February 21, 2006

Historic Libre Graphics Meeting set for next month

Author: Nathan Willis

The Libre Graphics Meeting (LGM), a first-of-its-kind conference for developers of free and open source graphics applications, is scheduled for the weekend of March 17 through 19. LGM will feature speakers from the GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus, and other graphics projects teams, and will showcase the public premiere of Elephant's Dream, the 3D animated film created in Blender by Project Orange.

LGM is free to attend and will be held at the university campus at La Doua, Villeurbanne, in Lyon, France. Speakers are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Among them is the GIMP's Øyvind Kolås, who will present a talk on his implementation of the long-awaited Generic Graphical Library (GEGL) concept, Gggl. Marti Maria of LittleCMS will talk about color management, and adding it to graphics applications. Neil Howe, chief technology officer of Xara, will present an update on the company's work at opening the source of the Xara Extreme vector graphics editor and porting it to Linux.

GIMP developer Karine Delvare will deliver the only presentation in French, on her own experiences joining a free software project and what others should know if they are interested in doing the same. Demonstrations are scheduled by artist Andy Fitzsimon on Inkscape/GIMP integration and by Gerald Friedland on the innovative SIOX image extraction tool. Craig Bradney and Peter Linnell will give a progress report on Scribus.

Jon Phillips from Inkscape, CREATE, and Creative Commons, and Cèdric Gemy from TuxPaint are on the schedule, but haven't announced topics yet.

Saturday's last talk will be a presentation by the Blender developers, focusing in particular on Project Orange, the "open source" animated film being produced with Blender and other free tools. After their talk, participants will get a special treat: the world premiere of the completed Project Orange movie, Elephant's Dream.

Conference organizer Dave Neary said he is excited about LGM, as it is the first conference dedicated entirely to free and open source graphics software. Neary says that the event grew out of a relatively humble plan to get the GIMP's developers together. But as word of the meet-up spread, programmers from Inkscape and Scribus expressed interest in attending to work on cross-project collaboration.

LGM organizers soon extended invitations to a host of other projects, and when the timeframe seemed to coincide with Xara's open source news and Project Orange, a full-fledged conference was born. Neary says he has had to scramble at times to get sponsors on board and commitments from speakers, but he says he is excited at the response thus far.

Neary emphasizes that the event is not limited to software developers, and encouraged artists, students, and any other interested party to attend. To that end, much of Sunday is reserved for Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions, impromptu meetings, and so-called "lightning talks" -- five- to 10-minute presentations open to anyone, users included.

These sessions, Neary says, will feature "tutorials and demonstrations of programs which are given by the people who use them the most; not just developers talking to users, but users talking back." The LGM wiki has pages set aside for attendees to organize some of these less-formal meetings in advance of the conference. Neary encourages projects not already on the schedule to attend and schedule BOFs or lightning talks at their discretion, and to contact conference organizers if they want to reserve formal meeting space.

Neary has also tried to build open blocks of time into the schedule, in which attendees have access to the conference facilities and are free to meet, brainstorm, and collaborate with each other. "The benefit of the conference is in having [open] and frank exchanges," he explains, "and having lots of users (that is, artists) present opens up a whole new perspective for the conference."

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