15 October 2006

The GIMP 2.3.10

I bumped by laptop up to Mandriva 2007.0 — I think more from a sense of masochism than to suit any driving need — but it’s turned out reasonably well. I say “reasonably” because somewhere in the update tangle I lost my KDE taskbar, but on the other hand the GUI interface works remarkably faster & more smoothly than it once did.

I also got to taste a few newer products, including OpenOffice 2.0.3 and The GIMP 2.3.10. OpenOffice is noticeably faster (I think 2.0.3-5 is a slightly 2.0.4-ish version) but there are a number of y’all who read this who'd be interested in the changes in The GIMP, so I'll write about that for a moment or few.

The most obvious change is newer, shinier icons ’n’ stuff, but there are many slight improvements “across the board” as well.

For example, many more tools are built right into the menus; the “Colors” menus now sports 14 main entries, plus four submenus. The Edit menu also sports Paste, Paste-Into and a Paste submenu containing New-Image, New-Brush & New-Pattern. The Layer menu now has a more extensive 10-entry Mask submenu. There’s a new toolbox tool called “Align or arrange layers and other items”.

Et cetera, everywhere. The Text tool now has more items for alignment & hinting. The “Blur and Sharpen” tool now has neat little “Convolve” options. There’s even an updated “Padding Color” entry in the View menu, to change the way that the “transparency” padding works.

Ah, yes... & saving to .ico (Icon) files now works directly & well. Not to mention compressed XCFs (XJTs) and PhotoShop (PSD) files. And C source-code. And various types of HTML. Even ASCII-art!

There are also about twice as many Artistic and Distorts filters compared with GIMP 2.2, including one called Cartoon, which takes a photo & renders it down to look very much like a cartoon artist had drawn it. Plus much fancier features.

All in all, GIMP now strikes me as faster, better-polished & tested than ever before. By that, I mean far fewer “rough edges” rather than mysterious elisions of errors or short-falls. GIMP has always been relatively reliable for me, just a bit klunky around the edges, not feeling completely “worn in,” so to speak. Well, now they’ve got that far down the “to-do” list & de-klunked many of the edges... hurrah! Even the “Newsprint” distort seems to be working ferpectly now.

Perhaps the single greatest contribution to its sense of completeness is the addition of menu entries which take used-to-be-per-image features down to a layer’s or channel’s worth at a time. It feels like the developers are now confident enough in their tools to begin varying how they’re applied rather than settling for all-or-nothing options alone.

As to the rest of the Mandriva 2007.0 features, they could probably be summed up as greater shinyness; the default screen-saver, for example, is now an eye-opening 3D fireworks display. The installation was as neat/smooth as always & the supporting mirrors came completely to life within a day or two. If anything exceptional happens, I’ll let y’all know.

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