36-image converter 5.0 plans

Fall 2007 we started with the development of an entire graphics suite called 36-image converter 5 or “Hummingbird”. The suite consisted out of 36-image converter 5.0, 36-image explorer 1.0, 36-imageVault and a primitive 36CONVERT which also allowed grayscale filtering. The suite was never finished due to some events at the beginning of 2008, with 4 applications in test build. Not all the development was in vain, many of the 36IC5 functions have been directly implemented into 36IC4.4 “Ninja” eg. drawing, erasing, selections and some filters. 36-ImageVault is now PII-encrypted images and LockPhix. And 36-image explorer is just an inch from being released for fun as a semi-functional developer’s preview.

Everyone was waiting for a version 5 but instead you got version 4.3 in Spring 2008 to fix critical errors and version 4.4 in Summer. But 36-image converter has to get a version 5 sooner or later, so it’s inevitable. But our demands have changed, 36IC5 will not be an image suite. We want to develop in the direction of a graphics editor which can handle huge images, has a great interface and has the potential to overpower photoshop. As you can see we won’t be able to achieve this using the current 36-image converter engine. We tried to implement the use of surfaces in 36IC4.6 but it failed because the code was too complex and simple tasks like resizing or rotating failed. So 36-image converter 5 “Hummingbird” will be completely based on 36-image express.

36-image express still is too buggy and the subwindows are too static, but when it is out of Beta it will be the base we are going to use to create “Hummingbird”. We will then port all features of the 36IC4 object based engine to the new surface based engine to allow faster operations and bigger image sizes.

36IC5 has to allow the use of layers which do not get rasterized immediately, has to support a project filetype, plugins, interactive tutorials, all current v4.6+ functions and has to have a new image processing unit which can handle filters, because the current internal filters system is too slow. We will probably also drop the DashBoard for something far bigger.

When we will start development is still unknown since we have to get a stable and more flexible 36-image express first and of course we have planned some more magnificent 36-image converter 4 releases, but the dream of providing something better than photoshop for free is finally coming into sight.

Will “Tiger Chameleon” also add extra selection functions to 36IC?

When using 36IC 4.6 you get the idea that not everything is going fluently, for example to select or copy a part of the object and rotate or mirror it, you have to select the part, crop, save, undo the crop,  insert the cropped piece as an object and set the angle to eg. 180. This is something easy made difficult,  why would thousands of people have to go through these steps if we can do it automatically. So from now one, selecting and pressing “Duplicate as object” will be sufficient.

Together with this function, you will also be able to save and move selected parts of the image and maybe apply filters to a selected part, but then we will have to make the selection available to other menu’s which is actually quite unsafe and unstable. Another option is of course, making the filters available to the selection menu. As a surplus we will also add functions which give you more control over the selection itself and which complement “Expand” and “Contract” in the form of  “Move Selection”, “Expand Side” and “Set Selection Size”. Also the selection will get the same colorsceme as the edgemarker.

Other possible features could be, a blur tool, save for web and a distort tool.

We will research all of them carefully and when the time comes you can expect a next version of 36-image converter with a whole lot of extra functionality.

Reasons to update to 36-image converter 4.6

When we released 36-image converter 4.6 last month we fixed a lot of issues and it seems like quite a few people are still holding on to older versions of 36-image converter. Here are some statistics for version 4 (starting from v4.3) which we collected counting the amount of times the most visited Dashboard channel was loaded today, so this is in favor of newer versions, since these open the tutorialchannel by default.


amount %
v4.6 559 86,94%
v4.5 42 6,53%
v4.4 28 4,35%
v4.3 14 2,18%
total 643 100,00%

So at least 13% of all users is still using an older version of 36-image converter 4, these are decent results but still disturbing, this means 6,53% of all registered users is using a bloated version with critical flaws in the conversion engine, 4,35% is using a version that is very limited in filesize and 2,18% of all users is even using a 1,5 year old version in which the potentially harmful extension association bug wasn’t solved yet and which had very limited conversion functions and an instable transformations system.

So 13% means that at least 1 person out of ten is using a corrupted, inefficient or older version, while 36-image converter 4.6 is state of the art, extremely light, has a more appealing interface and much more functionality. This isn’t beneficial to all those users and also not to us, since we have to handle all complaints about those older versions. Therefore we are taking the effort we put in trying to make people use the most recent version one step higher by pushing v4.6 to all users of version 4.4 and lower. We will do that by removing the active parts of most Dashboard Channels and replace them with the message “This version of 36-image converter is extremely outdated, therefore we advice you to update to the most recent version and still receive Dashboard support, you can update here” (with a link to the download page).

We hope that you all understand this decision and that you will all update to version 4.6.

36 Open Software License declined by OSI Board

Our 36OSL license which can be reviewed here is declined by the Open Source board. We will not fight this as it would need a lawyer to make it compliant. As you might have guessed by taking a look at the name, the 36OSL was created to make a 36-product open source, in this case the 36CONVERT module which at this point can convert bitmaps to over 21 filetypes.

We are still trying to figure out whether we will release the source and under which license, if we release it. The source will have to be distributed with each redistribution and it must still be possible to use it in a proprietary project. So we are thinking about the Microsoft Reciprocal License (Ms-RL). But at the moment this is a major blow and I’m not very keen anymore to release the wanted code.

On the other hand we can also bring happy news. Our 36-image converter officially is the 15th most popular image editing application on Download.com 9 places behind GIMP and 12 places behind Photoshop CS4, with 2.559 downloads last week. This also makes 36IC the most popular image converter. Our official goal was to beat XnView but it seems we have beaten it with 1.000 downloads more.

Release : 36-image converter 4.6.1.98!

Yesterday we released version 4.6 of 36-image converter. This version fixes major problems with 36-image converter which were paining the backside of many users. First of all, we updated the interface from the blue “Twilight” theme to a new theme called “Mirage” with multiple colors. This solves the visibility issues some people had. 36-image converter 4.6 is also 60-80% lighter than v4.5 depending on your system’s configuration. We also added a new feature called “MemoReduce” which lowers the memory use by 95% when minimizing the window. This makes 36-image converter one of the lightest image editors.

We are also one step closer to Photoshop-like features. Now you can insert images as objects with alpha and transparency which you can put anywhere on the image. You can also set the size in % and the angle in degrees.

We also fixed some major errors with the libpng library by completely replacing the old conversion engine by the new 36CONVERT engine.

Further changes consist of some minor tweaks to the UI and the engine.

36IC 4.6 still isn’t able to support large images but this will be added in one of the coming versions.

The new version is already available for download on our servers and will be available in the Dashboard UpdateChannel once the Download.com submission process is completed.

screenshot

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36-image converter 4.6 coming tomorrow

We have just finished the remaining features and tweaks of version 4.6 of 36-image converter “Chameleon”. Now only the helpfile and DashboardChannels need to be updated.

Version 4.6 of 36IC is what Windows 7 is to Windows, it’s a version with a new interface, much better performance and a bunch of minor tweaks and fixes. This version also fixes the fatal bug which made some filetypes crash the conversion engine.

Overal we have a decent amount of updates which makes v4.6 the second biggest update ever released with 4.4 as the biggest. But in this case the fixes are mainly beneath the surface. One new function is the ability to insert images as objects as was already possible with text.

Here is a full list of all updates :

4.6.1.98
-New default theme
-New Conversion engine
-New Conversion/open Dialogs with preview
-New more efficient conversion preselect system
-Added Object Insertion
-Added MemoReduce
-Improved performance
-Lowered usage of memory and CPU
-Frames/Masks/Overlays now external
-Fixed critical bug in conversion to several filetypes
-Fixed menu position
-Fixed bug in ICO conversion
-Fixed PII and RAWPII issues
-Fixed unexpected error messages
-Updated DashBoard’s DownloadChannel
-Updated PII read and write
-Updated EdgeMarker Style
-Updated Focus effect
-Updated Help file
-Updated ReadMe
-New Splash Screen

4.6.1.98
-New default theme
-New Conversion engine
-New Conversion/open Dialogs with preview
-New more efficient conversion preselect system
-Added Object Insertion
-Added MemoReduce
-Improved performance
-Lowered usage of memory and CPU
-Frames/Masks/Overlays now external
-Fixed critical bug in conversion to several filetypes
-Fixed menu position
-Fixed bug in ICO conversion
-Fixed PII and RAWPII issues
-Fixed unexpected error messages
-Updated DashBoard’s DownloadChannel
-Updated PII read and write
-Updated EdgeMarker Style
-Updated Focus effect
-Updated Help file
-Updated ReadMe
-New Splash Screen

36-image converter 4.6 should be online tomorrow somewhere in the late afternoon after some testing and packaging.

36-image converter 4.6 promises giant performance improvements

36-image converter 4.6 went through the first two step of its development and it looks promising. The new interface has already been natively implemented and the performance was sharply improved. 36-image converter 4.5 takes about 140.000Kb’s of memory while 36-image converter 4.6 only uses 35.000Kb’s which means that 36IC 4.6 is 75% lighter and also 40% faster than its predecessor. There is also a technology added to decrease memory usage by 95% and only use 2% of CPU on an average PC. Where photoshop and even paint keep using massive amounts of memory, 36IC just sleeps. This technology will also make 36IC 4.6 much greener by reducing the system resources in standby and lowering the power consumption.

These are great performance improvements, but still we are going to set new minimum system requirements. 36IC 4.6 will require at least 10Mb of free diskspace, a 1,6Ghz processor, 512Mb of memory, 64Mb of graphic memory with DirectX9 installed.

The Focus-effect is also renewed, but this is quite a minor update.

The next things that will be taken care of are making the PII save/open much more stable and implementing the 36CONVERT conversion engine from 36-image express. Then the selection menu’s for effects/more/masks and frames will be tweaked. We will also add a function to import objects and resize and move these. This will take 36IC to the next step : Layers!
To make room for this function we will move the “Color Mozaic” tool to the effects menu.

36-image converter 4.6 is scheduled for this weekend.

36-image converter 4.6 development started

We just started the development of 36-image converter 4.6 “Chameleon X1”. The new version will be much lighter, fix huge bugs, have the new interface and a much more stable conversion engine. 

We already completed the first step, reducing the memory load and with success, an image that took 170.000Kb from the memory now takes about 49.000Kb that’s a decrease with 70%. It also starts much faster now and it will even be smaller when the new interface is native integrated, as it is still loaded from the themes folder.

36-image converter 4.6 will probably be ready by next weekend. It is not a ground shaking update but definitely an essential one and an eye-catcher.

We can also announce that now both 36-image converter and 36-image express have a “User’s choice award” by free download manager. 36-image converter even is the most popular image converting tool on free download manager.

36-image converter 4.5 scores 4/5 on CNET

Today our prayers were answered when we discovered an editorial review of 36-image converter on CNET’s Download.com. For the first time in a long history our 36-image converter received a decent review on Download.com, after all the almost flame-reviews by the users.

After submitting 36IC to a test, they gave it 4 stars on five, which is a lot higher than the 1,5/5 we got from our users.

Anyway, this motivates us to deliver 36-image converter 4.6 as fast as possible. We will no longer add extra functionality to 36-image converter in version 4, but we will improve performance fix bugs and enable the editing of large images. 36IC 4.6 will use the same conversion engine of 36-image express which is much smaller and more stable than the current Alpha/Betaconvert-functions and the built-in batcher.

36-image express, one week roundup

The first week in the existence of 36-image express is over and it did quite well. On our servers it’s chasing 36-image converter’s tail in popularity and on download.com it’s slightly coming of the ground with a decent 18 downloads on the first day (other results are still unknown of download.com). One person broke the Reasonable Feedback Agreement by giving us a 1/5 rating on one of the download sites without specifying why, but these anonymous events will remain unpunished unless they run out of hand. 36Ix was downloaded 553 times in one week, which is decent for a new application. It was uninstalled 103 times giving a 81% satisfaction rate which is much higher than the  40% of 36-image converter and had 1 small update to the installer. So far for the numbers.

Now let’s hope people will download 36-image express when they aren’t satisfied with 36-image converter, it will have to do until we fix a few of the most annoying issues with the coming of 36-image converter 4.6, the unreadable interface, the memorybloat, and the fatal bug in many filetypes.