Just had a chance to play with the new Adobe Photoshop Express – a really simple version of Photoshop that runs in your browser. For brevity, I’ll call it APE.

In reality, it’s not a lot like Photoshop, but rather like Picasa, the desktop photo organizer application from Google. It has a similar (if slightly more limited) feature set, and a similar usage metaphor – you use it to manage a series of galleries / folders full of images, and are able to quickly pop open any one of them to quickly modify it.

So, the pros:

  • You can link it into your photo galleries on Facebook, Photobucket, or Picasa. That is, you tell it how to log in to you account on one of these services, and can then use it to manage and edit your photos within. Since APE runs entirely within Flash, it’s a lot more responsive and easy to work with than doing so directly with the web interfaces for each of these tools. Plus, you can batch update captions, which is often quite time consuming. You can even use it to transfer images between different gallery services (Facebook, Picasa)
  • It’s entirely browser and Flash based, so you can run it on any OS with reasonable Flash support, and you can access it from anywhere. In comparison, Picasa runs on the desktop of a particular machine, and is only available for Windows (though presumably that’s something Google plans to address).
  • It’s really convenient to upload and manage small numbers of images. You can do this in Picasa through the web interface, but you have to fiddle with the image locally first. It just feels a bit smoother doing this in APE, then dragging it into whatever storage space you’ve chosen.

And the cons

  • It runs entirely online. Before you can edit your images, you have to upload them. It’s fine for working with small numbers of smallish images that are already uploaded on a nice fast server somewhere, but there’s no way I’d be using this to manage my images when I retrieve directly off my camera. Obviously, it’s not really intended for this, but this is an important part of my photo management process, and so is worth mentioning.
  • Though managing galleries is faster than using a service’s web interface, using it to edit images is definitely not faster than editing them locally, for obvious reasons – everything is either processed rather slowly by flash, or pulled down the intertube.
  • You have to remember to pay close attention to the terms and conditions – I’m fine with them, but you’ll need to check for yourself if you’re doing anything particularly sensitive.

For me, it’s a nice tool for managing small amounts of images; for example, the screenshots and snippets I put in my blog. It’s also nice as a bridging tool between the three gallery services it supports. I’m not likely to use it for managing large photo galleries – Picasa trounces it there. But, it has a niche, it’s really easy to use, and doesn’t cost anything. So, it’s definitely worth taking a look at..

Try it out – there’s a ‘test drive’ demo that’s gets you in to try it out quickly. From there, it’s easy to join, and doesn’t appear to gather piles of personal information.

vector: Daily Bits.


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