ingimp: improving the usability of the GIMP by collecting and analyzing usage data

July 22nd, 2007 edited by ana

Article submitted by Francois Marier. We are running out of articles ! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like !

ingimp is an instrumented version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program that collects real-time usability data, such as the commands used, the size of images worked on, and so on. This usability data is automatically transmitted to ingimp for anyone to download and analyze.

It is meant to be a snap-in replacement for the GIMP, so it can be used for normal, everyday image manipulation tasks. By using it, the user and developer communities can gain new insights into how the GIMP is actually used “in the wild.” This information, in turn, has the potential to feed into future design and development efforts. Thus, you have the chance of contributing to open usability efforts simply by using ingimp as you would the regular version of the GIMP.

ingimp is part of human-computer interaction (HCI) research at the University of Waterloo investigating new forms of sustainable open usability.

Pretty Pictures

Numerical summarizations of overall ingimp usage are provided, along with personalized mirrors of your own personal, usage. Each ingimp user has an online persona that grows to reflect how they use ingimp. For example, if you are an artist who makes heavy use of the pencil tool, your persona will be seen clutching a pencil. Just use ingimp as you would the normal version of the GIMP and use the “Website + Stats” button at start-up to view your own persona along with a summary of your own usage of ingimp.

Group shot
Snapshot of all current ingimp users.


ingimp has been designed to collect data useful to usability analyses, without intentionally collecting any personal information. For example, ingimp does not record the actual keys pressed, just when they are pressed, along with any modifier keys used (i.e., Shift, Alt, and Control). Furthermore, ingimp does not record command parameters (for example, it doesn’t record the text you enter into the text tool) nor does it transmit the actual images on which you work.

Disabling logging
It is possible to disable logging at the start of the program.

ingimp is in Debian unstable and backported packages are available for Debian Etch and Ubuntu Feisty.

More Information

You can find out more about ingimp by visiting its homepage.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

5 Responses

  1. erik Says:

    This has baffled me from the first announcement. By tracking the user work flows they miss completely that the present system might be blocking or making certain complete tasks too loathsome to be accomplished at all. In other words, all they end up with is tweaking a completely broken system. It’s not scientifically interesting project, and it will not really lead into any real usability improvements within Gimp.

    This package is just trash.

  2. Michael Says:

    The project does not seek to discover usability flaws (see for a group working on uncovering flaws), but rather to characterize the user base: Who is using the software for what purposes, how often, whether they are novices/experts, etc. Those involved with the GIMP’s development have a good idea of what should be improved in GIMP. But given limited resources, the question becomes what fixes will have the largest impact and benefit the most people. ingimp’s data will help to answer these questions.

  3. erik Says:

    My point indeed. Which you can’t measure with this package. It’s moot.

  4. Jeff Atwood Says:

    erik, the only thing that’s trash here is your *comments*. They’re not constructive criticism. If InGimp’s method sucks, then offer some alternatives or suggest ways it *could* work instead of slagging it off.

    Plus, I think going from no instrumentation to some instrumentation is a significant step forward in and of itself.

  5. Chanio Says:

    There should be other good results from doing just what commercial companies have been doing for years…

    If it becomes standarized to all distributions, there might be a good reason for having Gimp constantly updated.

    Besides, it would be able to evolve even quicker than any other graphic design software, just because it would be constantly rating the use of every tool…

    Statistics, have always scared people, but nowadays, they represent most of the important media improvements. Imagine TV without their ratings…