You should know by now, we are great advocates of Cloud services such as Flickr, Soundcloud, Vimeo, or Storify, that allow our rich media to get out there in the world and have a social life on their own. That’s what we could define Cloud content, and you can find as many online cool tools as you want, to bless your friends with your pics, your wisdom, and yes, even your own personal radio show!
Besides all of this fun stuff, in those few minutes a week we spend actually working we happened to stumble upon some great cloud services that allow us to get work done on the go, and we would like to share some with you, inaugurating a Tool Reviews post series.
In the past our producer – back then intern (oh, how time flies!) – Connor wrote something about Prezi and how you can make beautiful presentations, working entirely online, so check that out as well!
Some history first! while the great explosion of online software and browser-based document editing tools was lead by Google with the release of Google Docs in 2006, a lot of new online tool suites have been developed in the more recent years, e.g. Zoho (I especially like their slogan: Work. Online.), and now the major software companies are integrating Cloud services in their products, like Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft Office 365, or the soon-to-come Adobe Creative Cloud, just to name a few.
Completely online services have also been created for more specific needs: one we have been testing is Picnik for picture editing!
Picnik offers some tools for cropping, enhancing and applying effects to images. Those effects are obviously limited if compared to professional editing tools such as our beloved Lightroom or Photoshop, so why use it instead?
Well first of all it’s free, easy to get started with, and as all cloud softwares, it is accessible from everywhere, so it’s perfect if you work from mobile or from different computers. It will work on uploaded copies of the images.
Want another good reason to give it a try? Picnik works both on files just uploaded from your computer and on those already published. It integrates seamlessly with online hosting platforms so that you can modify your Facebook, Flickr or Picasa pictures directly from Picnik, such as if you need to add a watermark because you forgot to do so offline, uploaded them from mobile, or want to update the image.
Also, you can do so without losing comments and faves, that may be blown away by many offline services, including the Lightroom exporters!
Once you’re finish with your images, you can save them back to the original publishing location, publish them somewere else, twit them, or even email them, all without bothering your local disc. Or you can just save them locally for that matter.
To give you some flaws we have found, the main lacking feature in comparison to a professional tool is you don’t have a backup of the developing/editing process and can’t revert to a previous stage after you’ve saved. It doesn’t support layers, masks, or any advanced selective editing of areas within the image, so it can’t possibly replace advanced image editing tools.
Besides, while the published version of the image keeps the image metadata unchanged during the editing process, there is a limited number of fields you can access, modify or just add from scratch: you can add a title, description and tags, but not set copyright restrictions or your contact info for example.
So in summary, it’s good and lovely to take advantage of the stunning potential of the Cloud when we are away from our computer, doing a quick fix on pics for a trip reportage, or sharing “social” version of our media, but we always want to keep the original version safely stored together with the most complete version of available metadata!
Stay tuned for more pieces of news, tips, and reviews!