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GIMP 2.99.8 is here but what's happened to 3.0? If only stuff would not break all the time

Keeping up with technology changes 'taking a toll on development'

GIMP 2.99.8, a development version with many new features, has been released, but 3.0 is taking its time due to system changes that break things.

The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a full-featured bitmap image editor with a long history, the first public release being January 1996. Version 1.0 came in June 1998.

It is appreciated for its extensive features (and free price) but development is slow. The current production version is 2.10, the first version of which came out in April 2010, built using Gtk 2.x. That said, GIMP 2.10 is regularly updated, most recently with 2.10.28 last month, featuring many bug fixes especially on Windows.

GIMP 2.99.8 in action on Windows 11

GIMP 2.99.8 in action on Windows 11

Version 2.99.8 uses Gtk 3 and is described as having "a huge set of improvements." In summary:

  • Clone and heal tools now work across multiple layers.
  • Windows Ink support, described as "a huge milestone for artists using Windows."
  • The GIMP icon in the taskbar will no longer include a preview of the image. "This complicated locating GIMP's window among windows of other running applications," said the team.
  • JPEG-XL support, and improved import of Adobe Photoshop files, with support for PSD files of larger than 4GB.
  • Bug fixes including an end to "huge memory leaks" when using Wayland on Linux.

Another important change is that a new contributor, Lukas Oberhuber, has taken on development packaging for macOS, which was previously lacking, though the team says that more macOS contributors are still needed. A lot of work has also been done on the GIMP infrastructure for continuous integration, including testing and releasing.

Does this mean GIMP 3.0 is nearly done? No date is set for this and the roadmap only states that it is a "work in progress."

According to the release announcement: "Taking care of technology changes (Wayland on Linux and macOS in particular) these days is also taking quite a toll in our development efficiency as we spend a lot of time fixing things which just get broken because the underlining systems change."

A July post explained the difficulty caused by contributors who leave the project and invited users to contribute to funding for some key maintainers. ®

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