Skipping to the conclusion: It’s good, if you’re using Elements already go upgrade. But along the way, there are thoughts on software’s lifespan and pricing. Plus, a thin black woman kissing a flower taller than herself.

A tetrahedron-shaped lamp and flower arrangements on a dark wood surface

On the dark wood chest are a tetrahedron-shaped lamp and some flower arrangements.

The Main Thing · Elements 3—the Mac version at least—is faster; much faster. The illustrations in this piece are slide scans, and quite large; the one above is 4739x3285, 8.45M on disk. On E2, they were painfully slow to load and save, and now they’re pretty snappy; at least twice as fast. The various filtering and cropping operations don’t feel any faster, which is fine because they were pretty well OK before. But that loading and saving has really juiced up my workflow.

Little Pros and Cons · The level of fit & finish is just generally better, everything’s a little slicker and a little smoother. They’ve reorganized the screen layout and well, whatever, there are a few more pixels of photospace available in among the tools, which is good.

Two african figurines and flower arrangement

Two African figurines keep the flowers company.

There are a bunch of little changes in keystrokes and layouts and selection behavior, some of which help and others don’t. Whatever. The new “Healing Brush” tool is pretty neat.

There are some stability issues, I’ve already had a couple of crashes when loading and saving these big-ass slide scans.

It’s still stupidly lacking in keyboard shortcuts, but hey, Apple has proved that doesn’t matter.

On balance, anyone who’s using Elements already should totally upgrade, and anyone who’s shopping for photogeek software a step up from iPhoto, this is a pretty good option.

African figurine, flower arrangement

The Kiss.

Plus, the price is right.

Software Pricing · Via, Elements 3 cost me C$107.99, which is to say C$128.75 all-in with shipping and taxes. Which is an interesting price-point, and leads me to another new-year prediction: 2005 is going to be a pivotal year for software pricing. Item: Joel Spolsky’s must-read Camels and Rubber Duckies, a touch over-long perhaps but stuffed with highly-compressed wisdom on the subject. Item: We ship Solaris 10 for free, with the expectation of huge financial upside. Item: Bryan Cantrill’s The Economics of Software; if you don’t know what “The FYO Point” is, read this one. Item: Finally, James Governor’s eloquent bafflement at the notion that Sun’s per-employee pricing is “confusing”.

African figures, flower arrangement and swagger stick

There’s another African artifact there, a sort of swagger stick. Consider the texture of the walls.

The Old New Thing · While we may be entering a new era in software pricing, we’re not entering an era of new software. Remember Photoshop Elements, how we got started on this ramble? It’s basically good ol’ PhotoShop stripped down a bit, and that’s in release, what, three hundred and twelve? And let’s look at some other recent high-impact software releases: Solaris 10, Linux 2.6 (which means, more or less, 5), Oracle 10g, Windows XP (which identifies itself to a Web server as “Windows NT 5.1”), Office 2003 (internally called “Office 11”), Mac OS X 10.3 (which is in large part Darwin, which is in large part *bsd release, uh, some big number). Not one of these pieces of software is under ten years old.

The lesson is this: want to have high impact in the software world? Go to work on something big, old, and well-established; make it better.

[Flower arrangements (and photos, maybe) by Cath Bray.]

author · Dad
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January 13, 2005
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