This post was orignally planned as my 10 year anniversary post, but due to me finishing my thesis and starting on my new job this got a bit delayed and now I’m already 11 years on the Krita team. Boudewijn has already posted a much more detailed look back at the history of Krita. Here just some of my thoughts on the last 11 years.
I started working on Krita in late December 2003. The funny thing is that I’m not an artist and I don’t really have a use for the application itself and was more interested in the development of a graphics manipulation in general. Ironically my art teacher back then claimed that you could not do art with the computer because there was not direct connection between the hand and the canvas and therefore the machine had more influence than the artist.
Back in 2003 Krita had never been released and the application was only able to do some very crude painting. I think the main reason that I started contributing to Krita back then was that I was much more comfortable with the single window UI and the fact that it used Qt/KDE and C++. In the early days I would never have imagined that I would be still with the project after 10+ years and how big the project is now. Even that the project exists today is a miracle and result of many developers putting in effort without ever knowing how it would develop. For the first few years we had almost no users and the users that we had were die-hard KDE users. At the time that wasn’t a bad thing as it allowed us to do some radical changes and experiments. Many features that were developed during this time still provide the base for the current Krita.
The early days of development were a bumpy ride. We made three releases based on Qt/KDE 3 and Krita was starting to take of with version 1.6. Then we made the jump to KDE 4, which was expected to be big, but in hindsight turn out much bigger than anyone was expecting. In the end it took several years to complete that and if we had known how long it would take we wouldn’t even have started that. During that period the project the suffered quite a bit as development stalled for some time and we lost some developers which got exhausted from the port. The biggest things we learned from that is to never start porting to a new set of libraries before it’s even tested, to never make a release cycle longer than a couple of months and when you are porting to never do anything but porting.
After Krita 2.0 was released we got back on track and made good progress. Releases happened much more frequently still the improvement from version to version became bigger and bigger. Looking back it’s interesting how old even the last version looks. One of the major turning points in this time was the decision to concentrate on painting in Krita. Back then it was a big controversy, but today I think it was maybe the best desision we ever made. It sharpened the development and made Krita overall a better application. I think we proved the everybody wrong who said that we focus on a too small user group. Based on bug tracker and forum activity we certainly have at least a tenfold growth of the userbase since then.
The current development of version 2.9 is really exciting. This version will bring support for multiple-windows inside the application which is one of the biggest changes we ever made to the user interface. Also really nice it that the 2.9 beta is attracting a lot of user testing. Several years ago I made a post about Krita needing more bug reports, now we got in the last two weeks more bug reports for the 2.9 beta than we got in a whole year back then.
For the future there is a lot of interesting stuff coming up. Due to my new job I won’t be able to contribute as much as I used to, but I will continue to work on Krita. After 2.9 we will make the jump to Krita 3.0 which will use Qt 5/KDE Frameworks 5. The new libraries are not that interesting I think as in terms of desktop development not much changed since the KDE 3 days. For some users it will mean less dependencies which will certainly close some discussions. I think the developments I’m looking forward to in 2015 are Level of Detail painting (which should bring us up to Photoshop speed) and animation support which is one of the most requested features. Both have already seen some initial development, but will need more work in 2015.
I want to thank every developer who ever worked on Krita and all the users who supported us.