I take screenshots using PowerDVD, which produces .bmp files. To create a screenshot for a post, I will typically crop out any unsightly black borders (they're ugly and often asymmetrical), convert to .jpg and rename the file. Then I will create a smaller version (typically 320 pixels, while maintaining the aspect ratio), using a variant of the original .jpg's filename. This smaller version is what you see in my post, while the larger one is what you see when you click on the image in my post.
I've always used GIMP to accomplish this, but it's a pretty manual process, so I started looking around for some batch image processing programs. There are tons of the things out there. I found several promising programs. Batch Image Resizer was pretty awesome and did exactly what I wanted, but the free trial version inserted a huge unwanted watermark that essentially rendered the output useless. I looked at a few other free apps, but they didn't meet some of my needs.
Eventually, I came accross the open source Phatch, which looked like it would provide everything I needed. The only issue was the installation process. It turns out that Phatch was written in Python, so in addition to Phatch, you also need to download and install Python, wxPython, Python Imaging Library and the Python Win32 Extensions. What's more is that the Phatch documentation has not taken into account that new versions of all of those are available and not all of them are compatible with each other. After a false start, I managed to download and install all the necessary stuff. Then, to run the application, I have to use the goddamned command line. Yeah, I know windows users don't get much support from the linux community, but this is kinda ridiculous.
But I got it all working and now I was on my way. As I've come to expect from open source apps, Phatch has a different way of setting up your image processing than most of the other apps I'd seen... but I was able to figure it out relatively quickly. According to the Phatch documentation, the Crop action looked pretty easy to use... the only problem was that when I ran Phatch, Crop did not appear to be on the list of actions. Confused, I looked around the documentation some more and it appeared that there were several other actions that could be used to crop images. For example, if I used the Canvas action, I could technically crop the image by specifying measurements smaller than the image itself - this is how I eventually accomplished the feat of converting several screenshots from their raw form to their edited versions. Here's an example of the zombietastic results (for reference, a .jpg of the original):
Bonus points to anyone who can name the movie!
The process has been frustrating and it took me a while to get all of this done. At this point, I have to wonder if I'd have been better off just purchasing that first app I found... and then I would have been done with it (and probably wouldn't be posting this at all). I'm hardly an expert on the subject of batch image manipulation and maybe I'm missing something fairly obvious, but I have to wonder why Phatch is so difficult to download, install, and use. I like open source applications and use several of them regularly, but sometimes they make things a lot harder than they need to be.
Update: I just found David's Batch Processor (a plugin for GIMP), but its renaming functionality is horrible (you can't actually rename the images - but you can add a prefix or suffix to the original filename.) Otherwise, it's decent.
And I also found FastStone Photo Resizer, which does everything I need it to do, and I don't need to run it from the command line either. This is what I'll probably be using in the future...
Update II: I got an email from Stani, who works on Phatch and was none to pleased about the post. It seems he had trouble posting a comment here (d'oh - second person this week who mentioned that, which is strange as it seems to have been working fine for the past few months and I haven't changed anything...). Anyway, here are his responses to the above:
As your comment system doesn't work, I post it through email. Considering the rant of your blog post, I would appreciate if you publish it as a comment for: http://kaedrin.com/weblog/archive/001652.htmlAnd my response:
> Eventually, I came accross the open source Phatch, which looked like it would provide everything I needed.
Thanks for taking the effort to try out Phatch.
> What's more is that the Phatch documentation has not taken into account that new versions of all of those are available and not all of them are compatible with each other.
The Phatch documentation is a wiki. The installation process for Windows would be much less a pain if Windows users would help improving the wiki and keeping the wiki up to date.
Unfortunately I've run into this behavior:
Luckily Linux users update the wiki themselves or send me the instructions, but don't run away. (Hint, hint)
I know several people have installed Phatch on Windows, but none of them documented for their fellow Window users. I only update the instructions with every major release.
> Then, to run the application, I have to use the goddamned command line.
If you installed Python right, you could just double click on phatch.py to start it or make a shortcut for it on your desktop.
> Yeah, I know windows users don't get much support from the linux community, but this is kinda ridiculous.
I hope to see your contribution on the wiki. Until then the situation is indeed ridiculous.
> the Crop action looked pretty easy to use...
You're right, but the crop action is part of the next release, Phatch 0.2 which is packed with many new features. If you want to be a beta tester, please let me know.
> maybe I'm missing something fairly obvious, but I have to wonder why Phatch is so difficult to download, install, and use. I like open source applications and use several of them regularly, but sometimes they make things a lot harder than they need to be.
I hope I explained it to you. I only use Windows to test my open source software. Maybe you would want me to make a one click installer. You probably understand that such negative ranting is not really stimulating.
Apologies if my ranting wasn't stimulating enough, but considering that it took a couple of hours to get everything working and that I value my time, I wasn't exactly enthused with the application or the documentation. Believe it or not, I did click on the "edit" link the wiki with the intention of adding some notes about the updated version numbers, but it said I had to be registered and I was already pretty fed up and not in the mood to sign up for anything. I admit that I neglected to do my part, but I got into this to save time and it ended up being an enormous time-sink. If I get a chance, I'll take another look.Update III: Ben over at Midnight Tease has been having fun with Open Source as well...
It looks like I can just double-click on the .py file, but the documentation says to run it from the command line (another thing for me to fix, perhaps?)
As for a simple installer, I would love to... if I had the time, motivation, or, uh, talent to create one. In the mean time, I'll see what I can do about the documentation, but honestly, I doubt that will help much until someone does create a windows installer.
Sorry about the comment functionality on my blog. I've been having issues with spammers and the plugin I'm using to block spammers seems to block legitimate comments sometimes as well (Question: did you use the "preview" function?). Yet another thing I'll have to look into...