GIMP: the Gruesome Interface Mess Program

Beware the Dawg...

The GIMP GUI interface, despite its friendly mascot dog, is a surprisingly unfriendly paint program with a clunky interace, numerous windows, and an unfamiliar set-up. The difficulty of doing simple tasks, such as cropping, make Microsoft Paint a more preferrable choice.

The first noticeable grievance is that all the GIMP menus, with the tools you need, are in separate windows. There is no big, main window that can be maximized or minimized to bring GIMP in and out of view. If you were to minimize the window holding whatever it is you are photoediting, then the tool menus would still be floating atop your desktop.

Another major issue is the lack of a blank canvas for the user to draw on upon opening. Most programs open with a white blank canvas for the user to draw on. If the program does not, it will usually prompt the user and ask them if they want to open a file or create a new blank canvas. With GIMP you are merely presented with three floating windows: two long, tall, menus tackily adorned with clusters of buttons flank a window watermarked with the soon-to-be-not-so-cute mascot dog and a navigational bar, located in the middle of the screen. The user is not prompted; the user must literally search around, discover that the middle menu is the navigational bar usually located at the very top of any decent program, and then choose to create or open a file.

The setup is also different from the usual paint program setup. Unlike the usual neat linear array of tools usually located to the side of any decent paint program, there stands a tall sentinel to the left, wearing all its tool-buttons on its chest, with four measly buttons at the very bottom (which may not be visible, because the tall sentinel of a toolbar sometimes extends past the bottom of the screen). The tool-buttons are also not arranged very intuitively, and it takes a bit of searching to find a tool. The only tool that I’ve managed to use successfully would be the paintbrush: any attempts at using other basic tools like the Selection tool results in seething and hair-tearing.

Although I have attempted re-installing and retrying the program half a dozen times, the program’s difficulty of navigation and unintuitive interface design have discouraged me quickly every time. Within a span of six years, I have become proficient in software deemed difficult to use well, such as Flash or After Effects; yet I have yet to figure out how to do anything other than scribble angrily on a blank canvas in GIMP.


About foldingwishes

I am a 3rd year CM major interested in animation and narratology. I believe that design is important and highly applicable to all fields and that good design creates enjoyable experiences. My favorite shows are Samurai Jack, My Life as a Teenage Robot and Avatar the Last Airbender and my favorite movies are Le Grande Chef, Ratatouille and the Great Mouse Detective.
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