ImageWell… well done

Over on What Do I Know…, Todd was discussing a clever little application for the Mac OSX called ImageWell. He desribed the app by saying:
“What iPhoto is to manipulating, archiving, and viewing digital photography, ImageWell is to uploading images to the web. A small, innocuous, free utility, ImageWell sits in the top menu bar and allows users to upload images to either an iDisk account or an FTP server by dragging and dropping a file onto its icon.”
It really is that simple and useful. I was showing it to a co-worker, who, although he’s a talented designer, tends a little towards the programmer/nerd side of the aisle. When we looked at one of the image manipulation screens, he complained that the image-resizing slider only goes up to 100%. “What if someone wants to make it bigger?” he asked.
My thoughts immediately went to Alan Cooper’s book “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum,” specifically the part where he describes programmers as being of a different species from the rest of us. Cooper differentiates Homo sapiens from Homo Logicus, by telling us that members of the species logicus “focus on what is possible to the exclusion of what is probable.” Anyone who has ever spent a minute working with digital images knows that resizing a picture bigger — especially a compressed JPEG image — is going to get nothing but a poor-quality mess. It may be possible to make the image bigger, but the odds of such a manipulation turning out attractively are not very probable.
The designers of ImageWell, like many good Mac designers, understand this difference between possible and necessary. The difference is especially important in a simple, quick-and-dirty utility. If you need to resize your photo bigger, then you probably need to use a more capable professional tool, like Photoshop or Fireworks. Because of the preponderance of logicus members working on Windows applications, it’s no wonder there’s nothing quite like this for the PC platform.
(Please don’t bash me on the Mac/PC religious wars. I use both platforms and find strengths and weaknesses in both. For instance, I think Apple’s continued insistence on shipping its computers with a one-button mouse after all this time is based on nothing more than pure stubbornness.)