It’s been over 160 days since GIMP last put out a new release version (GIMP 2.10.22 was released on October 7th, 2020). That’s longer than any period between stable release versions since the major GIMP 2.10 version first came out on April 27th, 2018 (nearly 3 years ago). It’s also about 79% longer than the average amount of time it usually takes to get a release version out for GIMP (see graphic below).
This could be due to a variety of factors, but I anticipate one of these two reasons being the culprit (or both): GIMP developer commits are down, and/or the next version coming out has a ton of new features and thus it’s taking longer to be released.
To me, the former scenario seems the likeliest. According to data from OpenHub/Synopsys, GIMP commits are currently down 38% versus the previous 12 months (despite total contributors being up 26% over that same period). The pandemic has probably played a significant role in stifling productivity. (The developers haven’t been able to go out for a beer to clear their mind before getting back to work!)
The latter scenario – that the reason for the delay is that the next release version is going to be stuffed with numerous new features – is far less likely, in my opinion, though it is certainly possible. There are tons of features in the works right now that could be trying to find their way into the next stable release of GIMP. Perhaps GIMP 2.10.24 is where a lot of those new features land.
For example, confirmed features coming to an unspecified future version of GIMP include multi-layer selection (which was released for testing in the GIMP 2.99.2 development version), “item sets” for easily selecting multiple layers based on categories or layer names, linked layers (which is GIMP’s version of Smart Objects), and the Paint Select Tool (which was released for testing in the GIMP 2.99.4 development version, though it was untenable – at least on Windows – causing GIMP to crash immediately). All these features will likely be available for GIMP 3.0, but may be available sooner if the planets align.
On the other hand, some of you have been wondering if this drought means GIMP 3.0 is the next version coming out – thus causing a delay. I personally think this is highly unlikely, though I’ve been wrong before. The reality, though, is that there are still some major development roadblocks standing in the way of GIMP 3.0, and a few more development versions and release candidates still to come prior to a stable 3.0 release. With commits down 38%, I doubt they’ve had enough manpower to crank out GIMP 3.0 ahead of schedule and without thorough testing of development versions and release candidates.
So when will the next GIMP version be out? My guess is as good as anyone’s, but I would say it’s safe to assume the next version will be GIMP 2.10.24 and we’ll see it by the end of April 2021. I’m hoping for a sooner release, but we shall see.
The best way to speed up GIMP’s releases is to support the people who make it! I recommend becoming a Patron for the ZeMarmot Project, which is home to Jehan, one of GIMP’s top development contributors, or a Patron for Oyvind Kolas, who does a lot of development work on GEGL (which is basically the backbone of GIMP – or at least its filters).