By Alex Walker

Web-based graphics application: Picnik

By Alex Walker

If I get in the habit of saying “Check this out. It’s Flash and very Web 2.oh!” slap me around a bit, because I’m probably either unwell or being controlled by aliens.

Picnik's user interfaceNevertheless. Check this out. It’s Flash and very Web 2.oh!. Fortunately, it’s also pretty darn slick.

Picnik is a web-based photo manipulation application and I think a very nice example of a quality Flash application development. The interface is simple to use, responsive and has almost all the tools you’d want to correct and polish photographs for online presentation — specifically resize, rotate, crop, color adjustment, sharpen and exposure correction.

There are also a bunch of nicely executed, but probably less day-to-day useful effects under the ‘Creative Tools’ tab that includes borders, color tints, rounded corners and soft focus tricks, just to name a few.

Now if you’re reading this it’s likely you already have a number of tools that handle these functions perfectly well and you aren’t going to switch to an online app just because it’s there. Of course, if you are away from your workstation, it’s nice to know you always have an option at your fingertips.

However, the place I see this being the most use to us is for client use. Building a CMS, making it look nice and training them to use it is often only half the battle. From past experience I’ve found that new users, new CMS’s and large resolution digital pics are often a delicious recipe for blasting your layout to pieces. Trying to explain the intricacies of Photoshop isn’t much easier.

Picnik could provide a graphics app:

  • with a simple, user-friendly interface
  • available on almost any system, regardless of OS or browser
  • with no install required (bypassing their tech boffins)
  • with few licensing issues (bypassing their admin nazis)

All good things in my experience.

While it’s currently still in beta (in true Web 2.0 fashion), the full release will apparently limit only some of the advanced image tools (liquify, sepia effects, etc) to paid up members/subscribers, but leave all the most practical tools in the free version.

Hats off to the team behind it. Great work.

  • It’s great that people are starting to recognise excellent web services and giving them the publicity they deserve. Definitely a nifty application this one. :)

  • I wonder how this’ll weigh up next to the forthcoming online version of Photoshop :)

  • M.Mahgoub

    pretty neat!, i wonder how it will looks like when Apollo comes out!

  • Ards

    Adobe said that they will publish an online version of Photoshop in 2007-2008. Just can’t recall where I read that! Just look at what Flex apps can do, simply amazing.

  • crome

    What a great little app! Truely fantastic. Really great for clients who can’t afford a pro package and maybe don’t have the resources to run it.

    Many Thanks for the link!

  • Nice! picknik would be great for clients that needs to retouch photos before uploading to our online applications. Maybe they could start licensing the product?

  • Awesome application. Very responsive & intuitive. With the release of Adobe Apollo beta, we’ll probably see this as a desktop application in the future.

  • johnraff

    Unfortunately for me right now “Firefox can’t find the server at”
    Hope it’s just temporary.

  • Can online options compete (currently, not saying that won’t in the future) with offline applications? I don’t think so. Photoshop is just such a resource hog program, takes tons of memory, I just can’t see a fully usable Photoshop online.

  • Can online options compete (currently, not saying that won’t in the future) with offline applications? I don’t think so. Photoshop is just such a resource hog program, takes tons of memory, I just can’t see a fully usable Photoshop online.

    Horses for courses, I think Chris. Putting the entire PS feature set online is unlikely to ever be that useful.

    But if you looked at what the features of Photoshop you actually use, you’d probably find that 10% of the features are used 90% of the time. While the other 90% of features come in handy from time to time, they can’t help but obscure that useful 10% — no matter how well the interface is designed. Complex things will always look complex.

    Apps like Piknik are focussing on only offering that very practical 10% of features and gaining the benefits in usability in the process.

    I showed my 5 year old how to load pics into picnik and he started using it in immediately. Is he missing the ability to use LAB color or gradient maps or adjustable pixel aspect ratios?


  • SnipShot is another one entering this space.

  • P.Arora

    We use photoshop for much more than photo manipulation, I don’t there is any comparison or direct threat for applications like Picnik. These seem to be geared more towards technical as well as non-technical users for editing their photos.

  • Flash-Articles

    This is really a nice small app. I use adobe photo shop for editing but i think this will make my things first. Lot’s of flash design articles can help me in designing better and better. Thanks for info.

  • dylantovey

    If anyone was a little uncertain about picnik – it’s well worth checking out what they’ve been up to since this post. In particular – the premium memberships now offer some great feature for high end editing need (like curves)

    I’ve covered some of the basics in a set of picnik photo editing tutorials I put together last week.

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