Work in progress

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Revision as of 09:02, 4 June 2012 by Foser (talk) (Add brush/gradient/pattern selection buttons)
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Tool Options redesign


Tools in GIMP enable hands-on manipulation of the compostion, direct on the canvas.

The tool options enable the fine and precise configurations that make the tool fit the job.

Configuring tool parameters can happen anywhere from almost continuously during a work session - to once in a user's lifetime.

Changing tool set-ups will never break user’s workflows.

Tool Option widgets

All UI elements are built from a few basic UI building blocks called widgets. A list with images of all current available GTK+ 2 widgets can be found at [1] and their respective GTK+ 3 counterparts at [2]. Since GIMP has special needs it also has quite a few widgets of it's own, a number of them (the external accessible ones) can be found at [3]. GIMP also has a number of additional internally used widgets, quite a few just extend basic GTK+ widgets for a specific need, without altering the visual look and feel. However, there are also completely new widgets for specific needs like those used for pressure curves or the gimpspinscale, a mix of a spin and scale button that is now used by a lot of tool options. A third category are meta widgets that mix together a few basic widgets in a certain fashion for a particular purpose, an example is the gimpscaleentry which consists of a label, scale slider and spinbutton (look at Tools->Color Tools->Brightness-Contrast menu).

An exhaustive list of widgets is unneeded as most tool options only use a basic subset of aforementioned widgets, the following table is a list of those common widgets used in tool options and their GIMP counterparts if applicable.

List of widgets used by GIMP tools
GtkComboBox Gimp{Int,Unit,Sttring,ColorProfile,Enum}ComboBox
GtkButton Gimp{,Chain,Pick,Color}Button

Available widgets

A non-exhaustive list of widgets that exist in GTK+ and GIMP today. Specific widgets that are not immediately useful in the context of tool options are left out. Italic descriptions come from the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines [4], an excellent resource for sensible use of said widgets.


Tkr GtkLabel.png

Widget to display small to medium amount of text.

  • can be selectable
  • can be ellipsized


Tkr GtkComboBox.png

Widget used to choose from a list of items

  • can have textentry
  • relevant GIMP specific subclasses
    • GimpUnitComboBox
      a convience combobox for measurement units

Drop-down lists are used to select from a mutually exclusive set of options. They can be useful when there is insufficient space in a window to use a group of radio buttons or a single-selection list, with which they are functionally equivalent.[5]

Drop-down combination boxes combine a text entry field and a drop-down list of pre-defined values. Selecting one of the pre-defined values sets the entry field to that value.[6]


Tkr GtkButton.png

Widget that creates a signal when clicked on.

  • can have image and/or text
  • relevant GIMP specific subclasses
    • GimpButton
      adds click modifier keys
    • GimpChainButton
      button for (un)chain action used in conjunction with other widgets

A button initiates an action when the user clicks it.[7]


Tkr meta selectmode.png

Similar to GtkButton, but retains state.

Toggle buttons look similar to regular Buttons, but are used to show or change a state rather than initiate an action. A toggle button's two states, set and unset, are shown by its appearing "pushed in" or "popped out" respectively.[8]


Tkr GtkLinkButton.png

A GtkLinkButton is a GtkButton with a hyperlink, similar to the one used by web browsers, which triggers an action when clicked. It is useful to show quick links to resources.


Tkr GtkSpinButton.png

Widget to retrieve number from user.

A spin box is a text box that accepts a range of values. It incorporates two arrow buttons that allow the user to increase or decrease the current value by a fixed amount.[9]


Tkr GtkEntry.png

Widget for single line keyboard entry.

  • relevant GIMP specific subclass
    • GimpNumberPair
      entry widget for ratios

Text entry fields are used for entering one or more lines of plain text.[10]


Tkr GtkScale.png

Slider widget to select value from a range.

A slider allows the user to quickly select a value from a fixed, ordered range, or to increase or decrease the current value[11]


Tkr GtkRadioButton.png

Widget to select one from a multiplechoice options list.

  • In tool options sometimes used to hide widgets like a GtkExpander

Radio buttons are used in groups to select from a mutually exclusive set of options. Only one radio button within a group may be set at any one time. As with check boxes, do not use radio buttons to initiate actions.[12]


Tkr GtkCheckButton.png

Discrete toggle button.

Check boxes are used to show or change a setting. Its two states, set and unset, are shown by the presence or absence of a checkmark in the labelled box.[13]


Tkr GtkExpander.png
Tkr GtkExpander closed.png

Widget to show or hide a widget container.


Tkr GimpSpinScale.png

A mixture of scale and spin button in one.


Tkr GimpFrame.png

GNOME HIG compliant frame [14].

Reoccuring tool options

Some sets of widgets reoccur several times in the different tool option menus. It might be practical to keep these in mind when redesigning. The most common of these sets are listed below.

Tkr meta selectmode.png

Mode selection for selection tools.

Tkr meta selectoptions.png

A set of options for selection tools.

Tkr meta paintmode.png

Mode selection for paint tools.

Tkr meta brush.png

Brush selection for paint tools.

Tkr meta dynamics.png

Dynamics selection for paint tools.

Tkr meta brush select.png Tkr meta gradient select.png Tkr meta pattern select.png Tkr meta pattern select expanded.png

Specialist buttons for selecting brush/gradient/pattern. Pattern selection shown expanded as example.

user scenarios

Scenario 1 - tool selection & adaptation

  • pick a toolbox tool
  • set options parameters for the task at hand
    • change mode/opacity/brush type/size as needed, as precise as needed
  • start working with the tool on the canvas

Scenario 2 - tool setups

  • user is working on the canvas
  • the tool used needs adaptation to continue the task
  • change the parameters of the tool options, creating a new setup
  • work with the new setup
  • change back to the previous set-up at will
  • continue working on the canvas
  • switch between setups and create new ones as needed

Scenario 3 - tweaking tool setups

  • user is working on the canvas
  • a slight alteration to the current setup is needed
  • refine the tool options, change mode/size/opacity
    • swift
    • exact
  • user returns to the canvas and continues work

Scenario 4 - tool options interaction with canvas

  • user selects a tool setup
  • work on the canvas
  • turns to the tool options
  • alters the options (eg. change brush size/type)
    • change immediately reflected on canvas
  • adjust options as needed
  • return to canvas to continue work

Scenario 5 - setup interactions between tools

  • user has been working on the canvas with a paint tool
  • selects a selection tool and chooses a preferred setup (might be default)
  • selects a region
  • returns to the previous tool
  • chooses last known setup
  • continues work

Scenario 6 - setup interactions between documents

  • user works on document1 using tool A, using a custom setup for tool A
  • switches to document2
  • picks tool A, setup is as last used in document2
  • switches to document1
  • picks tool A, setup is as last used in document1