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Poll: Which is better, Aperture or Lightroom?

The good news is that there's some competition again for software to edit and catalog raw images, the detailed and flexible file formats from higher-end cameras. The bad news is that anybody buying the software has a harder choice to make.

With the new Aperture now available and Lightroom just celebrating its first birthday, I thought it opportune to survey readers. What would you buy? What would you advise somebody else?

Please vote in the poll here, and share your reasoning in the Talkback section below to enlighten others.

Photographers would be best to think carefully about which software … Read more

Adobe and AIR: Linux desktop users please apply

Adobe has traditionally been strong on Windows and the Mac and turned a relatively deaf ear to Linux. That's about to change, however, with Adobe AIR, a cross-platform runtime for delivering Rich Internet Applications to the desktop, set to move beyond its Windows and Mac OS X roots to Linux.

Better yet, Adobe is looking for Linux desktop users to serve as pre-beta testers of AIR on Linux.

I've been running a few AIR applications on my Macs and love the blend of fat client with cloud client. If we assume that this is the future of the … Read more

Scribd joins platform game, sets sights at killing Adobe Acrobat

We've been giving some play to Adobe Acrobat replacements and other PDF tools in the last few weeks, and it's clear people are serious about handling a large variety of document types without having to muck about with the right software or browser extensions.

To that end Scribd, a start-up that's all about documents and how to share them with others, has had a solution of its own using Adobe's FlashPaper and crunching all sorts of documents to fit in it. This morning the company launched its own viewer that not only replaces FlashPaper, but also improves upon its design for both users and publishers.

The new viewer is called iPaper. While the name might bring to mind Apple products of yore, the document viewer is a total Acrobat killer. It's fast, lightweight, and is designed with Web readers in mind. While it may look similar to FlashPaper, there are several key differences that make it much better suited for long documents, photos, and Web videos.

The biggest one being that iPaper has been designed with publishers in mind. The viewer goes hand-in-hand with a new publishing platform that lets Web publishers integrate advertising into documents or media they feel like sharing. There are no preroll or off-to-the-side ads; instead Scribd has worked in Google AdSense text ads that have been put between every few document pages and that slurp up contextual ads based on what's contained the document (example here). It's effective and not annoying.

Secondly, the publishing platform lets site owners integrate iPaper into their sites. There are three basic ways to do it. The first is basic embedding (which existed before iPaper), as well as a tool called QuickSwitch that will automatically convert any linked document into a hosted iPaper player when site owners install a small line of code on their page. For power users, there's also an open API that lets them integrate iPaper and document conversion into the back end of their sites or services.

While I think Adobe will eventually address the bloat that Acrobat has become for Web users, it's up to publishers to take a proactive approach to letting the greatest number of users access content in the same way they read words or watch videos. For that, Flash is definitely a phenomenal go-to. The iPaper document viewer shows promise at unifying document sharing by lowering the barrier to entry for users who simply don't want to deal with the hassle of extra applications.

I've embedded an example of the iPaper viewer after the break. Be sure to play around with the table of contents and zoom controls.… Read more

Google funds Photoshop-on-Linux work

Google is funding work to ensure the Windows version of Adobe Systems' Photoshop and other Creative Suite software can run on Linux computers.

For the project, Google is funding programmers at CodeWeavers, a company whose open-source Wine software lets Windows software run on Linux. Wine is a compatibility layer that intercepts a program's Windows commands and converts them to instructions for the Linux kernel and its graphics subsystem.

"We hired CodeWeavers to make Photoshop CS and CS2 work better under Wine," Dan Kegel, of Google's software engineering team and the Wine 1.0 release manager, said … Read more

Adobe goes after game developers with 3D engine in Director 11

Adobe next month will release Director 11, an update to its graphics assembly, that it hopes will lure game developers with its better 3D imaging.

Adobe is expected to detail the latest features of Director at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Director 11 is used to build games, as well as graphics-rich presentations, and learning applications. It uses the Shockwave plug-in to render 3D graphics.

The latest version includes physics, or movement between images, using the Ageia PhysX engine and support for DirectX 9, which can take advantage of recent graphics cards.

It will make it … Read more

Apple upgrades Aperture ambitions to 2.0

CUPERTINO, Calif.--Apple, why hast thou forsaken me?

That, loosely paraphrased, is what some Aperture customers had been asking after Apple went too long without updating its higher-end photo editing and cataloging software. It got to the point where some were plotting strategies on Apple forums about how to flee to Adobe Systems' rival Photoshop Lightroom software with their photo metadata intact.

On Tuesday, though, Apple came back with the new Aperture 2.0, a version that addressed many common gripes, caught up with Lightroom in several important respects, and signaled that the company hasn't lost interest in the … Read more

PDFescape comes close to replacing Adobe's Acrobat

Hot on the heels of my writeup of PDFMeNot yesterday, reader Bonexaw tipped us off about PDFescape, another Web based Adobe Acrobat replacement. This time around, PDFescape pulls double duty not only as a free PDF reader, but also as an editing tool and Web host for PDF files.

PDFescape lets users fill out forms--one of the most commonly used features (besides reading). Additionally, the authoring tools let users create their own forms and send them out to others to fill out and send back. The best part is that the entire system is set up to avoid recipients having … Read more

PDFMeNot lets users click PDF links without fear (or Acrobat)

Note: This service officially launches on Thursday, and the site is password-protected until then. The folks at PDFMeNot gave us early access to share with Webware readers. Use the username "stateless" and password "systems" when prompted (no quotation marks either). Note that both are case sensitive.

One of life's little hassles is opening PDF links in a Web browser. The problem centers on Adobe's Acrobat software, which for all its popularity and genuine usefulness is notoriously slow. Depending on how old the system is, and the speed of the computers Internet connection, the application … Read more

Bug fixes! Patches! Updates! Come and get it

Bug is a dirty word in the software world. After all, it means "mistake" and no one wants to admit they made a mistake. Instead of calling the fix for a mistake by its rightful name, a bug fix, software companies refer to "patches" or "updates". Soft words. Happy words.

The bug itself is called a "hole" or a "vulnerability". Initially, bugs were called "issues" but eventually people caught on. Did you happen to notice that Mitt Romney recently "suspended" his campaign (a soft word), as … Read more

Apple fights back with Aperture 2

Update 11:35 a.m.: I added information about Aperture 2.0's plug-in architecture, which could provide an advantage over Adobe Lightroom.

After pioneering a high-end photography software niche, then losing ground to Adobe Systems' Photoshop Lightroom, Apple on Tuesday counterattacked with Aperture 2.0.

The software, like Adobe's Lightroom, is aimed at enthusiasts and professionals who need to edit and catalog "raw" images, the unprocessed data from higher-end cameras' image sensors; raw files preserve more detail than JPEGs but require time and specialized software that can deal with the profusion of different proprietary raw formats. … Read more