Linked by Bryce Harrington on Wed 9th Feb 2005 10:56 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Jozef Mak recently made a noteworthy proposal for achieving better integration of Open Source graphic applications, which has been positively received by the three communities he targeted: GIMP (for photo and image editing), Scribus (for desktop publishing), and Inkscape (for vector graphics editing). This has sparked a bit of discussion in our communities and brought up several ideas for improvement.
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call for no integration?
by tech_user on Wed 9th Feb 2005 12:07 UTC

actually, i prefer the fact that all these tools are
1. separate
2. do their own job, well
2. communincate with each other in no other way than a transparent process - through saved files

i really don't want the OSS desktop to start getting bogged down with behind-the-scenes inter-process communications and MS-Office style objects linked into documents.

I don't even want scribus to have a "hot-link" to inkscape to update the graphic as it is changed or saved.

The number of potential bugs would increase and so woukd the possible avenues you'd have to explore when something didn't work.

This is - beleive it or not - was the reason i first look at redhat 5.0 back in those old days ... because windows would be doing something and you didn't know what? and then it would break (because linking of dynamic content in documents is messy) and you had no where to see where it went wrong.

I think the KDE (DCOP, etc) desktop is fine for those that want this sort of functionality. double click on a spreadsheet inserted into a wordprocessor document and it'll open up the spreadsheet application. ps - are you sure it removed the temp file it worked on while you edited this nameless object?

perghaps gnome/gtk apps can take the simpler philosophy. simpler, lower resources and less headaches.

i came across a MS support web page detailing how users can add a powerpoitn slide to their MS project files. the world has gone mad.

Re: call for no integration
by johnlein on Wed 9th Feb 2005 12:23 UTC

I don't think we run a risk of having anything THAT integrated for a very very long time, if at all. The talk on the mailing lists is about a more consistent look and feel between the 3 applications. Besides, integrating them like a Adobes CS or Macromedias MX suit would be hard considering that they use 3 different toolkits.
Inkscape -- C++ -- GTKMM
Gimp -- C -- GTK+
Scribus -- C++ -- QT

Agree with "no integration"
by CrapInMySocks on Wed 9th Feb 2005 12:25 UTC

The "opendoc" container concept just never really took off, although people seem to want to reinvent it periodically.

Scribus = the goods
by Ché Kristo on Wed 9th Feb 2005 12:31 UTC

I must say Scribus is an A1 piece of software, if it had mail merge features it would be worth over AU$ 10 000 as a commercial product.

re: call for no integration?
by SamAskani on Wed 9th Feb 2005 12:39 UTC

It's funny, the only aspect that for me is missing on OSS graphicals apps is their layer of interoperability.

I really believe that the idea behind interoperability boosts productivity. But your concern is more about the buggy implementation done by MS. But what about the example given in the article?? is the Mozilla projet going to suffer the same problems than MS Office?? As many other concerns about MS products, most of time the problem resides in their poor quality on coding and testing. But, even with their problems, developpers recognizes the advantages of integration. Automation of task is often welcome for doing repetitive tasks concerning user-end applications.

I don't know your every day needs, but for me, that I must prepare very complex scenarios for mathematical simulations, my job starts with an Excel sheet where a big scenario is established, then detailed scenarios (Excel files) are produced. Then every scenario produce the data for C++ programs, every program leaves the data in easily interpretaded data in Matlab. The data is processed by matlab functions to produce images for better interpretation of results. The images are then inserted in a report contained in a Word document. The whole is controlled by an Excel macro and all aps comuninicate each other using ActiveX. It's not perfect, but oh my, it does the job extremely well.

Better folder organisation
by Charlie on Wed 9th Feb 2005 12:47 UTC

I would much rather see stuff go into a graphics subdir as I already have hundreds of folders under /usr/share!


Visio import
by Stephane Loeuillet on Wed 9th Feb 2005 13:04 UTC

VDX to SVG :

plus, if anyone is interresting, some preliminary info on former (binary) Visio format (vsd) is available there : (i contacted the author, he said he would update it a bit in the next weeks)

Re: call for no integration?
by zerblat on Wed 9th Feb 2005 13:18 UTC

I sort of agree with you. However, there are a lot of things that could be made to make GIMP/Inkscape/Scribus nicer to work with together. E.g. see Jimmacs recent comments:

It would be nice if keyboard shortcuts were the same -- for stuff like scrolling, zooming and other common operations. It would be nice if common GUI stuff like color/font/gradient/etc choosers looked and worked the same way. Now that the GIMP is getting color management, it would be nice if it worked well with the color management in Scribus. To some extent I guess code sharing might me meningful, but rather than integration, I think interoperability is more important.

RE: Scribus not mature??
by Abraxas on Wed 9th Feb 2005 15:44 UTC

Scribus, like Inkscape, is a relatively recent project and needs to further mature to make a dent on the market.

What? As far as I know Scribus isn't that new. It's stable now and I have been using it for two years and I think it's been around longer than that.

by tech_user on Wed 9th Feb 2005 16:35 UTC

with respect, your "very complex" setup with excel spreadsheet, macros and links to matlab seems intrinsically broken and inefficent.

as a rule of thumb, any scientist who uses spreadsheets (especially excel) should be viewed with suspicion. further, he/she does not have an understanding of efficient computing if they are using excel macros, hot-links to matlab and the such like.

an old mentor of mine had these wise words:
"if its simple, use a calculator, if its complex, code the solution, never use a spreadsheet".

furthermore, in the scientific computing community, you will find a great thirst for transparency. when things go wrong, and even in terms of risk management, you want the data formats and interchacge formats are both open and accessible.

and this is an important question in the energy and health seatcors for example - what do you do when ActiveX goes wrong - and people lives depend on you getting as much information from the data as quickly as possilble - even from visual inspection? text files are perfect for this.


by SamAskani on Wed 9th Feb 2005 18:10 UTC

Geez man, that's an attitude
Before immediately transposing my problems to your limited vision of scientific problems, just read again my statements before jump in.

First. I never wrote that I was using Excel for solving anything, I said that I used it for establishing scenarios. This is easyly done with a spreadsheet. Scenarios is one of the most used aspects of spreadsheet (Excel or whatever). When you have to test coefficents Alpha from value A to value B, with an step deltaAlpha, you just can use an spreadsheet to establish all the constraints, constant data, etc, everything that is needed for your calculations. Then you can write simple code for preparing the N simulations that you want to do. I wrote that a C++ was executed before calling Matlab. Guess what?? This is the program where the real simulation happens (I'm sorry if you coudn't figure it out). The whole rest (Excel, Matlab, Word) is used to prepare easily the batch of executions and to produce a more readable report of my results.

Second. In several years of C++/Matlab/VBA coding, even if I know that from a design aspect ActiveX has important flaws, ActiveX never have failed for doing this kind of task. I have wrote ActiveX controls in C++, used them in Matlab, and used ActiveSevers in C++/Matlab/VBA with no problem at all. Sorry if you have bad experiences, but you can't impose them to the rest of the world.

Third: "any scientist who uses spreadsheets (especially excel) should be viewed with suspicion..." That's is the most stupid assumption that I have read in my scientific life. You have wiped out most of statistical analysys done in thousands of scientific papers during the last 15 years or even more (PLZ, I'm talking about REAL scientific journals such as those from IEEE, ACM, Science, Elsevier, etc, etc, etc). I guess that based on your opinion, the elite of scientific community are morons and you are the guy who has the light of true in his/her hand.

Four: Sorry if your mentor never thought about preparing 20000 simulations or analyzed the correlation between 120 experiments with several variables. I guess that he would write every data in the stack of the calculator and then write a program that do something that in Excel or matlab or anywhere is already written and tested. Go ahead, multiply the chances of doing something wrong.

Five: Go ahead also man for inspecting a text file with some 150 Mb of 3D data (and 150 MB can be ridiculous small for problems such as earth simulations). When you have finished, I think I should be in faculty talking about new approaches for non linear sound propagation, and that for preparing the simulations, they can use an spreadsheet or whatever they considered correct. Non, let me think about it a second time. I think that I won't say anything about that, I would suppose that they are enough smarts for choosing the right tools.

RE: Scribus = the goods
by Dylan on Wed 9th Feb 2005 18:42 UTC

I must say Scribus is an A1 piece of software, if it had mail merge features it would be worth over AU$ 10 000 as a commercial product.

Look on the Scribus mailing list. I think Craig Ringer wrote a Python script that does mail merge.

SVG and the web
by Harbinjer on Wed 9th Feb 2005 18:54 UTC

What about getting Quanta, Bluefish and Nvu to work with SVG as well as OO.o Draw. It seems like SVG is a great format, for many things, from webpages, to text documents, to vector drawings.

AFAIK mozilla is getting SVG viewers(in beta?) so you could make web pages with them, better and faster than now

Even if this is a stupid pipe dream, exchanging documents between these apps, and importing legacy ones is a great idea.
Also, unifying shortcuts for things like zoooming sounds good too.

A Transcode like project for graphics formats.
by gregg on Wed 9th Feb 2005 18:56 UTC

Transcode is an open source project used to convert from one video format to another. It works in a very elegant matter. It has 2 types of content plugins and a filter plugin system.

A system like this for still image graphics formats would be great. It works like this:
1) It uses the import plugin to take the data and put it into a standard raw format in memory/disk.
2) It then CAN but doesnt have to, use filter plugins on it.
3) Last it uses the output plugin of your choice to turn its raw data into the format you want.

Like this:
transcode-still -i some.jpg -o some.png

I would think some of the code from the already existing project for video could possibly be used on the still image side, as I know it has the posibility to use still image output plugins it spit out a lot of still images from a video.

An approach like this (be it a commandline tool or a library with these features) would allow anyone to write new plugins for input and output and also filters (such as watermarking filters or branding filters that put your text on the image.)

RE: Scribus not mature??
by Dylan on Wed 9th Feb 2005 19:03 UTC

What? As far as I know Scribus isn't that new. It's stable now and I have been using it for two years and I think it's been around longer than that.

Stable and mature are two different things. Scribus 1.2 is very stable, and its PDF output options and quality are excellent, but its a bit much to expect it to go head-to-head with QuarkXPress or InDesign.
The good news is that development really has been picking up over the last year or so. More people are contributing, and version 2.0 promises to kick ass!

As far as integration goes, I think it would be a good idea for a company like Red Hat or Novell to step in and sponsor a port/fork of Scribus to Gnome. Some really interesting things could be done when Inkscape, the Gimp and Scribus are native Gnome apps.

Missed the point
by Ab on Wed 9th Feb 2005 19:11 UTC

It seems Bryce have totally missed the point. He focuses on sharing code (and the problems with and effort need for that). That is just something that might help the developers in the long term, but the users don't care at all if the developers reused or recoded. The users (only) care about the look and feel. "Just" make the apps look/feel the same.

See ImageMagick.
- Unix or Linux or Cygwin on Windows
- ImageMagick

man convert for much much more info
This is how you can convert a jpg to a 16x16 pixel favicon (the small icon that shows up in the URL addrerss bar in the web browser).
$ wget
$ convert -sharpen 2x2 somelogo.jpg logo.jpg
$ convert logo.jpg logo.bmp
$ convert -sample 16x16 logo.bmp logo_small.bmp
$ convert logo_small.bmp logo.ico

Copy and Paste
by JK on Wed 9th Feb 2005 20:26 UTC

I can live with UIs that look inconsistent and have some differences in feel. I have to deal with that in Windows and Mac OS; even if I just use apps from one company they aren't always totally consistent. But when I'm creating documents, having to save files in one app and import them into another is a real pain.

I've hardly ever had any trouble with copy and paste between Windows/Mac apps. But it's still a total mess in Linux, I can never predict what will happen when I try to transfer data between apps. Consistent copy and paste of data between different applications would make me much happier to use Linux for work rather than just for play.

Replacement for Flash
by Blip on Wed 9th Feb 2005 20:33 UTC

Lately I have been trying to use Inkscape, and I love it. But I would like to know if there is a program (or if Inkscape actually does it) that would make SVG animations in the same way as Macromedia Flash.

by Chris on Wed 9th Feb 2005 20:35 UTC

You should work in an environment condusive to your work. The way things are not are condusive for my work, which has nothing to do with graphics.

I think you guys are making this more exciting than it is. This is just trying to look and feel the same. Which I could care less about, I can figure out how to use gimp and I know nothing about image work. I can figure out inkscape (very cool program btw).

As long as they do any interprocess communications using compatible means, meaning that I could write a replacement for say The Gimp and make it intercommunicate with inkscape without getting into hacks or way to much work; if they do that, then it's ok.

common tool kits idea is over rated
by Anonymous on Wed 9th Feb 2005 20:50 UTC

Most of the "duh" changes needed are being addressed both internally in the projects themselves and by

The real benifits from colaboration are in common rendering engines, common color management standards, and a common library for custom widgets.

Applications can be multi-tiered
by Philosophil on Wed 9th Feb 2005 20:56 UTC

One of the way to allow a system to leverage the work of others is to use web services (or other types of services) for the functionality which can stand-alone.

For example, for gradients, create http://localhost/services/graphic/GradientManager

to convert back and forth between formats

Call that server to search/edit/store gradients. Make the XML API stable then you can have multiple implementations in the background. For convert, that service will inform Scribus or whatever app what it accepts as an input and what it can generate as an output. As new formats get added, scribus can automagically support them. No new build, no recompile.

The idea is that the best way for any software to leverage funcationality from another is to seperate itself from the implementation of the other software. WebServices (ran over tcp/ip or http or whatever) allow you to be language and implementation agnostic (C++, C#, perl, python, etc.)

It's not because a graphical application has a GUI that it can't leverage a multi-tier approach which can seperate the components inside different services. A service oriented architecture can help more than server applications.

Let me know what you think.

by johnlein on Wed 9th Feb 2005 22:31 UTC

I would try to get the Krita people involved with this, there was talk about redoing parts of the GUI last month and they want to introduce natural paint capabilities to their app. I think they could fit nicely and would probably cooperate.

Re: SamAskani - On the accuracy of statistical procedures in Excel
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Feb 2005 01:00 UTC

Take a look here;

You can check the formulas yourself. FWIW: I use Excel myself.

Shared importers/exporters
by Someone on Thu 10th Feb 2005 01:25 UTC

I always wanted to see a shared datatypes system that I originally saw on AmigaOS. BeOS apparently had an improved version of the same idea.

Of course given current requirements I believe the datatypes system was far too limited. Currently we'd require vector import/export as well as bitmap import/export for images alone. Sound, video, animation, documents etc. would a whole other ballgame.

The big advantage was that there was only one library for import/export and pluggable modules did the rest. Add a new module and potentially all relevant applications could use the supported formats.

The big downside was that the internals of these systems was never ideal when exporting various formats. There was rarely enough control over the conversion processes for serious productivity apps producing high quality output. However I never used BeOS enough to see where they had taken the idea.

There are probably several libraries that do part of this already. However the pluggble nature of datatypes at runtime was the key benefit.

Open Color Standards
by Jon Phillips on Thu 10th Feb 2005 02:02 UTC

One of the ideas that MRDOCS (Peter Linnell from SCRIBUS) and myself have bounced around is developing an Open Color Standards as part of this group of graphics/creative applications. If anyone is interested, hop onto the open clip art list and help us push that one.

Pantone has a complete monopoly over professional color. Everything you are wearing from commercial shops is matched to Pantones. It is really crazy!

Please join Open Clip Art Library and help us change some things...

KRITA and Other Creative Apps
by Jon Phillips on Thu 10th Feb 2005 02:07 UTC

I don't think Bryce meant for this to be an exclusive party for Inkscape, Scribus, and Gimp. John Lein, you should make contact with the Inkscape mailing list to discuss this further. We have also been thinking about trying to move this discussion to a neutral space like I personally would like to see this happen and also create a planet RSS aggregation of creative application developers in OSS. You may also contact us through the Open Clip Art Library list. Thanks!

by BrazenRegent on Thu 10th Feb 2005 04:09 UTC

This is a topic that has been long overlooked. The author only discusses the problem with 3 apps and getting these apps to work together in a way that Adobe's and Macromedias creativity suites accomplish that. In that the author is wrong. You have 3 projects being done by 3 entirely different groups. That is just not going to work. The best thing is to fork each of these 3 apps(Gimp, Inkscape, and Scribus) into 3 new apps that are apart of the new integrated Creativity suite. The next problem is that we are really 3 apps short of a true Web and Print Creativity suite.

You need the following;
Image Manipulation(raster-based)
Print Publishing
Web Publishing
Web Graphics

As of now the first 3 apps listed are out and ready to be forked, the 4th one(Web Publishing) is incomplete since there is no really good WYSIWYG based app out there(NVU fall short in many ways). Forking Bluefish and adding a WYSIWYG interface may work thou. As for a Web Graphics app and a Animation app (i.e. apps based on Fireworks and Flash) there is nothing out there to my knowledge in Open Source.

If a truly integrated suite is to exist it needs to be cared for by 1 development group (use OpenOffice as a sample model), using 1 DevKit(say GTK), 1 language(say C++), plus a unified/fully integrated interface and module system. Then let the suite of applications compete side by side against less integrated existing apps and let the end user decide what they want to use.

A Integrated project like this however would not work without a corperate sponser(like Sun is to OpenOffice)

Keyboard shortcuts are so KEY!
by Gabriel on Thu 10th Feb 2005 06:05 UTC

As a professional graphic and web designer who uses Adobe products every day, I have been stopped cold every time I've tried to use Gimp and other Open Source graphics tools by the complete incompatibility of keyboard shortcuts.

Suggestion: Look the key commands that Photoshop and Illustrator use for zoom in, switching tools, dragging, etc. Offer a compatability mode (by default?) that would allow a designer to be able to consider switching. Make it easy and consistent and I believe you will be able to switch experienced users much more easily.

RE: Dylan
by Chakie on Thu 10th Feb 2005 12:18 UTC

I don't understand why everything should be pprted to Gnome? What's wrong with Scribus as a Qt application? Rather, Inkscape and Gimp should be ported to use Qt and the KDE libs, as these give you so much more of the apparently needed interoperability. Please, keep the fanboy stuff out of this discussion...

by macewan on Thu 10th Feb 2005 12:52 UTC

Sounds like a wonderful idea as long as it isn't too limiting.

SVG Animation and Web
by Hubert on Thu 10th Feb 2005 18:21 UTC

There was a project called "ScaVeGra Animator", that the purpose was to become a kind of Macromedia Flash (but in the Open Source way). Now, this project is lost I think... I know there's an "Inkview" interface for Inkscape.
Do you know if we can dream about a "Free Open Source Flash"
(an equivalent), for the future? ;-)

I use Gimp, Scribus and Inkscape for the comics newspaper Hybride that includes Free Sories.

Inkscape at SCALE 3x
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Feb 2005 09:33 UTC">Ted (Inkscape Developer) will be speaking at">SCALE about SVG and how it can be used to tie together graphics on the open-source desktop. If you're in LA this weekend (Feb 12-13) come check it out! Use the promo code "FREE" for a free expo pass or "NEWSP" for a discount on a full access pass.

Delineate - raster to SVG converter
by delineator on Fri 11th Feb 2005 13:42 UTC

For those needing to convert raster images to SVG:

Delineate is a tool for converting raster images to SVG using AutoTrace or potrace. It loads images using JIU and displays results using Batik. Input formats are JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, PNM, PBM, PGM, PPM, IFF, PCD, PSD, RAS.

by topo on Mon 14th Feb 2005 20:04 UTC

Dbus is a option to comunicate the apps.