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Thoughts On Photo RAW Announcement

If you're like me, you've been waiting (and waiting) for Photo RAW to release. A couple of weeks ago, the date was announced - Nov 23rd. That's changed a bit now.

Yesterday ON1 announced the Photo RAW software we will see on Nov 23rd is a pre-release. The full version of the software comes a few weeks later on December 19th.

I'm slightly mixed in my feelings about the announcement. But mostly, I think it's the right call. Here's a few thoughts:

  1. It's a bummer. Photo RAW was announced back in April '16. It was billed for release in the Fall of 2016. People put money down. Waited 6 months. Teasers were shown. Finally a release date is announced. You may have made plans to use Photo RAW for a holiday project. And now the full release got pushed back. Ok... letter of the law is that winter begins Dec 21st. But I don't know anyone that in practice considers Dec 19th as "Fall".
  2. Stability is important. I'm reading between the lines on this one. I've used ON1 products for years. Some releases have been less than stable when initially received. It's painful when you work on a photo, pour effort into it, and then there's a software glitch. Boom. Work lost. I think the extra 3 weeks gives the development teams at ON1 time to squash bugs and make Photo RAW stable. Photo RAW has got to be stable when it's released.
  3. Monthly releases. In the announcement, ON1 says there'll be monthly releases to Photo RAW. That's a sprinkle of sugar in this shot of vinegar. But it could be huge, really. I don't expect a new feature every month. I do expect a regular cadence of stability fixes. Or small tweaks that make the user experience smoother. Little things like this go a long way. A stable, easy to use product equals a happy user.
  4. It's the right call. In my opinion, ON1 made the right choice. It's in nobody's best interest to push a product out the door before it's ready. I can't imagine it was an easy decision for ON1 to make. From a marketing and finance standpoint, this decision means no instant gratification Black Friday deals. From an emotional standpoint, I know enough of the staff there that they hate disappointing customers. Even when long term it's the right call. 

If there's a silver lining, it's not a 3 month or 6 month delay. Reasonably short in the grand scheme of things. And if the promise of monthly releases taken the form of continued stability fixes and a feature here and there - that's a win. If I need to wait a month for a stable product, that's a tradeoff I'll take in a heartbeat.

One last thought... ON1... you might want to move away from the yearly cadence of software releases. Photo 10 crept from October to November '15. Photo RAW is creeping into December '16. Feature rich products like Photo RAW take time to create and stabilize. And I don't expect many people will be keen on another upgrade 10 months from now.