Online apps are nothing new, but the range of different web based applications that are available and the level of complexity they offer means that the current crop of tools can be virtual indistinguishable from their desktop counterparts.
Using an online image editor does not mean having to make compromises – you can even use a web-based version of Photoshop. There are plenty of editors to choose from, just as in the offline arena, and enThread is just one that is vying for your attention. Let’s see if it’s the one you should be using.
There are all sorts of reasons why you might want to use online software rather than going to the trouble of installing a dedicated application. The fact that you don’t need to install software is a great bonus, as is not needing to wait for a memory and processor hungry app to load when you want to make a very simple change to a picture. Add to this the ability to use the same app on any computer with an internet connection and you can see why the likes of enThread are proving increasingly popular.
Point your web browser at the enThread web site and you can immediately tell that things are going to be easy. The clean and tidy opening page invites you to start working with an image of your own by dragging it onto the drop zone, or selecting one of the sample images to try out some of the tools. Whether you load up one of the samples, or decide to start using your own photos from the start, you’ll be presented with a simple interface with a selection of tools listed to the right.
Simple is a word that is particularly applicable to enThread – although this is not to diminish it usefulness. There is a little scope for customization, but this does not extend further than being able to move your image and the tool pane to different positions.
Whatever the dimensions of your image, it will be scaled so that it is visible in its entirety. It is a little odd to find that there is no zoom option included, but the fact that there is also no selection tool coupled with the fact that any effects you apply have to be applied to the entire image means that it is not really important.
Image Editing Tools
The tool pane to the right of the screen includes a number of tool divided up into five sections: Hue/Saturation/Lightness, Brightness/Contrast, Colors, Filters, and Process. The first four sections provide access to a total of ten different settings, each of which is controlled with a slider.
As you move any of the sliders to adjust settings, your image will be updated in real time. If you’re happy with any changes you make with a tool you can apply them, but otherwise you can cancel and try something else. Making changes to your photos, even with such a limited number of tools, means that it is fairly easy to lose track of just what difference they are making to your image. Click the Compare button at the bottom of the screen and you can view a split-screen comparison of your original and edited image.
Effects And Filters
For quick fixes, many people turn to effects and filters in their image editor. enThread does not have a great deal to offer in this department, but there are still options available. Two filters – Sharpen and Blur – are controlled using sliders in the same ways as the other tools, but there are also effects to be found in the Process section.
Unlike filters, these effects are applied with a button rather than a slider and there are five to choose from – sepia, desaturate, solarize, invert and edges. These can be applied individually or in conjunction with each other. Using these effects can be a little frustrating to start with as you do not have the same option to cancel the changes you have made. Instead, if you decide you don’t like an effect you have applied, you’ll need to use the Undo option instead.
If you want to save your images – and this will apply to virtually everyone using the site – you’ll need to register for a free account. This involves nothing more than providing your name and email address and selecting a password; once this has been done you can ‘save’ your edited images to your online account as well as sharing it through Twitter.
A Studio In Your Browser
Internet Explorer users are left out in the cold, as the site is designed for use with Safari, Chrome and Firefox. enThread will load in IE, but the look is somewhat compromised and you’ll find that none of the editing options are actually available to use.
This is not a Photoshop killer by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t try to be. It is a basic, everyday image editor that will prove its worth when you need to touch up the occasional photo when you are using someone else’s computer and don’t have access to your preferred software.
The simple interface does serve as a nice, gentle introduction to the world of image editing, so it is a good starting point for anyone who has found themselves intimidated by more advanced applications and online service. It may not do everything you could demand of an image editor, but it does enough.