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When open source competitors work together, we all win

The Libre Graphics Meeting saw representatives from several competing open source projects collaborate, which will only make their products easier to use for us.

Open Source software is great. On that, I am fairly confident, we can all agree. The ability to obtain and modify the source code to the software that you rely upon...well, it's a major win.

But there's something even better than access to the source code itself: seeing Open Source project teams, of what seem like competing tools, work together to make everyone's lives better. That is exactly what happened during this year's Libre Graphics Meeting in Madrid.

During that meeting, developers from GIMP, MyPaint, Tupi and Krita (some of the greatest painting and graphics software on the planet) sat down to talk about creating a single file format for brushes (and packs of brushes).

Here's why this is so cool:

  1. Less work, in the long run, for the developers of these applications. 
  2. Users of graphics software can move between the various applications while still utilizing the same brushes (with the same look and feel).
  3. Provides additional incentive for new brushes to be designed – as you won't need to worry about supporting multiple brush file formats. One and done.

There are even plans in the works to support the brush engine in MyPaint (which is fairly spectacular) in Gimp itself (it is already supported in Krita). This is a great example of building on the strengths of each project, and sharing those strengths with each other. Doing this allows the Gimp team to focus on all those thousands of other features that make the Gimp an amazing, and unique, graphics tool. No need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to brushes, right?

Seeing this sort of, relatively amazing, collaboration makes me yearn for the day when other Open Source projects will do the same. Granted, this does happen from time to time... but wouldn't it be amazing to see this happen more often?

To see the KDE, Gnome, Unity and Enlightenment folks sit down and figure out ways to re-use the bits and pieces that each has in common so they can focus on what makes each unique almost brings a tear to my eye.

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