Add new file formats

Can gimp plugins/scripts add new file formats we can open/save or can new file formats only be added when the gimp developers add it in the code and release a new version?
So in other words: can we as user add new file formats ourselves without doing anything in the code of gimp but by making a plugin/script?

I’m still way too beginner to do this but just wondering right now what’s possible.


Yes, a plug-in can be used to add a new file format to GIMP and users can add their own plug-ins, doesn’t matter whether they are import/export plug-ins or image manipulation plug-ins. In fact, all of GIMP’s own import/export file formats are also plug-ins.

Yes, but things are a bit different for file-* plugins. A good example is (that you should have in your Gimp installation).

Any particular file formats you’re interested in? I’ve ported or contributed code for a few new file formats, so if there’s a format missing that you want to use I’d be happy to look into it.


It would be cool if GIMP would become a swiss army knife that can open/save forgotten graphics formats, so that we can still edit them while no other graphics tool that runs on modern OS can load them.
I’m very interested in old graphics format of games of the MS-DOS era (but also Atari, …).

A specific format I want is: ILBM - Wikipedia

Most utilities that work with ILBM and BBM files are rather dated, such as MacPaint or Deluxe Paint. IrfanView allows viewing files, is free for non commercial use, and can work under Linux. Netpbm can convert images from ILBM to its own PPM format and back. The Deluxe Paint-inspired GrafX2 pixel art graphics editor can load and save ILBM files, but is limited to 256 colors maximum, so HAM or 24-bit ILBM images will not show all colors. ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick can also display and convert ILBM images if the ilbmtoppm and ppmtoilbm utilities from Netpbm are installed.

I use this tool to edit them but it’s limited to 256 colors and it works like you’re using an 80s graphics program. So it would be nice if GIMP could also load it. It’s open source!

I’m basically also interested in any format grafx2 can load but GIMP can’t. (if you’re interested). See screenshot for all supported formats. This will turn GIMP into a retro graphics tool with modern interface (which grafx2 doesn’t have) :slight_smile:
I think the color palette should be limited to what the graphics format supports?


Cool - we just added import support for ILBM to the development version of GIMP (2.99.17)! I’ll try to add export support as well after we finish with an update to the plug-in system. I’ll look into the other file formats you’ve shown and see what can be added (although many of those are already in GIMP like pcx, tiff, etc)


Is there also interest to add some specific pixel art tools like available in this program?
(See pixel perfect stroke, … in the features list)

Are there nightly versions of GIMP built each day, like some open source projects do?
I would be interested to test new features to report bugs :slight_smile:

You should be able to grab an installer from the Schedule section of GitLab: Pipeline Schedules · GNOME / GIMP · GitLab

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