With the world idolizing fast food projects, 25 years of offering free image editing tools to the user is not an easy task … even for anyone. However, against all the best odds, the GIMP celebrates a quarter of a century.
For those unfamiliar, this free graphic editing software was born in 1995. Its existence is due to the impulse of a community of volunteer employees.
Suppose someone decided to create a graphic image manipulation program (similar to Photoshop).
Petter Mattis sent this message to different mailing lists on July 29, 1995. The then student at the University of California, Berkeley took the opportunity to ask for opinions on the type of functions such a program would have and the formats it would support.
At the end of the same year, Mattis and his project partner, Spencer Kimball, presented the GIMP. In fact, both could have been more ambitious, not least because they left GIMP in 1998 to focus on their respective careers.
At the time, the project was adrift, without a master taking care of the rudder. Despite having many programming flaws at the time, 25 years later it is still alive and continues to be updated. This is because the project passed into the hands of people passionate about creating this tool and even today they continue to work to make it grow.
GIMP: The people's software
Although Photoshop remains the dominant image editing software, GIMP is the ideal alternative for those who cannot or will not pay for expensive subscriptions to this program.
We suffer from this as high school students interested in computers. You couldn't download anything you wanted, it wasn't free. I needed money that a student doesn't have.
The tool was born centered on UNIX-type operating systems, intended for users with a more technical profile, but over time it has been open to the general public.
Linux has become easier to use and GIMP has become available for Windows and MacOS. Today, our community is probably less technical, but much, much more artistic.
Refer to the current programmers this software.
The given horse does not look at the teeth
Of course, not everything is an advantage. Since the last millennium, this free program has been constantly criticized for its stability problems and, above all, for the complexities involved in its use.
Both the original creators and their heirs agree that part of the problem may lie with Adobe's dominance of the market. However, there is also a question of identity.
Photoshop and GIMP are old projects with a lot of luggage that is difficult to get rid of. People who complain that GIMP is not a Photoshop clone deal with Photoshop inconsistencies on a daily basis. And those who have become accustomed to the peculiarities of GIMP do not admit that there are better ways to implement one or another characteristic. It is a human thing, nothing to be ashamed of.
They explain the members of the current team.
In the early days of GIMP, no one expected the program to live that long. Its authors say that even today they are in a state of shock when they watch the years go by and the software serves millions of people.
After they left, a community of volunteer employees took over. However, survival was not yet assured.
We are in the habit of trying to make too many changes at the same time, instead of focusing on a few things.
The current GIMP architects admit.
This ambition began to slow the release of new versions, to the point that six years passed between 2.8 and 2.6. Many probably thought that the project was dying. However, the team was still working at full capacity.
So far, at least 350 people have contributed to the project. According to those responsible, there are not only programmers, but also collaborators who translate the program, write manuals, analyze bug reports, manage social networks, maintain the web, offer support to other users, etc.
And now what will become of GIMP in the future?
Current "guardians" say that GIMP continues to grow "even at 25, its future is exciting". Those currently responsible for its realization are content to prevent the world from falling apart.
Whatever the challenges of GIMP, they pale in comparison to global challenges. What we want for people is security and peace of mind: food on the table, health, access to education, privacy, or being able to have the tools they need to work and play. If there is room for that 25 years from now, it doesn't really matter if GIMP is there or not.
Therefore, GIMP can continue to be a free application that serves the people. Many millions still use it. Do you use GIMP?