The software has a long history, dating back to the 1990s when it was sold by Spacetech. There were a number of versions available from the company, with the top-end version costing around £300, and there were even separate ‘plug-ins’ available.
Around the turn of the century a new company – Photodesk Ltd – was formed, named for the comprehensive photo-editing application itself, and took over all of Spacetech’s range. However, like many of the well known companies from the Acorn and RISC OS history books, Photodesk Ltd is no more. The software eventually found itself with CJE Micro’s, and about a year and a half ago Netherlands-based XAT purchased the rights to it – and version 3.14.17 is now available.
Version 3.14 was a CJE release back in 2016, with a free patch1 subsequently issued to deal with issues affecting users of certain machines, bringing it up to version 3.14-17 – note that that’s hyphen17, not point17!
So what’s new in 3.14.17? Well, according to the press release the software has only had some minor, but useful work done to it – which explains why it is only a point release – so the changes are mostly under the hood things that an everyday user probably won’t even notice. The two most significant items are:
- There are now two separate installers, one targeting RiscPC-era hardware and one for more modern platforms. This means more up to date systems benefit from settings that wouldn’t be possible if the same defaults were used across the board in order to ensure backwards compatibility.
- Also to the benefit of users of modern systems, some of the loaders, filetypes, and ‘intercepts’ that the software employs have been tidied up.
Beyond those, changes include updating the splash screen to reflect the new ownership (and the history thereof), the way components are packaged – for distribution via a zip file rather than on CD – and so on.
There has also been a significant drop in price. As noted above, back in the 1990s, the top-end version of PhotoDesk had a price tag in the hundreds of pounds. At the time of the 3.14 release from CJE Micro’s, the software was £84.00 – and with the latest version that has been dropped again to £42.00.
For users of any older version, there is a blanket upgrade price of just £29.00 – when ordering simply put “UPGRADE 29” in the ‘special instructions’ field in !Store, and this will enable R-Comp to take the necessary steps to reduce the price.
Future updates released on !Store are expected to be free of charge.
The software has been tested on a range of platforms, but only as far back as RISC OS 4.xx (on VirtualRiscPC) – RISC OS 3.1 is no longer supported, and it is no longer possible for R-Comp to test on later RISC OS 3 machines, so it’s probably best to consider RISC OS 4 the baseline.
- In the post about the free patch made available by CJE Micro’s, there is a note that the discussion around the issue it address had veered off onto the use of camel case for the software’s name – PhotoDesk vs Photodesk – and that the general policy here in the bunker (barring mistakes, which are probably all too common) is simply to try to follow the lead of whoever currently looks after and sells the software. That policy will continue, but it’s worth noting that in the image above of an old Spacetech advertisement, the name is fully capitalised at the start of each section, and the one place it is used within a sentence it is written as Photodesk.
Looking at the old Photodesk Ltd website via web.archive.org also shows Photodesk as the general use case. PhotoDesk – as well as being ugly – is clearly wrong, but it is being used (mostly) for the current release, so that is what is being used here2. But R-Comp and/or XAT should take a good long look at themselves in the mirror and think about doing the right thing, and CJE Micro’s should hang their heads in shame for perpetrating this camel case myth.
- The exception to that is where I’ve referred to the company, Photodesk Ltd.