According to the "About the Gimp" page at www.gimp.org We quote the following:
GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
It is an extremely capable piece of software with many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, a expert quality photo retouching program, an on-line batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, a image format converter, etc.
GIMP is extremely expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.
This is only a very quickly thrown together list of GIMP features. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
The GIMP was written by Peter Mattis and Spencer Kimball. Many, many other developers have contributed plug-ins. And thousands have provided support and testing.
GIMP releases are currently being orchestrated by Manish Singh."
First we want to congratulate Peter Mattis and Spencer Kimball and all of the other developers of this lovely program. What is said at "About the Gimp" is only the tip of the iceberg. Gimp is capable of everything from advanced image manipulation to basic drawing. Many of its features are inspired by Photoshop and other image manipulation programs.
Karin, who is an architect and designer and a former Photoshop user in both MAC and Windows environment, can only say this:
Compared to Photoshop, Gimp has it all, and even more if you don't buy third party plug-ins. Most of the features in Gimp are more flexible and powerful when you get to know them.The great thing is that Gimp supports psd fileformat and Filter Factory afs files, so you can easily switch from Photoshop to Gimp. Simply, it's a hack of a program and it's comes loaded with a sack of plug-ins. So GO AND GET IT!! you will not be disappointed, and well, it's not wrong that it is free...
Karin Kylander & Olof S Kylander
We want to quote Peter Mattis and Spencer Kimball who are the original creators of Gimp:
"The GIMP arose from the ashes of a hideously crafted cs164 (compilers) class project. The setting: early morning. We were both weary from lack of sleep and the terrible strain of programming a compiler in LISP. The limits of our patience had long been exceeded, and yet still the dam held.
And then it happened. Common LISP messily dumped core when it could not allocate the 17 MB it needed to generate a parser for a simple grammar using "jyack". An unbelieving moment passed, there was one shared look of disgust, and then our project was vapor. We had to write something...ANYTHING...useful. Something in C. Something that did not rely on nested lists to represent a bitmap. Thus, the GIMP was born.
Like the phoenix, glorious, new life sprung out of the burnt remnants of LISP and jyacc. Ideas went flying, decisions were made, the GIMP began to take form.
An image manipulation program was the consensus. A program which would at the very least lessen the necessity of using commercial software under "Windoze" or on the "Macintoy". A program that would provide the features missing from the other X painting and imaging tools. A program that would help maintain the long tradition of excellent and free UNIX applications.
Six months later, we've reached an early BETA stage. We want to release now to start working on compatibility issues and cross platform stability. Also, we feel now that the program is actually usable and would like to see other interested programmers developing plug-ins and various file format support."
0.54 was released in February 1996, and had a major impact as the first truly professional free image manipulation program. This was the first free program that could compete with the big commercial image manipulation programs.
Even if 0.54 was a beta software, it was so stable that you could use it for daily work. However, one of the major drawbacks of 0.54 was that the toolkit (the code that the slidebars, menus, file dialogs etc.). was built on Motif, which is a commercial toolkit. This was a big drawback for systems like Linux, because you had to buy Motif if you wanted to use the faster, dynamically linked Gimp. Many developers were also students running Linux, who could probably not afford to buy Motif.
When 0.60 was released in July 96, it had been under S&P (Spencer & Peter) development for four months. One of the main programming advantages was the new toolkit called Gtk (Gimp toolkit), which removed the Motif problem. For the graphic artist, 0.60 was full with new features like:
0.60 was only a developer's release, and was not intended for a widespread audience. It served as a workbench for 0.99 and the final 1.0 version., so functions and enhancement could be tested and dropped or changed. You can look at 0.6 as the alpha version of 0.99.
In February 97 0.99.X entered the scene. Together with other developers, S&P had made several changes to Gimp and added even more features. The main difference was the new API and the PDB which made it possible to write scripts; Script-Fu's (or macros) could now automate things that you would normally do by hand. 0.99 used a new form of tilebased memory handling which made it possible to load huge images into Gimp (loading a 100MB image to Gimp is no problem). 0.99 also introduced a new native Gimp file format called XCF.
The new API made it really easy to write extensions and plug-ins for Gimp. Several new plug-ins and extensions emerged to make Gimp even more useful (e.g SANE that enables direct scan in to Gimp). At the time we're writing this, Gimp has more than 150 plug-ins, covering everything from file formats to fractal tracers.
In the summer of -97, Gimp had reached version 0.99.10, and S&P had to drop most of their support since they had graduated and got jobs. However, the other developers of Gimp continued under the orchestration of Federico Mena to make Gimp ready for primetime. Gtk was separated from Gimp in September -97. Gtk had been recognized as an excellent toolkit to build other applications with, and other developers had started to use Gtk to build their applications.
Gimp goes into feature freeze in October 97, this means that no new features will be added to the Gimp core libraries and program. GUM version 0.5 is also released early in October -97. The developing work continues to make Gimp stable and ready for version 1.0.
Gimp version 1.0 is released 19 May 1998 Finally, Gimp is considered stable enough for a worldwide announcement.
Gimp will naturally continue to evolve. The future is bright, and we will see new versions of Gimp with new features and functions. The naming convention of Gimp will be the same as for Linux, meaning that the stable version will be called 1.0.X and the development version will be called 1.1.X. This makes it possible for normal users to grab the stable version and use it for prime time job, while the developers can work on a bleeding edge version without introducing new bugs into the stable version. If you want to, you can always download the development version and test it to check out the new features and give the developers feedback about bugs and enhancements, but be aware, it will be unstable, so don't use it for your daily work and don't flood the developers with bug reports (of unnecessary character).