Don’t be a stranger to GIMP, be GIMP…

I can try and do more coding, more code reviewing, revive designing discussions… that’s cool, yet never enough. GIMP needs more people, developers, designers, community people, writers for the website or the documentation, tutorial makers… everyone is welcome in my grand scheme!

Many of my actions lately have been towards gathering more people, so when I heard about the GNOME newcomers initiative during GUADEC, I thought that could be a good fit. Thus a few days ago, I had GIMP added in the list of newcomer-friendly GNOME projects, with me as the newcomers mentor. I’ll catch this occasion to remind you all the ways you can contribute to GIMP, and not necessarily as a developer.

Coding for GIMP

GIMP is not your random small project. It is a huge project, with too much code for any sane person to know it all. It is used by dozen of thousands of people, Linux users of course, but also on Windows, OSX, BSDs… A flagship for Free Software, some would say. So clearly coding for GIMP can be scary and exciting in the same time. It won’t be the same as contributing to most smaller programs. But we are lucky: GIMP has a very sane and good quality code. Now let’s be clear: we have a lot of crappy pieces of code here and there, some untouched for years, some we hate to touch but have to sometimes. That will happen with any project this size. But overall, I really enjoy the quality of the code and it makes coding in GIMP somewhat a lot more enjoyable than in some less-cared projects I had to hack on in my life. This is also thanks to the maintainer, Mitch, who will bore you with syntax, spaces, tabs, but also by his deep knowledge of GIMP architecture. And I love this.

On the other hand, it also means that getting your patch into GIMP can be a littler more complicated than in some other projects. I saw a lot of projects which would accept patches in any state as long as it does more or less what it says it does. But nope, not in GIMP. It has to work, of course, but it also has to follow strict code quality, syntax-wise, but also architecture-wise. Also if your code touches the public API or the GUI, be ready for some lengthy discussions. But this is all worth it. Whether you are looking for improving an already awesome software, adding lines to your resume, improving your knowledge or experience on programming, learning, you will get something meaningful out of it. GIMP is not your random project and you will have reasons to be proud to be part of it.

How to choose a first bug?

Interested already? Have a look at bugs that we think are a good fit for newcomers! Now don’t feel obligated to start there. If you use GIMP and are annoyed by specific bugs or issues, this may well be a much better entrance. Personally I never contributed to fix a random bug as first patch. Every single first patch I did for Free Software was for an issue I experienced. And that’s even more rewarding!

Oh and if you happen to be a Windows or OSX developer, you will have an even bigger collection of bugs to look into. We are even more needing developer on non-Linux platforms, and that means we have a lot more bugs there, but also most likely a good half of these are probably easy to handle even for new developers.

Finally crashes and bugs which output warnings are often pretty easy since you can usually directly investigate them in a debugger (gdb for instance), which is also a good tool to learn if you never used. Bugs related to a graphical element, especially with text, are a good fit for new developers too since you can easily grep texts to search through the code.

Infrastructure

Now there are whole other areas where you could contribute. These are unloved area and less visible, which is sad. And I wish to change this. One of these is infrastructure! GIMP, as many big projects, have a website, build and continuous integration servers, wikis, mailing lists… These are time-consuming and have few contributors.

So we definitely welcome administrators. Our continuous integration regularly encounters issue. Well as we speak, the build fails, not because of GIMP, instead because minimum requirements for our dev environment are not met. At times, we have had a failing continuous integration for months. The problem is easy: we need more contributors to share the workload. Currently Sam Gleske is our only server administrator but as a volunteer, he has only limited time. We want to step up to next level with new people to co-administrate the servers!

Writers

While we got a new website recently (thanks to Patrick David especially!), more frequent news (here I feel we have to cite Alexandre Prokoudine too), we’d still welcome new hands. That could be yours!

We need documentation for GIMP 2.10 coming release, but also real good quality tutorials under Free/Libre licenses. The state of our tutorials on gimp.org were pretty sad before the new website, to say the least. Well now that’s pretty empty.

Of course translations are also a constant need too. GIMP is not doing too bad here, but if that’s what you like, we could do even better! For this, you will want to contact directly the GNOME translation team for your target language.

Designers

And finally my pet project, I repeat this often, but I think a lot of GIMP workflow would benefit from some designer view. If you are a UX designer and interested, be welcome to the team too!

So here it is. All the things which you could do with us. Don’t be scared. Don’t be a stranger. Instead of being this awesome project you use, it could be your awesome project. Make GIMP! 🙂

mrxvt looking for maintainers

Hi all!

mrxvt is a cool light-weight terminal emulator, not tied to a specific desktop environment and with minimal dependency. This was also one of my very first bigger contributions to Free Software. Well I had patches here and there before, but that’s one project where I stuck around longer and where I was quickly given commit rights. So it is dear to my heart. It was also my first big feature attempt since I started a branch to add UTF-8 support (actually any-encoding support), which is the normal way of things now but at the time, many software and distributions were still not working with UTF-8 as a default. Then I left for years-long wandering our planet on a motorcycle (as people who know me are aware) and because of this, drastically slowed down FLOSS contributions until a few years ago. Back as a contributor, mrxvt is not my main project anymore (you know which these are: GIMP and ZeMarmot!). I moved on.

Now I have to admit the awful truth: I don’t use mrxvt much anymore. My main reason is actually because I need dearly UTF-8 and even though I’d love to finish whatever I started on this topic years ago, I don’t have the opportunity to do this anymore. Whatever terminal I use now* is good for me.

Yet mrxvt is still used, and we have regularly people asking about its development. So this is just a small call, if not too late:

if anyone is interested into taking over mrxvt, you are welcome to do so!

I have recently moved the code from subversion (on Sourceforge) to git on gitlab. So consider this new repository as the new official upstream of mrxvt. But be it know that my goal here is not to take back active development. I just can’t make the time to it. I can only assure that I would maintain it with GI (historical maintainer who also has commit right on the new repo as well) and would review and merge any patch which makes sense. If any developer who previously had commit rights on our subversion repository asks me for, I can give you commit rights there too.

Last but not least: if anyone wants to take over, we will gladly give ownership. But please send a few patches first. We had a few people who wanted to become the upstream without even showing a piece of code. Well we want to give the baby, but making sure first we give it to someone who cares. So just make a few patches that we can review, and we’ll happily give over mrxvt.


* Full disclosure: my current terminal of choice is Guake. Well it has unfortunately its share of bugs, but I really love the “making it appear and disappear in a click”. Considering that the terminal emulator is undoubtly the software I use the most daily, making it a special one, with its own windowing (not lost in alt-tab hell) is a very good trick to me.

ZeMarmot monthly report for August 2016

So what happened in August for ZeMarmot?

GUADEC

We went to the GUADEC conference, which was our first time there. Have a look to our reports in English and in Korean.

If you haven’t already, we can recommend to have a look at the record of our talk. We showed pieces of the animation work in progress.

Excerpt from ZeMarmot work-in-progress at GUADEC
Excerpt from ZeMarmot work-in-progress at GUADEC

Also the development being done on the animation software.

Animation software ­— work in progress
Animation software ­— work in progress

… and some numbers on what we did in GIMP (we already posted some info on our implication in GIMP earlier, if you remember), and more… Anyway rather than repeating ourselves, just check out the video. 🙂

Production

This month has been very active, both for the drawing, animating and coloring of several cuts of the pilot, as well as for the plugin development.

Just as we came back from GUADEC though, the graphics tablet of Aryeom — a Wacom Intuos 5 M — failed to work. This is bad news since these are pretty expensive. We were seeing it coming since the connection was having regular issues, but Aryeom is extra cautious with her material, so we hoped it would last longer. It did not. For a week, Aryeom had been drawing on a very old Wacom Bamboo (MTE-450, nearly 10 year old model, which Aryeom was using during her university years). Finally we found a solution saving us from having to buy a whole new tablet!

But as a bad news does Aryeom sprained her right hand’s thumb (i.e. her drawing hand) just around the end of the month! :-/ Probably she worked too much.
So that’s a bad news which requires her to rest her hand a bit now. Send her all the love you can, everyone!

That’s it for now. We’ll send more news soon, hopefully better ones.

We hope that you appreciate our project, and if this is the case, don’t forget that you can always support us either through Patreon (USD) or Tipeee (EUR).

Can you save a Wacom tablet with broken USB port?

You may have already read on ZeMarmot’s Twitter a few days ago but I thought a short post may be worth it. Lately Aryeom’s Wacom tablet (Intuos 5 M) had been acting up until finally the USB port was not working at all (not the cable — of course we checked! 😛 — but the port side on the tablet).

Apparently quite a common problem with Wacom Intuos tablets (like very common; I could find many reports on the web about such problem) and the after-sales of Wacom is quite expensive unfortunately. Some people would open and solder the USB back themselves successfully. On the other hands, I could read at least one comment by someone who failed and bricked the tablet this way. Also I have not soldered anything for years and I don’t have a good soldering iron anymore.

We also had the wireless kit, so we wondered if this could not be our solution: why plug the tablet at all? But it still requires the tablet to work on battery and this one is charged… by the same USB plug! Back to case 1. But then I checked the battery, realized it looked like a very common phone battery (comparing to a Galaxy S2 battery we had there, it was the same voltage, just a slightly different form factor). So yes the solution was simply to buy a 8€ universal charger, and a second Wacom battery so that we can use one in the tablet while the other is charging.

Wacom battery charged on universal charger…
Wacom battery charged on universal charger…

And tadaaa! Wacom tablet fixed for just a few bucks! 🙂

I’m just letting this small trick out there as a possible alternative to soldering yourself your graphics tablet, in case this happens to you too.

P.S.: yes it is written on the battery to only use the specified charger. But what do you want? We do what we can. 😉