A Guide to Web Image Compression Software: CyberView Image Pro
Software type: JPEG compressor
CyberView Image Pro is now out in version 4.10. The program has changed a lot since version 1. It was a good program, it's now a lot better: tighter integration of the interface, new features. It comes as a plugin for Photoshop as well as a stand alone application.
What is it?
CyberView Image Pro is a JPEG optimiser with a great deal of control available to the user. It accepts JEPGs and BMP files as input.
It has a well designed interface, but it's quite complex as a result of giving the user a so much control over the image. You get a smoothing filter (to soften the image and thus reduce final file size); a precision slider, which increases the accuracy of the compression at the expense of increased file size; an overall compression slider which is the major control over file size and image accuracy; and a selection compression control, which affects the level of compression of areas specially selected. Luminance and colour information can be handled separately (or locked together) on the precision, compression and selection-compression controls. There is a phalanx of toolbar buttons to control these outcomes.
The original and compressed file images are normally shown side by side on the screen. A particularly excellent innovation is a button that swaps the compressed and original images instantly with a click of the mouse: this allows very clear comparison of the changes caused to the image by the compression. It's a feature that other compression programs would do well to imitate.
The area selection tool works well, although you have to draw onto the image the areas you want to select in small rectangular blocks. You can add or subtract from your selection easily, and hide or show the selection boundaries. When you have selected the area(s) you want, you apply extra compression with the "selection" slider. If you're happy with the result, you can merge the results into the normal view and go on to select new areas for additional treatment, if you so wish.
There's an in-context help button to assist, although some of the explanations are a little opaque. For instance, the term "precision" doesn't seem to be defined anywhere. You can get some idea of what's meant by the context, but it's a bit confusing. This is especially so as there are three ways of applying "precision" to via the precision slider. I'm afraid I didn't follow this. And because the demonstration version does not allow output files to be saved, I couldn't compare the results of different types of application of "precision".
It incorporates an 8-bit view capability, which lets you see what the image looks like dithered on a 256-colour screen. There's a magnification setting that lets you inspect the image in close up, and a navigation control that lets you move around the image if it won't fit into the available screen.
Overall the interface is very good, but the controls take a while to get used to. I suspect they take even longer to learn to use expertly (and would no doubt show the benefits of that).
How well does it work?
Because I couldn't save files, I can't give you an accurate idea how it compares with other programs. And because I don't yet completely understand how best to use the controls, I'm not sure if I was able to get the best out of it. On one of my test images, it did a very good job indeed (as good as the very best). On another, it was not quite as good as some of the competition. Whether that was because of my lack of skill or not, I can't tell.
There are two, one of which only applies to the demo version: as mentioned, you can't save output files for later comparison. The second is that CyberView will only read JPEG or BMP files, so if you want to scan and save an image without loss, you have to use the rather bloated BMP format. A minor irritation is that there are a number of misspellings in the help file and on one of the button pop-up captions.
Potentially very good, once you learn to drive it, but the crippled demo version is a problem for this.
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