December 1st, 2007 Desktop, Software, Tech

DebBabelizer Pro 6.0 is a batch image processing application and a pretty good one. The question is; do you need it? If you’re in graphic design or art direction, you’ll almost certainly have a graphics program you can use for image processing with one hand tied behind your back, whether it’s Photoshop, Fireworks or any number of others.

There’d be an argument in favour of DeBabelizer as an alternative to Photoshop if it was dirt cheap, but as it’s $880, Photoshop is only a few hundred dollars more.

That leaves DeBabelizer two prongs of assault to convince you it’s worth it. The first is that Photoshop, Fireworks et al are geared more towards fine tuning individual images than batch processing masses of them. Photoshop’s action tools are fine but a little fiddly, and DeBabelizer makes an art and science out of the same thing, giving you deep control over naming, saving and applying tasks and workflows to apply to potentially huge amounts of image files.

The intended market is anybody who processes large numbers of files for use in a specific project. If you have a thousand incoming jpegs from all over the place you need to treat for a single website or slideshow and they all need the same dimensions, colour profile and format (as well as nearly endless other parameters), you’ll enjoy the ‘set and forget’ operation of the desktop droplets and other batch actions.

The second attractive aspect is DeBabelizer’s suitability to use over servers. No matter how big or small your operation, you can install it on a server and give all client machines droplets or hot folders that automatically run the processes necessary for a project, including moving them to an output folder or relevant destination anywhere on your network.

DeBabelizer works on flat image or animated gif files. We tried with a few finished video formats such as .mov and .avi but had no luck — whether that was an encoding issue built into each video or DeBabelizer’s limitations wasn’t clear.

You can either make changes to an open image and then apply those as parameters to a workflow or create a workflow or set parameters and steps and then apply it to the images. Many of the menu controls are concerned with image manipulation, and the workflow and batch palettes are where you set up your processes for future use. Once devised, they can be put to work by dragging folders of images onto them in the application or creating a droplet on the desktop.

Setting up hot folders to enact regular tasks is a great idea to leverage DeBabelizer’s power but it’s extremely fiddly and could be a lot more user friendly. A combination of searching the help files and doing what seemed to make sense produced no result, but with a bit of practice it’s sure to become easier.

DeBabelizer is unlikely to knock image manipulation programs off their pedestals, but it’s not really in the same class despite appearances. There’s a limited market, but if you fall into that you’ll find it an invaluable part of your toolset.

RRP $880

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