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The team behind Mac image editor Pixelmator plays David to Adobe's Goliath

post #1 of 101
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What began as a spark of inspiration between two brothers has grown into one of the most popular image editing applications in the world, and the team that brought it to life has done so from one of the software industry's least likely locations.

Pixelmator
Pixelmator's newest version, Pixelmator 3.0 FX


A far-flung idea



It's difficult to find a way to work Vilnius, Lithuania and San Jose, California into the same sentence. One is the 14th century capital of a small Western European republic, while the other is some 400 years its junior and sits at the heart of California's Silicon Valley.

The connection becomes much easier to make when the topic of conversation shifts to image editing apps for the Mac. San Jose is home to software behemoth Adobe, makers of seminal graphics program Photoshop, while Vilnius houses the small band of developers responsible for upstart editor Pixelmator, whose slick interface, ease of use, and relatively low price have helped it nudge Photoshop out of the dock on hundreds of thousands of Macs.
Adobe has dominated desktop publishing since the 1980s.
Pixelmator was born in 2007 when brothers Saulius and Aidas Dailide went searching for an OS X-native image editor and came up empty handed. Already on the lookout for a new project, the duo -- veteran Mac developers -- decided they could fill the void.

The brothers wanted "to make an app that we could use ourselves and that we would love developing," Saulius Dailide told AppleInsider in an email interview.

"We loved the idea [of Pixelmator] from the beginning and knew that it was big and ambitious," he said, "so we instantly started working on it day and night. Literally." Pixelmator 1.0 made its debut 9 months later.

In the six years since its release, Pixelmator has evolved into what many believe is a legitimate contender to Photoshop's image editing crown, winning an Apple Design Award in 2011 and clocking 1 million downloads along the way. The team now numbers 18, and Dailide notes that achieving so much in such an unusual location was not without its challenges.

Pixelmator
Pixelmator's Vilnius, Lithuania office is adorned with images from Apple's Think Different campaign.


Do the work, sell the product



Unlike startups located in tech hubs like San Francisco, New York, London, or Berlin, the Pixelmator team does not have the luxury of a large local pool of ready-made development talent to draw from.

"[Because] the Pixelmator Team is a rather pioneering company in our region, we don't have many Mac developers around us," Dailide said. "This means that each new person will have to be taught, starting with the very basics."

"Perhaps this wouldn't be such a big problem in Silicon Valley," he concedes.
The Pixelmator team's offbeat location has proved challenging.
One thing the company doesn't have a problem with is distribution. Even as other independent developers complain about its fees, problems with discoverability, or the sometimes opaque review process, the Pixelmator team has fully embraced the Mac App Store. Dailide was effusive in his praise for Apple's efforts --?"We love the Mac App Store," he said. "It makes everything so much easier for app developers."

Before the Mac App Store's 2011 release, Pixelmator was sold via the team's own online shop as well as in boxed form at Apple retail stores and other brick-and-mortar outlets. The administrative overhead of the different sales channels strained the limited resources of the then-four person team.

Getting the software into Apple stores was "way too much effort," according to Dailide. The company also had to deal with sales and support from their online shop, taking even more time away from development.

"Since the Mac App Store came out, we don't have to worry about any of those things," he said. "I doubt we will ever look back."

Pixelmator
Apple replaced Photoshop with Pixelmator 3 in the advertising materials for the new Mac Pro


Designed to be seen



The team's efforts appear to have caught the eye of someone in Cupertino. In addition to the Apple Design Award and a slot as Mac App of the Year on the Mac App Store, Pixelmator took the spot long occupied by Photoshop in the marketing materials for Apple's innovative new Mac Pro desktop.

Pixelmator's inclusion in the Mac Pro campaign --?which the team was not aware of before its release -- drew a "very happy and surprised" reaction. Dailide believes the team's focus on engineering quality and their decision to target only the Mac is what ultimately led them there.
"The biggest driving force behind the development of Pixelmator is Pixelmator itself."
The company makes it a point to take advantage of Apple's latest software or hardware technologies and is often one of the first apps to be updated when new features are released. The app received a high DPI makeover just days after the Retina display-equipped MacBook Pros first hit store shelves, for instance, and has already adopted support for OS X Mavericks's OpenCL-backed Core Image.

Pixelmator has even been prepared for the new Mac Pro's dual GPU architecture, weeks before the next generation desktop is set to be released.

Dailide believes this focus is "what makes Pixelmator a true Mac app," in contrast to Adobe's cross-platform offerings. They are "probably are not as flexible...in being able to take advantage of all of these great technologies that Apple has to offer," he said.

On the subject of Pixelmator's future, Dailide was less forthcoming, but made it clear that the team has one simple goal -- to make the best possible software. "We always look for better, smarter ways to develop new features and create a better user experience or better performance enhancements," he said.

"The whole team is on this mission."
post #2 of 101
I belong to one of many who left Photoshop for Pixelmator. It is such a great piece of software!! It is a joy to use and the special interface is incredibly attractive. It is a surprise to me to learn that the company is situated in Vilnius. I like that! Keep weaving, making Pixelmator ever better! Oh, yes, one more thing: using shift-cmd-V, one can jump between a pixel and vector based programme! Excellent!
post #3 of 101
I like Pixelmator quite a bit but wish it would ALWAYS preserve file name extensions instead of always wanting to rename a file yo it's native format. Very frustrating.

Beyond that, it is a great program.
post #4 of 101
Given how bloated Photoshop has become over the years, Pixelmator was a breath of fresh air. Photoshop's GUI has gone from assuring, functional to low-contrast, web-app-like color scheme. Pixelmator still doesn't match PS one-to-one, especially when it comes to advanced filters (truck load downloadable from the web for PS) and high-end publishing process (spot colours, preflight, separation , etc.) But it's perfectly adequate to make images for a website. Much more reasonably priced and none of that cloud requirements from Adobe.

Keep it up, team.
post #5 of 101

Fantastic software.

The price is just a bonus.
 
I wish aperture was cheaper.
post #6 of 101
Great software.
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post #7 of 101
Wow... I never realised that they lived in my backyard (I being in Tallinn). I bought the app as soon as it went to the app store. Would much rather give this team my money then that of Adobe... and I would be willing to pay twice the price... but grateful that I didn't need to.
post #8 of 101

Back in the old days, as in Mac Classic OS, I would often use Graphic Converter by Lemke. I still have the updated version for OS X in case I need it but I rarely need to do much photo editing anymore. The nice things about apps like these is that for many people they don't require an Abrams tank type of app to do some very simple stuff. Programs like Photoshop or Office are great if you need the myriad of options but are confusing and difficult to use for just the occasional user not to mention expensive.  Good to see these small start ups continuing to offer great apps for Macs. 

 

Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. 

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Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. 

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post #9 of 101
On most of my project, I still use Ps. I've been using it long enough to know all the keystrokes by heart. Pixelmator fills out the gap between big projects and whenever I let my Ps subscription runs out- I pay as I go. It's good enough for 90% of the time. I wasn't aware that it's based in Lithuania. Go Pixelmator and R%u016Bta Meilutyt%u0117!
post #10 of 101
Vilnius ? I thounght this is a joke ! This is my home town ! Negaliu patikėti ! :O
post #11 of 101

I'd like to know when they will come out with their counterpart to Illustrator.

post #12 of 101

Good article. So much better than the usual clickbait.

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post #13 of 101
As someone who is a big photoshop fan (not sure what is bloated about it as there are no features that I would want them to remove and probably some I'd like to see added) I think that this will hopefully keep Adobe honest and innovating.
post #14 of 101
I've been using Pixelmator for four months now, and I don't see myself stopping using it. I use it for photo editing and web design. The one thing I do miss in it though, is RAW camera compatibility; I usually have to do most of my advanced editing in Aperture.
post #15 of 101

Love Pixelmator.  Have used it instead of Photoshop for years, and recently deleted my (bootleg) copy of CS3.  Many years ago I bought Photoshop Elements, but there was absolutely zero chance that I would have paid for the full Photoshop anyway.  Not then, not now, not in the future.  Pixelmator lets me do everything I need to do, with tons more features that I may need some day.

 

Minor nitpicks:

- As Steven N. said, I prefer to not hide extensions by default

- Mavericks shows that Pixelmator uses significant energy, even when not actively editing images

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post #16 of 101

This is the perfect time to take away users of Photoshop. Adobe has become too greedy in their pricing. Leasing software, hopefully, will be the downfall of Adobe.

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post #17 of 101
It's getting better and better but is far from being a full photoshop alternative. It needs a UI overhaul, especially the floating windows. Anyway, I hope they'll stay very successful in selling and developing this app.
post #18 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post
 

I'd like to know when they will come out with their counterpart to Illustrator.

Check out iDraw. Owned by Indeeo, another small company. 

post #19 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

Check out iDraw. Owned by Indeeo, another small company. 

Or Vector Designer!
post #20 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

I like Pixelmator quite a bit but wish it would ALWAYS preserve file name extensions instead of always wanting to rename a file yo it's native format. Very frustrating.

Uncheck this --> Preferences > General > Open documents in Pixelmator file format

post #21 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by techno View Post

This is the perfect time to take away users of Photoshop. Adobe has become too greedy in their pricing. Leasing software, hopefully, will be the downfall of Adobe.

I remember my first copy of Photoshop. What a great program! I ran it on my Mac II with only 8 Mb of RAM. I got it free with a scanner I had bought. Back then I also bought Freehand, another great vector draw ing program. Loved it. Gone now... assimilated into Adobe, never to be seen again.
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post #22 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by XamaX View Post

Or Vector Designer!

Or Sketch!
post #23 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


I remember my first copy of Photoshop. What a great program! I ran it on my Mac II with only 8 Mb of RAM. I got it free with a scanner I had bought. Back then I also bought Freehand, another great vector draw ing program. Loved it. Gone now... assimilated into Adobe, never to be seen again.

I ran Photoshop 2.5 on my Mac Classic with 2.5Mb of RAM! :)

post #24 of 101
"Pixelmator was born in 2007 when brothers Saulius and Aidas Dailide went searching for an OS X-native image editor and came up empty handed."

What does that mean? PS was born decades ago. Am I missing something?
post #25 of 101
Captain Ramius: Re-verify our range to target... one ping only.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: Captain, I - I - I just...
Captain Ramius: Give me a ping, Vasili. One ping only, please.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: Aye, Captain.

Vilnius, Lithuania, isn't that where the submarine Captain Ramius of the Hunt for Red October was raised?

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post #26 of 101

Lithuania isn't in western Europe...

post #27 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

Lithuania isn't in western Europe...

That must be a typo even if it's a really bad one.

But is it Eastern Europe? I think Lithuanians might prefer to be referred to as Central Europeans as a way to signify their independence from their former Russian and Soviet rulers but there history (culture), location (time zone), and language are very much what we consider to be Eastern European. They are part of NATO which is missing some very prominent Eastern European countries.

I suppose it comes down to perspective because Finland butts up against Russia and used to be part of it and yet upon hearing the term Eastern European it is one country that doesn't cross my mind.
post #28 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMacMan View Post

"Pixelmator was born in 2007 when brothers Saulius and Aidas Dailide went searching for an OS X-native image editor and came up empty handed."

What does that mean? PS was born decades ago. Am I missing something?

I think what they meant was they were looking for a 100%, dedicated Mac option, so they would get timely updates and such .... so unlike PS, which always serves the PC side first, sometimes an agonizingly, long time, first.

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post #29 of 101
Yes indeed! iDraw is superb, too! I left Photoshop for Pixelmator and Illustrator for iDraw!
post #30 of 101
I have Sketch as well. One problem with Sketch as compared to iDraw is the fact that it cannot handle layers the way Illustrator and iDraw do. Otherwise, great software.
post #31 of 101

Actually I have a feeling Vectormator is in the works...my sources? The whois data :D

 

vectormator.com:

Registrant:
 UAB Pixelmator Team
 Zukausko 26-60
 Vilnius, Vilniaus 08239
 LT
 0037060757347 
 
Domain Name: VECTORMATOR.COM
Administrative Contact: 
 Dailide, Aidas info@pixelmator.com
 Zukausko 26-60
 Vilnius, Vilniaus 08239
 LT
 0037060757347 
 
Technical Contact: 
 Dailide, Aidas info@pixelmator.com
 Zukausko 26-60
 Vilnius, Vilniaus 08239
 LT
 0037060757347 

 

Source: http://whois.net/whois/vectormator.com

post #32 of 101
I agree with feynman...I too would love this team to create an equivalent of Illustrator (or at least it's excellent trace command). Maybe the next version of Pixelmator will simply include similar features.
post #33 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by cfugle View Post

I agree with feynman...I too would love this team to create an equivalent of Illustrator (or at least it's excellent trace command). Maybe the next version of Pixelmator will simply include similar features.

 

Actually it already does. Check out their website on how to turn on the "vectormator" mode. Granted, it's nowhere near as good as what vector-only apps can offer but it's a start and a good way to combine working with bitmap and vector at the same time.

 

For vector work, personally I've been very impressed by Sketch but it looks like there are other good looking options around. The only thing Illustrator has going for it is that it can handle very complex vector files without a hitch. Otherwise its user interface is pure crap all the way.

post #34 of 101
They are still a very long way away from drawing professionals away from Photoshop (I certainly couldn't do any of my work with it), but Pixelmator is perfect for those people who only dabble in PS right now, and have no need for Adobe's pricing.
post #35 of 101
Can someone explain to me like I'm a third grader what the difference between illustrator and PS is? Oh and love Pixelmator.
post #36 of 101
I'm a huge fan of this app and the team behind it. It's my primarily tool for animation or drawing. I try to get people to switch from Adobe's offerings, but most people stick with to them like a religion.
post #37 of 101
It's amazing there haven't been dozens of posts talking about "toy trucks and big rigs" and "real work". The Adobe shills must be less alert than the MS ones—or do they spring to life only when Flash is mentioned? Anyway, glad to see marketshare going to deserving people and away from Adobe, which I want to die a painful death. I've hated them since they absorbed and destroyed Aldus all those many years ago.
post #38 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMacMan View Post

"Pixelmator was born in 2007 when brothers Saulius and Aidas Dailide went searching for an OS X-native image editor and came up empty handed."

What does that mean? PS was born decades ago. Am I missing something?

 

Don't be a Ass, affordable image editor program is what they meant.

post #39 of 101
Originally Posted by RickFaced View Post
Can someone explain to me like I'm a third grader what the difference between illustrator and PS is?

 

Photoshop is primarily for manipulating bitmap images. Bitmap here meaning images comprised of specific pixels. A set size for the image, in pixels by pixels. 

 

Illustrator works with vector graphics, meaning instead of static pixels, the ‘points’ in the image are defined in direct relation to one another. Lines are then drawn between them actively, not passively. This basically means that you can double, triple, octuple the size of the entire image (by doubling, tripling, octupling the distance between the points) without losing quality, because the lines are redrawn automatically for the new size.

 

I make all my maps in Illustrator because, hey, vector maps. Nigh-infinite detail. If I need to make it bigger, I don’t need to redraw the whole darn thing; I just punch in 200% and boom, same quality.

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post #40 of 101

I enjoy using Pixelmator.

 

I've been a Adobe customer since their Postscript beginnings, and own their pre-subscription 'suites' .

 

Pixelmator recently allowed me to quickly produce a series of training slides with complicated wiring schemes that would have been 'more involved' using the adobe sw.

 

The recent security breach at adobe has resulted in a review of options.

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