Jeff read my ranting regarding my Stupidless Computing initiative, and recommended I look at Picasa 2. Google acquired Picasa in July 2004, and the recent release of Picasa 2 as a free download, formally a $69 package, is part of their overall strategy of (I’m guessing) owning the productivity desktop from the Internet side of things. It seems similar to the way that Apple is chipping away at the PC side, slowly decrapifying the home computing experience.
A recommendation from Jeff is usually gold, so I installed the package immediately. Having recently battled Photoshop Elements 3.0 on my Dad’s WinXP notebook, I was familiar with the metaphor of the photo browser. However, it’s so much better implemented.
Picasa searches your system quite rapidly for photos, and organizes them by dated folder. It also does a much better job of showing sets of photos in a continuous navigable space; something that the Elements Browser does a horrible job at. The screen is also crisply organized with an excellent “image tray” feedback device, which tells you what you have selected. And, the things you can DO to the selection are properly listed next to this tray.
Though I’ve only played with it for 10 minutes, the application feels fast and solid, and makes nice use of alpha transition (transparency) effects. The image browser scrollbar is a great refinement in how to handle large scrolling lists…I’ll have to steal that idea for a project I’m working on! The use of feedback throughout the program helps anchor each step of whatever you’re doing, with plentiful labeling and clean screen layout to guide you around. It’s personable and elegant. By comparison, Photoshop Elements 3.0 feels like it’s had its functionality and design hammered on by a committee of non-designers, maybe a focus group.
The only other image browser software I’ve tried was Photools IMatch. It was OK…loaded with features and tools, it reminded me more of an old-school CAD program than a happy home productivity app. Picasa works and feels much much better…it drives really nicely. Download it!