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HCGS

10 Quality of Life Suggestions (From a Long Time User)

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Hello everyone,

 

I'm a long time user and massive fan of Paint.NET. I've been using it for nearly 10 years now, and must say that it is definitely my favorite image editor out there.

 

However, as we all know, PDN is by far not the most powerful one out there. In fact, it's nothing when compared to, say, Adobe Photoshop. But I believe comparing them is unfair. PDN was never supposed to compete against Photoshop; they are designed to do different things. One is a very powerful and professional image editor while the other is simple but gets the job done easy and quick.

 

Despite all of that, from my long experience using this software almost daily, I do think we could make it much better without resorting to add massive, complicated features (although, sometimes I think it would be good to have some; more about that later). This is a list of suggestions I've been making for a while now, of small tweaks and additions that would increase quality-of-life significantly...

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

1. Brush Width Shortcut

 

Whenever I'm drawing something with a brush, using the eraser, or clone stamping something, very frequently I have to change the brush size as I'm working. Of course, I can always just manually change the value by scrolling on that text box or typing the value in. But that breaks the workflow a lot. Specially when I want to keep my mouse in the same position. It would be really, really nice to have a way to change the brush without having to move the mouse. I suggest Alt+Mouse Scroll.     [EDIT] This actually already exists. It's [ and ].

 

2. Move selection by amount of pixels

 

This is something that haunts me a lot when I'm doing more precise stuff, such as UI designing, making diagrams, or doing pixel art. Sometimes I have to move my selection exactly 4 pixels to the right, or exactly 20 pixels upwards. For small distances it's fine to just use the arrow keys and good old counting on your head; but sometimes it's really annoying to tap the down arrow key exactly 11 times. Using ctrl+arrow keys does help, but not enough. It would be amazing to have an easier way to move selections. What I suggest is something similar to what Blender does: just start typing the number in and press the arrow key corresponding to the direction. So, if I just type "320" on my keyboard and press "left arrow key", my selection is moved 320 pixels to the left.

 

3. Sampling Mode should be by tool

 

Many, many times I have had to pick a color and use the fill tool somewhere else. What often happens is that I usually want the sampling mode of the color picker to be "Image" and the sampling mode of the fill tool to be "Layer". To me, it doesn't make sense that the sampling mode is universal. Each tool should have its sampling mode selection independent of the others.

 

4. There should be a way to disable Infinite Undo to save RAM

 

The title describes it well. Despite Paint.NET being pretty lightweight, it's always good to have ways to make things run as smooth as possible for weaker machines. Infinite Undo is a great feature, which also has the potential to use infinite RAM.

 

5. Flip selection

 

This is one of those features that would increase quality of life immensely. It's such a fundamental thing that sometimes we forget it doesn't exist. We have a really rudimentary flip tool that only flips the whole image. If I want to flip just a part of an image, I have to 1) select that part, 2) copy it, 3) open a new image, 4) paste my selection, 5) flip the image, 6) copy it, 7) paste it back on the original image. This is... a lot of steps for such a small thing. It would be awesome to have a button that just flips the selection. In fact, this could even replace the current flip feature.

 

6. Inputting text should not move the screen

 

In all of those years of using PDN, there has never been anything more infuriating than using the text tool and having the view jump around like crazy when text goes beyond the canvas. The control of the view should be entirely in the hands of the user. Sorry Rick, but how did you think this was a good idea? :P At least make this "feature" toggleable, please!

 

7. Merging transparent layers should have expected behaviour

 

If I merge two layers, I don't expect the image to change. I just expect both layers to be a single one. However, if the bottom layer is transparent, then we observe strange, unexpected behaviour that can be better explained with this image:

 

image.thumb.png.4cba54c62e5039950d533702960084a2.png

 

8. Resize canvas and fill empty space with transparency

 

When you increase the size of the canvas, surely some empty space appears in the image. What's bizarre is that on all layers, this empty space is just transparency (rgba(0,0,0,0)) except on the layer named "Background". On that one, instead of transparency, the empty space is filled with the secondary color. This is a really weird and unexpected behaviour. I think that either all layers should just be transparency, or the bottomest layer should receive the secondary color, or some combination of the both: add a way to toggle this.

 

9. Continuous clone stamp

 

The clone stamp is a very useful tool. However it has an interesting behaviour that could potentially improve: it literally just shifts the image to a direction. It would be nice to have an option to make it sample from the current image, not from the original image before the first click. In other words, a continuous clone stamp.

 

10. Size dropdowns should go to the nearest number when scrolling from one not on the list

 

This is a bit tricky to explain. You know the size dropdowns? Such as the Brush Width or the Text Size dropdowns, that both allow you to type in a value or choose one from the list? When you mouse scroll over them (or hit up/down keyboard arrows) the selected value cycles through the list. For instance, if I have a text size of 72 and I mouse scroll down or hit the down keyboard arrow, the text size is changed to 84. However, if I instead type in some value that is not on the list (such as 83) and try scrolling, instead of the value snapping the the closest downwards (in this case, 84), it actually snaps to the first value in the list (in this case, 8). Capiche?

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

Well, that's all, I think. I know that development is not easy, specially when you just have a single person working on it. I would like to reiterate that this is in no way trying to demand anything from Rick (I mean, PDN is completely free, how could I?), and that all of these points should be just considered suggestions :) 

 

I would just like to add a few secondary suggestions that as I said in the very beginning, are quite big and complex to implement, so these are just some personal wishes. These are three plugins that I feel like should be actually added into the core app. Kudos to the developers!

 

Edited by HCGS

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29 minutes ago, HCGS said:

1. Brush Width Shortcut

 

Try pressing [ and ]

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6 minutes ago, BoltBait said:

 

Try pressing [ and ]

 

Whoa. How did I not know about that one?! Thanks a bunch. I will mark that one off my post.

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1 hour ago, HCGS said:

5. Flip selection

 

Until Rick implements this in Paint.NET, you can install my plugin pack and use the Effects > Flip in there.

 

1 hour ago, HCGS said:

7. Merging transparent layers should have expected behaviour

 

This is impossible. What if the top layer is the lighten blend mode and the bottom layer is the darken blend mode. There is no way to combine them and have the resulting layer behave like the two separate layers. 

 

What we we currently have is the best compromise. 

 

Now, for your specific example, you can easily get it to work the way you want by doing this:

 

Insert a blank layer just below your bottom layer. Merge your bottom layer onto that blank layer. Then merge your top layer onto your bottom layer. 

 

1 hour ago, HCGS said:

8. Resize canvas and fill empty space with transparency

 

Just delete the original Background layer and it does work this way. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, HCGS said:

2. Move selection by amount of pixels

 

There is a plugin for this. Search for panel plugin. 

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Regarding [ and ], I try to make sure shortcut keys are in the respective tooltips, e.g.

 

image.png

 

At this point, if a tooltip doesn't have the shortcut key, I consider it a bug. Feel free to report them!

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@BoltBait oh, come on. We need to stop saying "oh there's a workaround" or "just use this plugin". Most people don't use plugins. When they download Paint.NET for the first time, what do they see? An incomplete software. If we keep telling people to just add a plugin for everything, Paint.NET might as well just be a framework, right? Why have a Gaussian Blur effect? Why have a Hue/Saturation tool? Why have anything at all? This kind of argument slowly kills any software, it halts progress.

 

As much as I love PDN and how much effort is put into it to keep improving it, we need to admit that feature-wise, not really much has been going on for a while. Miraculously two new effects were added last year, and despite not seeing any use case for them just yet, I'm happy to see we still are getting those. Before that, we got Vignette in 2014 (5 years ago) and Surface Blur, Dents and Crystalize in 2009 (10 years ago).

 

Another issue with a plugin-centered view is that... most of them are just old. Like, around a decade old, back in PDN's golden age. With time, more and more of them stop working on the latest versions.

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Bwahhahaha. That's THE most daft post I've seen on this forum in a long time. 😵

 

21 minutes ago, HCGS said:

 Most people don't use plugins

Hahahahaha..... Honestly, that's gold that is! Have you considered comedy as a career?

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2 minutes ago, Ego Eram Reputo said:

Bwahhahaha. That's THE most daft post I've seen on this forum in a long time. 😵

 

Hahahahaha..... Honestly, that's gold that is! Have you considered comedy as a career?

 

Generally, most people don't use plugins on any software, but I could be wrong. Most of the users I've talked to outside of this forum didn't know about them. But we don't have any actual metrics, do we?

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3 minutes ago, Ego Eram Reputo said:

Plugin Index is closing in on 2 million hits, far eclipsing any other thread on the forum. Metric enough?

 

Well, that's interesting. But I wouldn't say it's enough without knowing how many users does Paint.NET actually have. Also, wouldn't that value count multiple visits by the same person?

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1 hour ago, HCGS said:

@BoltBait oh, come on. We need to stop saying "oh there's a workaround" or "just use this plugin". Most people don't use plugins. When they download Paint.NET for the first time, what do they see? An incomplete software. If we keep telling people to just add a plugin for everything, Paint.NET might as well just be a framework, right? Why have a Gaussian Blur effect? Why have a Hue/Saturation tool? Why have anything at all? This kind of argument slowly kills any software, it halts progress.

 

As much as I love PDN and how much effort is put into it to keep improving it, we need to admit that feature-wise, not really much has been going on for a while. Miraculously two new effects were added last year, and despite not seeing any use case for them just yet, I'm happy to see we still are getting those. Before that, we got Vignette in 2014 (5 years ago) and Surface Blur, Dents and Crystalize in 2009 (10 years ago).

 

Another issue with a plugin-centered view is that... most of them are just old. Like, around a decade old, back in PDN's golden age. With time, more and more of them stop working on the latest versions.

 

Of course PDN is incomplete. That's partly by design, but also a byproduct of not having a large engineering team working on it 24/7.

 

Next, have you seen my big blog post? https://blog.getpaint.net/2018/12/26/whats-next-for-paint-net-in-2019/ Notice how revamping plugin systems is in there. It's important. Also notice how I'm now working full-time on PDN, whereas before I was splitting my time between PDN and Microsoft (through mid-2014) or Facebook (through early 2018). (btw, donations and purchases on the Microsoft Store are what makes this possible ... feel free to pitch in!)

 

There's quite a bit of engineering work going into PDN right now. A lot of it is "catch up" work that's needed to ensure it can stay modern and relevant, even if that doesn't include lots of little features that are important and useful. They are coming, however. There are about 18,000,000 things to do! Progress in any area always can be challenged by "well why didn't you do this other thing?" Well because I was doing the thing I actually did, and now it's done, and the thing you're pointing out just got to move up 1 point in the priority list. *shrug*

 

A prime example of this is the upgrade to the app icons in 4.1.6. This was necessary to ensure PDN can maintain a modern aesthetic on current systems. It's becoming much more common for the system DPI to change dynamically as a user moves their laptop in and out of docking station(s), goes to the coffee shop, or uses Remote Desktop. Gotta make sure stuff isn't blurry when that happens, otherwise the app just looks ... bad. Maybe it's not important to you, but it is important.

 

There's more low-level work coming up in areas such as file type robustness (4.1.7), more DPI upgrades (later in the year hopefully), input handling (mouses, brushes, pressure sensitivity, etc.), and migrating from .NET Framework 4.7 to .NET Core 3. I just spent a week fixing data structures in the rendering engine so there isn't crippingly bad performance on large images (like 30-60 second UI hangs when zooming and panning).

 

It's also important to point out that progress is slower at this point in PDN's life. More work has to be done in order to ensure features are robust along many dimensions. Back in 2004-2006 (for example), things were a lot more yolo-able. The code base was much smaller, the user base was much smaller, the stakes just weren't as high. But nowadays if I ship things that crash it affects a ton of people and can result in lost trust in the quality of PDN and its ability to be reliable and not lose data/work.

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1 hour ago, HCGS said:

@BoltBait oh, come on. We need to stop saying "oh there's a workaround" or "just use this plugin".

 

Also, I'd like to point out, that workarounds and plugins are completely valid ways to solve problems. Not everything needs to be doable with "in box" functionality. Sometimes I don't want things to be built-in because they would clutter things up for all the people who really don't need that stuff (including myself). And other times, having a workaround helps to genuinely unblock workflows. Just because it's not elegant doesn't mean it's invalid. It's worth improving, sure, but it's not like it's critical at that point.

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3 hours ago, HCGS said:

Most people don't use plugins.

 

If you're not using plugins, you're missing out on about half of what makes Paint.NET awesome!

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Statistically speaking, however, it's probably a true statement.

 

(Most people who participate on the forum) is not the same set as (Most people who have PDN installed)

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Well, sure.  I never said his statement was inaccurate... just that those people are totally missing out! :D

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6 hours ago, Rick Brewster said:

A prime example of this is the upgrade to the app icons in 4.1.6. This was necessary to ensure PDN can maintain a modern aesthetic on current systems.

 

I like more old school icons- but the new set definitely works so it's not a criticism . Everyone has their thing.

 

6 hours ago, Rick Brewster said:

 

Also, I'd like to point out, that workarounds and plugins are completely valid ways to solve problems. Not everything needs to be doable with "in box" functionality. Sometimes I don't want things to be built-in because they would clutter things up for all the people who really don't need that stuff (including myself). And other times, having a workaround helps to genuinely unblock workflows.

 

That really is the nature of good open source tech. The program "as downloaded" often times is best as a cheese pizza. You then can pick out the toppings you like as add-ons/extensions/plugins... If you really explore open source tech and max it out many people can have the exact same program and it ends up dramatically different for different people and how they use it.

 

I have some very strong preferences and opinions- but it is a free country. And, who knows? What if others have found some other source of goodness that I haven't yet? There is so much to harvest!

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@HCGS
Have most people ever heard of an app called 'Photoshop'?

It uses many plugins and there is a Paint.NET plugin that

enables you to use some of those Photoshop plugins.

 

Go figure! 🙂

Edited by HyReZ

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