There’s a lot of talk these days about cloud computing. Think of the internet as the cloud. Google Gmail, Docs, Calendar are parts of cloud computing. How about putting Photoshop in the cloud and using a Safari browser window instead of installing an application on your Mac? Crazy, huh? Maybe not. Surprise ahead.
Look for a lot more noise about cloud computing in the next few years as more of us become wireless; whether through nifty netbooks or more capable smartphones.
Some (Gartner) define cloud computing with a few basic attributes:
- It is service-based
- It is scalable and elastic
- It uses shared infrastructure for economies of scale
- It is metered and users pay according to usage
- It uses internet technologies
The problem with such rules is that they don’t always fit reality. For example, Google doesn’t always charge, metered or otherwise, for some of their cloud services (exceptions apply).
If the cloud is the future of computing, does that mean we won’t install and store applications and utilities on our computers, Mac or PC? The change in computing is not likely to be so severe, with plenty of interim steps.
Photoshop in the Cloud
Apple’s MobileMe works quite well without a corresponding application on your Mac. Mail, iCal, Address Book all work nicely in a browser window. What about more substantial applications?
Photoshop? Probably not, since the CPU horsepower requirements for Photoshop are substantial. After all, connection to the internet is not likely to be as powerful as your Mac. For now.
Still, competent examples of cloud computing are showing up. One such example is Sumo Paint. There’s no other way to describe it other than to say it’s like a mini Photoshop in your web browser window.
Sumo Paint is a free image editing software that gives you the opportunity to create, edit and comment images online with powerful tools and layer support.
Seeing is believing. Sumo Paint truly looks like Photoshop in a browser window. Create layers using standard painting features; blends, hide, duplicate, rotate, merge, flatten, bring to front or back, change opacity. Sound familiar?
Layer effects can be saved; including shadows, glows, bevels, color overlays, and more. No decent paint application is short on tools, and neither is Sumo Paint. There’s shape tools; trails, effects, fills, and more.
Brushes? Sure. Why not? Brushes with gravity, blends, effects, scattering, smoothing, edges, even ink. Ink? Did I mention ink? Adjust wetness and apply to brushes accordingly.
Text? Sure. Why not?
The Sumo Paint rich text editor uses the true type fonts installed in the users local computer. The text object can be scaled and edited at the same time. The text tool also has an option to transform the text (scale, rotation, and skew).
Are you seeing a trend in the feature set of Sumo Paint vs. standalone, installed applications on your Mac?
Wait! There’s More!
Suddenly what should be an online curiosity is looking more like the real thing. Or, at least a very cool precursor to the real thing of the future.
There’s clone stamp tools, filters, gradients, shape tools, eraser tools, magic wand, lasso, and smudge tool. For what it’s worth, and not being a Photoshop junkie, these are all tools that I use from time to time.
There are a few issues, but without question this is a look at the future of computing. Sumo Paint is based on Flash Player 10. It saves files locally, on your Mac or PC. But it’s Flash. It won’t work on your iPhone. Not all cloud computing-like applications will go with Flash
Yes. What kind of business model is Sumo Paint? For now, it’s free. Since it’s cloud based, there are physical limits to how many users can use it at the same time. If the future is metered in some way, what will it cost to use Sumo Paint and similar applications online? Will it be a monthly subscription service? Or, will our desire to own an application, ala iTunes downloads vs. subscription music services, outweigh the online option?