Why I was going to keep using GIMP, but now think Aseprite is awesome

Keeping this here for posterity, I guess. But, in short, I initially thought there were no file recovery options in the case of an accidental overwrite of an image. I was wrong. There are. This was the one thing that made me think Aseprite was not superior in all respects. I have been educated on where to find file recovery points. See dacap’s post for details. Using the recovery option I was able to recover all of my lost frames.

I bought Aseprite because I was having trouble lining up frames in pixel animations in non-specialized image editing applications. Ended up loving a number of the features that it brings to the table, and would probably prefer to use it over GIMP due to many of these features. However, I’ve just had an experience so bad that I think I’m gonna write it off entirely for everything except animations.


Basically every time I go to edit a sprite sheet in Aseprite I first open it normally. Moments later I realize that I need to import it instead. After all, I’m used to just drawing on the sheet in GIMP.

Fine, no problem. I import the sheet. I work on it for days. I export the sheet to my game folder. It looks 1000x better in my game.


It is now days later. Windows wants to update. I’m in a hurry. Fine, close everything. Close close close, enter enter enter. Great.

Needless to say, the old copy of the sprite sheet that I “opened” rather than imported, was still open, and overwrote absolutely everything. Days worth of work permanently gone in an instant.

Now – is this my fault? Absolutely.

Is it good software design? Absolutely not.

There is a reason that GIMP, photoshop, and basically every other professional image editing application keeps your “project” separate from your “image”, and only allows you to overwrite the image using an export. This way you can save undo history, you can maintain version history, revert stuff if you need to. Your work is preserved. Even if you delete/overwrite the image, you can go back into your projects history and fix it. Blah blah blah.

Am I an idiot? Yes, apparently.

Should a momentary lapse of judgment ever lead to an irreversible permanent overwrite of a sprite sheet in an application specifically designed for making and working on sprite sheets?

No. Absolutely not.

If I had been using any other program I would have recourse. I was using Aseprite, so I have nothing.(Wrong!)

Hope you accept this constructive criticism in the spirit with which it is intended.

I think you make a good point about saving projects vs saving images.

I would like to see your proposed change as an option; one that I wouldn’t use personally since I like being able to quickly open a random image to edit and save without going through the export process.

Yeah, I like the ability to do quick and dirty edits too.

The way GIMP solves for that is once you do a File>Export and export a new file or overwrite an image it remembers that file. So next time you can just do File>Overwrite “filename.png” and it exports it again to the same place with the same export parameters automatically.

But if you just close… it saves the project and not the image.

This has been standard practice for years, and if this software had it I would have no qualms endorsing it for sprite work above all other applications.

Without some ability to access earlier versions of files it has handled, or undo mistakes, I just can’t. People make mistakes. Mistakes are something which software should expect and solve for.

Sorry to hear that you lost work, that’s never fun.

Aseprite works exactly the same way as GIMP when it comes to project files. Aseprite uses .ase/aseprite files for that. However it does not store undo history in the project files which I do agree that it should.

Not true. Open an image with gimp and then hit save. It opens a dialog to save as a project file, not overwrite the image.

Do the same in Aseprite and it simply overwrites the image.

Edit: Oops, I missed the “when it comes to project files” part. Still, that’s not addressing OP’s problem because saving images doesn’t work the same way.

Appreciate the info.

I just went in to check on .ase files. It’s weird that it defaults to overwriting the image when getting closed and not to saving a project/ase file. If the project/ase file is not the default option and doesn’t contain history, I’m not sure what the point is.

Fair enough

While I personally don’t really think this is much of an issue if I’m going to be honest, I’ll also have to admit that I don’t see any reason to not have it the way you describe. Setting things up like

Save As
Export to “last export in this project/current file if you opened a non-ASE file”

And limiting Save As to saving as .aseprite. Especially with an undo history saved to .aseprite files. I do however foresee a lot of confusion coming from the change, if dacap thinks it’s for the best, for a while. :sweat_smile:

If .aseprite files are to contain history, I want a preferences option to disable that. I understand its usefulness for many others, but it would just be bloat for me.

I often open PNG files for quick edits or make new files to quickly sketch some pixel art and I’d like to be able to just ctrl+S those to PNG without worrying about an intermediate .aseprite file. I only want files I deliberately choose to save as .aseprite to have .aseprite files (except maybe in the temp/recovery directory). KashouC’s proposed setup would be very annoying to me.

I feel the OP’s problem would be better addressed by the ability to recover session files for some time even after the files have been saved over by the user, rather than by making the menus behave unlike most other programs’.

Another possibility: perhaps Save should bring up Save As with a warning when the file being edited is not compatible with the format it was opened as, e.g. if it’s a PNG that currently has multiple layers or frames, like Krita and Photoshop. This way, when saving, the user still has the option to save over the PNG, but has to consider what they’re doing and choose PNG deliberately.
I’m sure a user in a panic might still spam enter through this, but that’s why recovery files should be kept around a while.

Hi @yeahchris I didn’t read everything yet, I’ll check later if I missed something, but just in case I want to say that you can check if the original file/sprite is in Home > Recover Files > Previous Sessions (a backup of the sprite is saved in the user configuration folder, and you might not lose your original sprite).

About the Ctrl+S, I’ll think how to fix this issue, I know that we have a problem right now so it’s something to fix. There are two things I would like to achieve:

  1. Ctrl+S should work for quick edits of png/gif files (I love to open a png file, add some arrows/circles/etc. for a tutorial, save the file, and quit. No projects, no .aseprite files)
  2. When the structure of the original file changes (e.g. we add a layer to a png file, or a frame to png file, etc.) we have some paths:
    • Save the result flattened+sequence of files with Ctrl+S with a warning (this is what we are doing now, but the warning is not enough in a hurry)
    • Propose the .aseprite extension by default when the structure of the sprite changes, i.e. the original file cannot save it at it is (this might avoid losing work/the original structure of the sprite, etc.)

I think both cases have some issues and it’s something to think about it (for example changing to .aseprite might be unexpected too for people that want to flatten a temporal layers they added in a png file). I personally don’t like that separation that GIMP has between Save and Export for simple things (open png, edit, save). For me it complicates the workflow. So there is still room for improvement here.

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I… completely overlooked the recover files button on the home tab.

I was looking for some kind of recovery option through the file menu.

I knew that aseprite kept file history for an unexpected shutdown/crash, but I was under the impression that if it was shutdown manually (and saved in error as in my case) these were purged. Clearly this is not the case.

Thank you so much. It did have a recovery point for my sprite sheet before the overwrite. So yes – now it’s officially better than GIMP in all respects.