What happened to FastPictureViewer Pro in 2015?

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!!!

Posted in Windows, Photo, Computers, Codec, RAW, FPV Pro, FPV Codec Pack, Operating Systems, Year Review | 2 Comments

What happened to FastPictureViewer Pro in 2014?

2014 was a relatively quiet year for FastPictureViewer Pro: “only” 8 updates where released where we fixed all reported issues, included support for the latest digital cameras on the market and added some convenience features:

  • Shift+Ctrl+C to copy the image pixels to the clipboard. Previously you could hit Ctrl+C and then paste the image file (ot the files making up the image stack for a particular image) anywhere files could be pasted – notably in Windows Explorer, Outlook messages. Now the program has the additional ability to copy the pixels to the clipboard with the new shortcut, so you can paste the image itself anywhere a image can be pasted, in Outlook messages, Word documents, in Photoshop and most likely in just about any image editor or image-enabled software.
  • New File Utilities conditions on megapixel count, camera make and model were added, allowing to make more powerful selections of images in the batch processor. There are now 35 different conditions to choose from to select (or exclude) files during batch processing. If you did not try the batch processor yet, now is the time: just hit Ctrl+F to get started (check out the tutorial on the help page to jumpstart your first batch processing job).
  • Ability to quickly computer MD5, SHA1, and SHA-256 hashes of the image files and use the result as part of the file name when using renaming templates. This feature was requested by archivists, who can now add low-collision file hashes to the file names, makeing it easier to tell later-on if the file’s content is still intact or if the file was modified due to a media failure or some other factor.Customer support is handled by Dominika (we had some trouble keeping up on that side, sorry for the delayed answers, especially during summer). We are preparing a new website for the spring, which will be mobile-friendly and hopefully much quicker worldwide. Over time, we plan to add content centered about user scenarios to help you, our valued customers, make the most of the existing features as we highlight them in meaningful contexts.

The second part of the year has been quieter than usual as we moved from Geneva, Switzerland to Redmond, Washington, as Axel accepted a senior engineering position with a company headquartered there… full relocation package for the entire family… could not refuse :-) Now helping build the next big thing!

Keeping up with the market as new digital cameras gets released as well as keeping FastPictureViewer rock-solid, bug free and fast are still our top priorities. We will make sure our codecs and viewer, and all their features, works perfectly with Windows 10 on day one, and in the meantime we wish you all a wonderful and fruitful year 2015 with FPV Pro by your side, ready to help with all your viewing and culling duties!

Posted in Windows, FPV Pro, Year Review | 5 Comments

What’s going on with FastPictureViewer Version 2.0?

2.0We are currently holding off a bit on the 2.0 release. What is planned for v2.0 is a thumbnail view where you will be able to select multiple thumbnails and, say, apply keywords to them etc. Also planned are some internal changes to the display engine at the heart of the program, to allow us to move more functions to the GPU and accelerate the program even more, and this is where we are a bit uncertain.

There are technologies that we would like to use but they currently only work on Windows 8 or later, or on Windows 7 with the addition of a controversial update.

Since the vast majority of FastPictureViewer Pro users run Windows 7 today, we are reluctant to require an update that is known to have unwanted side effects on some user’s machines.

At the same time, we really would like to use the technologies delivered by this update, which will enable us to make FastPictureViewer Pro truly GPU-based as opposed to GPU-assisted as it is today. Those technologies are part of newer versions of Windows but it is not practical for us to require Windows 8 or later at this point of time (mid 2014), with only about 15% of all Windows users on that platform, or just about half of the number of remaining Windows XP users…

WindowsLogo256Moreover, there are plenty of changes going on at Microsoft now, with the changes in leadership and with the company apparently backtracking on some design choices they made, re-introducing features that were dropped etc. The safe bet for us is to wait, for now, and continue to maintain and evolve FastPictureViewer Pro 1.9 for the time being.

You will continue to get the same great support and updates as usual, including raw compatibility updates, and the product will continue to work like a champ on all Windows platforms, from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 and beyond, 32 bit and 64 bit.

When things clear up, perhaps after a “Windows 7 SP2” or after Windows 8.x adoption really soars, and the technologies we need starts to get widely deployed, we will move on and release FastPictureViewer Pro 2.0 to take advantage of them.

This will also spell the end of our support for Windows XP and Windows Vista users, as well as support for 32-bit platforms and for the classic, non-GPU-accelerated display modes. Somewhere, we feel it is a bit too early to make that big move today as it would leave too many of our current users behind. FPV Pro works perfectly well on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, so we are not holding anyone back anyway.

Posted in Windows, Performance, FPV Pro, Operating Systems | 11 Comments

What happened to FastPictureViewer Pro in 2013?

Year 2013 was a bit of a consolidation year, with a less frantic update pace and more detail work on the product, in particular a number of small performances and usability enhancements were made, and numerous tiny bugs were fixed. FastPictureViewer Pro has reached a state of good maturity in 2013 and the hardware on which it truly shines began to be commonplace during the past year, vastly increasing the number of potential users, hungry for speed with the ever-increasing pixel count of modern cameras, making FastPictureViewer more pertinent than ever.

Below is a brief list of what happened to the product during the year:

  • Web publishing to 500px.com (a stunning photographer’s website, by the way) was added.
  • The File Utilities plug-in got a couple of new conditions and actions, covering more workflow scenarios. For example there is now a “Siblings” condition that allows to select (or not select) a given file according to the presence (or absence) of a sibling file in another format. You can for example select the raws with (or without) an associated JPEG, and other similar conditions. This covers a range of sophisticated workflow scenarios, for example where a photographer shoots in RAW+JPEG mode, and culls/delete the JPEGs using an tablet or netbook connected to the camera via USB, in the field, then eventually needs to delete the RAWs back home, but only those RAWs which are missing a corresponding JPEG. You can now create a rule that basically says “delete all lonely raws” and have the program reliably run this rule, very fast, over a large set of images, in just a couple of clicks.
  • A simple “Save As…” feature (Ctrl+S) was added, with a choice of output formats: JPEG, TIFF, BMP, GIF and HD-Photo, including our unique “JPEG Small”, our tuned JPEG output, which produces surprisingly small files on disk while preserving the visual quality.
  • The Black & White preview feature (B key) has been moved to the GPU, enabling truly instantaneous B&W previews. It’s so fast that you can now check every pictures in black and white if you like.
  • The B&W flag handling has been improved throughout the program, for example the batch convert/export feature can now convert to Black & White if the flag was set on an image.
  • A Lost Shadows/Highlight view has been added and runs on the GPU. Pressing the C key shows clipped pixels instantly, in a press-and-hold fashion: again, the speed makes it practical to check any or all pictures for lost highlights/shadows. This feature complements the RGB eyedropper feature of the Zoom/Radar window (Z key) which displays color component values under the mouse cursor.
  • Various High-DPI cosmetic bugs were fixed: FPV Pro is now fully ready for 200% font size modes and beyond, up to the stunning value 480dpi (500%) supported by Windows, for perfect display on today and tomorrow’s Ultra-high resolution monitors. All user-interface elements scale smoothly including the gadgets like the RGB histogram, the shooting data window etc.
  • The gadget’s opacity can now be set all the way down to zero percent, making them fully transparent when the mouse cursor is not above them. You can for example let the View Filter (F key) window open but invisible when the mouse cursor is elsewhere on the screen.
  • The program now tries to move the gadgets along with the main program window. While not 100% perfect this enhancement goes a long way to address the problem that some users encountered where moving the program window to another monitor would leave the gadgets behind.
  • The program has been made fully compatible with Windows 8.1. Small but important changes were made to ensure smooth interoperability with the applications built in Windows 8.1.
  • The program extracts the Camera Serial Number from many more camera models.
  • A bit-by-bit copy verification feature was added, increasing peace-of-mind during file copy operations (and move-accross-volumes operations) as the program now does a best-effort to re-read both the source and destination files from the storage mediums and compares the results, when this feature is enabled. Copy verification is also an option available for batch copy/move operations.
  • A couple of raw compatibility updates were made, ensuring that the product is always current regarding camera raw support.
  • About 50 bugs were fixed, many in the optional plug-ins but also some in the program itself, making FastPictureViewer even more stable and dependable.

What’s in the cards for next year? We are working on a simpler and faster web site, where registered users will be able to log-in to retrieve their license key. Gradually, an effort will be made on the documentation, with explanatory tutorials describing how to use the features of the program. The thumbnail view is still on the plate for v2.0 and we are still thriving to improve FastPictureViewer in general, to keep it current in all respects and consolidate its position among the best image culling tools available.

To our new and returning customers from 2013, we want to say a sincere Thank You.

To all, we wish a successful year 2014 ! You can count on having FastPictureViewer Pro on your side, as sharp as ever, for all your image culling and review work during the year, in the field, on the move, at home or in the studio.

Posted in FPV Pro, Year Review | 1 Comment

Lost Shadows / Highlights View in FastPictureViewer Pro

FastPictureViewer Professional Lost Shadows/Highlights ViewThe lost shadows / lost highlights view is yet another area where FastPictureViewer Professional shines: this command works instantaneously, thanks to massively parallel image processing on the GPU, the processor at the hearth of your graphic card.

A rethink of the utility of this feature made us combine the lost shadows and lost highlights views in a single view: we trust that you, the photographer, have the natural ability to discern between bright and dark areas of a picture and do not need separate views of lost shadows and lost highlights!

The lost shadows/highlights view is a powerful tool helping you assess an image’s exposure level, together with the RGB Histogram, and as such it fits naturally in FastPictureViewer.

Historically, the (very) few programs having proper full-screen shadow/highlights display used two separate views, most likely because it took too long for them to compute everything at once, and often they switched to a black (or white) screen where only the burnt areas where shown, again probably because it was too time consuming to overlay the lost areas’ mask and blend it on top of the actual image, as FastPictureViewer does.

It takes a couple of minutes to get used to FastPictureViewer’s unique combined view, but you’ll soon get to that ah ha moment where you’ll wonder why no one thought of this before… it’s so much faster and easier!

Last, but not least our lost shadows / highlights works separately for each color channel: if only the blue channel is lost, the area will be painted blue, lost reds are painted red, lost blues and reds are painted magenta etc. This makes it easy to figure out which channel(s) is(are) clipped and where, and when all three channels are lost the area is painted white.

Technically, we compute the lost lights and display them like an overlay mask blended over a dimmed image so you see exactly where the zones are, but the original pixels are left intact. As a result, the RGB eyedropper (Z key) still displays the correct channel values and the Zoom/Radar window still displays portions the original image when you hover with the mouse. In short, it just works and all the other functions like zooming, panning, changing the current image, rating etc works unchanged in lost shadows / highlights view: unlike other programs, this is not a “mode” from which you need to get out before regaining control of the program.

The lost shadows / highlights command – C key for “clipping” – is spring-loaded by default: press and hold the C key to show lost shadows/highlights and release the key to return to normal view. The command works instantly and you normally only need a quick glimpse and the lost highlight / shadow areas as the RGB Histogram and the normal view already told you most of what there is to know about the exposure of an image.

If you prefer, you can press Shift+C to enter a sticky mode where lost shadows / highlights are shown until you press the C key again. You can also make this sticky mode the default, from the program options: press O to open the options, click on the Personalization tab at the left, and look for the setting near the bottom of the page. It requires two key presses to toggle the view on and off in this mode, but you may prefer that so we included it.

There is a third mode where the program cycles between lost shadows, lost highlights and normal view at each press of the C key: hit C once to switch to lost shadows view, hit C again to switch to lost highlights view, and hit C once more to return to normal view. Use this mode if you really prefer to see the lost shadows and lost highlights separately.

A visual indicator on the lower-left corner of the window is shown when the lost shadows / highlight view is active (Low, High, and Lo/Hi depending on the current view).

Leave a comment below to let us know what you think about this feature!

Posted in Windows, Performance, User Interface, User Experience, FPV Pro, Feature, Lost Shadows / Highlights | Leave a comment

Bug-Squashing Weekend at FastPictureViewer

Bug Squashing at FastPictureViewerBug-squashing weekend: four small bugs were fixed in FPV Pro last weekend, get build 304 now! http://j.mp/FpvDl

– A bug related to the camera S/N feature, in conjunction with external XMP sidecar, was fixed.

– Fixed disappearing user-over…lay (PNG overlay) occurring when resizing the program window in GPU-accelerated mode.

– Cured a very slow memory leak in the XMP gadget.

– Fixed a crash occurring sometimes when changing the image folder when both the Histogram and Zoom/Radar gadgets were active AND linked together (displaying partial histograms of the area near the mouse cursor).

The last three issues were found in internal testing (never reported by any user), but if you see anything and you think it’s a bug *and* you can come up with clear reproduction steps that demonstrate the issue, or if you run into a crash that creates crash report files, we want to hear about it: by all means let us know by writing to support!

FPV Pro is generally considered very robust and stable by most users, but we strive to make it even better and get as close as possible to the elusive zero bugs mark!

Posted in FPV Pro, Bug | 1 Comment

FastPictureViewer Pro User’s Windows Version Usage (1H2013)

FPV_OS_Usage_First_Half_2013

FastPictureViewer Professional users preferred Windows 7 over all other versions of Windows – by a wide margin – over the first half of 2013, with Windows XP a distant second.

The statistic was gathered from more than 1.3 million data points coming from the automatic version check feature, an optional mechanism built into the program that periodically looks for new software versions and informs users of the availability of an update.

Posted in Windows, Computers, FPV Pro, Statistics, Operating Systems | 1 Comment

What happened to FastPictureViewer Pro during 2012?

Year 2012 was just as busy as ever regarding the development of FastPictureViewer Professional and, again, a good part of the work done on the product was made in response to customer feedback and suggestions. A big “Thank You” to all those who contributed! Continue reading

Posted in FPV Pro, Year Review | 5 Comments

Christmas 2012 Special Offer

FastPictureViewer Special Offers

We are happy to offer full FastPictureViewer Codec Pack and FastPictureViewer Professional licenses and bundle licenses at a special discounted price for Christmas!

  • 25% discount on FastPictureViewer Professional from 1 to 15 users.
  • 25% discount on FastPictureViewer Pro + Codec Pack Bundle from 1 to 15 users.
  • 33% discount on FastPictureViewer Codec Pack from 1 to 20 users.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!!
Your FastPictureViewer Team

Posted in FPV Pro, FPV Codec Pack, Special Offers | Leave a comment

FastPictureViewer on the Mac

We often get questions about FastPictureViewer for Mac computers, and while there is no native Mac OS X version of FPV, the program works just fine on Mac hardware, running on Windows 7 64-bit under Parallels Desktop, for example on top of OS X Mountain Lion.

So, while there is no native Mac version of FPV, Mac users can still run our great little program and get all its benefits on their beloved Mac desktops or laptops. As a matter of fact FastPictureViewer is used on Macs at the University of Copenhagen, where it helps med school students learn ananomy:

FastPictureViewer Professional on Mac computers at the University of Copenhagen

FastPictureViewer Professional running on Mac computers at the University of Copenhagen
Photo credits: Mads Jespersen

Posted in Computers, Mac, FastPictureViewer in Education | 2 Comments