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By Alex Walker

Bring out the GimpShop

By Alex Walker
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Gimp is powerful. Gimp is fast. Gimp is free.

That’s a pretty handy combination by any objective measure, so the question remains. Why aren’t we all using it? While there are probably three major reasons at the moment, one of those may be just about to disappear in puff of hackery — at least for Mac users.

Reason 1 – The Irresistable Force of Habit: Whether it’s our breakfast cereal, our OS’s or our dentist, it’s always easiest to stick with what you know, rather than risk the new for an unknown payoff.

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Reason 2 – Industry Standards: Let’s face it. A quick search on Monster.com generates a list of three positions requiring knowledge of the Gimp. All three bracketed it along side Photoshop skills as a requirement. A similar search for ‘Photoshop‘ returns a results page saying ‘..more than 1000’. In short, at this time you wouldn’t choose the Gimp as a pure ‘career move’.

Reason 3 – The Interface: There’s nothing quite like having the excitement of opening a nifty new application slowly replaced by the feeling of stupidity you get as you begin to realize you can’t fathom the interface. I personally remember LightWave and 3D Studio Max being offenders in this area. I eventually slogged my way through and ended up loving LightWave but I never got very far with Max (yet anyway – I installed GMax last week).

Of these three Gimp issues, the first two are closely linked and can only change over time. When lots of designers are showing their skills with Gimp, employers will naturally call on them. Certainly, most smaller businesses would likely appreciate the simplifying effect of the open source licensing model.

As Firefox demonstrates, ingrained habits can be broken when the motivation is compelling enough. The Mozilla team were also clever enough to realize the importance of making the transition to their software as simple as possible. Whereever they could, they kept things like buttons configuration, menus and shortcut keys exactly the same as the then standard — IE6.

Scott Moschella has taken a very similar approach to the Gimp. Gimpshop is 40M of hacks designed to retrofit the Gimp to look and behave much more like the industry standard — Adobe Photoshop.

To quote his site “My original purpose for GIMPshop was to make the Gimp accessible to the many Adobe Photoshop users out there. I hope I

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