July 20, 2007

Pixelmator Development Update

As you may have already noticed, we’ve been quiet for some time. And yup, you are right, we’re working like crazy these days. The last time we had a free weekend was two months ago and we are still very passionate about our work. I see from your emails that you can’t wait to get your hands on Pixelmator and keep asking us how the birth of our little app is going, when will the beta be released, how will some features work, and so on.

So, I guess, it’s time for a good Pixelmator development update.

First of all, I have to tell you that we are very happy with what we have done so far. Pixelmator looks great, it works great, and it really is so much fun. Although it is not yet finished, it’s not too far from being ready.

Pixelmator Sneak Peak

If you investigated the Pixelmator Tech Specs website, you would notice that we had some strange blending modes like Minus, Modulate, Bumpmap, and Subtract. Although they looked nice, we removed them and added those that are available in Big Brother (Photoshop). The reason for this is to ensure better compatibility with PSD files. So now, our blending mode list includes: Normal, Dissolve, Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Linear Burn, Darker Color, Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge, Lighter Color, Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Linear Light, Pin Light, Hard Mix, Difference, Exclusion, Hue, Saturation, Color and Luminosity. We compared them to Big Brother and they look exactly the same in Pixelmator. That’s good.

Other changes In Pixelmator Tech specs are about .Mac support. .Mac support is temporary removed. It’s not that we had any problems developing it—it’s just that when we done with it, we were not very happy with just being able to backup Pixelmator swatches and brushes. It’s almost useless. Another reason for this is that we would like to concentrate on the most important features in Pixelmator. Anyway, .Mac support will be back in Pixelmator version 1.1 or 1.2.

Pixelmator supports over 100 different file formats; 112, exactly. However, the most important ones are PSD, Tiff, PNG, JPEG, JPEG 2000, GIF, BMP and PXM. PXM is the native Pixelmator file format. It is the best way to store your compositions without losing layers or any other info about your file. We would love to use PSD as our main file format, but it is too closed and we don’t have as many features in Pixelmator as Big Brother stores in PSD files.

Speaking of other file formats, probably few of them (five I guess) will be removed from the list, because of some problems in ImageMagick (Pixelmator foundation). We don’t want to have any stuff in Pixelmator that is not stable. But once those formats are fixed—they will be back. We’ve prepared a little overview of Pixelmator-supported file formats. You will be able to download the PDF soon.
That’s pretty much it about the changes in the Pixelmator technical specifications. Note, however, that there are some amazing news about gradients (I will tell you in our next article) and some more new, little improvements in some corners of the app that are not mentioned in Tech Specs page.

The biggest part of Pixelmator is already done, but there are still some features that have to be finished. These days, Aidas is working on Layer masks (we should be completely done with Layers this week). Other things that are not yet complete in Pixelmator are transformations (Scale, Rotate, Skew, Distort, Perspective, etc.), Sharpen/Blur tools, the Clone Stamp tool, and Undo/Redo. Undo/Redo is the hard one. It will take 4–5 days to finish that feature. Also, we would like to improve the painting engine a bit; there is something that is not yet right.

So, our plan is: 1. Finish all the Pixelmator features. 2. Test and fix some bugs internally. 3. Release closed beta (Closed?! OMG How could we dare to do that!).

Yes, we decided not to release a public beta. Let me explain why. As you may know, we are just two guys in the Pixelmator Team (well, sometimes three), and we get many emails every day. That’s great, and we love answering emails, but we also have to spend some time creating Pixelmator. So, if we release a public beta, we think our mailboxes would be more than full; we would get a lot of feedback, feature requests, even blames. While Pixelmator is not finished and has bugs, we would like to concentrate just on improving the application. That we would do better, faster, and without chaos with a small group of people (about 2000 plus MacHeist promo purchasers). And once it is released, you would have a stable and as good an app as it should be.

I know you need some dates, and I know we promised release at the end of July. Although we will do everything we can to have a feature complete and bug-free version of Pixelmator the last second of this month, I don’t think that we will release it yet. So, the Pixelmator closed beta release date is scheduled to be the 16th of August.

Drop me an email at bugs at pixelmator.com if you would like to participate. Be sure to tell me your Mac specifications and your skills. Please note that having a lot of experience working with many design apps does not mean that you have more chances to be in beta than if you don’t know anything about graphic design or computers. We would love to see iLife fans, switchers from Windows, grandfathers and grandmothers, 6-year-old kids, and our secret friend John Gruber trying out Pixelmator beta.

I hope this helps you to understand where are we. Feel free to blame us, motivate us, or discuss anything I mentioned in this article.


  • Christoph Lingg

    Still amazed how fast you are able to develop a powerfull image editing programm. May you do well!

  • Robin

    I’m still looking forward to getting it into my hands – good things need time! 🙂 Good luck finishing the rest of the features!

  • Gary

    Great to hear/read the update. It is better to take extra time to get things right. Wishing all the luck.

  • Achim


    thanx for the information! I’m also looking forward to use the app. So, if you need extra time for bug-fixing, that’s fine. I think, it’s better to release a working app than a beta. Good luck!!

  • sven

    this is nice and all, but your website does not mention where can i get that wondeful software?

    is it free or how muc does it cost you?
    is it just a fancy GUI around ImageMagick or something else?

  • se7en

    I can thank TUAW for notifying me about this. Can’t wait for the program.

  • Alain

    PLEEEEEASE… Don’t even stop for meals. Can’t wait. My browser displays my PayPal account with the right amount, and your name as the “destination”… I’m sitting in front of my computer, with the mouse pointer on “Send”.

  • Matthew Fern

    This post reinforces the good impression I got from y’all when I met you at the Delicious Generation party last month — pushing for quality, not the “ZOMG must release NOW NOW NOW” mindset. (Just an overly broad generalization, not referring to anyone in particular). Definitely looking forward to playing with Pixelmator in a month.

  • Gern

    We can expect a “I TOLD you it was vaporware…” post from Gruber soon.

  • Mike French

    Does the closed beta apply to those who bought the MacUpdate Promo Bundle?

  • Wes

    I think you guys should do pre-sales and get some money in your pockets!! Then maybe pre-sales people could get in on the beta? I wish I knew about the mac update promo before right now 🙁

  • Saulius Dailide (Pixelmator Team)


    I don’t think that is a good way to sell stuff. I think people should try before purchasing. When you buy thing that is nicely packaged, but not as good as expected – that hurts.

    And it seems that Pixelmator has a very nice packaging already, but we want it to be even better inside.

  • Wes

    Fair enough. I think you guys are really catering to a market that is thirsty for something new. I am sure everyone is aware of the prohibitive price of photoshop… the gimp is free but pretty frustrating to use on osx and almost any other alternative is sloppy or just missing key features. I hope pixelmator fills in the gap.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for the update.


  • David Barnes

    Hi folks:
    I’m another gut who’s very excited about the software and was excited enough about is that when the beta appeared as a part of the MacUpdate bundle that it went from a probably decision to a definite. That said, I do have a question and hope that you understand where I’m coming from with this…
    Why not even a nominal discount for the full product for beta testers? I understand that you are a small company and that the software has a great price point already but surely the help of 2.000 testers is going to enable you to get a better product out there sooner. And I imagine that the final product after that sort of testing would be solid enough for you to really focus on taking the next version to who know’s where.
    Believe me when I say that I’m not trying to be an idiot here and beat you up for a couple of bucks. I just think that if you want really good testing that you should consider offering an incentive to all of those folks who are helping you out.

  • Gary

    All I can say is that I am super glad that I got in on the MacUpdate/MacHeist Bundle. So I get to get in on the beta testing. Na na na na na! 🙂

    And let me tell you, I am gonna test it into the ground…

    Pixelmater will be the hottest selling, and most popular, Mac application within 6 months of its release. For a version 1 release it already has sooo much polish.

    I got to where I check the Pixelmater site everyday to see if there has been any updates.

  • David Barnes

    I believe the answer to that is $59.00 (I thought I saw that somewhere else in one of the updates). I think that’s also one of the many reasons for people being excited about the software.

    I’m wondering now that I think of it if there is going to be support for 3rd party filters…

  • Mateo

    David: I’m not wrong, Pixelmator will support CoreImage Image Units (filters and effects), but not “full” plugins (in the meaning of “applications inside the application) like the ones you have in PS.

  • Ceder Blador

    Quality is king. Far as I’m concerned, Pixelmator’s release may hold up until Christmas, if that is what it takes to achieve quality.

    As someone else said, there is a huge amount of hopes for a decent, properly and reliably functioning image editor for Mac. Even if it were as feature-minimal (although I’m aware, it won’t be) as MSPaint, but again, works properly, I will buy it in any case. I’m crossing my thumbs that this will be THE answer to us pixel artists’ long, painstakingly and most of all, EMBARRASING wait for something that can handle, what would appear to be the most basic stuff in graphic software; a tool that you can, accurately, PIXEL BY PIXEL, build even the smallest of images (and at the same time, be free from any (*shudders*) anti-aliasing artifacts around the precious little pixels!). THAT’S what I’m hoping so much for.

  • Ethan

    This is supposed to be a BETA release. Beta releases have bugs, so why are you delaying it by trying to make it perfect? This isn’t a RC or 1.0 release.

    If the first beta is mid-august, then I suspect this project isn’t as finished off as we’ve been lead to believe. It probably also means that a 1.0 release won’t be ready until next year.

    It would be nice to address all those calling this vaporware with something tangible.

  • Britt

    Ethan – you do have a point…

    Something to keep in mind, however, is that there is a tendency for us programmer types to always keep adding just one more thing… forever. It’s a mental trap that I myself have had to fight… so I can understand the guys desire to keep just tweaking it.

    But, you’re right – sooner or later you have to stick a stake in the ground and call it a release (a principal that once led a certain Steve to quip “real artists ship” 🙂

    Saulius, Aidas —

    I’m pretty sure you guys are going to need some additional help dealing with the testing phase; for any given bug, if it’s not an obscure bug, you can bet that it’ll be reported by a bunch of people; so you will need some folks going through the incoming bug-stream and consolidating duplicates, closing “works-as-designed” non-bugs, and validating that reproducible bugs are in fact reproducible. Also, If you don’t already have a bug-tracker, you are gonna’ need one (and, having a searchable on-line bug database would help reduce the number of duplicates; as testers could be instructed as a first step to check that their issue is not a known one).

  • Ethan

    Something like BugZilla would be a good idea.

  • Michel Valdrighi

    “We would love to use PSD as our main file format, but it is too closed”

    On the other hand, Gimp’s XCF file format is fairly featureful and open.
    So why create yet another proprietary file format if one of the app’s features is its wide compatibility with existing formats?

  • baw

    I’m choking on all the vapor in this room. *COUGH*

  • Raj

    and yet another “delicious generation” shows pretty screenshots, but nothing actually shipping, buttressed by the “we’re not sleeping until it’s right” mantra. and when we do ever get 1.0, it’ll be a dog’s age before we see anything but bug fixes beyond this. seriously, survey the “DG” landscape and tell me what you see. pixelmator, mydreamapp’s, disco, iclip, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    but hey, at least you all had a great party recently.

  • Mark

    Hey guys, this isn’t Microsoft. When they talk about their upcoming application, they’re not using FUD to destroy a competing product. Adobe isn’t shaking in their boots.

    So lighten up on the “vaporware” accusations, Gruber fan boys.

  • Still Skeptical

    So what’s the protocol on the closed beta via Macheist?

    It would be nice to get some update on that.

  • *sigh*

    Yes, it’s vaporware. No it’s not delicious in nature but for the simple fact that it actually has substance and “steak”: lots of powerful features as yet unavailable at nearly that low a price.

    Gruber and Kafasis fan weenies, STFU.

  • Gary

    Hey!, I finally got my copy of the BETA. Man is this software amazing! As an avid Photoshop user I can safely say that Photoshop is going to be collecting a lot of dust.


    Better than I had hoped for!

  • Britt


    …not to be a fanboi or anything, but I do have a little experience in this area…

    There are 2 kinds of development projects: those that slip their schedule internally with nobody else the wiser, and those that do so publicly. The former only occurs when either nobody knows it exists, or everybody working on it refuses to name dates…

    Software is kinda funny – almost by definition, anything worthwhile is completely uncharted territory; because if you had done it before, well, you’d just use that instead of writing something new. The consequence of this is that trying to predict schedules can be likened to dumping a bunch of transistors out on the table and trying to read the portents from the orientation of the leads…

    Oh, and about that file format thingey — Keep in mind that Pixelmator is going to end up with some unique features that most image formats don’t directly map to well; and ideally, your file format should have a 1:1 correspondence with the document object’s data structure (but not necessarily it’s in-ram runtime implementation); anything less results in lossy saving behavior (or at least it’s an ugly abuse of the file format – sticking layer information into the color attribute of a DXF comes to mind). Also, under Cocoa, serializing an object-graph is rather easy (by using NSCoder, CoreData, or building a plist), thus making the creation of a “custom” file format almost a no-brainer.

    However, I would strongly encourage Saulius and Aidas (and other programmers who read this, for that matter) to make their file format either publicly well documented (perhaps with open-source IO classes), or trivially easy to reverse-engineer (like, say, the way an ascii plist usually is)– long after the app that originally created the files is gone, there’s usually somebody who would really like to open them; by having your file format be opaque, once the original systems that created the file are gone, effectively so are the files. But, new applications can be created that will read open file formats; and the history there is thusly not lost.

  • shadownight

    Pixelmator looks really like a serious app with serious and good people behind it… By serious I mean solid and reliable. The folks at My Dream App have not been impressive since the end of the voting, but I like that you guys are here in the comments thread answering questions and being completely honest with how things are going. Some people try to excite us with mysterious claims and hidden icons, and while that’s fun for the first 5 seconds, you guys really impress me, and it leaves a longer positive impression.

    One question, though: since this heavily relies on Core Image, will it be able to run OKl on a Mac that doesn’t support Core Image? I have one of the last of that bunch (an eMac), and I was wondering how Pixelmator would run, since your system requirements state a Core Image-supported graphics card is “recommended”. Photoshop runs impressively well for the computer’s class and age, apart from being a clumsy, expensive, and bloated elephant.

    And by the way, I do realize my system is really outdated compared to the majority of people here 😉 Just wanted to know. It’s not like I rely on image editors in my daily life, don’t worry about losing me as a regular user. I’ll certainly upgrade within a year anyway.

  • marlouin

    I’ve got a doubt about hud transparent palettes. Sure it looks good in your screenshots but when you have 10 apps launched in the background (or just my messy background) it’s a different story. Readability is diminished, you lose efficiency. At least leave an option for making the whole opaque.

    I’m also amazed by the quality of your webcam, generally iSight quality is not super usable for editing.

  • fallenrogue

    Take your times, guys. I can’t wait to get my hands on this beauty. 🙂 Down with Big Brother!

  • Saulius Dailide (Pixelmator Team)


    in order to answer your question I need to try it. Drop me an email to get on the beta and we’ll investigate that together. But just to not to leave you without any answer: we kinda are more interested in latest Macs (because of GPUs).

  • britt


    Hmm… are you doing real-time updates of the CI filters? If so, then it’s gonna’ be real slow; otherwise, it should be tolerable for smaller images (i.e, web sized). I just opened Core Image Fun House on my 12″ Powerbook G4 (it’s 867Mhz, 640MB ram, and no GPU), and updates to a single filter stack (I tried gaussian blur, color controls, and the CYMK halftone effect) using the Bryce sample image only took a few seconds.

  • knedl

    I’ve just switched from windows to a mac about a week ago and can’t wait to grab my hands on pixelmator, keep up the good work.

  • Matthew

    I’ve been looking for something like this since switching to a Mac in early 2005. First I tried to find an alternative to Picasa because I never liked Iphoto that much. I gave up and started using Lightroom to manage my photos (after testing LR, Aperture and Iview Media Pro side by side). Graphic Convertor is also a great photo manager that deserves much praise.

    In the search for a powerful raster editing program (that didn’t break the bank), I’ve tried alot of different alternatives (Gimp, Gimpshop, Seashore, Digicam Photoretoucher, Elements 2-3, Livequartz, Graphic Convertor….etc).

    The only one that seemed to almost get it right was Elements yet Adobe is trying to dumb it down more and more with every new version by taking away control from the user. I still consider version 2 (the one that came with my Wacom) as a good backup program to Photoshop 7. I’ve been using CS1-3 trials but refuse to purchase a license because of the ridiculous pricing (and the programs are getting slower and slower even on my intel Macbook with 2 gigs of RAM). Adobe seems to be as pig-headed as ever with their monopoly of the graphics application market. They need competition. They need to be humbled.

    Until Pixelmator, there wasn’t any serious Mac-only raster editing applications that had the features to rival Photoshop. The main reason I purchased the Macheist bundle was for the beta access to Pixelmator. I’m excited to be a participant in the mid August testing.

  • Pete

    Will it have a red eye correction?

  • Chad

    Matthew –

    I’m pretty much in the same boat as you. I’ve tried a variety of image editing applications, hoping to find something that could be a good substitute to Photoshop. And after the pains I’ve had in installing Photoshop CS3 (and the price hike), I’m ready to find an alternative. I’m just hoping that Pixelmator will be as good as it looks. I love that it looks like a true Mac application, making use of Mac-based technologies as well.

  • nehemiah

    Any thoughts on supporting vector based image formats like SVG in the future?

  • britt

    nehemiah —

    Are you asking to edit the vector data, or just to render it to a layer(s) ?

  • Livia

    Thanks for the update guys. Keep on doing such great work 🙂 Can’t wait to use the app 🙂

  • crazyguig

    should it be possible to know which operations are behind filter, layer mix etc….
    Because in photoshop, somthings like “soft light” doesn’t explain anything. Only “normal” which is “over”, and “multiply”, other operations arent explained.
    I use the software Shake for compositing and that’s what I like, is that each node has a mathematical definition and it’s really easier to understand what I do, and what i’ll get.
    Are you going to explicate the pixels calculations behind the effects?

  • Aaron

    Just awesome…

  • micky

    Gyus, all da best for you, and for afRICA

  • Max

    If one is selected for the beta program, is he allowed to publish his experiences online, say on forums.macnn.com or so?

  • mfojas


    I’d love to put this editor through its paces, I’m already registered through the Heist, so I hope to get that Beta in a few weeks.

  • Mike French

    Gary Says:
    July 26th, 2007 at 2:40 am
    Hey!, I finally got my copy of the BETA. Man is this software amazing! As an avid Photoshop user I can safely say that Photoshop is going to be collecting a lot of dust.


    Better than I had hoped for!

    HOW DID YOU SCORE A COPY OF THE BETA? Are MacUpdate/MacHeist users going to get the beta or not?

  • Don Lacer

    I registered also and haven’t received the BETA.

  • Simon MTL

    Can you do anything like the “Instant Alpha” feature on the new Keynote ’08 program? I was THOROUGHLY impressed with this when I saw it. You _must_ take a look at it to appreciate the simplicity and power for the user. Thanks!

  • Bruno

    Looks like a great start to a program that will undoubtedly do very well if it delivers on what the web site has promised.

    However, I think there’s tremendous room for growth and improvement here. And not by copying Photoshop feature for feature.

    Photoshop has some huge negatives against it. The biggest is that its core technology and UI are almost 20 years old. It has received incremental changes but many of them stick out like a sore thumb in integration or lack there-of. I consider myself a fairly advanced Photoshop user and at the same time I can’t stand its antiquated and out-dated interface. The entire Filter menu and its contents are a total mess and modal like they belong in 1988.

    Much of what I see in this program seems to be following too closely behind Photoshop’s bad examples. I hope the developers look at other programs for inspiration, even all the way back to the grand-daddy digital paint program Deluxe Paint (from the Amiga). And of course to some new creative tools such as those found in Light Craft’s Lightzone ( http://www.lightcrafts.com/products/index.html ) – check out their videos for an amazing workflow at touching up real-world photos.

    I’m also certain that by using core Mac OS they’re off to a great start and should provide a much more real-time experience than Photoshop. Finally image editing that’s graphics accelerated instead of only CPU-driven.

    Hopefully can do some of the basic things Photoshop falls completely flat on its face attempting: Font rendering, making circles that are truly round, gradients that are even and smooth, etc.

  • Kilian

    I just saw the extended screencast at TUAW, and I think it’s quite impressive, but I’ve noticed that when using the brush or eraser it won’t show you the actual size of the brush (as is possible with Photoshop), but only the icon for the tool.

    For any pro or even semi-pro being able to see the boundaries of the brush is essential, so I really hope you plan to implement that in the first release. Otherwise Pixelmator would be close to unusable for me and many other pros and semi-pros.

    Apart from that keep on hacking and rock-on!

  • Petra Hall

    If anyone in the develope team read this, can you please contact me. I did email you a few days ago about an article, but never did get a reply.

  • DMD

    Bruno, I think the most annoying part about photoshop’s filters are the fact that they haven’t changed in more than five years. Futhermore, most of them don’t allow you to move the effective center…..they always use the exact center of the graphic for many of the distortion filters so it is difficult to use them unless you’re just playing around. I use very few of PS filters nowadays and I sometimes wonder if it is because they’re not user-friendly.

    Pixelmator looks better (and not like a copycat) in this regard because in the screencast (linked above) there are moveable centers for the bump and ripple filters.

  • Jim Buckner

    Would like to become a closed beta tester.

    iMac 20′ 1024 MB DDR SDRAM 1.8 GHz PowerPC G5; Mac OS 10.4.9; Nikon D80 Canon 5D; LightRoom; PS3; Aperture; iPhoto 08; Painter X; PhotoMagic; RW; BB Edit; PulpMotion; PhotoShop Elements; PhotoConverter; Create; Videator; Pandora; Portraits and Prints; Picturesque; and lightZone

    Retired Retailer. Photographer Hobbyist. Beta testor for several apps

  • Gary

    August is nearly half spent. How ’bout an update.

  • David Barnes

    Hey Gary:
    It’s coming this week (the 16th of August)!

  • Gary

    Oh yeah! The 16th is uhhhh in 2 days! WooHoo!

  • ?


  • Gary

    Is it just me or are the last 2 post written in Chinese or Korean, or Japanese or something. 🙂

  • DMD

    Chinese simplified …..according to babelfish

    ? (Tripod with two handles) Says:
    Comes from China’s support!

    Saulius Dailide (Pixelmator Team) Says:

  • Bryan

    ???????? (Trad Chinese)

  • Vadim

    So here comes 16th and …. No news as yet? no beta?

  • crossinger

    Impatient, you are. Much to learn, you have – young padawan! 😉

    There are still 11 hours left until 16th is over.

  • David Barnes

    I’ll hop on this myself as I am also an impatient one. Given the fact that the first release date was missed and the decision was made to keep the beta closed, I sort of expected this to drop at midnight (I’m also overly optimistic). While things happen, how about updating the weblog at least to let folks know what’s going on? And to those who would say ‘don’t bother and spend your time on the application’, I’m talking a quick update to say yes it’s the 16th, no but soon, yes but we meant August 16, 2008…
    Throw us a bone ro at least give us what you’re giving TUAW!

  • Andrew Creek

    Fingers/Toes crossed. Okay inbox don’t fail me now!

  • David Barnes

    Thanks for the update!

  • Bullaballoo

    Yeah ! Good news ! 🙂

  • Bill

    I am very interested in this tool, but I don’t see Canon’s raw image formats supported. This is important for me if I am to keep a streamlined workflow. Will I be able to use other company’s plugins for this?

  • Robert

    Great to give Photoshop some competition. Just make sure you can convert files coming from Lightroom and Aperture, because these users will be interested in your app.

  • Saulius Dailide (Pixelmator Team)


    yes, we are looking for a good way to support third party plug-ins. Unfortunately you won’t be able to use third party plugs using v1.0. Hopefully 1.1.

  • Zydrunas T.

    na k?.. belieka tik pasveikinti, tikrai UBER editori? suk?r?te. Šaunu, kad Lietuviai pradeda labiau viešinti save iš gerosios pus?s. Tai, kad pasirinkote MAC OS X tikrai sveikintina.
    Linkiu s?km?s ir pasisekimo!