04 June 2007

All change...

Almost two years ago I praised in here the wonderful Onfolio, the nearest thing I know of to a freestanding research information organiser for the PC. it came in several versions, of which I was lucky enough to get a copy of the academic edition ... before the whole company was bought out, lock stock and barrel, by Microsoft. Microsoft reduced the range to one median version and made it part of a tools collection. I still use the "real thing", and hope to continue doing so for a long time. Despite the lack of support or further development, and despite the crumbling level of integration with upgraded web browsers, it still knocks the spots off anything else around.

The same thing happened to RawShooter, a RAW format photographic camera file handler. That was bought up and killed off by Adobe, who used its technology and development team within their new LightRoom product. The RawShooter people ensured that all their customers were given a free upgrade to LightRoom, so I have a copy of that ... but it really isn't the same thing at all, and I don't use it.

LightRoom is not just a RAW handler; it's a DAMS (Digital Asset Management System) as well - but only for still images in a restricted range of file formats. I already have a DAMS, far more flexible and comprehensive than LightRoom offers. An important component of my system is iView Media Pro ... which has just been bought by Microsoft, rebadged as Microsoft Impressions Media, and released with very little change as an upgrade. This is part of their new drive to build a graphics and design presence to compete with Adobe, so it's possible that development will continue ... past experience isn't encouraging, but it's possible. We'll see.

The third leg of my photographic software, after RAW handling and DAMS, is a bitmap image editor. The undisputed market king here is Adobe PhotoShop. I have a copy of PhotoShop, but only because I have to, like I have to have Microsoft Office: because I live and work in a world where I can't ignore the standard tools used by colleagues and collaborators. I also have Draw and PhotoPaint, from Corel, for similar reasons. The image editor I actually use, though, is PaintShop Pro which I consider to be a far better photographic tool. (Though I'm a on a cusp of agonising decision here, regarding LightZone ... but rather than complicate things I'll keep that for another post.) PaintShop Pro, developed through nine upgrades by a company called JASC, was ... you guessed ... bought up. What a difference, though. The buyer this time was Corel, and instead of killing PaintShop off, or absorbing it into something of their own, they bought it for itself - and have issued two good upgrades since. Sometime ago, Corel also bought my word processor and spreadsheet of choice (WordPerfect and Quattro Pro, respectively) and have shown the same commitment to each of those. Such a refreshing change from the corporate raider style of Microsoft and Adobe.

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