8.2. Using Plugins

For the most part you can use a plugin like any other Gimp tool, without needing to be aware that it is a plugin. But there are a few things about plugins that are useful to understand.

One is that plugins are generally not as robust as the Gimp core. When Gimp crashes, it is considered a very serious thing: it can cost the user a lot of trouble and headache. When a plugin crashes, the consequences are usually not so serious. In most cases you can just continuing working without worrying about it.

[Note] Note

Because plugins are separate programs, they communicate with the Gimp core in a special way: the Gimp developers call it "talking over a wire". When a plugin crashes, the communication breaks down, and you will see an error message about a "wire read error".

[Tip] Tip

When a plugin crashes, Gimp gives you a very ominous-looking message telling you that the plugin may have left Gimp in a corrupted state, and you should consider saving your images and exiting. Strictly speaking, this is quite correct, because plugins have the power to alter almost anything in Gimp, but for practical purposes, experience has shown that corruption is actually quite rare, and many users just continue working and don't worry about it. Our advice is that you simply think about how much trouble it would cause you if something went wrong, and weigh it against the odds.

Because of the way plugins communicate with Gimp, they do not have any mechanism for being informed about changes you make to an image after the plugin has been started. If you start a plugin, and then alter the image using some other tool, the plugin will often crash, and when it doesn't will usually give a bogus result. You should avoid running more than one plugin at a time on an image, and avoid doing anything to the image until the plugin has finished working on it. If you ignore this advice, not only will you probably screw up the image, you will probably screw up the undo system as well, so that you won't even be able to recover from your foolishness.