Open-Source Image Software Fuels Online Photo Lab
An Internet start-up is repurposing a popular
open-source image-editing application to create a Web-based "photo lab" that allows any user to apply high-end photo manipulation to his or her own digital masterpieces. Online PhotoLab LLC Tuesday officially launched what it calls a
"massively scalable" photo processing service on the Web that uses the communally developed image-editing application known as The Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) as its internal engine.
The Gimp is touted by the open-source Linux community as being in
the same league as professional image-editing software - like an
Adobe Photoshop, but coded with a sense of humor.
The Gimp's amusingly named scripting capability - Script-Fu, as in
Kung-Fu - is what makes Online PhotoLab possible.
Spencer Kimball was one of the original developers of The Gimp in
his days at the University of California at Berkeley in the mid-
'90s and is back in familiar territory as a co-founder of Online
"The whole thing started back in 1997 when we created an
application call Net-Fu," he said. "The idea behind it was a Web
interface to some of The Gimp's functionality, primarily logo
"The intention was always to take it one step further and try to
get a much better sampling of The Gimp's functionality," Kimball
said. "But when you have a Web interface, it's absolutely different
than a standard application. That's the big challenge in trying to
create a service online that lets anyone, through a point-and-click
interface, (accomplish) what is really a complex task."
Online PhotoLab's current set of tools allow users to crop, rotate,
scale, composite and enhance their images by adjusting contrast,
brightness and color balance. A "Logo Styler Workshop" automates
the creation of type-based effects, and a "Special FX Workshop"
includes a toolbox of transformations such as posterization and
Users can create picture-frames effects, soften photograph edges,
and combine multiple images into a single image in creative ways.
Kimball says that, in addition to creating a photo manipulation and
sharing community at Online PhotoLab, the company see opportunities
to sell the technology to other Web sites seeking similar tools.
In addition, he said, Online PhotoLab has already received
inquiries from companies looking for image-editing software it can
deploy within corporate intranets.
Currently, Kimball said, the business plan suggests Online PhotoLab
can generate revenue through online advertising if The Gimp's
advanced photo-manipulation routines are able to jumpstart its
The Online PhotoLab can be found at www.onlinephotolab.com.