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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Free Photo Editor Review

Ever since I have uninstalled Picasa, I was looking for free Photo Editor to replace it. I came across this article and decide to give most of the recommendation a try. I did not try every one of them because I also have an additional requirement, which really should not be such a big deal in 2010, and that is the program must run in Limited User Account (LUA) and not in administrator's account.

The one that is really good is PhotoScape but obviously their developers must have 25" plus monitor in order to come up with dialog box like this:

How many more settings are available below that red box?

Program has to be useful across a range of operating environments and not just those available to your developers. Often it is not such a bad idea to limit your developers' environment to a much lower specifications one as this will have effect of making them to use their ingenuity. The above dialog box clearly can be reduced significantly without any lost of functionality by reducing the amount of white spaces between controls. Perhaps tab control can be put to a good use here.

Nevertheless PhotoScape is very capable editor. Sadly it lacks a file open menu instead opting for scanning, just the directory, for image files. Don't forget one can customize Windows File Open dialog box to contain a preview window showing the selected file.

The next one I tried was Paint.Net. Sadly this program has some problem with its installation program that must be executed when log in as an administrator. Most other programs install fine when using the "Run As" feature. Instead of telling the operator of the failure, the installation process just silently dies. Not nice. Once installed, it runs fine in LUA except it has a bug. When I select a region of an image (jpg) and wanting to transfer to another file, the File | Copy operation produces an error message saying there is an error copying to the clipboard. But I can use File | Cut to transfer the region to the clipboard. The user interface is nice, clean, unclutter and easy to operate.

The next one I tried is Photo Pos Lite, which is the baby of Photo Pos Pro. This is a shocker and there is no good reason why developers can be so ignorant in 2010 with respect to the Windows File Security that was first introduced in Windows 2000, some 10 years ago.

The installation of this program is fine but showing worrying sign of placing far too many DLL and OCX into the System32 directory. I sincerely hope its installation program practise module counting so that when I go to uninstall it, it will not tear away system DLLs that it placed there. The only annoyance of its installation program is that it does not publish the start menu for all users; it is only available for Administrator.

The following dialog box during uninstallation is a course for concern:

The bombshell comes when one launches this program in LUA. It fails so badly that it does not even bother to inform user of the failure. Only through tool to probe it to discover that it was trying to write to "C:\Program Files\Photo Pos Lite" directory and AppData sub-directory. Microsoft's recommendation is to write to user profile rather than doing what was once permitted in Windows 95's days. Judging from its installation method and malpractices, it is definitely a legacy application.

While I am there I may as well test drive the Photo Pos Pro ver 1.80. The installation process is very long as it tries to initialize some folders. Sadly, it fails to install the start menu for every user, which is usually a clear sign of its failure to run in LUA.

Sure enough, when I launch the program in LUA, after showing the lovely lion splash screen it throws this dialog box box:

and it then exits. The probe shows the Pro is doing more illegal operations than the Lite, such as setting values in HKLM as well as writing history log directly into the "C:\Program Files\Photo Pos Pro\History". Obviously the developers have kept up with Win XP to include a manifest file for its program but obviously are developing in Administrator account.

As a result, I can't even appreciate its extremely user-friendly interface enabling you to work intuitively in both the lite and pro version.

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