Picnik: Eyecandy eyecandymaker

February 6th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Ajax seems to be the weapon of choice for many web applications due to its lightweight properties and speed. On the other hand, Flash was for a time discouraged since it was heavier on the bandwidth and machines. That seems to have changed now with the emergence of a many web applications from social networks to video players to games and imaging. Flash based applications today are no longer the slow ones before. Today they're shinier, smoother, and faster.

Picnik is a Flash based photo editor that proves to be just as good as a similar Ajax based application. Like all of its competition, Picnik uploads a picture from a PC or web host into its server. Anyway, uploading is really easy and unlike what was once expected from a Flash based application, fast. Picnik has also signed up with Yahoo and its daughter Flickr that allows it to be easily accessible form both sites.

Editing is unfortunately not like Photoshop. Options for manipulation are listed on top starting with rotation. Here , horizontal and vertical flipping of the imageis possible. Also, fine angle rotation can be done from 0 to 90 degrees using a slider. the preview is in realtime so deciding which angle to turn the image is as smooth as a desktop based photo editor. Cropping also happens on the fly simply by selecting a portion of the image with a resizeable box much like the crop tool in Adobe Photoshop. Resizing however is only done by entering the desired pixel size in text boxes.

Sliders make Picnik a lot easier to use with instant previewing. Exposure options use sliders to adjust brightness and contrast. Color options are a bit trickier with a few buttons added to the slider which provides a wider range of adjustments including “auto colors” and “neutral picker”. Moreover, sharpness modifications are made with a slider while red-eyes are eliminated with a click in the eyes.

Creative Tools are the equivalent of filters in Photoshop. Since Picnik is still in Beta mode, there are only 6 available tools and these are B&W, sepia, boost, matte, vignette, and soften. There are four more tabs under the creative tools tab that are marked “Coming Soon.” This is of course something to look forward to given the impressive performance of Picnik at its current state.

An impressive feature of Picnik being a Flash based application is, while anywhere in the editing process, the zoom bar is active on the lower right corner of the canvass. This zoom slider works fast and smooth no matter how big or small the picture may be. one problem though, the smallest zoom size is 100%.

The last tab in Picnik's main menu is “Save and Share.” Obviously, edited photos need to be put on display other wise what's the point? As mentioned, Picnik is hooked up with Flickr so there is a direct interface to save to Flickr and also a direct interface to create a Flickr slideshow. Another saving option is “Save to Computer” where images can be saved in 6 formats, jpg, gif, png, bmp, pdf, and tiff. Basically all the most used formats of any picture. Sharing on the other hand can be done by email direct to an address or email to a website. The latter requires a Power User account. Finally, the image can be directly sent to the user's printer.

All in all, Picnik proves that Ajax is not the only competitive tool a when in comes to smooth, media-heavy, and fast we-based applications. Flash has existed for a long time now and its use as a web tool has often been threatened but now with services like Picnik, it is clear that Flash is here to stay.