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Thank You, Robert Voit, Creator of Paint Shop Pro (ianlotinsky.wordpress.com)
395 points by ian_lotinsky on July 31, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 126 comments

While Paint Shop Pro 6 is the most beloved version, PSP 7 and (particularly) 8, took the software in a very interesting direction. I remain convinced that this directly lead to Corel acquiring it with the unstated but definite intention of crippling it.

See, 6 and below were fairly traditional raster-based editors. But starting in 7, and with substantial improvements in 8, PSP introduced the concept of raster and vector editing capabilities, in the same document. You could create raster layers, and do traditional drawing and filtering, and you could also create vector layers, where you could draw shapes and paths which would remain editable and would be rasterised on the fly.

It took a while to get your head around this capability, but once you did, it was incredibly powerful, especially for the time period we're talking about. Coupled with the rate at which its general raster editing capabilities were improving, I suspect Corel feared not just that PSP was becoming a more serious competitor in the raster space, but that it would undermine the market for CorelDraw, and threaten the whole model of selling separate vector and raster editors.

In the past few years, mixed paradigm vector/raster editors like Sketch have become more common. But download a copy of PSP 8 and you'll see that Jasc got there years before the rest of the industry, to such an extent it meant PSP had to be killed.

> it was incredibly powerful, especially for the time period we're talking about

Fireworks was also doing this around the same time but seems to have been completely been forgotten because of Photoshops dominance.

Similarly, Fireworks felt like it died the day Adobe acquired Macromedia. While it had a number of versions released after that it never felt like it was getting very much attention. A shame.

Yep, it still is puzzling why Fireworks never got the recognition it deserved -- the amount of unnecessary suffering UI designers went through for 10 years they could have avoided by just switching tools is mind boggling.

I don't think it ever got enough recognition for handling UI designs and everyone just gravitated towards Photoshop or Illustrator.

I think its heyday was when HTML table layouts were still how you had to layout websites and it's slicing capabilities were really convenient. I suspect that was the killer feature for a lot of people but once CSS layouts took over, Fireworks really fell out of favor and Adobe never bothered to reposition it as a UI tool.

I still use it to this day for my limited editing/mockup needs. The new workflow seems to be mockup tool (like Balsamiq) -> Photoshop design -> HTML/CSS, but for my needs, I can get reasonably close enough in both layout and design in Fireworks just do Fireworks -> HTML/CSS.

I don't know if a tool that is close enough to Fireworks to be a good replacement has come around, but I know it's definitely not Photoshop, which I find far too complicated for the basic tasks I need.

Macaw felt close to Fireworks, but is now sadly discontinued (although one can play around with the last released version): http://macaw.co/

Macaw is now Invision Studio - http://macaw.co/invision/

I absolutely loved Fireworks, and it was mind boggling to me why people were using Photoshop at the time which seemed painful for most UI work.

I've gone from Photoshop (1st version was 4.0 that I remember) -> Fireworks -> Sketch

It's still available if you dig around on Adobe's site.

Despite having the full creative suite I still turn to Fireworks for quick jobs sometimes when I need to do a fast crop or slice job, or put together a simple 'constructed' image element.

> PSP introduced the concept of raster and vector editing

Actually, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuperPaint_(Macintosh) is where I first saw that (wiki says released 1986, sounds right.)

Funny enough, at first I thought that the article was about that, although the name didn't seem quite right, and obviously the years and outcome were wrong.

SuperPaint was by far the best graphics editor I ever used, on any platform. Nothing today even comes close in terms of usability, although many apps today beat it in features. I was extremely disappointed when Adobe acquired Aldus and killed it as I knew they would.

There is a searing pain I feel when I know precisely what I want to do in "modern" editors and simply can't find the command buried in the menus somewhere, and have to resort to forums to find the answer. I never got that with SuperPaint.

> SuperPaint was by far the best graphics editor I ever used, on any platform. Nothing today even comes close in terms of usability,

That was my idea too, but since my experience with graphics editors is ridiculously small, I shut up about it. But yeah, it was very nice to use, and I haven't met its match since.

I wonder if that's the reason that Corel acquired Xara back in the nineties?

I discovered the program around 1995, after Corel acquired them. I figured it would be a 'cheap' version of Corel Draw. Instead, it was quite a bit better! Particularly for the time, there was nothing faster that I was aware of. (In 1995 memory was prohibitively expensive, and Xara was very efficient.)

I still use it to this day, though the software reverted back to it's original owner long ago.

Wasn’t Macromedia Fireworks also capable of doing both raster and vector?

Not exactly. Fireworks was a raster-based graphics program that behaved like a vector program -- everything you drew was an object that could be moved backward and forward on its layer, with opacity, clipping, blending style, etc., set independently. There was no real distinction between vector shapes, text shapes, and raster shapes; all operations were available on any graphics object at any point in time.

The clearer way to describe it is that Fireworks was a reuse of the Macromedia Flash drawing engine. So you had shapes, and these shapes had z-axis positions, a stack of active filters, and a reference to a texture.

A Fireworks PNG document, then, was a pile of shapes (just like a Flash animation frame), with each shape referred to as a "layer"; along with a pile of mutable texture data for the shapes to use, with each texture bound 1:1 to a particular rectangle shape, with the shape and its texture together referred to as a "raster image."

Every time you changed anything, the whole thing just got re-rendered onto a canvas using the Flash rendering logic. When you saved the PNG "document", it kept all the document chunks, but added the baked rendered representation it had been using for previewing as a basic PNG chunk at the end of the document. Thus, it was kind of an actual PNG file. (But the flattened PNG chunk was only "the document" as much as the JPEG cover image inside an .epub is "the book.")

I'd forgotten that sort of clever craziness with Fireworks PNG files! For a while after discovering the program I thought, "Wow, PNG does a whole lot of neat stuff I didn't think it could." Later I learned, no, Fireworks was just stuffing a whole lot of Fireworks-specific data into private chunks. :)

> it would undermine the market for CorelDraw, and threaten the whole model of selling separate vector and raster editors.

PSP is only potentially a replacement for PhotoPaint, which was always bundled with Draw. It would never be a threat to their other raster tools like Painter. Nor would Draw be threatened by a tool with vectors grafted on. Corel just wanted to bring in a successful product for the entry level market.

Corel also notably let PhotoPaint wither on the vine even though it was vastly superior to the contemporaneous Photoshop version in its earlier incarnations. They just weren't willing to invest the dev resources to add more sophistication.

Checking wikipedia PSP got vector tools in version 6, released in 1999. Photoshop got them also in version 6, released in 2000. So, yeah, PSP was pushing it early, but it didn't take that long for PS to get on the train too.

Yes, PSP 6 was the first release with vector capabilities. That's what made it so great for web development. I'm not sure what happened with the renderer in version 7, but the editor lost its pixel-perfect precision and became too hard to edit mixed graphics in a WYSIWYG way.

PS Raster was very limited for years after this.

Photoshop's raster functionality was very limited? Photoshop surely has some of the best raster drawing functionality in any product? It's the core functionality.

You must mean vector?

What do you mean by "crippling it"? Corel PaintShop Pro has raster and vector layers.

> the painting tools and the commands that are used to add effects can be applied only on raster layers. If you try to use a raster tool while a vector layer is selected, Corel® PaintShop Pro prompts you to convert the vector layer into a raster layer.

In https://support.corel.com/hc/en-us/articles/215916768-Unders...

Where GP said:

> you could also create vector layers, where you could draw shapes and paths which would remain editable and would be rasterised on the fly.

That has always been the case from the beginning of vector layers. If anything was crippled, this isn't it.

I still have my copy of PSP 7 (from circa 2001). It's still (for my rather modest needs) my go-to image editor to this day yet.

Apropos nice letters and communications from founders of software companies such as JASC, the hosting company I worked for used many of Persits Software's[0] components on our Windows/IIS servers.

Every now and again I'd need to clarify some technical thing with them that wasn't in their documentation and every time I'd get a reply within 4-8 hours directly from Peter the founder of Persits. I didn't even need to supply a license number or proof of purchase, it was just straightforward good old fashioned support and customer service. What was also nice about them as well was that they never fleeced you for "upgrades", you bought a lifetime license and that was it.

[0]: http://www.persits.com/index.html

Thank you for saying this.

We conduct business in a similar way, as do (I suspect) most other very small software companies. It's one of the things that irks me the most when developers rail about proprietary software and use MS/Adobe/Oracle as the examples. There are a lot of good, small software companies out there that have been doing proprietary products for years, and they possess a lot of qualities that we all seem to value quite a bit (responsiveness, understanding, flexibility, loyalty, etc.).

Man PSP 5 was fantastic. Learning photo manipulation on PSP, and comparing it to the slow, laggy, unintuitive mess that Photoshop seemed to be, I'm still not convinced that Adobe products actually work to this day. Obviously other people have better experiences with Adobe, but I also suspect they're more tolerant to slower UIs.

I had a (ahem, cough, shh) hooky copy of Photoshop back in the mid 2000's but always got frustrated with it and reverted back to PSP. PSP always made more sense to my non-graphics designer brain.

All of the anti counterfeiting US currency code in PS probably slows it down.

The same code is in PSP, and it only slows down specific operations.

I still use PSP 9.01 from 2004 for most of my basic editing needs... it's set as the default application for most graphics types.

PSP is imho the prime example of how piratism hurts software industry. The problem was not so much that PSP was pirated, but that Photoshop was pirated. Most people did not need Photoshop, and would have been happy PSP users. But if Photoshop was "free" then it is natural that people gravitated towards the "industry-standard" "professional" tool.

Piratism hurts small low-cost hobbyist software most by dislocating them with free professional juggernaut tools.

What's your take on big companies contributing and/or running open source/free software? Doesn't that also dislocate small low-cost hobbyist software?

Well I'm not a fan of "open core" products, for not all too dissimilar reasons. But I'll admit the situation with open source and commercial actors is fair bit more complicated, with no easy answers (unless you are Stallman)

> piratism

"Piracy" is the usual word.

I like piratism more...but you're right....

now apply this to Google and Facebook's "free" offerings

Big difference is that those generally do not delineate naturally into "expensive/professional" and "low-cost/hobbyist" markets.

PSP was one of those programs (along with Winamp) that are the hallmarks of the golden age of user experience for me. They had a lot of functionality but were very lean, a joy to use and reasonably priced. I miss the days when you didn't need a 100 MB (relatively speaking) package just to show a screen.

You also had to be an expert in multiple levels of the technology stack to build any program with cross platform support. Yes, packages were smaller, but developers had to do way more work and so applications were released less frequently. It would be very hard back then to make a cross platform program as a weekend project.

That's true. I still don't know why we said "using two screwdrivers for these two kinds of screw is too hard, here's a sledgehammer instead", rather than build tooling to make it easier to build cross-platform programs...

I'm pretty hopeful these days about Qt for Python and this build system: https://build-system.fman.io/

Unfortunately, it costs money even if your app is OSS, in some cases.

I wouldn't mind if PaintShop Pro made less frequent releases. None of the features I care about has changed in a significant way in the last 18 years or so. I used PSP 7 in the early oughts to do some web design work on the side; I still use PSP X8 every now and then to make transparent PNGs. As long as it gets the job done on a platform I have access to, I don't care how many platforms they don't support.

PSP was not cross platform, it was Windows only. I don't know if that's changed recently but I suspect it hasn't.

I think the point was that it was lean (didn't need 100MB to draw a screen) because it /wasn't/ cross-platform - more tools are cross-platform by default now because it's easy (which leads to the abstractions that give you requirements of 100MB to draw a screen).

Modern software has certainly become abstraction-heavy, hasn't it? It's not just the GUI libraries. Paint Shop Pro was lean and mean because it had to be, the targeted hardware just wouldn't support anything bloated. Not to mention that many copies were downloaded by modem.

for offline music collections, winamp is still the best player on windows!

If you haven't seen it, check out foobar2000 [1]. It was created by the same dude that made the original Winamp (which is now owned by Yahoo, IIRC).

[1]: https://www.foobar2000.org/

According to WinAmp folklore, he was a contractor for WinAmp 3 skins and not necessarily a full-time dev: http://forums.winamp.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=118192

You might be thinking of Justin Frankel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Frankel

The connection is still kind of cool though!

Ah, thanks for the correction. I remember being told they had the same creator; that's what got me interested in foobar2000 in the first place, years ago.

Justin Frankel of NullSoft, WinAmp, WASTE, and now Cockos is a legend. (Also Gnutella IIRC)

He has nothing to do with foobar2000, which BTW has a very poor view of FOSS.

Foobar still can not do proper crossfading on track change!

Yeah, I guess I got the story wrong. Thanks for the correction.

yes foobar goes back almost as far! i prefer winamp's approach to libraries and playlists though. i also found the dev community around foobar not very welcoming (many years ago)

I switched to foobar2000[0] sometime in the early 2000s after Winamp 3 completely changed for the worse. I still use foobar2000 today.

[0]: https://www.foobar2000.org/

I use the latest winamp with Bento_Classified skin - resembles the v2.

MusicBee is much better

I have used the following in addition to WinAmp:




Foobar is almost perfect except the lack of crossfading and broken WASAPI exclusive mode output, which every other WinAmp clone seem to have gotten right, e.g. AIMP.

It really kicks the llama’s ass.


I found that XMPlay replaces Winamp perfectly. Tiny footprint (less.than 1MB), support for all modern codecs, active development, API and plugin environment, streaming. Combined with the minimal skin, it's my first install on any new windows machine.

In order to play HVSC[1], I switched from XMPlay to the far more heavyweight Foobar2000 because the former had a habit of crashing on files it disliked, losing playlist position.

[1] https://www.hvsc.c64.org/

Any DOS program that had a nice GUI blew my mind back then

Most other paint programs all worked based on keyboard shortcuts (which weren't bad, they let you fly through the interface)

Agreed. I still boot up my Windows computer just to use PSP 6 occasionally when I need to do some raster graphics editing!

Seconded. My memories from those days were that software offered more functionality while being leaner. Doubly so when we compare the old software to web versions of today, that are all feature poor and resource heavy.

How old were you when you encountered them? Both are important programs but this sounds a little bit like people's recollections of their favourite games.

Around 16? Why do you think that? As another commenter said, Winamp is still the best player for Windows.

As a counterpoint, I couldn't stand WinAmp. To me, its interface was a mess of tiny inscrutable controls. When I started using SoundJam on the Mac, which was later bought and turned into iTunes, it was a breath of fresh air.

iTunes has obviously turned into something else at the time, but SoundJam was fantastic.

Because most of us have a hard time contextualizing and assessing the universal importance of our personal formative experiences.

FWIW i'll echo StavrosK experience with PSP (which i used since Windows 3.1 up until PSP7 well into my early 20s... although i distinctly remember disliking it after a specific version - probably 7 - because its circle tool wasn't making perfect circles anymore) and to a lesser extent, WinAmp - and i've tried both again recently. Even though i use GIMP for many years, i still consider the MDI interface, dockable toolbars and the use of the right button as a secondary tool much easier to use than GIMP (which after using it for more than a decade i also know very well and have developed an intuition for how to do stuff with it). Note that i also find Photoshop's (and Photoshop inspired, like Krita's) UI to also be inferior to PSP.

I'm not that particular about Winamp's exact interface, but i vastly prefer audio players with a compact layout that is made up by an area displaying the current song, a slider for seeking, play, pause, stop, prev, next buttons and a floating playlist you can change and hide on the fly.

Oh they were both important programs in their time, I just don't think they were grand monuments to some past golden age of UI/experience. Desktop UI in general was too abstruse for many people to master. Today's mobile touch UI's are much more accessible. PSP and Winamp were pretty sweet if you were a young nerd.

Paint Shop Pro 5 (and later 6 & 7) is still to this day one of my favorite pieces of software (no, I'm not still using it) and one of the first things in the PC era that I didn't pirate.

It was largely responsible for my early development as a web designer and later developer. I still remember it being incredibly intuitive and fun to use. I probably logged thousands of hours inside of that application.

My copy of PSP 5 came with my computer, and may have been my gateway into graphic design.

I'd still take Photoshop over it, but it was a surprisingly solid alternative.

Paint Shop Pro (I think 6) was my first ever non-Paint graphics editing program. I spotted it at a dollar store in Alabama, soon after moving to the US and getting our first computer. At the time I wanted to become a web designer.

I fricking loved Paint Shop Pro. As a teenager I made some websites for local bands and record companies. I was at the stage where you'd create one fancy image and then slice it into website parts to position them as backgrounds on the page and layer the textual elements over them. Paint Shop Pro was a joy to me as the maker of these cheesy band website layouts that I'd then slice up.

I have a similar story about Brad Templeton's C64 Assembler. It was the first development tool I ever bought and, at the time, very expensive for me as a high school student. I later came to claim that I would always pay for any software that I used for more time than it would have taken me to earn the money to buy it. Quickly that became everything I used as my earnings were a lot better.

I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to thank Brad for C64 Assembler and the role it had in forming some of my ethics around fair-use and paying for intellectual property.

"You are on day 1,439 of your 30-day trial"

Ha, right, no upgrade needed in that version... but eventually I did upgrade and recommend it to others, due to the generosity of the honor system they put in place in that version. Loved the software. Wait, maybe that was Winzip. Both were great.

Around day 2,000 is when the guilt kicked in for me.

Fascinating article here about Robert - https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mgxa53/how-an-air...

TIL: JASC stood for Jets and Software Company..

Adding my name to the list of people who loved Paint Shop Pro and had several amazing interactions with the company.

Primarily the Name JASC was short for “Just Another Software Company” but later it was changed to “Jets and Software Company”.

[1] https://www.paintshoppro.com/en/pages/old-brands/jasc/

JASC also made "Animation Shop", a GIF editor.

It won't open modern x264 files, but works fine with uncompressed video.

And the GIF format just won't die thanks to hipsters.

Thank you JASC and hipsters!

Paint Shop Pro was the best.

I was not as honest as the author of this article. I didn't buy Paint Shop Pro and I didn't write to its creator. I got a free trial on a cover-disk of some PC magazine and managed to extend the trial indefinitely via some hack or other.

Until then my only image editing tool was Microsoft Paint(brush), and PSP was a whole new world. Layers, clone tools, airbrushing. It was amazing. I was one of the few kids in my school who could edit images like that -- there were a couple who had Photoshop because their parents did design or photography.

Then at some point they clamped down on dodgy users, but by then Adobe had old versions of Photoshop out for free and eventually the GIMP made it to Windows.

> It was no surprise to me years later to learn that JASC was acquired by Corel. Your life’s hard work, honesty, and kindness rewarded you, and I couldn’t have been happier for you.

Rewarded maybe financially, but it must have been a bittersweet moment considering that PSP probably had already peaked at that point and definitely did not prosper under new ownership.

PSP7 was a favorite piece of software that I had been using for years when still mainly on Windows systems. It was useful and intuitive when having to make changes to plenty of raster images, or when doing pixel graphics; creating alpha transparent sections, clean ups, and so on. I also used Paint.NET a lot for batch edits.

It still seems a bit difficult to find a replacement for these two on macOS and Linux. Intuitive interfaces focusing on primary image editing functions and stable output to various formats are probably what is missing for non-professional users like me.

GIMP seems like a great project but has a terrible overblown UI. I tried Photoshop / Illustrator for a year as you get the CS4-subscription at a low price from my university. A few features, e.g. how embedded images were handled are nice, but the software is massive and the interface is so weirdly complex that I had to search for guides for the simplest tasks (who is profiting from having to "study" CS4...?). With PSP7, which is decently powerful I went through a couple of tutorials and was set up for years. Also, I had spent half an hour to deactivate all the spyware that comes with CS4, this is a no-go.

You can read that I am just really ignorant about modern graphics editing workflows. I'm not a graphics professional, but need to make "production level" graphics every few months. I need relatively technical vector illustrations (e.g. of experiment flows, NN models) and clean figures of scientific results (raster) in a visualization-heavy field.

For vector graphics I now really like Inkscape with its SVG basis. I still go back to Dia a lot though whenever the illustration fits their limited (but sufficient) scope. Both can be used on Linux and macOS.

Still searching for a powerful but plain & simple (and stable!) raster graphics editor though. Currently Krita looks nice, but it is clearly in development stage. Would pay for either Acorn or Pixelmator if I wasn't concerned that they will also start emulating the UI of Photoshop in the future.

Photoshop has a true proffesional app learning curve.

Once you learn how to do something in it, it makes sense as to why.

GIMP on the other hand, once I learned how to do something, I still hated it.

Then again GIMP makes simple things like pasting a major confusing pain.

I think the oft repeated complaint about GIMP UI is largely unfounded. To someone who uses GIMP as their first image editing/creating program its multiple floating windows is a good paradigm, esp if using a large wide aspect monitor. I would feel constrained now in operating in a single window, when compared to that.

> GIMP seems like a great project but has a terrible overblown UI

Have you tried the new 2.10 and the single window mode?

I haven't, but I have another bone to pick with its authors. They lost credibility in my eyes with the whole Save/Export debacle. Sure, I use a plugin now that changes behaviour so I can save to PNG (who in the world uses xcf directly anyway?), but it's a pain to install everywhere, and I'm afraid it will stop working one day. I really wish they listened to their longtime users.

I have not, thanks for the pointer. GIMP is still a software I would like to like; will give it a try.

I apologize if this an insensitive question, but a Google search wasn't very enlightening.

Did Robert Voit die, or was this prompted solely by the author's reminiscence?

He's alive and lives in peaceful Scottsdale, Arizona.

I certainly hope he is alive and well! This is simply me reminiscing and expressing gratefulness for something that helped shape my career.

I worried about the same. I'm very happy he's alright.

I forgot about PSP. But Reading about it brings lots of memories. It was a great program, just like its author.

I'm curious as well.

The Wikipedia page about Jasc [0] does give some information about Robert Voit, which is written in present tense, indicating he is still alive. However, the page has not been updated for a while.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasc_Software

i have the exact same thought from reading this

There's a benefit to starting out as an airline pilot.

Decision making is critical for a pilot, in the worst case hesitation can mean death. Robert Voit was a master at taking in relevant information, making a decision, and moving on. That's an essential skill for a good business leader.

Everybody here is talking about PSP 5.0+.

But for me, the best version ever was 3.0. I was able to draw pretty impressive diagrams at the pixel level, without any problem.

In subsequent versions, they modified the zoom tool, the GUI and the brushes, so it was quite harder to do the same thing.

I stopped upgrading at version 4.14, in 1997. I think version 5 added layers and some other complexities that I just didn't care to deal with.

Eventually, I added Gimp to my "arsenal" for occasional complex work, but that 20 year old Paintshop Pro is still my daily driver for quick graphics stuff. Runs fine on Windows 10.

Amazing piece of software and Minnesota!

Version 5 was also the first one that forced you to pay after the trial period was over. Did that have anything to do with your decision?

No, I was using a paid for version.

I just noticed you can buy a brand-new copy of Paintshop Pro for $48 (cheap!) at https://www.paintshoppro.com/en/products/paintshop-pro/stand... I'm thinking about it.

It occasionally goes on sale for even cheaper. Plus you can find it bundled for free sometimes, e.g. with a Panasonic camera lens: https://www.adorama.com/ipc2517mnk.html

Animation Shop, PSP's sibling application for creating animations, is something I still keep on a VM for making highly customized gifs - timing for frames, pixel modification, compression, etc.

Corel had made it available via Jasc's FTP server for free a number of years back when I went looking for it again.

I check every now and then, but I've never found anything nearly as useful. Other software seems to have a much reduced feature set, be extremely slow or unstable, and maddeningly, not offer any control over individual frames.

It's possible there's something in the Adobe suite, but I (alone, of seemingly everyone on the Internet) never pirated Photoshop, and wasn't willing to fork out the asking price.

PSP was fantastic. I stopped using it when Corel acquired it though.

My dad came home from work one day and handed me a floppy disk from one of his colleagues. I suddenly had my hands on my first decent image editor and my first digital image of a naked woman.

Never did find out if he knew about the latter.

Paint Shop Pro 6 was far better than the version of Photoshop at the time IF you were a Web dev. While Photoshop did a better job of handling really big photos for print, PSP had the best tools for generating web-ready images.

Back then I was still going to school and thus didn't have much money. And so it was always a joy when a new version of psp came out so that I could us an evaluation copy for another 30 days :D

edit: the article states simple re-installation was enough to reset the evaluation? I thought I tried that. Maybe it changed with later versions?

I loved, loved, loved Paint Shop Pro. I think my all-time favorite version was 7. Back then (2003-2008) I used to do a lot of web design, and I would do all the graphics with Flash and PSP. I tried Photoshop 2-3 times during these years, and was always surprised to see how terrible the UX was in comparison with PSP.

Good memories.

Jasc PSP 5 was the first full-blown image editor I ever used. Those were the days when I was taking baby steps with web design. Absolutely loved the no-nonsense, workflow. Not to mention, it seemed to pack every feature imaginable in a small, cheap package!

I love PSP. It was one of the few applications worth the money the author charged for it. Up until recently I was using PSP5 for all of my taster image editing, but I reinstalled my OS drive and I don’t know where I stashed my setup.exe for it and the much-needed patch. Great stuff.

I'm another person who regularly uses PSP (version 4 in my case) for most of my day to day bitmap editing tasks - it's fast, stable and has most of the features I need so I've never felt the need to upgrade!

Is there a descendent-in-spirit of PSP in active development nowadays?


Affinity Photo or (Mac only) Pixelmator is probably closest.

I know that it's widely hated on HN but I still find GIMP is quite suitable for nearly everything. It integrates poorly on macOS though.

PSP was and still is amazing. And while we are down the memories lane, one thing that strikes me as incredible was running Ventura Publisher (DOS) with that graphic UI on a 286.

Xylon looks fun to play. I miss old and simple computer games.

Thanks! We gave up on it because the game was too easy and RSD Game-Maker--not to be confused with YoYo Games GameMaker--wasn't sophisticated enough to build a real game. It was a heck of a lot of fun to use though.

PSP was the only program I knew about that showed images inside a folder in the folder's thumbnail. This was a very time-saving feature!

Are you going to release Xylon for people to play?

The video captures the entire game. Still want a copy? ;)

My copy was legit, paid for by work. I made weather icons with it in 8 bit colour with transparency - think of animated GIF's. The hardware was a Compaq Deskpro with 2Mb of video RAM. I was a mere techie with 8 bit home computing experience, not a trained graphic artist.

My employers were not the sort to have pirated software on the premises, however, the process if getting a purchase order for £30 software rather than £10000 software seemed almost more awkward.

My colleagues who did have the £40K SGI workstations with the £10K+ Parallax Matador software and giant Wacom tablets just did not have the tools needed to make the all important weather icons. This was in the days before maps had been sorted out so they mostly drew artistic interpretations of maps, with limited knowledge of geography - quite embarrassing really. But, you know, gotta work as a team.

The icons had to be made as sprites and only a certain amount of RAM was available, I think they also had to align on some type of kilobyte boundaries too. Needless to say JASC Paintshop Pro was the perfect tool for the job.

I did have access to Photoshop which actually came full version with a scanner. My colleagues in graphics saw Photoshop as a cut down PC tool, not really professional at all. So I could not get to meet with them in the middle whereby they would be able to do the icons and somehow get them into the formats needed for broadcast. That thought was tantamount to asking them to sweep the streets and empty the bins - below them.

Maybe I stuck with PSP longer than I should have done as I did have a bit of a learning curve a few years later when Photoshop became the vital tool for part of a job I moved on to. Due to consolidation in TV and nobody being able to pay £100K for a seat for graphic artists my colleagues also had to move on from their tools of choice. They chose to be dinosaurs, to be usurped by kids with dirt cheap tools. Sad really. So many games of status and other delusions made up the reality of working in broadcast television at that time, the toys being part of that.

The funniest thing I found was the giant Wacom tablet gorilla arm problem. If you were a proper graphic designer then you had to have the biggest of huge Wacom tablets, great in principle except the action is all in the wrist. They would be dragging their elbows to the far corners of the desk to get to a palette colour or menu item.

Most of my PSP work was done with a mouse and 1280 x 1024 15" CRT monitor. However I did get a lucky break when learning Photoshop as I had a small Wacom Tablet and an excellent mentor in a former graphic designer that just barked hotkeys at me. I did what he wanted done in doubleplusgood time, studio crew of twenty waiting... Creating masks and other image corrections were done in the way that bluescreen video is done, dealing with the whole image and doing so very quickly. Only years later did I understand what some of those toolbox icons were or what the hotkeys corresponded to in the menus.

Sometimes it pains me to see today's graphic artists spending all day doing basic artwork stuff where they are manually deleting pixels and drawing around things, headphones plugged in, no knowledge of hotkeys known. Despite being retired the lessons that my mentors taught me come back to haunt me and I do a little bit of teaching.

PSP was the opening for me to not be just a mere techie but to cross that imaginary line into doing creative work. There is no point being adamant that you are just an artist and don't do tech stuff. It is also cowardly to be a techie and never do creative artwork stuff. For me PSP enabled me to let go of the handrails and become a creative techie.

Thanks for sharing that. I worked in broadcast tv briefly and remember fondly the strange world of tooling.

the article would have more credibility if author would not try to promote his game in it

Hi Markoff!

I agree with your sentiment, but I'm not promoting my game in the least. It was created back in the mid-90s, never was released to the public, and never will be. Robert expressed that he looked forward to playing the games we made with PSP, and we never shipped a game he could see. The video captures the entire gameplay simply to show him what we were up to as kids as a part of our thank you.

I hope this clarifies things for you.



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