Photoshop Filters, and More Silly Business Proposals

First order of business: I just wanted to let everyone know that forum-goer “null54” has published a new Paint.NET effect called PSFilterPdn. It lets you use Photoshop filters in Paint.NET. Pretty swank, and clearly the guy has put a lot of work into it. There are still rough edges since the two plugin models are not a match made in heaven, but it ranks quite high on the Very Cool And Also Useful Scale.

Now on to the other stuff.

Every so often I get an e-mail asking me to bundle stuff with Paint.NET. “You’ll make $999999999 per month guaranteed!” I usually ignore or just say, “no thanks.” Here’s a recent one, paraphrased and redacted to protect the innocent guilty:

Hello,

We believe your software is of high quality. [rick: Thanks!] Our Firefox addon, whatever, provides whatever. Our team is currently working on a new installer that will include a collection of high quality software. We want to offer you various partnership options with whatever or one of our other products, either as an advertiser or publisher.

… other stuff removed …

Please contact us for further details.

Best wishes,

Someone

This time I decided to have a little fun though.

Why on earth would I bundle a Firefox addin with Paint.NET? Maybe I should start bundling pictures of kittens too, or maybe the latest Lady Gaga single.

No.

-Rick

Although apologies to Lady Gaga and kittens everywhere: the retort was meant to imply how unrelated the items are to Paint.NET, and not to be a statement on their level of quality or cuteness. I personally like both cute kittens and Lady Gaga’s music.

Clearly both of these are way cooler than a Firefox addon whose job is to offer up ads for more addons. (Cue the Mitch Hedberg joke: “I want a vending machine that sells vending machines … it’d have to be really freakin’ big!”)

One thing I really detest in the Windows freeware scene is the alarming rate that crapware gets bundled into apps. Not just crapware, but unrelated crapware. It’d be one thing if I were to bundle, say, a free trial of WindowClippings – it’s good, high quality, and I use it myself and think it pairs nicely with Paint.NET (especially with the “Send to Paint.NET” feature). Or, maybe a game you download includes a few offers for other games.

Browser addons though? Give me a break. Why must everyone bundle unrelated toolbars, antivirus scanners (*cough* Flash *cough*), or homepage hijackers? It bugs me to no end when I look at my mom’s computer and she has 4 new Internet Explorer toolbars and has no idea where they came from, simply because she clicked “next next next next next.”

I may have said this before, but I promise Paint.NET will never bundle unrelated crap that requires you to babysit the installer in order to opt-out of it. When you get an update for Paint.NET, it will only be Paint.NET. It’ll never install something else or hijack your browser’s homepage, all because you forgot to babysit the installer and missed a checkbox that defaulted to the “checked” state. (From a business standpoint I can’t promise I’ll never bundle. But I do promise it will be opt-in if that ever happens. The checkboxes will default to “unchecked,” in other words. I have no plans for anything right now, by the way.)

I can understand why many other applications publishers choose to do this: money, and lots of it. Each crapware installation usually nets a bounty of $1 or $2, and with millions of installations it adds up fast. I already have money though and see no reason to be greedy about it, especially since the cost is to flush the good will of the user base along with my reputation. That’s no way to build a career. Now, I don’t have millions packed into suitcases and buried in the backyard like, say, Notch … but there’s clearly better ways to make money than installing junk on people’s PC (as Notch has proven by writing a fun game that he sells for cheap that hundreds of thousands have paid for).

Sometimes I reply by saying they must provide me with their source code so that I can do a security-focused code review on it. That usually shuts them up fast too. And to be honest, I would require this of any code added to the Paint.NET installation: if I can’t review it, then I can’t vouch for it, but ultimately I’d be responsible for it.

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22 thoughts on “Photoshop Filters, and More Silly Business Proposals

  1. Trillian says:

    It’s a good thing we have developers like you saying no such things as opt-out bundled crapware. There are a few software I chose not to install because their installer had a similar “feature”. Thanks for providing an application of impressive quality which respects its users. I’m eager to see what will come out of v4!

  2. Danimal says:

    Thanks, man. It’s awesome that someone can turn away a big chunk of cash like that on principle alone. You’re a good man.

  3. John Dangerbrooks says:

    Well done, null54. This is the greatest improvement to Paint.NET I have ever heard about. Outstanding idea.

    And by the way, Rick, did you have your fun? I seriously hope you had. 🙂

  4. T_Lh says:

    Ha ha…yeah, every computer I’ve ever fixed had the same 5 toolbars and ran slow as heck. Can’t say I’ve ever been approached by crapware makers, however I’ve also never built such a well-known project.

    Nice job messing with them back. 🙂

  5. Daniel says:

    Words cannot express how cool you are. Thank you for being considerate of users. And thank you for all of the years of service you’ve put into Paint.Net. God has a special place in nerd-heaven for developers like you.

  6. Tim Yen says:

    I agree with your position, in the long run your integrity to the user will count. I don’t mind if you bundle, but opt in only.

  7. Michael Ragsdale says:

    Thanks a bunch Rick for turning stupid offers like that down.

    About the only thing I would be OK with bundling Paint.NET would be plugin packs (and ONLY if said plugin authors gave permission) and, as suggested above, a trial of Window Clippings 3. Even then, checkboxes initially unchecked.

    Still, I like how when I download Paint.NET, I get one thing: Paint.NET. If I want a Firefox Addon, I’ll launch Firefox, goto the Tools menu, and pick Add-Ons

  8. Albert says:

    I dunno where i’d stand on this if i were in Rick’s position.

    On one hand, its not cool to install just genereic cr*p with applications…

    but on the other, it could help devs etc on the cash side.

  9. BoltBait says:

    @Michael: Rick has bundled user developed plugins before, like my Ink Sketch plugin. Of course, when he does that, it is not a choice in the installer. He just puts the code right into Paint.NET.

    • Rick Brewster says:

      Yeah this is more like assimilation than bundling. When I do this, I also block the old plugin from loading since it is now “builtin”. The author is of course free to release a new version which will then pass the blockade filter. Often this is done with a “+” suffix, e.g. “Dents+”.

  10. Murat says:

    Hi Michael and Paint.Net users,

    It’s funny but I found your post when an idea to offer a bundle to Paint.NET authors came to my mind 🙂 I guess to connect with you via blog post comments is better than direct email, because your customers might vote for my idea.

    Bundling with any ad based staff is a weird idea.

    But bundling Content Editor with Content Manager looks natural. And both system users could get benefits of this sort of integration.

    Daminion can be linked with any content editor (Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself, I am co-owner of Daminion Media Manager). But integration (and/or bundling) with Paint.NET will be nice. Both products were written using .NET, so technically it’s not hard.

    We totally focused on content management and content publishing, and we don’t have any plans to implement an internal image editor. Instead we’d like to offer a good bridge between the Editor and the Manager.

    I’d be happy to hear any comments fro Michael and Paint.NET users.

    Sorry for so long drawn comment.


    Murat
    http://blog.daminion.net

    • Rick Brewster says:

      I’m not interested in bundling Damion, although your point that an app like Damion isn’t in the same classification as toolbars, et. al., w.r.t. Paint.NET is valid.

      “Both products were written using .NET, so technically it’s not hard.”
      I don’t see how this could possibly be stated as true without actually investigating what it would take to do this. .NET apps aren’t automagically friends with each other just because they’re written in .NET.

    • andy says:

      i’d be curious about your product if it wasn’t advertised so mysteriously on your website. I mean, the only relevant information is in a blog yet your main site just expects you to know what the heck the software is.

      • Murat says:

        Rick and Andy, thanks for the replies.

        Daminion.net will be launched during a week or so. As well as a new Daminion 0.8 beta.

        Rick, my point of interest was to provide a bundle Image Management and Image Editor tools where both side can win and bring to market more valuable product.

        “.NET apps aren’t automagically friends with each other just because they’re written in .NET.”
        Yes. But we could made some investments here.

  11. Kevin says:

    Rick,

    I am in the business of selling auto brake discs and pads. I love your software and wonder if you’d like to bundle Paint.NET with our products in Sears? It’d be a match made in heaven!

    Seriously, though, I keep wondering how Google got away with it when we started seeing their stupid toolbar offer inside every installer.

    As someone working on a freeware project, I agree completely that making money this way is just plain beneath us. However, if you planned on making a non-free “Pro” version of Paint.NET with even cooler features, I might just buy it. Just so you know.

    Cheers,
    Kevin

    • Rick Brewster says:

      I had an e-mail just a day or two ago from someone saying I should add their ink toner store to Paint.NET. Err …. ?

      Well, to their (small) credit, at least it’s related to functionality that’s actually in Paint.NET (File->Print), but still … no thanks.

  12. Tom says:

    “One thing I really detest in the Windows freeware scene is the alarming rate that crapware gets bundled into apps. Not just crapware, but unrelated crapware.”

    Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to freeware anymore. Almost all major commercial and trial software includes opt-out crapware under the guise of “convience and/or security”. I think it shows a major disrespect to users.

    Thank you for not doing the same.

  13. The Aqua Buddha says:

    As Tom said, crapware is in commercial software also. Anything from Adobe® will inevitably ask(if you want to install a certain toolbar, set the default search to the site that is installing the toolbar, and set your home page to the toolbar installer’s page).com

    I have been using PdN for a while now, and I love it. One of the things I love the most is that you DON’T include crapware. That and the extensibility. I use Firefox for pretty much the same reason (that and the fact that IE is junk – JMO).

    ¡vive la différence!

  14. Daniel Sage says:

    I happened to get an email that was very similar, if not the same, to the first one you have shown. I wonder if they would even track the installations because when I ran the installer they sent me, inside a virtual machine, at least 10 installers popped up and started working… I turned them down.

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