by May 8, 2004 0 comments



With version 2.0, Gimp, the de-facto in image editing on Linux, goes for a radical makeover. The new version of Gimp comes with great new features as well as fantabulous usable looks. Since the release date of the new version was a bit late, we could not give the latest version on our CD. You would definitely get it in the next issue. But, if you want you can download it from www.gimp.org. It is available for Mac OS X (Panther), Linux as well as Windows.

To install Gimp on PCQ Linux 2004 (full install) first download the source code tarball from the above mentioned website and run the following command to extract it on your machine:

% tar —zxvf gimp-2.0.1.tar.gz

In the folder where you extracted the files, run the following command to compile the code and install the software.

The options box changes with the tool you choose

% ./configure
% make
% make install

This will install Gimp 2.0 on your system. If you already have Gimp 1.2 on your system, don’t worry about uninstalling it as both versions can peacefully co-exist.

Starting with the interface, Gimp has gone color with the help of GTK + 2.0. The new toolkit enables Gimp to have good-looking color icons, among other things. You can see the new palette alongside the older, drab looking interface of the older Gimp. 

Other interface enhancements include dockable palettes and a new options dialog. This makes the interface easier to manage in the limited workspace. The options dialog is by default attached to the toolbox and changes dynamically depending upon the tool chosen. 

Also, all the tools can now be arranged as tabs within the same window, providing humongous saving on real estate on the screen. 

More on the interface front. The image screen gets a menu bar. All the options that were earlier accessible through the right click are also available in the menu bar. Old users of Gimp need not be disappointed since the right click option stays. Also, if you are finicky about the space available on the screen, there is a new full-screen option that can be accessed by pressing F11.

The new (left) and the old tool box

You can also use Photoshop-like shortcut keys in Gimp. This can be done by moving the file ‘menurc’ in the userdata directory to ‘oldmenurc’ and re-name ‘ps-menurc’ to
‘menurc’.

The tool bar, though good looking, does not add any new tools to its armory. On the other hand, other more used commands find their way in the tools palette. The first of them is the select by color command, which gets its toolbox button. Also, the transform tool has been split into five parts pertaining to different functionalities. Though these tools find a place in the toolbox, their functionalities remain more or less the same.

Coming to other enhancements, the new text tool goes for a major revamp in this version. The biggest problem with the text tool in Gimp was that once the text was written it was rendered and not editable. Though there was a dynamic text tool available, it was hardly usable and was very buggy.

The new features in gimp 2.0
u Flashy new interface, including tabs and docking options
u Dynamic options palette
u Text editor
u Paths tool
u Layer modes
u CMYK export
u Better scripting support
u Color Mixer

The new text tool is a combination of the older text tool and the dynamic text tool. Making use of the options box, it gives enhanced functionality to the user. Once you click on the text tool you are presented with a small text box to enter text, while the options menu changes to accommodate elaborate text features. The text box also gives the option of importing a text file. 
When you start typing, the canvas is updated with the written text dynamically. Also, if you choose to edit other options like the font size and type, they also get reflected dynamically. Other options now include anti aliasing and the option of typing the text from right to left.

The text now remains editable even after you have stopped editing it and it emerges in a separate layer, somewhat as in Photoshop. Though there are additions in this tool, some things are left to desire. But, on the other hand, remember that the software is still in version 2.0. Let’s give it some time and see what it would be able to offer in the time to come.

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The other part that goes in for a major revamp is the paths. It comes with a totally new interface that consists of three major options. The design, edit and move tools are modes of operation of the path tool. As the names suggest, the design tool is used to make new paths. This tool can also be used to modify the shape of a curve by dragging nodes or edges and to add new nodes in an existing path. The edit mode is used to add and remove nodes from paths, and used to connect two paths.
And finally, the move tool is used to move the components of the path on the canvas. 

When you click on the text tool, you get a text box to enter text into. At the same time the options menu changes to accommodate elaborate text features

But, the biggest enhancement comes in the form of editable paths from SVG files. Thus, it doesn’t matter if you are using Corel Draw or Illustrator or your vector editing tool, you can import the paths absolutely intact from them into the rasterized image in gimp. The vector-based stroking also enhances the functionality of paths. 

Other enhancements include a new color mixer, advanced layer modes, more scripting support and the ability to export to
CMYK. 

The advanced layer modes include four major additions, including hard light, soft light, grain extract and grain merge. The CMYK export, on the other hand, is a good step towards moving to print design.

Though the enhancements are substantial, it is still a bit far from the commercial image-editing packages available. And, like other open-source products, it is absolutely great in spurts but somehow would not be able to provide full functionality and features that the commercial products do. Thus, it would be helpful for people who want to touch up their pictures and post them on the Web, but for more serious users such as graphic designers and ad agencies, it has a long way 
to go.

Geetaj Channana

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