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What's the best bitmap editor?

In your explanation of the Joel Test question "Do you use the best tools money can buy?", you give the example of programmers forced to manipulate icons with crappy bitmap editors like Paint. Great point. Now, having had to do this kind of thing too many times, I'm wondering what you think the best tool in the category is. There are about a million shareware apps...

John C.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I actually use Corel PhotoPaint on the rare times I need to edit at the pixel level. Not because it's the best, but because I know it well and it's not worth the effort to learn a new tool for occasional use. I'm not sure what professionals use.... check out -- they are the people who design some of the most famous icons in the world, with both Apple and Microsoft as major clients.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Why not Photoshop?

Dan Maas
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Joel just gave you his reasons for not using PS.

There is a wide range of applications specialized on certain aspects of manipulating or generating bitmap graphics. Photoshop is widely used for all kinds of work, and still is a de facto industry standard among graphic artists; but there are also products with tools and workflow adapted to designing layouts and images for websites, desktop icons, etc. So it depends on what you want to do, how much you want to spend etc.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

For making icons there are specialized icon programs, either free or commericial such as Michael Angelo. You will normally use a standard graphics tool first.

The graphics tool you use will be the one you are used to. Like Joel, I use Corel PhotoPaint because I started on the Corel Draw suite when it was best of breed., but if you are starting out from scratch you can choose. Paint Shop Pro is pretty easy to use, Adobe Photoshop essentials is cheap, (and you can get older versions of the Corel Draw suite for around the same price) there are plenty of free programs, and don't underestimate the sadly discontinued Photo Draw, which is great for simple manipulation and resizing of office documents. One piece of advice. Whatever you get, check to make sure there are plenty of training books available.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Axialis Icon Workshop is the bees knees...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I'll second Axialis Icon Workshop. Very nice tool and extremely easy to use.

Although I, like Joel, use Corel for most stuff because I know it already.

Marc LaFleur
Thursday, May 13, 2004

I would have to say JASC Paint Shop Pro for Windows 3.1.  I've been using it since 1996 and it hasn't given me any trouble!

Matthew Saul
Saturday, May 15, 2004

Hey, why has the "New topic" link disappeared?  This forum is also no longer listed on the main site.  Maybe we asked Joel too many questions???

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I wondered the same thing - has Joel decided he doesn't want to answer questions any more?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

microangelo for icons & images in executables, paint shop pro for everything else.  Great software, bargain prices.

van pelt
Friday, May 21, 2004

Last post!

Matt Conrad
Thursday, May 27, 2004


Michael Eisenberg
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Poor boy just couldn't live with the fact that perhaps he doesn't know everything about everything after all

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Joel maintained this board as a service and hats off to him for doing that but I think he underestimated how vicious people can be on public discussion boards.  "Ask Joel" means Joel is involved in a dialog, discussion board conversations will ALWAYS occasionally degenerate.

He either puts up with the hassle and whining or pulls the plug and gets a good nights sleep.  I know what I would choose...

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

There's also the possibility he's on vacation and he didn't want to come back only to find 2^32 new topics awaiting his answer!

Thursday, June 3, 2004

If I might stray onto the designated topic for a moment... Axialis IconWorkshop is my icon editor of personal choice.  It's nice and usable, fully featured and pretty cheap (USD35).  Enjoy...

AJ Finch
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Hey, Joel, please - why don't you come out and tell everybody "ok, I don't want to do this anymore", and everybody would say "It's a pity, but thanks, Joel, it was great." And that would be it, no guess work.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Hello.  Joel?  You okay, Joel?  Joel?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Keep this thread alive...  ;)

Chris Peacock
Thursday, July 22, 2004

Why?  It will soon disappear into the ether.

David Burch
Monday, July 26, 2004

I've become emotionally attached to it...

Chris Peacock
Monday, July 26, 2004

Love joelonsoftware, even without Ask Joel.
Think Joel's great.
This strand has made me laugh.
And I really like Paint Shop pro.
(especially the nifty camera icon which lets you capture only the particular part of a screen shot that you are after. OK so it's not bitmap manipulation but this strand has strayed already...)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

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