Why is GIMP still so crappy?

Yes, it’s the question on everybody’s mind: Why does Gimp suck so bad?

In the old days I used Windows almost exclusively. I had a nice Windows machine set up; it worked for me. I used cmd.exe and Powershell and WSH for scripting. I used Outlook and Word and Powerpoint for office documents.

I used freeware and open source stuff for some things: I used emacs for editing files. DotNetZip for manipulating ZIP files. ReloadIt for reloading web pages automatically as I saved files. Cropper for capturing screenshots and posting them to cloud photo share services. Lots of other tools. One notable tool: Paint.NET for manipulating images.

It worked. It all worked!

I have since moved to a Mac, not because I didn’t like Windows, but because everyone around me in my new job uses Mac. Being different just means being left out and being unable to share stuff with people. So I converted to Mac.

I am thankful to still have emacs. Obviously I can no longer use WSH and Javascript for scripting basic stuff, but I do have Node.js, which is just fine. (I don’t miss Powershell. Truth be told I never did fully realize the benefits of the object pipeline. It sounded good in theory but it was too darned hard to figure everything out. I use bash for shell scripting now, and it feels simpler to me.)

And Now, when I want to manipulate image files, I often slip up, and try to use gimp. I try. Yoda might say, after trying Gimp, With Gimp there is no do. There is only try, and do not. Generally I give up before accomplishing my goal, which is usually really really simple, something like “remove part of this image and replace it with white fill.” Gimp sucks. I have never opened Gimp and tried to use it without swearing. That I keep opening it is a testament to my ongoing descent into lunacy.

The UI is so infuriating; at the very start it opens windows on the Mac which obscure other applications. When I activate the other applications the GIMP windows stay on top. Why? Because that’s the most infuriating thing it could possibly do, that’s why.

When I highlight part of an image and click ctrl-C top copy that portion, I get – and I’m not making this up – everything EXCEPT the part I highlighted. You would think that would be a simple thing to correct, right? There’s even a “Select” menu with an “Invert” menu item in GIMP. You’d think if a COPY action was copying everything EXCEPT the thing I wanted, then inverting the selection and retrying the COPY action would do what I wanted. But no. Why? Because it’s the most infuriating thing possible.

GIMP always does the most infuriating, frustrating, and ridiculous thing possible.

Handily, when you open an image file that is kinda small, GIMP opens the window beneath one of it’s own “floats above all other windows” windows. So you can’t see the thing, and you need to move Windows around to try to find it. Why? You know why.

There are people who say, “I’ve been using Gimp for 2 years. Sure, at first it’s a bit hard to learn, but after that it’s awesome.” That’s stupid. Absolutely idiotic. Software shouldn’t be this hard, sorry. Just because you invested your valuable time in compensating for a software designer’s madness, does not mean the software is good. It means you don’t value your own time as much as you should.

For an example of an image manipulation app that works, is easy for novices to pick up but also supports advanced features, look at Paint.NET. Only available on Windows! For an example of how to create endless user frustration, try Gimp.