I just upgraded my system a bit last night and wanted to grab the new version of Gimp. I’m now using version 2.4.0-rc3 and so far I am really pleased, the number one thing that stood out for me initially was the new cropping system.
The Gimp image cropping interface may not be that exciting for most people (likely an understatement), but for someone like me who uses it everyday it’s pretty important to not suck.
More direct manipulation
The first thing you’ll notice in the new cropping interface is that the old two corners can resize and two corners can move system is gone. Previous Gimp versions allowed the bottom right and top left corners of the crop sizer to adjust the vertical and horiztonal sizes while the top right and bottom left corners could only move the crop area around. I’m pretty certain I got the orientation of those corners correct without even looking back because it was such a quirk to using the system that you had to know it.
Instead of the extremely small corner resizers and movers on opposing sides you now have much larger corner resizers on all four corners. These resize elements appear when you hover over the crop area. Moving the crop area can be done from anywhere in the middle by clicking and dragging the mouse, indicated by the familiar move mouse icon.
Also a totally new element is resizing from sides, not just corners! Are you bored yet? Amazingly I’m not! So I don’t have to worry about resizing both the vertical and horizontal edges at the same time. Usually I start a crop zoomed out a bit sizing it coarsely with the corners sizers and when things get down to the finer pixel level I’ll zoom in to get the crop just right, this is when you don’t want to have to worry about changing the vertical or horiztonal edge by accident while trying to get the correct adjacent edge.
The other part that’s really great is that there’s no dialog for the crop tool. It was always murphy’s law for my gimp usage that whenever I was cropping something the dialog would enjoy popping up directly over the area I needed to see in order to finish the crop. Standard procedure meant that you’d stop cropping the image, try to move the dialog away from the image window and continue. I would usually move the dialog almost off the screen so it wasn’t in the way, which was a bonus when I was done because I’d have to try to find the dialog again in order to hit the crop button. Now I just hit enter, there’s a hint at the bottom of the Gimp window.
The only thing lacking from the new system was a more obvious way to let me know how to make the crop happen. I had to look around a little bit to find the “Click or press enter to crop” message at the bottom. I’m not sure of what the more obvious way is, but with some experimenting I think you could find a way to place something unobtrusively on the image window that says what to do. I’m sure it’s been tried.
I’ve yet to explore much more, but I’m sure there are lots of other nice new things. Now if only the layering system would get an upgrade…