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Before going into the details of the Perl-Fu script, we will describe how to access the various the functionality of GIMP. All functions known to GIMP are available through the procedural database (PDB). All the PDB functions may be called from perl, as will be seen below. These PDB functions are either internal to gimp, or have been made available through a plug-in or a script extension, but as far as the caller is concerned there is no difference. As we will see below, when a perl function is registered through the register function, it will appear in the PDB as well.

Gimp/perl comes with a PDB browser available in Xtns>PDB Explorer. (There is another PDB browser available in Xtns>DB Browser but the PDB Explorer is more suited for Perl users.) This browser provides a way of seeing all the functions in the PDB, as well as their input and output parameters. E.g. the PDB Explorer entry for gimp_image_new, which will be used in the example below looks like this:


Name: gimp_image_new
Blurb: Creates a new Image with the specified with, height, and type
In: INT32 width The width of the image
  INT32 height The height of the image
  INT32 type The type of image { RGB (0), GRAY (1), INDEXED (2)
  IMAGE image The ID of the newly created image
Help: Creates a new image, undisplayed with the specified extents and type. A layer should be created and added before this image is displayed, or subsequent calls to 'gimp_display_new' with this image as an argument will fail. Layers can be created using the 'gimp_layer_new' commands. They can be added to an image using the 'gimp_image_add_layer' command

All the the constants mentioned in the PDB Explorer have been defined within Gimp::Fu and may be used within perl. E.g. I.e. a call to create a new image of size 100x150 of type RGB looks as follows:

   $img = gimp_image_new(100, 150, RGB)

The PDB entry above shows that gimp_image_new is called with three parameters width, height, type. These are all of type INT32. This type and other types will be explained below.

Script-Fu scripts are called just like any other script according to the PDB signature in the PDB browser. E.g. to run the Script Fu basic one logo just do:

script_fu_basic1_logo("Hello", 72,

Unfortunately, as of the writing, calling Script Fu from perl has proved a to make both ScriptFu and gimp very unstable and caused both of them to crash. If any of the readers is able to describe what is needed to get it to run successfully, I will happily include this in a future version of this tutorial.



When calling a PDB function from Perl::Gimp that has an image and a drawable as the two first arguments, only the drawable should be given as argument in the calling sequence.

4.1. Gimp::Fu and the register function

Gimp-Fu is perl's answer to Script-Fu. It provides a simplified method for accepting parameters for a script through a Gtk interface, just like script-fu, but as we shall see below, it has some additional bells and whistles.

The main function for a Gimp-Fu script is the register function. This function declares the interface of the script to gimp. The register function takes the following 10 parameters, that must all be provided:

  1. The name of the function - a string. This is the name of the function as it will be known in the PDB.


  2. A small description - a string


  3. A help text - a string


  4. The authors name - a string


  5. The copyright of the script - a string


  6. Creation date - a string


  7. Menu path - a string. The path has one of the two forms:
    1. "<Toolbox>/Xtns/Perl-Fu/Script Name"
    2. "<Image>/Perl-Fu/Script Name"

    If form 1. is given, then the script is a standalone script that appears in the menu hierarchy under Xtns/Perl-Fu and takes all its inputs through the Gimp::Fu interface frame. If form 2. is given on the other hand, then the script is tied to the image menu popped up through the right hand button over any image. In this case Gimp::Fu will add as the first two parameters to the script the image and the drawable active when the script was invoked.


  8. The acceptable image types - a string. This list contains a list of image types acceptable. This field is only used for scripts that are in the "<Image>" hieararchy. Possible values are listed in the table below:
    value meaning
    * Any images are accepted
    RGB RGB images
    RGBA RGB images with alpha channels
    GREY Grey level images


  9. Parameters - A reference to an array of parameters. (A reference to an array in perl is simply an array written within square brackets). Each parameter in turn is a reference to an array containg the following four or five values:
    1. The type of the parameter. The types recognized by Gimp::Fu and their perl are given in the following table:
      Type Possible forms Comment
      42 A number. PF_INT is a synonym to PF_INT32.
      3.141 A floating point number.
      A boolean value.
      An integer value through a slider and a spinner interface. The range parameter should be specified and is interpreted as minimum, maximum, and step, e.g. [0,100,1].
      PF_FONT -*-blippo-*-*-*-*-24-*-*-*-*-*-*-* A font in X11 font format. This interface launches a font browser.
      PF_STRING "A string" A string
      A color may either be expressed as a reference to an array of three components, or as a hexadecimal triple, proceeded by the hash sign.
      PF_TOGGLE 0
      A boolean toggle
      PF_IMAGE - An image
      PF_DRAWABLE - A drawable.
      PF_BRUSH A brush
      PF_GRADIENT A gradient
      PF_PATTERN A pattern

    2. The name of the parameter - a string
    3. A help text for the parameter
    4. Default value for the parameter. This should be given in the form listed in the table above.
    5. An array defining allowed range for the value. This is only possible for PF_SLIDER and PF_SPINNER.


  10. A reference to an array of return types of the sub in the 11th parameter.


  11. The sub to be called - a reference to a sub . This subroutine will be called when the associated menu entry declared through the

    Menu path described above. When the sub is called it is passed as arguments the list of parameters declared in field 9, declared above, and in the case of a "<Image>..." script, the active image and layer as first and second parameters.

    A reference to a sub in perl may be declared in two ways. Either by declaring a subroutine at a different place in the source file, e.g. sub run and reference it by writing \&run. An alternative way is to write it inline by simply writing:

        sub { ($text, $color) = @_ ; ... }
    The sub is expected not need to display a new image after it has created it. Instead it is expected to return the new image or images that were created in accordance with the return types declared in parameter 10 of the register call described above. This behaviour has been added in order to be able to call the sub noninteractively. More about that behaviour below.

4.2. A commented script

The following Gimp::Fu script example shows the steps described in the previous section. It registeres a script that takes two values, the size of the image and a color, and then produces an image of the requested size with the requested color. Quite useless, but is shows the importent steps of how to register a script, how to create a new image, and how to access some PDB functions.


  1:  #!/usr/local/bin/perl -w 
  3:  use Gimp ":auto"; 
  4:  use Gimp::Fu; 
  6:  sub img_uni { 
  7:      my ($size, $color) = @_; 
  9:      # Create a new image 
 10:      $img = gimp_image_new($size, $size, RGB); 
 12:      # Create a new layer 
 13:      $layer = gimp_layer_new($img, $size, $size, RGB, 
 14:  			    "Layer 1", 100, NORMAL_MODE); 
 16:      # add the layer to the image 
 17:      gimp_image_add_layer($img, $layer, -1); 
 19:      # Set the background to the required color 
 20:      gimp_palette_set_background($color); 
 22:      # Paint the layer  
 23:      gimp_edit_fill($layer, BG_IMAGE_FILL); 
 25:      # Return the image 
 26:      return $img; 
 27:  } 
 29:  register 
 30:      "img_uni",                 # fill in name 
 31:      "Create a uniform image",  # a small description 
 32:      "A tutorial script",       # a help text 
 33:      "Dov Grobgeld",            # Your name 
 34:      "Dov Grobgeld (c)",        # Your copyright 
 35:      "1999-05-14",              # Date 
 36:      "<Toolbox>/Xtns/Perl-Fu/Tutorial/Img Uni",   # menu path 
 37:      "*",                       # Image types 
 38:      [ 
 39:       [PF_INT,   "size", "Img size", 100], 
 40:       [PF_COLOR, "color", "Img color", [255,127,0]] 
 41:      ], 
 42:      \&img_uni; 
 44:  exit main(); 

Most of these commands are directly copied out the PDB.  

This script shows the essential steps of producing a stand-alone script:

line(s) Description
10 Creating a new image.
13-14 Creating one or more layers.
17 Attaching the layer to the image.
19-23 Do some painting operations in the layers.
26 Return the image to the caller
29-42 Registration of the extension

To test the script, save it in the directory $HOME/.gimp-1.2/plug-ins. It must then be made executable through the command:
     chmod +x $HOME/.gimp-1.2/plug-ins/uni

Then start gimp. It is generally a good idea to test the syntax of the script with perl -c before starting gimp. (A more official way to add scripts is to use the gimptool --install-bin command).

Note: Due to a bug in gimp (verified for version 1.2) it is not possible to add scripts once gimp is running. On the other hand, it is possible to change a script which has already been registered, as long as the parameters don't change.

The script is now accessible through the menu system through the Xtns top menu:

When choosing this menu entry the following screen is popped up:


Choosing the default values result in the image:


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