigo gez said ignore the peopple isn't a good idea even if they are ignorant in the matter. Some peopple are cool like me and you, and others just criticize :P
    I have to confess that move to Gimp wasn't easy to me after years of PS, but Im happy now get the opportunity of work (paid) with Gimp an other open source apps.
    So a BIG thanks to all of you, devs an comunity.