Phatch Review

very good
key review info
  • Application: Phatch 0.0.bzr157
  • Reviewed on:
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application features
  • Batch crop
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There are moments when you need to do some basic image editing, like adding shadows or watermarks to a large number of images and you are running out of time, so you can't just edit them one by one. A problem that I also encountered until I found out about Phatch, a marvelous utility that could be your best friend when you have to change many pictures and you're short on time. Phatch is a simple and easy to use cross-platform GUI Photo Batch Processor that supports all popular image formats and can duplicate folder/subfolder hierarchies. In the future, a console version will be created, so you can batch photos even on webservers. Phatch was created in Python and you'll notice it is still connected with the scripting language, so if you know something about Python, it will be a true advantage, because the program even has a console for it! Read on and you'll find out what Phatch has prepared for you!

Phatch's installation was very simple and quick, as I'm using Ubuntu 7.10. I downloaded the .deb package and double clicked it, waited a few seconds for the Package Installer to start and after reading the description, I clicked on the "Install Package" button, situated in the upper-right corner of the window. To install it, Ubuntu requested my password, so I typed it in. The installation started,and after a while it finished. To run the app, I went to Applications -> Graphics and Phatch was there! I launched it, anxious to see what it can do. When I first saw it, I was a little bit disappointed: a window with a white background and some kind of robot with four arms were the only things waiting there. So I started browsing through the menus, first going to "Help", to find more info about Phatch. There are three options in this menu:

• Translate Phatch - this will send you to the application's Launchpad website, where you can contribute to the current translations, or if there's no translation for your language, you can start it.

• Write Action Plugin - If you know PIL, then you can write a plugin for Phatch. You can study the plugins in /usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/phatch/actions. If you want to see your action plugin in the next version of Phatch, you can send it by mail to the program's developer.

• About Phatch - offers information about the license used, credits to the persons who contributed and the current version installed on your system.

Everything in Phatch has a keyboard shortcut, even the less important things. Press CTRL+N and a new Action List will be created. The same thing could be done by going to File -> New. The buttons under the main toolbar are very intuitive and they will take the icon theme you're using on your system.

Ok, let's see Phatch in action. Go to Edit -> Add to include a new action in the list. To simplify things, you can click on the button that looks like a cross and a new window will pop-up. Here you can select from a number of nine actions, which are: "Canvas size" - scales the canvas without resizing the image, "Convert Mode" - changes the color mode of an image, "Image size" - scales an image with different filters, "Invert" - inverts the colors of an image, "Round" - modifies the corners of an image, making them round or crossed and lets the user choose every corner individually, "Save" - the most important action, that saves all changes you've made, "Shadow" - drops a blurred shadow under a photo, "Transpose" - this action will rotate or flip an image at a 90 degrees angle, "Watermark" - applies a watermark with tiling, scaling and opacity. Every action has its own options, so we can say that Phatch is a complex application disguised as a simple one. I was delighted to see what's under this disguise.

The action lists can be saved, so you can use them after you finish doing a set of images. The actions could be then used another time, so you won't go through the same steps of creating the rules every time you want to modify a batch of files. I like the fact that you can put the actions in the order you want them to be run. The first action that will be started is the first one going from the upper side of the window to the bottom. If you selected "Watermark", "Round" and "Shadow", first a watermark will be applied, then the corners will be rounded and finally a drop shadow will be added to the image. By the way, I've noticed that if you play a little with the corners of your image and then make it less opaque, the corners will still have the opacity set at 100.

The last action you should add to a list is "Save", which will let you choose the path where to save the modified files, their type (bmp, jpg, png, and more others), the resolution (measured in dpi - dots per inch) and the quality of the result. If you forget to add "Save", don't worry, Phatch will add it automatically when you try to execute the action list. The execution process takes place if you go to Tools -> Execute, or press CTRL+X. When you do this, a new window will appear, allowing you to choose the source file or directory, check the image types that the program should use from the specified directory and more. When you're done with these options, click on the "Batch" button, located in the lower right corner of the window and the magic takes place. It only takes a few moments to process the images, so you will gain a lot of time, if you think about the nightmare you had when you edited every file manually.

I've played a little with the actions and at a certain point I tried to use "Convert Mode", to change an image from RGB to CMYK colour code and the result was an error, telling me it can't save the file as png, because I selected CMYK. I clicked on "Ignore", to see what happens. I tell you, nothing good happened! The result was a file that could not be opened! Something similar happens if you have "Shadow" in your list, and select in "Convert Mode" the option monochrome. Although Phatch has a Log Viewer included (you can access it by pressing CTRL+L), these errors were not appended to the log. I searched for something that would add the errors to the log, but I didn't find anything.

If you want to see what's "under the hood" of Phatch, you can launch the Python shell, located in Tools. The keyboard shortcut for the shell is CTRL+P. When I first launched it, I took a look in it, closed it and again launched it. This led to the blocking of Phatch and I had to kill the process, because the application couldn't do anything. I forgot to tell you that after you create a set of actions, you can transform the application in a droplet (by pressing CTRL+D) which will take a small space on your desktop. You can drag and drop images on it and the Phatch droplet will process them automatically. To return to normal view, just right click or double click on the green droplet.

The Good

Phatch is very stable, from my point of view. It looks very clean and simple, without any unnecessary features. With the main actions you can do every basic modifications on a batch of images. An advantage of Phatch over other applications is the fact that new actions can be created, so if you want more than nine actions, you can start creating some (of course, if you know Python)!

The Bad

A help file is missing and I would love to see some functions explained in more detail. The lack of a "Preferences" menu is really annoying, because I would like to configure the program to suit me. I'm pretty sure there are more persons like me out there.

The Truth

The truth is that this application will transform itself in one important tool that you will find in almost every Linux distribution. It is one of the most useful software I've encountered until now.

Here are some screenshots with Phatch in action:

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user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 4
pricing / value 5

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good

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