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Summary:

For years, FTP applications have been a genre of software that has overrun itself with options. Generally I believe competition to be a good thing but there really just comes a point where another FTP application in the mix really doesn’t help anybody. As of right […]

Image Editors

For years, FTP applications have been a genre of software that has overrun itself with options. Generally I believe competition to be a good thing but there really just comes a point where another FTP application in the mix really doesn’t help anybody. As of right now I’ve counted over 100 different FTP applications available to the Mac. Seriously…why?

Today Gruber posted a quick link to a new image editor supposedly making it’s way to the Mac in the coming months. Just yesterday Acorn was announced and just a few weeks ago the highly anticipated Pixelmator was released in to private beta. For the mathematically challenged, that is three new image editors that have come on to the scene in the past month or so and that doesn’t even include all the other image editors that have been around for ages.

I think what really turns me off about all of this is that all of these image editors do, more or less, the same thing. Sure, they each have a different UI and will each perform tasks a tad different than the other but for the most part they all just edit images.

Do all of these developers really believe they are bringing something new and beneficial to the table? Or is it simply a case of jumping on the bandwagon?

Again, like I said, I believe competition and choice are a good thing. But at what point does it actually start hurting the community by flooding the market with sub-par applications?

UPDATE: Let me make something clear. I’m not saying people should never develop for the Mac after there is already an industry standard for an app. This post is merely for conversational purposes as all these new apps started my wheels turning on the subject. Of course I don’t think apps like TextMate or SubThaEdit should have never been written. I’m just curious if there is a point where enough is enough. If not…fantastic. But I do think it’s an interesting point of conversation.

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By Josh Pigford

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  1. These are all applications based on Core Image. Apple essentially enabled these apps when Core Image came out with 10.4.

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  2. It’s hard to tell developers to not create an application because some already exist.

    I assume developers continue to make FTP apps and Image Editors because they feel they can build something better. In some cases they do and in some they don’t.

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  3. you forgot Paintbrush, like MSPaint for mac :) awesome
    http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/home_learning/paintbrush.html

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  4. Primarily, I think its just developers jumping on the bandwagon. I personally would like to see some more full featured image editing applications available at no charge. I know, I’m cheap. But for the occasional image manipulation that I do, paying for an image editing application is not worth the money for me. At this point its not clear what the price for this one will be.

    Currently, I use Seashore, which is free and works great for resizing, cropping and adding text to images.

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  5. “Subpar” is a pretty harsh term to describe these applications.

    I like the idea of a lot of small applications that are targeted to specific uses. I would like a small, fast application that duplicates Photoshop’s “Save for Web” feature. Mostly I use photoshop to resize and compress images for use on the web. Sometimes I need to add a little text to an image, or create something using a couple of layers, but primarily, I just need to resize and “save for web.” I really like the simplicity of Acorn, but it doesn’t have that feature. I think it would be fantastic if there were a dozen or more image editors that had small, targeted feature sets.

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  6. I think the author overreacts a bit.

    I completely agree with point about FTP clients – nothing more can be done in this field. User needs are pretty similar here: upload, download, sync and we have 90% functionality covered. The main differences are in interface.

    But when we comes to image editing, things are definitely much more complicated and rules from FTP world doesn’t apply here.

    If we give Adobe Photoshop as a reference point, then none of existing OSX image editors didn’t come close to even 20% of it’s functionality.

    My conclusion? I want to see more Photoshop alternatives and seeing stable version of Acorn today makes me happy.

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  7. @Mark: I wasn’t implying that these 3 image apps were sub par. I was presenting the question about what might happen if the image editing app market actually did get flooded with sub par apps in the same way that FTP apps have.

    @Maciek: I’d hardly say I’m overracting…I’m presenting a question for thought. Also, to think that the market for image editing apps can’t be overcrowded like FTP apps have become is simply naive.

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  8. If an image editor could incorporate non-linear resizing based on the subject matter in the picture it could really set itself apart from the others. I get the feeling that would be expensive technology at this point though. However, I’d love to be able to take any picture and make it into a wallpaper without having to have bars on the sides or have it distorted. Here is an example of the technology:

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  9. No Josh, you’re very much wrong. Flood the market with sub-par applications? That’s fine, just use the one you like and actually think is good.

    But with each app brings something new to the table (minus a few, of course). These apps can then build off each other, hell, even acquire each other.

    Even Photoshop has features that used to be in indie applications, and everyone is innovating in one way or another.

    So the reality is, we need more competition, not less.
    Rich

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  10. @Richard: So let me get this straight Richard, you think that (going back to my FTP example) having over 100 applications for the same general task is a good thing? I mean you honestly believe that there should be hundreds of a genre of application because the whole community will magically mesh together and build some uber app? I just can’t accept that.

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