Open Source E-learning Development 2: Image Manipulation

First today, a preamble, in which I shall use the word “beauty.”

I’ve had some queries about my forthcoming article, wherein I will revisit themes I addressed in my 2008 post Recession and the challenge to e-learning. I’m still researching this topic: there are many sources to reference and data to be interpreted – and of course, the socio-economic landscape is still changing apace.

I am also re-reading Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon, a short story about the travails of Captain McWhirr and the steamer Nan-Shan, as I attempt to find a suitable context for the piece. You don’t know Conrad’s work, you say? of course you do; Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now was based on Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness.

I’m not going to discuss this further here, except to express how extraordinary I think it is that a Polish man who did not speak English fluently until he was in his twenties became one of the 20th Century’s master prose stylists and novelist in English – which was essentially his second language – while most of us native speakers incompetently attempt to turn words into something meaningful, with utility, if not beauty.

Now read on…

The second open environment authoring tool highlighted in this series is an image editing application.image

The GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP, is an open source graphics editor that is available for Linux, Windows, and OS X. It is a freely-distributed raster graphics editor used to process digital graphics and photographs. GIMP is primarily used for photo manipulation, including sizing, editing, and cropping images, combining multiple images, and converting between different image formats. GIMP can also be used to create basic animated GIFs.

According to,

[GIMP] has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

Typical uses include:

  • creating graphics and logos
  • resizing and cropping photos
  • color management
  • combining multiple images
  • removing unwanted image features
  • converting between different image formats

GIMP can also be used to create simple animated GIF images. It is often used as a “software replacement” (Paul, 2008) for Adobe Photoshop.

The application has read/write support for popular image formats such as BMP, JPEG, PNG, GIF and TIFF, as well as the proprietary file formats of several other applications such as Autodesk *.flic animations, Paintshop Pro images and Adobe Photoshop Documents. Other formats with read/write support include PostScript documents. GIMP can also read and write path information from SVG files. GIMP can also read/write ICO Windows icon files. Its native format is XCF.

Figure 1. A screenshot of the GIMP UI

GIMP can also import Adobe PDF documents and the raw image formats used by many digital cameras. However, it can’t save to these formats; rather files must be exported to one of the image file types it does support.



GNU Image Manipulation Program Home Page:

Paul, R. (2008). GIMP 2.6 released, one step closer to taking on Photoshop. Ars Technica. [Internet] Available from: Accessed 2nd July 2009.