Free Photoshop? In my browser? It's more likely than you think!
June 11, 2021 4:14 AM   Subscribe

Photoshop, but in the browser and completely free. (Found via which also has a bit of discussion on how interesting/useable this is.)
posted by MartinWisse (46 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
 
Note: it's free but it has some pretty obnoxious ads (which of course you can pay to hide).

From the Twitter convo, I found the background on the developer pretty interesting. The free browser product nets him $1 million a year from the ads and Premium subscriptions, if you're wondering. Still a drop in the bucket compared to what Adobe's raking in thanks to their scam -- sorry, product catalogue.
posted by fight or flight at 4:22 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


At first glance, the discussion at via can be concisely described as a opening can of contentious worms. And life is so short as it is.
posted by y2karl at 5:39 AM on June 11


It’s all rendered in the user’s browser. There is no database, no backend. I only pay for the hosting of Javascript scripts and staticfiles.

That's pretty impressive, really.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:18 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Longtime user of https://pixlr.com/
posted by CMalo at 7:35 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


MS Paint in the browser has entered the chat.
https://jspaint.app
posted by meltedcrayon at 7:43 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]


Sorry to be That Guy but this is not Adobe Photoshop. It's Photopea, a different photo editing app that can read .PSD files and has many Photoshop-like features. That's great! Just not exactly Photoshop. (I was confused at first because a free Adobe Photoshop-in-browser is not unimagineable. Microsoft has essentially done that with Office.)

It loads super fast! The main app is about 1.2MB of Javascript in four bundles, that's quite small by modern site standards.

The Photopea blog has the development history. He says it's 105,000 lines of code which is remarkably few for a product of this complexity. I'm very curious what it's written in. Javascript, obviously, but I think it's almost all custom code? The only libraries I could find in the app are pdf.js and paper.js. (Not counting the adware).

$1M / year seems like a lot for a one person project like this.
posted by Nelson at 8:13 AM on June 11 [13 favorites]


In the Hacker News discussion I found this 2019 presentation the developer gave about the app and how he built it. Some details:

It's all Javascript. No other languages compiled to JS. Just ES5 Javascript, no Babel. Made without frameworks. Only 1150 lines of CSS. He cares a lot about performance, including rendering at 60fps. So he uses WebGL for graphics acceleration. He wrote his own Javascript minifier/obfuscator.

He also wrote his own libraries for dealing with image formats! These are released open source. In the talk he mentioned UTIF.js, UPNG.js, and UDOC.js. Also Typr.js, a font library.

It's hard to get my head around just how idiosyncratic this whole project is. One guy writing a massively complex app all in Javascript with precious few outside libraries to rely on. And instead of being weird and janky it's clean and super efficient. I hate all the rhetoric about 10x developers but every once in awhile I come across a project like this that's such a phenomenal accomplishment and I have to wonder at someone like Ivan Kuckir who is so productive.. Really impressive.
posted by Nelson at 8:29 AM on June 11 [36 favorites]


a different photo editing app that can read .PSD files and has many Photoshop-like features

Being able to just read PSD is a feat in itself.

To wit: At this point, I'd like to take a moment to speak to you about the Adobe PSD format.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:34 AM on June 11 [19 favorites]


I watch one hour of broadcast television per day. It's an evening news bulletin, it's on while I prepare dinner. Last night there were three ads for photoshop. This is on Australian national TV (sbs). Who is this for? Are there people on the fence about which image editor to use? I don't think I've ever seen and ad for software on prime time TV.

My guess is that Adobe has fuckitwhynot money. I'll tell you something I know for certain, their subscription model is world-class bullshit, and they know they can get away with it.
posted by adept256 at 8:37 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


I think AutoDesk and Adobe continually vie for "biggest asshole software vendor of the year" in how they can fuck customers over next.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:48 AM on June 11 [12 favorites]


"Bring out the GNU Image Manipulation Program."
"But the GNU Image Manipulation Program is sleeping..."
"Well... Guess you'll just have to go wake it up now, won't you?"
posted by kaibutsu at 8:50 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


I think AutoDesk and Adobe continually vie for "biggest asshole software vendor of the year" in how they can fuck customers over next.

Rumor has it the Adobe and Autodesk licensing teams hold a dark ritual every year to sacrifice the least evil on a stack of EULAs and drink their blood. The greatest amongst them is given a gift considered a supreme honor. The gift is a job offer from Oracle.
posted by cmfletcher at 9:01 AM on June 11 [19 favorites]


Better to link to Glimpse than directly to the software with an insulting and ableist name.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:03 AM on June 11 [14 favorites]


I have no need for an in-browser photo editor, nice though it may be. I'm happy to stick with my existing copy of Photoshop (CS5 to reject the subscription model, and it has everything I need for straightforward photo editing).

My only technical issue with the GNU product was that it didn't do full 16-bit image processing like Photoshop does. It looks like the 2.10.x version now does 16-bit. Can the same be said for Glimpse?
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:11 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I agree, GIMP is a terrible name. It's not PS, but you can do a lot with it. I hadn't heard about Glimpse. Looks like that isn't going to be happening, though.
posted by The Half Language Plant at 9:17 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]


The idea of calling it GIMP was a case in point of the nerd reductionism-to-edginess pipeline (“only you can choose to get offended at something, therefore if I name my new app Shitfuckr it's perfectly fine and cool”) at its worst; the same sort of dynamic that, with a bit of encouragement, escalates into things like Gamergate and Nazi-themed *chan edgelordism.

Are the custodians of the GIMP project oblivious to this, or obstinately digging in? Because if Glimpse is going on hiatus, that sounds like an un-cringeworthy new name free for their use.
posted by acb at 9:29 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


I lost my hard copy of Photoshop when I was forced to upgrade to a new OS, and then my employer's subscription to CC lapsed. I don't do enough on Photoshop to justify my own subscription, so I am super happy to have this option when I need to do the odd quick color or image correction, or wow, even do some masks.
posted by nanook at 9:31 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Gimp always reminds me of the thread we used to make crafts with in summer camp (aka scoubidou).
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:46 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


The other remarkable thing about PhotoPea is that it
  1. even works slightly on a Raspberry Pi 3;
  2. is alarmingly close to usable (for a subset of usability: don't get carried away) on a Raspberry Pi 4.
Are the custodians of the GIMP project oblivious to this, or obstinately digging in?

The last time I checked there was definitely some digging in, with some classic “please explain exactly why you find this obviously offensive term offensive” posturing. There as also briefly a freeze-peach fork (unrelated to the core developers) that wanted to rename the project to something even more offensive to chown the /libs just after Glimpse came out, but mercifully that found no support and fizzled out. But I haven't checked up again because it's all very eww and we should do better.
posted by scruss at 9:46 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I was more interested in Glimpse from a UI standpoint - the name of the main project is pathetic, sure, but it's also a terrible product. But I see it's just been superseded by, apparently, a single person who really knows what he's doing, so I can leave it in the dustbin of history.
posted by Merus at 10:09 AM on June 11


Better to link to Glimpse than directly to the software with an insulting and ableist name.

While not free (but generally good value if you get it on offer, and it appears to be 50% off at the mo) Affinity's stuff is a way better desktop alternative to Adobe than the G* program.
posted by Buntix at 10:09 AM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Neither Affinity nor Pixelmator have a ruler tool, despite numerous user requests over the years to implement what has to be one of the simplest possible tools.* It's a major stumbling block for me, since I often need to scale images for printing at an exact scale (e.g. a 1 inch or 1 cm grid). Photopea is a bit laggy, but at least it has a ruler tool, so it looks adequate for that. Nice!

* In the forums you get nonsense workarounds like making a rectangular selection box and then using the Pythagorean theorem or drawing a pen line, noting its length, and then deleting it.
posted by jedicus at 10:24 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Last night there were three ads for photoshop. This is on Australian national TV (sbs). Who is this for? Are there people on the fence about which image editor to use? I don't think I've ever seen and ad for software on prime time TV.

Yeah, I've seen similar Adobe product ads both on network and cable tv here in the states. Whatever love/hate relationship we pros might have with Photoshop (and Adobe in general), it's still the ne plus ultra in the minds of the general public, and that's a vast untapped walletmarket for Adobe. And now they can get for-realz!!! Photoshop on their very own computers for a mere monthly tithepittance! The ads are directly aimed at home users, small businesses, etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:26 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Affinity's stuff is a way better desktop alternative to Adobe than the G* program.

If you're on macOS or iPadOS, anyway.
posted by acb at 10:34 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Aurora borealis Photoshop at this time of year at this time of day in this part of the country localized entirely within your kitchen browser?
posted by otherchaz at 10:40 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


This site is proof that there's nothing wrong performance-wise with JavaScript -- it's the goofy DOM, crufty CSS, and the bloated ecosystem.

Though raw ES5 is like operating a rocket sled without a seatbelt -- I'd prefer TypeScript and ES6 features like modules and await/async.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:47 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]


I've gotta think WebGL is doing a lot of heavy lifting for performance. What's impressive is he started on this project back in 2014. I feel like that was pretty early for relying on WebGL. OTOH I see now Google Maps launched their WebGL version in 2011, so my timeline is off.
posted by Nelson at 10:58 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


"Well... Guess you'll just have to go wake it up now, won't you?"

I thought this was going to be a joke about loading times. I'd have learned to use GIMP by now if I couldn't do 80% of the things I'd want to do with it using Photofilter in the time it takes GIMP to wake up and grumble about how it's not quite ready yet...
posted by straight at 11:30 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Does this run entirely locally? Is there any information exchange back to a central server?
posted by meinvt at 11:55 AM on June 11


Try running it while disconnected from the internet, and see if it fails...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:00 PM on June 11


The question about a backend server was answered in a previous comment.
posted by Nelson at 12:19 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I use both Photoshop and Photopea.

It's always good to have options.
posted by freakazoid at 12:26 PM on June 11


Try running it while disconnected from the internet, and see if it fails...

I've seen mention of it being bundled as a web app, such that the js lurks around in your browser persistent storage and will still load if your network's out
posted by scruss at 1:37 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it'd be a pain to have to remember to clear cookies/cache/site data after every offline session, if that's a concern for someone.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:12 PM on June 11


My biggest question about Photopea is: do you pronounce it like Photo Pea (like the vegetable) or Photopia (like utopia)? My students and I fooled around with it a little this term but we didn't come to a conclusion on that issue.
posted by Tesseractive at 2:23 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


The logo's a stylized letter P in the form of a pea tendril, so I'm on team legume when it comes to pronunciation
posted by scruss at 2:57 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


The creator says Photopee, but also says it’s up to you: https://www.reddit.com/r/photopea/comments/9f0cpz/how_do_you_pronounce_photopea/
posted by argybarg at 3:20 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


In Photopea, zoom in/zoom out using two finger pinch on a trackpad is exceptionally smooth and intuitive compared to the GNU software I use (whose name shall not be mentioned!!) where you either use a badly located zoom % popup or else the plus button (which requires the shift key) and minus button (which doesn't). Doing some testing, I see that you can also happily use a Wacom tablet with stylus pressure with Photopea, which the GNU software also fails at.
posted by jabah at 9:50 PM on June 11


>I hate all the rhetoric about 10x developers but every once in awhile I come across a project like this that's such a phenomenal accomplishment and I have to wonder...
Think of it like Amdahl's Law says about parallelised workers, at some point comms overheard is a tax too much. A single developer who doesn't have to deal with an open source community, or fitting in to a team, or line management, or sales or HR, is saved all of those costs and seems exceptional to our valuation of productivity above team-play or aiding the mission of a sizeable business.

I'm impressed, though I think "wrote his own" is "ported code from GNU to js" and I'd like to know what his test suite looks like.
posted by k3ninho at 4:50 AM on June 12


It’s still unclear to me how these people make money: Vectornator
A full-feature vector app, free. (I own Affinity apps too, still having issues getting vendors that ask for INDD files< wish there was an idml export like he import).
posted by grimley at 9:38 AM on June 12


It’s still unclear to me how these people make money: Vectornator

From the Vectornator FAQ: "...we are backed by amazing investors who believe in us. Of course, we will explore ways to earn revenue in the future."

I'm impressed, though I think "wrote his own" is "ported code from GNU to js"

Are you thinking the GNU Image Manipulation Program source code? It's written in C, so even "porting" it to javascript would be a huge task, although I imagine it's a lot of the same type of code after a while.
posted by jabah at 5:47 AM on June 13


Of course Photopea isn't just ported from "GNU" and it's insulting to suggest so without evidence. That would be theft; the GNU stuff is GPL 3.0 and requires derived works be open source.

Also technically the assertion makes little sense. A huge part of the work in a project like this is the UI and obviously a browser hosted Javascript thing (with no frameworks!) has a very different UI implementation than a C program originally written for X11. (A C program that invented GTK, at that.) Also as we've discussed Photopea is using WebGL for graphics acceleration, again radically different from the older GNU program.

The author of Photopea is a guy who wrote his own damn PNG decoder, for cryin out loud. I'll endorse the question about testing practices though; there's no evidence of test suites in UPNG, UTIF, or Typr.
posted by Nelson at 6:56 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


jedicus:
Neither Affinity nor Pixelmator have a ruler tool ...

Affinity Photo, In Document View -
"To show or hide rulers: •From the View menu, select Show Rulers. A check mark is displayed next to the menu item when the rulers are visible."
posted by Chitownfats at 3:50 PM on June 13


Proving once again that the best way to get tech support is to say something can't be done on the internet.
posted by Mitheral at 4:07 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


"A million dollars in my Savings account? Can't be done."

/waits...
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:18 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


jedicus: I have to apologize, the ruler in Affinity does not really have the same functionality as Adobe's ruler tool.
posted by Chitownfats at 7:05 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


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