Should Sagelight Editor Support Text?

A few days ago, someone asked me,

 “So.. which way are you going to go with Sagelight?”

referring to going towards more of a piece-wise editor like Adobe, or something more focused on doing specific things, but with less power.

Both have their advantages. From an engineering perspective, I like the piece-wise type of setup. It gives you a massive amount of power. But, what use is power if you don’t know how to use it and it’s inaccessible? This is the classic problem with programs like Photoshop — Photoshop is a very powerful editor, but it can take years to learn how to do simple things. This is because you have to understand the mechanics of what you’re doing more than you would in an editor that makes assumptions about what 90% of people editing their pictures want to do.

Enter Sagelight. This is the raison d’être of Sagelight: To do powerful things in a more simplified manner, quickly and as intuitively as possible. As Sagelight grows, it becomes much more powerful, and it’s a lot of work to keep this power noticeable and usable — this is why there are a growing number of video tutorials.


“The Text Situation”

The idea of Sagelight supporting text has been an issue I’ve been going back-and-forth on for decades now. Since Sagelight has been in existence for less than 2 years, maybe it just feels like it’s been decades. Perhaps this is because it’s a very difficult decision.

On the surface, it seems like an easy decision — yes, by all means, support text. I mean, why not be able to label your pictures, put fancy fonts, or just “Eat at Joes” on top of your image, or image you converted into some graphic art?

But, then comes the issues with where Sagelight is going, and what Sagelight is meant for.

Sagelight’s main focus is to provide powerful image processing functions with professional results. It has many state-of-the-art functions and new technology not found in other editors. There are many software packages that are above the $100 mark that don’t do as much as Sagelight. I’ve kept Sagelight cheaper on purpose, because I don’t think it’s necessary to charge that much for an editor.

This can cause a perception problem. I noticed that when I raised the price of version 3.0 that many more people started looking at the extended functions of Sagelight (such as the Smart Light, Dodge and Burn), etc. Tracking this down, I have come to believe that the issue is that when an editor is $20, people don’t look for things they don’t think will be there.


This is why I’ve purposely kept text out of Sagelight — to highlight and focus on the high-end functions that Sagelight contains.

To add text, I fear, will devalue sagelight because suddenly it will be a much more “well-rounded” editor, as opposed to an editor with the specific goal of making your image look really good.

But, on the other side, I realize that for many people this is a negative. Sagelight can’t be your only editor if it doesn’t support text. Though Sagelight was written as a specific answer to the difficulties in Elements and Photoshop; without text, Sagelight is always going to have to be one of multiple editors in your collection.

This is because, at some point, we all want to add text to an image. It’s a once-in-a-blue-moon thing, but if Sagelight doesn’t support it, it means you need another editor.

But, with text, my concern is that it will change the tone of Sagelight, diverting attention away from its real power.

I think I answered my own question by typing out this blog entry.  But…

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Should Sagelight Editor Support Text?

  1. Hi Rob,

    I guess you need to decide the users you are pitching to. Is SageLight a photographers “darkroom” tool or a general image editor? If the former, I don’t think not having text is so critical.

    I for one, would prefer more image enhancement tools as I am using it as a “darkroom” application. I also use Picasa for quick-n-dirty editing, but if I need “power tools”, SageLight is the bees-knees! (Also Virtual Photographer is great!)

    Plugin support is my next wish (I know, I know, it’s coming) 🙂

    • In a way, I’m trying to do both. I really like working on the more state-of-the-art technical aspects. The Smart Light, for example, is something I wrote because I did not like the Shadows and Highlights in Photoshop (it makes things look too fake) — and I know I am not alone in that. LightZone, for example, has excellent ‘Relighting’ functionality. And, I have plans to make Sagelight’s version even better than it is now, and there are a number of controls that I left out because it makes it very complicated. But, I am probably going to go more for the high-end/professional approach with functions like that by making a ‘Mother of all Control’ menu boxes to you can control the fine details.

      I did play more to the center by adding effects like the Circle Paint, Edge functions, etc.

      But, here is how doing that unexpectedly worked out for the better, even in terms of going for more high-end funcionality:

      I’ve known since before I started working on Sagelight that higher-end editing programs, like Photoshop, et. al., get real power by being able to leverage one function to another, adding a synergy by essentially creating new functions and effects. With the first and second versions of Sagelight, there wasn’t much of that because it needed to grow.

      With this new version of Sagelight, something unexpected happen. When I added the “Merge Undo Image”, where you can use Overlay, Screen, Multiply, and other modes, suddenly it added an order of magnitude to how you can combine functions in sagelight.

      From the standpoint of an editor focused on poweful functions and enhancing images, who really needs an Oil Paint? I turns out that I went to town on the Oil Paint, as well as the other effects, such as the Stained Glass, Plastic, etc. — all seeminly superfluous, but they were fun to do and spawned some technology, like the need for super-fast Gaussian Blur and Edge-Detection algorithms.

      But, when I started combing functions with the Merge Undo Image function — and, equally as much, I started seeing how other people were using Sagelight with this function or the Undo Brush– it made me realize that these effects — that I specifically added to not distance Sagelight from the middle — suddenly make more sense. For example, Photoshop’s “sumi-e” function by itself is interesting, but when you mix it with other functions, it becomes the backbone of a number of even more interesting and impressive artistic images converted from average pictures.

      I was really excited when I saw I could combine the Circle Paint, Oil Paint, and Original image with different effects to make something really artistic — something beyond what I expected. It made it worth it, because it was something new and, moreover, really looked nice (at least to me).

      But, that doesn’t really get into the idea of “image enhancement”, either. I could be spending my time on other things, such as getting the Batch/scripting/filters/etc. in earlier.

      My biggest concern right now is that if I go for the high-end things, leaving things behing like Text and other things not explicitly helfpul towards image enhancement, I’ll have to do what others have done (such as LightZone, Silky Pix, etc.), and raise the price to the $100+ mark because there just won’t be enough of market to support it if I don’t. I eschew that idea, but learned the hard way through the original Lightbox pricing that you can really devalue a product by not knowing where it belongs.

      • Rob, Sagelight belongs right up there with the best image editors and goes beyond them in so many ways.

        Sagelight is powerful. No doubt about it. It is a powerful photo editor that is easy to use and works at high speed saving a lot of time. Even in it’s start-up time it is almost instantly there ready to go, unlike the bloatware competition.

        After using Sagelight I don’t have time to mess with all the fidely bits in Photoshop, as I can get exactly the same thing or effect in Sagelight almost instantly.

        After using Sagelight as an editor for some time, I followed Rob’s blog on useing the cicle paint, oil paint effects and the Merge Undo Image (layers?) to create a work of art. I was quite stunned to see it emerge in such a short time. Now I am combining aspects of art in with my photos and people like it very much indeed. It has taken my work in a completely new direction. Exciting!

        I don’t mind paying extra for an exceptional image editor such as we have in Sagelight. Because it’s worth it! ha…

  2. Hi Rob,

    I like sagelight because oif what it is and does at the moment. The thing that attracted me to lightbox free initially was the smart fill light. This kind of adjustment was nowhere to be found in free programmes and lightbox’s version was far better than photoshop’s. For example people always say to use GIMP for a free editing tool but it has no shadow/highlight function and even using the curves feature you cannot do what lightbox could in a couple of seconds. Sagelight should stay an image editor first and foremost and other features can be developed at a later date. Batch editing would be a nice addition to the feature set at some point but for what i need it for, Sagelight is the best of the bunch ( I recently tried the trial of PSE 8 and the shadows/highlights is nowhere near what sagelight can do with it’s smart fill light control).

  3. “Sagelight’s main focus is to provide powerful image processing functions with professional results”

    Using the same argument I could ask why you added that frame option. And IMHO adding text and even overlaying / blend another image is very valuable as I wanted to use that to embed visible watermarks.
    For now I would have to save in SageLight and reopen the JPG and add the watermarks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s