Today I became aware that Adobe Photoshop Express had launched. Photoshop Express is an online, stripped down version of the main Photoshop application. I have just spent the last half hour doing a quick test, and so far it gets a thumbs up from me.
Express is very stripped down. This is not an online replacement for heavy Photoshop users. I will not be using Express on a regular basis. In fact, I can’t see myself using it much at all. However, it is, as I see it, a great web app for the casual user. The type of person who wants to edit the odd photo, but obviously isn’t going to purchase the full version of Photoshop, and can’t get their head round open source alternatives such as Gimp. Stripped down means no layers, no filters, no fancy, fiddly settings. What it does mean is simple, easy to use controls in a user-friendly GUI which allow you average users to do 90% of what they would normally want to do to their casual snaps before putting them online. The interface is built in Flash, and is really snappy (on my 2 year old iMac with Firefox 3beta4).
Setup is fairly painless. Add in your details, pick a username and password, done. Once registered, the system asks if you would like to upload some images. This is done in a fairly well thought out way. Images can then be arranged into albums if necessary, and then edited. Editing is very simple, and quite similar in many ways to iPhoto. You have 3 sets of tools, grouped by Basic, Tuning and Effects. I won’t go into the details of these tools, but basically they allowed me to do pretty much everything I would want to do to my holiday snaps before I uploaded them to Flickr or elsewhere.
Users can also add their login details for Facebook, Photobucket and Picasa, and browse, organise and then edit the photos they have hosted on these services. I would like to see a Flickr feature in the future too. I would also like to be able to upload a photo to Express, edit it, then add it to Facebook.
You can also host your edited images on the Express site. Adobe gives you 2gb of free space to host images in a gallery. You can see screenshots I took of the signup and editing processes at my gallery. The hosted gallery doesn’t work exactly how I would like, but it’s not too bad for free.
One thing that is annoying: the system doesn’t seem to like .png files. I had to convert the screenshots I took to jpeg so I could upload them.
As I said above, Adobe Photoshop Express is not a service I think I will use often, but it is a handy, well thought out tool for the casual user.