Where is the missing GUI

There is much to love about the RAW processing in RT.

The devs are working to add a new Local Adjustment feature and address some old remaining issues. Still, RT remains a niche product for lack of a GUI that is user friendly. Take the soon to be Local adjustments. . .I read the RawPedia on this and came away shaking my head. Having to go back to school is not my idea of user friendly. Why does everything in RT need to have a scientific approach and language that photographers might not understand.

It would be interesting to hear what others think about this. Am I the only one that feels this way? What would it take to move RT into the user friendliness seen in other RAW editors like C1, Lightroom and ACR?



^ Try this version?


No, this is cited quite often in other forums.

A complete rewrite of the GUI. It won’t happen.

Engineering is a constant tradeoff between flexabiltiy/complication and simplicity, and digital photography is inherently a complex thing. Light room/ACR lean heavily towards simplicity, with the tradeoff being that if you’re not happy with what a slider does, you end up not using it. Lightroom’s tools are extremely inflexable. Open Source tools tend to go the other way, we embrace the complexity, and produce tools that are not always easy to use, but provide a tremendous amount of flexibility. Once you figure out those tools, you can ruthlessly exact the types of images you want.


Still, RT remains a niche product for lack of a GUI that is user friendly.

I find its interface quite OK as-is and I’m very far from being “a scientist”.

Take the soon to be Local adjustments. . .I read the RawPedia on this and came away shaking my head. Having to go back to school is not my idea of user friendly.

So what you’re saying is you need a dumbed-down interface which does not allow you access to advanced functions. I find that strange. There already are more than enough “simplified” raw converters around and RT is not one of them.

Why does everything in RT need to have a scientific approach and language that photographers might not understand.

Well like it or not, image processing is messing around with bits and pixels with math and science. If you want the power, you must learn to wield it. Not much different from a camera, really. Some use a point & shoot, others use a DSLR yet others use advanced analog large-format cameras which are entirely manual.

Am I the only one that feels this way? What would it take to move RT into the user friendliness seen in other RAW editors like C1, Lightroom and ACR?

You are probably not the only one and RT will not suit everyone. Similar to Lightroom and ACR which I find truly horrible pieces of software and a consumer rip-off. All I see online are people who go mad with sliders without having the very most basic of ideas of what those sliders do. Results are often truly bad. Haven’t used C1 but I understand it is limited to one OS which I do not use so no opinion there.


I still say that RT needs a full rewrite of the GUI. Not “dumbed-down”, but smarter. I’m starting to see now that it will never happen.

1 Like

@stuntflyer Hi Mike, from your dealings on this forum I know you’re not an inexperienced photo enthusiast and not unfamiliar with RT. There’s a few points I would like to note.

  1. The Local adjustment tool is very complex, up to the point that I claimed it was unusable in its current form, making a lot of suggestions. Things got a little heated after that, but both @jdc and @Pandagrapher are still working hard to make it manageable and continue to work to improve the tool, for example here, here and here. It will probably always remain complex and not for the faint of heart, but it will also remain powerful.
    This aligns with the general idea behind RawTherapee. I think the analogy with flying an airplane is somewhat accurate: you can probably do some things on auto-pilot, but to understand all the buttons requires some study and practice.
  2. Suggestions for GUI improvements are always more than welcome. I find your post not very constructive in that sense. What does user friendliness mean to you? What prevents you from using RT more readily instead of the alternatives you mention? What would you like to see differently? Etc.

People who are paid to consider the buyer of the program and develop a different interface.

The point is that RT’s developers are people who want do what it takes to get the best out of their images and have the programming skills to do so. They develop a particular tool and controls to use it. They know how to use the tool. It is incorporated into RT with a description of the tool and controls. Job done.

With a commercial program the job is not done at that point. Other people then take over and develop a “for dummies” interface to make the tool easier to use. That is part of what you are paying for when you buy a program as opposed to simply making use of a free one.


add aggressive marketing to RT and it will be the best of all

1 Like

I agree with this sentiment, and just developing a good algorithm with a bare-bones interface is something some developers like the most. However, I don’t think this matches with how RawTherapee is being developed currently.
We may not be very good at making super nice interfaces, but we’re definitely trying hard. Take for example the Color regions tool introduced by @agriggio a few versions back, and now the film negative tool by @rom9 or the improved histogram with a waveform and scopes by @Lawrence37, or his improved perspective correction module. All done with careful consideration for a good GUI imo.


Oh I know that the devs don’t literally stop work once the tool is programmed and do take user interaction into account when developing the tool. They also spend a lot of time on this forum explaining things.

I was trying to keep the explanation simple for someone who wants things simplified. If people want a pretty pretty interface to someone else’s code they have two choices: pay for it or develop the interface themselves.

1 Like


Most of my photography is done while traveling, during a family get together or for my model ship build log. So, it would be fair to say that a very small percentage of the photos need to be printed.

For web work, ACR is plenty good enough and gets me there a great deal faster than RT. For this kind of work the RT GUI seems unnecessarily complicated. I find myself spending too much time working around the GUI and often get sidetracked by other modules that are either redundant or overly complicated. The ACR Basic panel pretty much does it all for my web work.

However, I recently added one of my model ship photos for the Nautical Research Guild 2021 calendar. For that I turned to RT. As many have said, the RAW processing that RT offers gives finer control and is more flexible than Lightroom or ACR. It took a lot of time, but RT gave me a better result overall.

I say, why not have both. Have a GUI setup for getting a fast result where needed while maintaining the RAW processing power for those wanting more. Make a basic panel like that in LR with whatever modules the devs deem appropriate. I’m not talking about a user adjusted Favorites panel. RT needs a Basic panel that maintains the proper pipeline for editing. Using the Basic panel has its place in photo editing.

1 Like

Because that’s a lot of work, and maintaining two GUIs makes for a terrible time programming.

If there is want and skill, the code is open and people are free to modify it to their purpose, such as @agriggio did with ART.

@paperdigits Well, you don’t necessarily need two completely disjoint GUI’s. There are numerous applications that have an ‘Advanced’ mode that you can enable in the Preference dialog or similar.
I think there can be real benefit to that.



I was suggesting another tab for a Basic panel not another GUI

1 Like

@stuntflyer It’s been an awful while since I last used ACR for raw development. But let me take a look at the latest version in Photoshop and make some informed comments :slightly_smiling:

@stuntflyer I’ve made a quick comparison. Out of all the functionalities on the main page of ACR import in Photoshop, there are only a few tools for which I see no immediate equivalent in RT. I think that should count for something when comparing the two on usability. Even though RT does its own thing, we manage to offer pretty much the same functionality as ACR out of the box.

Edit: * = seemingly fully equivalent functionality exists in RT
~ = partly equivalent
X = not equivalent

Hello to everyone who might be a little bit dissatisfied.

What does RT offer? The ability to develop a raw photo perfectly if you know how to use the tools and filters correctly.

How do you do that? You have to get to know RT. Raw Pedia is a first aid, but without effort and a lot of practice there is no credit.

I am speaking from personal experience here. Much frustration and sweat have accompanied me - but I see light at the end of the tunnel. Today I can say: I am getting better and better at using RT. RT is a super good software that does everything I can only dream of. If I could photograph as well as RT can develop - I would be the king.

The only thing RT might be missing is maybe a better help: One for beginners and one for advanced users, a very comprehensive one, which really explains all functions. I suppose that everyone can help to perfect the documentation.

But, please do not forget: There is this wonderful px-forum with many helpers: Here you can find everything you need, everything! It only takes energy and perseverance to read up on it. If you don’t want to do that, you are free to find another way of raw development. I count myself among the many RT users who are very grateful for what their developers have achieved and will hopefully continue to achieve.

Kinda off-base, but maybe what you need is not a GUI…

I’ve found that for initial processing of a set of captures, a good batch tool is the thing. When I finish a day’s shooting, I copy the raws to a directory, point the batch tool at it and go have supper. Later, I can regard the 800x600 proofs rendered from that process and consider whether any need further or other work. I usually ETTR, so there are always a few, and sometimes I can re-batch a clump of those with the same modified processing. The trick is coming up with a toolchain (or profile, in RT terms) that give decent results generally. If you expose to middle-gray, such a profile should be quite doable, simple to construct.

In my hack software I spent an evening about 6 months ago writing a dialog box for my batch tool, and it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for my workflow. I think RT has similar capabilities, worth exploring.

Oh, and +1 for all the ART suggestions…

1 Like


Thanks for that! I would call RT Profiles drop down (ACR-Profile), Exposure with temp and Tint, Whites, Blacks, Contrast, H&S, Auto-Matched Tone Curve (ACR-Auto), Tone Mapping (ACR-Texture/Clarity ), Dehaze, Vibrance and Saturation basic functions. So it would be great to have these on a Basic tab? Lab Adjustment could be for Advanced editing.

I’m not sure how important it is to draw photographers to the RT family. If it is then I think the basic tab would go a long way towards that end.


Thanks for the reply. With the exception of white balance, dehaze, and vibrance, all these tools are already on the first page. Does it really detract that much from your overall user experience that you need to go to other tabs to fiddle with these?
(White balance can still be picked, and vibrance can easily be gotten through the simple chromaticity slider in Lab adjustments.)

I guess an important question for this discussion is: what are the most common tools you use to make images look the way you want? And how much of that editing is set in convenience and familiarity through experience (with other software)?

Maybe the more pertinant question could be: would you primarily want to use RT to replicate what you are able to do in ACR (but because of FOSS, for free), or are you open to learn new ways to do similar things?
If the answer to the former is ‘yes’ then I’m afraid this discussion is not going to lead somewhere fruitful, because we’re not attempting to make a free clone of another piece of software. We have our own philosophy to raw processing.
If the answer to the latter is ‘yes’, we can discuss if the current tools and layout and documentation helps you to learn editing quickly, or not. There’s surely something to be gained.