At the KOffice meeting in Oslo the Krita team had a meeting to put the finishing touches to an ambitious plan. On hearing about it the Dot managed to lure two of the Krita developers in a separate room to question them and find out what was going on. Nobody got seriously hurt in the process.
We spoke with Krita developers Boudewijn Rempt and Lukáš Tvrdý.
Jos: I sensed some excitement from the Krita developers, what do you guys have in store?
Boudewijn: Well, we realized while working on Krita 2.1 that it was getting to that point where an end user could basically work with it. So we were looking for the next challenge.
Lukáš: It was about that time when I got in contact with David Revoy. He's the concept artist who has been working with the Blender team on Project Durian: their latest open source movie project. I asked him for his opinions on Krita to get some feedback from a professional. I like for people to use my applications, and David has plenty of experience with various tools like the Gimp and MyPaint. His opinions seemed very valuable to me for making Krita ready for actual users.
Jos: And? Did he have experience with Krita?
Lukáš: Yes, actually, he had tried it a while ago. It didn't work for him, even though he liked our interface a lot. The main issue was not really the lack of great features and tools but the slowness of the painting.
Boudewijn: But he was willing to provide us with feedback on the issues he bumped into. So that's when we decided we should put a strong focus on getting Krita ready for him. If he can work comfortably with Krita, so will many other users, both casual users and professionals...
Lukáš: That was a challenging goal, but also very exciting. I had been working on a bunch of cool brushes, using the tablet I've been loaned after a previous fundraiser and I thought I could shift my focus a bit.
Boudewijn: Yes, but frankly, the issues David bumped into would need more than a few casual hours a week to fix them properly. The speed issues for example need deep changes in the code. This could take a long time especially with Krita and KOffice being a moving target all the time.
Lukáš: So I mentioned to the team that since I'll have a slow period the first three months of the year I might be able to spend a serious amount of time on this. In 3 months I could certainly fix the performance and usability issues David encountered.
Boudewijn: But of course Lukáš would have to find a job to be able to pay his bills - after all, he's a student. So we decided it was worth it to try and raise money to let Lukáš work on Krita full-time for three months!
Jos: So that's the plan - raise money and get Lukáš to work on Krita full-time?
Boudewijn: exactly. Cyrille Berger will go and meet David Revoy next week to talk about the issues in Krita. David has agreed to help us get Krita to the point where a professional like him can use it comfortably. It'd be really cool if for example the Blender artists can use Krita for their next piece of art!
Lukáš: This is only possible because we've been focussing on fixing bugs and improving stability in KOffice so much lately... By restraining ourself to that instead of working on new cool features, we've created something which is usable. But this brings out the performance issues and missing functionality.
Lots of work ahead
Boudewijn: With David's help we have made a specific list of tasks to be accomplished, with a timeline. We'll of course run the results by David every now and then. Lukáš will know exactly what he's supposed to do and in 40-80 hours a week he can get them done.
Lukáš: wait, 80 hours? We didn't talk about...
Boudewijn: Don't worry, if you don't manage to finish a target during the week, the weekend has another 48 hours!
Lukáš: Well, hum. Anyway, we have a realistic plan. We'll start on the performance issues, the fixes for that should make it into the KOffice 2.3 release. Then 4 months later, the 2.4 release will contain the usability and feature improvements - all of this should be in the hands of the users around the end of August or September.
Jos: Next year?!?
Boudewijn: Hence the 80 hours.
Lukáš: It is doable. I'm not alone, the other Krita developers will of course continue working on various other improvements as well.
Boudewijn: And we know what Lukáš can do, he's very good. He has shown that in the earlier summer of code projects and his work with the tablet support, the new brushes, 3D cursors and the infinite canvas. You can look up the code if you like.
Jos: Sounds good. So where does the money come from? I've seen Lukáš eat...
Boudewijn: Hehe... Well he lives in the Slovak Republic. Life's not that expensive over there. We aim to raise about 2000-3000 euros. And the Krita team has decided to put a bit of personal money in as well. If we manage to raise more money, it'll be used for sponsoring Lukáš for a longer period.
Jos: So this is really a team plan?
Boudewijn: Yes, absolutely, everybody's on board here. We all see this as a great opportunity to raise the bar for Krita and move to the next level. For us it is about enabling a team member to work on a specific set of improvements full time to the benefit of the whole product. The money raising will probably have to be an ongoing effort but I think the community will help us out here.
Lukáš: yeah, everyone really wants to do this. The other team members can can continue to work on the cool things they have been working on, I'll be doing this as if it's a job - do the boring optimizing and usability work. It'll still be a lot more fun than getting a random student job around here for three months...
Boudewijn: And it's good for his resume, I suppose.
Jos: So, sum it up for us, why should the community support the Krita team with this plan?
Lukáš: If you want to use krita on a professional level!
Boudewijn: It is cheaper than a licence of Corel Painter. Not that I would object to any donations the size of a Corel Painter license...
Boudewijn: And it can fill in a gap in the Free Software world. MyPaint is here for quick sketching, and Gimp is real good at image manipulation but we don't have a good digital painting appliation with all the features artists need. We have been working on this many years and we're close - this is the chance for the big leap forwards. If you care about this, a donation will make a big difference. We can do this!
Jos: Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the interview and of course for the work on KOffice and Krita!
You've all read it, go on to the Donations page and help make Free Software provide a real alternative for digital artists! Be sure to notify others and spread the word...