darktable user survey

Hello @damonlynch,

First off, I am not a programmer by trade and my Python skills are pretty limited to say the least. Actually, I am a plant phytopathologist…

A friend of mine, a software coder, suggested me Visual studio code Editor in place of PyCharm.
In his personal opinion it is “better” suited for python coding quite simply because, so he claimed, he is faster to run and execute.
On top of this PyCharm is quite expensive if you want to buy their commercial edition.

I may be completely wrong but since Microsoft has bought github, in the long run, Visual code editor might be also better to work with GIT (just a wild guess of mine, no real proof on that…)

Visual code editor has a huge amount of plugins…
For instance, as regards type checking:

I am sure other people on this forum are better suited to reply (besides, I do not want to hijack this thread about the Darktable survey: sorry about that…)

The way I heard it is that the USB spec forbids extension cords, because USB cables have a maximum usable range. So in order for Apple to sell an extension cord to their known-short keyboard cable, they had to make it physically incompatible with other USB devices.

Which is very silly (if true), as you can nowadays buy USB extensions anyway. Anyway, a fun bit of trivia.

And I otherwise totally agree with your post; it pains me to consider any software, where that the only way of keeping my edits is paying a monthly paying a ransom. Which is now true for practically all of Apple’s and Adobe’s apps. No thank you.

Interesting thread, and I too feel an opinionated ramble starting.

Earlier on there were questions of why more people don’t adopt FOSS applications vs. commercial ones. I think Linux users are about 1.5% of computer users? So for people like me, using Windows at work, family using Windows at home, ultra busy and interested in learning lots of things more important than a new operating system (e.g . tried Mint on an old laptop, it installed dt 2.4 when 3.0 was out…if you want a later version you manually tarball this, terminal that, Giddyup to github blah blah…sorry, nope, no time…plus I LIKE windows - there, I admitted it! Been using it since 2.0 and it came on 2 3.5” floppy disks ). I tend to think the problem is not just about darktable, its about FOSS in general.

I think the general population just doesn’t think FOSS is “quality” software or “friendly” software. Just look at the Adobe complainers on dpreview.com and when myself and other here say “try darktable” the response is usually “too complicated, can’t be good, nah…but that $300 package looks interesting and it supports one-click sky replacement, blah blah”. I don’t think I’m alone when I say getting involved in FOSS-world is intimidating…its a whole new language, you don’t feel too welcome as a windows/mac user (its easy to creep away to the bigger crowds hanging over in Capture One or Adobe corners). Plus, weird things happen to the uninitiated – e.g. RawTherapee gets high praise then suddenly someone makes ART (Alternate RawTherapee) and us FOSS noobs can’t quite understand why or who to follow.

Then there is marketing, and the bazillions of content on youtube for Adobe is part of mass marketing. For every 1 dt user there must be at least 1000 LR users…so new photographers will join, even pirate, to be part of that larger group because people often have a crowd mentality. I think Aurelian is correct when he said “what we write on the website “darktable is made by photographers for photographers” is wrong. darktable is used mostly by engineers.” I think that is very true and applies to most of the FOSS/Linux world, and the question on computer knowledge kind of proves it – most people are in the the first two choices, but most FOSS/darktable users would be in the other choices. I’m afraid many feel the FOSS world is mainly computer nerds and that’s a very hard impression to correct. So it does clash with the photographic artists (most average snapshooters think they are the next Ansel Adams) who want “hip/cool/art” and not “computer nerdy”.

So ultimately, what is the critical problem to solve and what are the critical goal(s) to achieve? Is the goal to get more darktable users? Is it a threshold or diversity of users? Is it the best made photo processing software on the planet? What is this project aiming for? How will success be measured?

Are there any lessons from the most successful FOSS programs (e.g. OpenOffice/LibreOffice; the Document Foundation etc) that need to be thought about to guide darktable into the future?

Final note: please don’t take my comments on FOSS/Linux world in general as bashing the darktable contributors on pixls.us – this is a very warming and welcoming group and I do appreciate the support.


case in point…

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yeah - it hurts to read that much stupidity.

Just for fun I read the thread and could not believe the arguments that guy made. He was worried about long term stability so he somehow trusts capture one to be the one company that will survive for ever and give him support for all his new cameras he’s going to buy, to not change his business model etc?

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I think its pretty typical…I see those arguments, or other dumb ones all the time. So then the question is why? Why is FOSS so misunderstood? Not sure what is out there but a basic primer on FOSS would be helpful - and orient it to average users and non-Linux users who already know it well. Basic Q&As such as: is FOSS safe to use?, Is FOSS real software?, Whats the catch?, What FOSS programs can run on windows or mac?, Why do talented programmers work on stuff that’s given away? I think the biggest barrier to the broader problem is a lack of understanding and a lack of trust in FOSS programs.

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@damonlynch So you are an anthropologist by training? Me too! I’m an anthropological archaeologist to be more precise. I’m a professor in the department of anthropology at San Diego State. Glad to see you recommending ethnographic approaches here. And you are right, corporate ethnography, marketing ethnography, and the ethnography of design are burgeoning new areas where anthropological expertise is in demand!

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I had no idea Isaac that you are an anthropologist too. I suppose because I have yet to submit my dissertation, technically I haven’t finished my training — but almost there :wink: I’m not optimistic on the prospects of getting a job in anthro though. The job market is awful, and I have no idea how my sociocultural research will be received (it draws a lot on cognitive science and other sciences).

As a long time Apple user (1991-2000, 2004-today) I’m sad to say that Apple has lost its touch. It used to be that for the price of having a locked-down system, things would “just work”. And with OS X you got a UNIX system underneath that let you do wild stuff.

Unfortunately, it seems that Apple is abandoning professionals as their main customer base. And their quality control is definitely sliding. The last truly great version of OS X was Snow Leopard over 10 years ago, in my opinion.

Investing in the Apple ecosystem is risky if you have professional aspirations.

@damonlynch Keep at it! Obviously this current pandemic has thrown a lot of things into dissarray, and if we are indeed headed for a recession then it could be a tougher job market. But I got my PhD in 2013 when we still weren’t put of the last recession, and I still managed to land a job in a city I love. In fact my department, as small as we are (~10 faculty) has been hiring every year as older faculty finally retire and new lines are added. Just this year we hired a new cultural anthropologist who works broadly in the field of science and technology studies (which we see as the next frontier in ethnographic work). She has been studying the deployment of state-run medical diagnoses mobile apps in India, and the interface of the “surveillance state,” medical practice, and post-colonialism. Interesting stuff, for sure!

Whenever that discussion comes up, I point to Firefox and VLC; those two projects are widely known and considered of being at or with the top of the competition.

I also tend to lose a few words about aperture and how much you can get fucked using commercial products

I totally agree with all here saying that Apple has lost its touch. I have used many years Apple (computer, smartphone and tablet) and Apple has probably died with the lost of Steve Jobs. Probably 2 or 3 years after, some of the best things were always there but year after year Apple had choosed another path and progressively lost what’s had made Apple. I have changed to LInux in 2018 autumn and will not come back. Yes, sometimes, Linux has some things that doesn’t work (it also depends on the hardware and driver support) but have less problems with Linux than Mac or Windows. And think that Apple is now a really closed system. Apple create it’s own proprietary solutions now, most of the times just compatible with Apple ecosystem. That’s was not the case before (under Steve Jobs). The main example we use on darktable is OpenCL. Apple has decided in 2018 to progressively give up OpenCL, replaced by their proprietary solution Metal. And now, most of the softwares on their systems (computer, smartphone, tablet) need to be developed on their proprietary solution : Swift (I talk here for native softwares of course).

Adding on that, their prices are just now awesome. They were always quite expansive but since few years prices are each year more expensive. Just an example : I bought my actual Macbook Pro (where I use now Linux) 1450€ (should about 1400$ for non european people) in 2014 spring, so just about 6 years. To have an equivalent new Macbook pro now (so with just the lowest CPU but same amount of RAM and same disk, capacity and technology), it will now be about 500€ more. In just six years, about 1/3 more expensive.

The Apple Golden years are definitely ended. Only the quality of their materials seem to remains good. When I understand that Apple has really changed is when they make their first pubs for the new iPhone X some years ago (with first facial recognizition technology). The pubs talks about their new “amazing” feature : Animoji (so the possibility to move your head and have 3D animals faces that move like you). Just pathetic !

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Nobody thinks of Firefox as being at or with the top - it’s got next to no market share. It’s used by a vanishingly tiny number of users. Mainly developers. I use it on mobile as you can’t block ads on mobile with Chrome but like most other internet users I used Chrome elsewhere.
Some of this discussion here is about whether people can trust FOSS but outside of developers nobody knows or cares what that means. There are billions of Android users and I’d be surprised if more than 0.001% of them use it because it’s based on Linux. Likewise Apple users and FreeBSD. Only developers care, and a few people in the industry. Developers also seem to know nothing about marketing and advertising and think people use products and services based on merit alone. The best ones will rise to the top through some invisible hand. I don’t know why they think this as it’s practically never the case, but they do. darktable is probably loads better than the alternatives but I’m sure the latter have loads of people promoting them, advertising, discounting, finding influencers, developing contacts in magazines/sites/related industries etc. So darktable is never going to overtake that by work of mouth alone or being best. We should either be happy with that, or decide how much money and effort it would take to challenge it. But why? Seems like a waste of time. darktable is a tool which works well - why worry what other people are using?

That made me look:

I agree that quality alone will not greatly enlarge the dt user base.

The picture has only got worse for Firefox since those figures were released:

I wish it weren’t the case, but it is. Unlike darktable, a browser needs constant work to keep up with threats and standards, otherwise it just gets too risky to use or stops working with popular sites as no-one tests it (I’ve already found this with Firefox - Chrome seems to be becoming the new IE6 in that sense).

Agree with this…but the risk is dt is functioning (I believe, could be wrong) on the interest/good will of a few developers, and users supporting them through donations. If the goal is to have dt advance and keep up with the latest in post processing, longer term stability would be ideal. That means a development and financial plan. It seems the latest dt improvements and move to linear RGB work flow came primarily from Aurelien. It seems just as likely another person could have jumped in and taken it down a different path that may not be so successful. The more users that use the program, the more attention it gets and the higher likelihood that program development planning and financial resources can be more stable.


Not at all. If the core developer decides to stop working on darktable the installed applications keeps beeing useable and the code is remaining available and others can take over development activities …
Commercial software is a different thing: if the revenue isn’t paying the bill for development, sales and maintenance this software won’t be available any longer. There’re several examples for this. if you’re dependent on a license server: bad luck.

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Yes, sorry, I’ll clarify because I agree with what you are saying. My point was if a core developer leaves you either live with the working program you have, or if another developer comes along will that person continue to go in the right direction with the program? So for the program to advance, it needs both good developers engaged plus agreement on the direction/work to be done.

I do see lots of ideas on Github on suggestions to the program - and not all are good ones and could be problematic if implemented according to our current developers. Having a well laid out development strategy or road map can help in attracting both good code writers and new users.

I sorta agree :slight_smile: Now tell me what suggestions do you see as problematic and which are less problematic :slight_smile: