PureRef (specialized image viewer/editor)

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Midas
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PureRef (specialized image viewer/editor)

#1 Post by Midas » Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:31 am

PureRef (https://www.pureref.com/) is a FLOSS multi-platform image manipulator available in a natively portable single executable download. Its development stopped in 2017 but it is still very popular with the photography crowd.

As stated at https://www.pureref.com/forum/read.php?3,1497,1497, the portable PureRef won't run without 'msvcp140.dll' and 'vcruntime140.dll' (i.e., Visual C++ 2015) runtime files -- which you can get from the install folder of any recent Firefox browser, for instance.

PureRef was created to be a simple and lightweight tool for artists to organize and view their reference images.

Image


PureRef latest Windows portable release (currently v1.9.5) can be downloaded from https://www.pureref.com/download.php.

NOTE: the download page is asking for a small donation but if you just want check the program you can set the value to "0" to proceed; you should then cancel the automatic installer download and click the "portable version it can be found here" link.

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webfork
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Re: PureRef (specialized image viewer/editor)

#2 Post by webfork » Wed May 20, 2020 8:06 pm

I didn't look into this closely because I'm not a photographer and only occasionally do graphics work, but there's a LOT going on here. Really like this, hence the lengthy analysis ...

Some other possible uses beyond just an image reference:
  • Presentations - bring images in and push them back out again (the zoom looks great even when not the precise, original size). Could potentially use in concert with gInk for annotations.
  • Art projects - create image mosaics
  • Image selection tool - to grab various images around your computer. CTRL+SHIFT+O opens the folder where your image is located
  • Software overview - taking various screenshots of tools and menus, then quickly and easily build them into a structure, sequence, or top-down picture. Example:
  • Image
  • Desktop stickies - especially with the keep-on-top feature, though limited on text entry
  • Reference tool - you can take screenshots and paste them in for quick reference. Double-click on an item to pull it to the fore
  • Watermark creator - example:
  • Image
  • Generate thumbnails / contact sheets - ideal because it makes tight-fitting view that optimize for available space with different sized pictures (here's an example of several desktop backgrounds all pasted into the program:
  • Image
  • Screen filter - by making the window full screen, setting the transparency, and pulling up an image that is of a specific color or shade, you can get the following effect:
  • Image

    Image
Other nice features:
  • Intuitive batch add and easy navigation / sorting for some or all images
  • Hold alt-left click for an unlimited canvas with any number of images,
  • Images zoom with really great quality and detail
  • Grayscale mode is ideal when you want stuff on your desktop that's not too distracting
  • Setup a number of different views by dragging the .PUR file on top of PureRef.exe
  • Arrange images at the bottom, top, right, left, stacked, etc. much like PowerPoint
Usage suggestions:
  • A LOT of functionality is in the key bindings so having something opening with a listing of those while you play with the program is very helpful. Going through the right-click menu gets tedious.
  • Stores up to 50 undo steps (more in options), but keep in mind that redo (going forward in edits) is CTRL+SHIFT Z

Bugs: on Win10x64
  • Getting a crash when I try to change color settings via the menu or hotkeys
  • Drag-and-drop seemed to work and then stopped, not sure what was going on with that.
Wishlist:
  • To actually go open source. It uses a lot of OSS components but is governed by an EULA https://www.pureref.com/license.php
  • Auto-save work by default and maintaining all undo steps, and auto-launch whatever was worked on at last
  • This is probably a dificult technical problem, but it does appear to take up more RAM as more images are added. Very high quality JPEG images (15+ megs) for example balooned RAM usage into the 600 megs range. There are various workarounds for this (compress images before adding) but this would be something photographers and graphic editors with less RAM would care about.
  • Something like CTRL+double click to have an individual image open full screen and not just fill the alloted area
  • Would love to have a way to actively send photos from my phone directly to the window. Maybe some kind of watch function that automatically pulls images saved to a given directory?
  • Ability to save the entire canvas as a high-res or lossless image. I can see a lot of work going into one of these and exporting it without losing (much) fidelity would be great.
  • Opposte the "keep on top" would like to see a "keep on desktop, meaning the lowest possible window position so it's always below any other windows. Edit: this is already present in the program, just didn't look closely enough.
Other notes:
  • Doesn't keep image transformations when exporting, but it's not an editor so I guess I understand that.
  • Generally low resource usage for a program of it's type (under 50 megs in my tests with under 15 images). Even the high quality zooming that the program warns is CPU intensive only topped out about 12%.
  • Ability to arrage images so that all are visible (optimize) so they're all the same size, height,
Changelog:
https://www.pureref.com/changelog.php
Midas wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:31 am
PureRef won't run without 'msvcp140.dll' and 'vcruntime140.dll' (i.e., Visual C++ 2015) runtime files
I tested on Win10x64 without issue here.

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Re: PureRef (specialized image viewer/editor)

#3 Post by Midas » Thu May 21, 2020 1:49 am

Excellent overview, thanks. :sunglasses:

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Re: PureRef (specialized image viewer/editor)

#4 Post by webfork » Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:28 pm

Still enjoying this program ... a few more items:

* You can launch scenes quickly with a batch file with very simple syntax: Pureref.exe scene1.pur. This is useful if you need to load up one of a range of different scene options. Yes, you can use this to launch multiple instances.

Wishlist:

* Optional tray icon
* When a given layout is saved, preserve whether or not it's been set to grayscale
* CLI options to load a given layout e.g. PureRef.exe

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Re: PureRef (specialized image viewer/editor)

#5 Post by webfork » Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:45 am

Update here: I've been working with the developers a bit and very impressed by some of the changes they're making. Note that they'll likely move to a liteware format, which I sort of understand as this is a very powerful accessory for designers/editors.

For an open source version that's also cross-platform there's also Fotowall. Not portable and doesn't appear to be in development any longer.

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