It’s that time of the year again, a good moment to look back and also think a bit about the future.
First, I’d like to emphasize that FastPictureViewer Pro and the FastPictureViewer Codec Pack are alive and well, there is a little less activity that it used to be a couple of years ago, but that’s a sign of maturity if you ask me: those products are pretty stable now: the feature set is stable, and the code is rock-solid. The plan was never to inflate/bloat them and add features (and bugs) endlessly.
Looking back, nine releases were made throughout the year, which fixed issues reported by users and added some of the most frequently requested features:
- Support for Animated GIFs was added: FPV Pro now has what has to be the best support for GIF animation in the industry. You can zoom (left and right click) and pan while the animations are running and rate, tag, delete keep/copy your animated GIFs just like they were JPEGs. The animations starts seamlessly and does not affect the overall viewing speed in any way. If you did not try out this great feature yet, download some awesome GIFs and give it a whirl.
- The marks that you put on photos, such as ‘X’ to mark for deletion, ‘P’ for publishing and ‘B’ and Black & White preview are now persisted (saved) across sessions. This enables you to quit and resume a long culling session without losing the marks you have set. Previously, those marks were transient (not saved) and had to be used within the current program session. The challenge was to save the flags and restore them on startup without affecting the speed in any measurable way, and the program does just that! Note that you can set/clear marks at once using keyboard shortcuts, for example Ctrl+Alt+X will clear all the ‘X’ marks in one keystroke. Right-click the taskbar to reveal the context menu leading to those commands, or check out the Cheat Sheet to learn about all shortcuts.
- Fixes were made to keep track of the changes made by Facebook and SmugMug in their respective web service interfaces, which broke FPV Pro’s web upload plug-ins. As a reminder, FPV Pro can upload your pictures directly and quickly to Photoshelter, Zenfolio and SmugMug, as well as Flickr, 500px and Facebook. You can also publish to a local folder, or to an USB-attached picture frame, for example. Publishing will convert to JPEG and downscale for you. Press ‘P’ to mark a photo for publishing, and Ctrl+P to get started with the publishing system.
- Several small bugs were fixed, such as the high-ISO value display for Nikon D750 files, and some usability improvements were made, for example a pair of Select All / Select None buttons was added to the File Utilities plug-in (Ctrl+F), after users reported having so many rules, it was cumbersome to click them one-by-one.
- 2015, like 2013, was also a year where Microsoft updated their development toolset with a major release of their C++ compiler. The code making up the Codec Pack and FastPictureViewer Pro was updated to use the new libraries and is built using the latest tools, resulting in slightly quicker products, and also a tiny bit safer as toolset updates help mitigate potential security issues, important in system-level code like codecs.
- The FastPictureViewer Codec Pack Import Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop® was shipped, an add-on to the Codec Pack for Photoshop CS3 and later that enables importing images into Photoshop using FastPictureViewer’s codecs. While this is definitely not a substitute for Adobe Camera Raw, the plug-in might come handy as a stop gap to open raws (and other formats) not supported by your version of Photoshop.
The FastPictureViewer.com website will get a major refresh in the near future. Many support requests revolve around retrieving license keys or download links, as users get new computers and old hard drives crashes. On the new site, you will be able to create an account and link your orders, which will allow you to access your registration data at any time in self-service.
We just made some back-office changes to improve email deliverability, as some users reported they never got their license key email after making a purchase, probably due to SPAM filtering on the receiving end. Hopefully we’ll see less occurrences of this problem in the new year.
The new site will be mobile-friendly, faster and simpler. One of the major issue there is with FastPictureViewer Pro is a problem of perception, people just don’t know what the program is capable of, and we are going to fix that by publishing more tutorials and online demos. Hopefully, over time, every single feature of the program will get a short demo and an associated mini-tutorial.
The future plans are essentially unchanged: FastPictureViewer Pro 2.0 will embrace the latest display tech in Windows 10 and take advantage of the GPU for more functions, while moving away from legacy display APIs. A thumbnail view will also be added, although I’m still torn on that one regarding the best way to implement this: leverage the system’s thumbnail cache (and face all its limitations) or do like everybody else and create yet another thumbnail cache eating up disk space?
On my day job, I successfully convinced the parties at stake that the photo import tech in Windows was bloated and slow, and I got a chance to fix that and write a new one from scratch for Windows 10. The API shipped in July and is powering the “Import” feature underneath the new Photos app in Windows: once you get past the not-so-elegant import selection UI in that app, you hit a layer in the OS that I created and which imports your files swiftly. I may consider taking advantage of that new public API and add an Import plug-in to FPV Pro. Thoughts?
One way to solve the redundancy aspect of my thumbnail cache problem would be to replace the existing one in Windows, that was made for Vista Explorer ten years ago, with a new one that fulfills the needs of modern applications (for example by storing and returning images in a format that can actually be used directly by modern display tech). But that’s a very long and very unlikely shot: more realistically, the thumbnail feature in FastPictureViewer Pro 2.0 will probably rely on its own proprietary cache.
A big Thank You to all our existing and new customers and users. We wish you all a great and fruitful year 2016!!!