University of Maryland releases Java image browser!|
(Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 14:21 EDT)
PhotoMesa could offer an ideal solution for images archived on CD...
IR reader Jeremy Parsons sent us an email this afternoon to point out the interesting results of a research program at the University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL). Now available for download under either a free noncommercial use license agreement, or through a commercial license (with example costs ranging from $1000 to $3000 for a non-exclusive license based on company size), PhotoMesa is a Java 2 image browser program which can run on Windows, Unix and Mac OS computers.
As Jeremy notes in his email to us, the program looks well suited to use as a portable browser which will allow easy viewing of photos on CD across all three platforms. The Java 2 runtime environment required to run PhotoMesa is available free for Windows and Unix computers, and is built into Apple's Mac OS X.
This solution still isn't quite perfect - you may need to install a Java runtime on Unix and Windows computers before you can use PhotoMesa, although hopefully as new operating systems come out they will tend to include the Java runtime by default. It is certainly more elegant than the alternatives though - relying on a suitable image browser already being installed on a computer, or bringing a selection of different browsers for different operating systems with you.
Simply burn PhotoMesa and the appropriate Java runtime environments onto each CD along with your images. You can then view images on computers belonging to friends and family with minimal fuss. If they already have the Java 2 runtime installed, you'll be able to browse images without installing anything on their computer; if they don't you'll be able to install a runtime for them.
One other problem is the matter of caching thumbnails - PhotoMesa does so by creating a directory structure inside the same directory as it is located, which obviously if you run the program from the CD, it cannot do. Simply creating a directory tree of your images on your PC and then running PhotoMesa to build its thumbnails in this tree ready to copy to CD also won't work, because the program uses the drive letter as the top level in its directory structure. Ideally, it would store thumbnails in the same directories as the full-sized images, or replicate the directory structure of the drive it is examining without reference to a drive letter when images reside on the same drive as the Java executable. In the meantime though, you can either put up with the lack of cached thumbnails, or copy the PhotoMesa files to your friend's PC and execute them there, where the thumbnails will then be created the first time you view the CD.
Despite the current shortcomings, PhotoMesa looks like a very interesting piece of software that could be quite useful to photographers who frequently share images on CD. One to watch, we think - check it out!
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