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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bitmap to Vector Online App

Stanford University’s VectorMagic is an incredibly useful Flash-based online app that converts a bitmap image of yours (e.g. a PNG file) into a vector file (e.g. EPS).

One use-case is to grab a given graphic to then increase its size nearly loss-free. For instance, I submitted the logo of this blog, converted it with VectorMagic, saved as EPS (the SVG file was broken for me for some reason), and imported the EPS back into PhotoPaint to save as new, larger PNG again. (Note CorelDraw already ships with CorelTrace to vectorize graphics, but other photo editors may not.)

Another use for this is to create more abstract, smooth versions of existing photos. I uploaded a photograph portrait found on Flickr (photo CC-licensed by Tor Kristensen) and converted it into a vector portrait. I then applied a strong smart blur filter in PhotoPaint – it’s like blurring, but keeps certain edges intact – for a new result.

Come to think of, it would be very cool to have an open online photo editor that would allow all kinds of third-parties to write filter gadgets. They would get an input PNG file from the photo editor, communicate about the filter options needed in some structured way (or get an Iframe’d place to show their own interface), and provide back an output PNG file. And while the filter processes, display some of their ads in a small designated area to make their work & CPU-cycles spent worthwhile. A filter directory could be attached to the online photo editor – similar to say iGoogle + the iGoogle gadget directory – and popular filters can be included by default. There are various nice online filters, some of them much more impressive than what’s available in traditional desktop apps, but they’re currently scattered all around the web.



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