Posted by: sourceoffailure | June 9, 2008

Plug-in Problems

This weekend, I was installing a GIMP denoising plugin into my computer. I had tried to read the GIMP documentation on installing plugins, but when it came to Windows, they basically avoided the problem altogether. They made it seem like a hard task; many people do not know what the diferences is between a precompiled binary and source code is. You can’t write help files for developers; they already know what to do. You have to write help files for the masses.

The “heroics” as they called it could be done in a much simpler fashion. Plugins, at least for desktop applications, could have this simple work flow for users to follow to obtain the plugin they need.

1. Sync GIMP with the GIMP plugin registry website so GIMP can poll for new plugins

2. User manipulates graphic interface to download plugin from site into correct directory

3. Plugin works the next time GIMP is run.

(This is very similar to Ubuntu’s Add/Remove Programs.)

Currently, you have to put a binary into a non-specific folder by hand… now I have 2.4, so I naturally thought that the plugin should go into the 2.4/lib/gimp/plugin directory… but no, it doesn’t. It goes into the depreciated 2.0 folder. This caused me 20 minutes of utter frustration.

This is something that most developers do not know: frustration accumulates faster then you think. I suspect it actually grows exponentially, but I have yet to prove that (though I assure you that I’m actively researching it).

We should not expect, as computer scientists, for users to know where to put anything of our program. This is another sandboxing technique, and to run with the metaphor, a new toy shouldn’t be hard to reach.

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