Photoshop Makes Bad Users
Every time Adobe does something horrible, hordes of Adobe Photoshop users attempt to migrate - generally to either GIMP or Inkscape.
They arrive and start a standard string of complaints:
- This UI is bad (it should bee like Photoshop, but it’s not)
- GIMP can’t do vector graphics properly.
- Inkscape can’t do bitmaps properly.
- Why does typesetting not work properly?
The Swiss Army Knife
Adobe Photoshop began as a program to doctor images, but since pivoted to do everything. It will format your dissertation on complex quadratics, make a film poster, and export both to HTML, all for the cost of €500 per day, and whatever it costs to get a next-generation PC (but it will still crash the entire OS faster than any computer game).
It does all this fine, but doesn’t do everything well. Photoshop grew from many projects, all bundled together into a mess, and those messy ghosts remain everywhere. One menu asks the user to select opacity (lower opacity = more transparency), while another menu asks the user to select transparency (so raising it makes the image more transparent).
The Necessity of Comparison
Despite these comparisons seeming unfair, or just ‘wrong’ in some sense, people have to make decisions about which tool to use for a task, and they’re not used to thinking in terms of many tools - they want to know if ’the one replacement’ can do all the things that Photoshop can.
CLI Comparisons Make No Sense
This of course, lies in stark contrast to the way of Unix.
In the FOSS world of tiny utilities, I use
imagemagick to trace a bitmap to make a ppm, then
potrace to make that into an svg, then
svgcleaner to tidy up the svg, and finally
inkscape to make final edits.
The CLI isn’t the problem here - Irfanview is another FOSS tool which does a few automated tasks; it has a GUI and works fine for standard users.
The problem that designers will have is that images can’t ‘pipe’ statements together, or use an
Designers can’t realistically work by closing one program, typing words with a layout tool, exiting, opening a vector-editing program to skew a title, exiting again, and applying a colour overlay with yet another program.
How LibreOffice Does It
LibreOffice seems like a bit of a bloated mess from the outside, but it works very well internally. LibreOffice Writer handles little spreadsheets very well because it doesn’t really do spreadsheets - it simply lets someone place the functions of LibreOffice Calc onto the ‘page’. And the Maths typesetting in LibreOffice Word doesn’t have to be good, since the user can just use the functions of LibreOffice Maths from inside the same interface.
Making Sense of CLI Comparisons with Adobe Suite
I don’t see why any FOSS program would want to do everything that Photoshop does, while insisting that it’s a single program, but I do wonder if a single interface might call up the abilities of GIMP, Krita and Inkscape at the same time.
Of course, squeezing that lot into a single interface sounds like madness. I’m not suggesting joining these projects. But if separate, small projects could share an interface, so that if any one were installed, it would present as a set of tools which could operate on the files referenced, then maybe the FOSS community could make something which was just as big as the user needed it to be, and no larger.