We live in an era of big data and really powerful computer programs to help us analyze and navigate that data. The top end powerful programs seem to get a lot of press when released. The moment the newest version of Photoshop hits Phlearn, Tony Northrup, and several others will have videos explaining the features to their audiences. We often forget the programs on the lower end of the spectrum.
Low-end programs are generally bundled with an operating system for free and enable basic features for text and image editing. Many of you might be familiar with Microsoft Paint, a basic image editor bundled with Windows since 1985. Quite often these low end programs are our first introduction to tools are seem intentionally designed with cumbersome interfaces and missing toolsets.
One of the most modern missing tool sets from desktop applications is the ability to share a project while still in the creative process. Collaboration is key for most of what I produce and so I've found myself using Google Draw more and more these days to get things done. My kids are required once a week to record a video for our podcast available at HorseRockets.com with videos available at our youtube channel as well (feel free to subscribe). My oldest daughter does most of the editing and uploading to youtube.
When I create an image file to use as the custom thumbnail I need to be able to share this with her in a way she can edit the file. If I were to do this in Microsoft Paint, it would flatten the image upon saving and she wouldn't be able to edit it. If I were to do this in Adobe's suite (photoshop, illustrator, or fireworks could all work for this) I'd have to purchase another license and the cost doesn't justify this expense. Besides, those programs don't have native file sharing.
Enter Google Draw. This program will allow me to save the project as an .SVG which is a browser compatible vector format. It's also a format that can be read by free software applications such as inkscape. While inkscape does have a more robust tool set Google Draw has what I need to get most jobs done. When it was time to create a data flow diagram for class it was my platform of choice for creation.
Also this week Eliza and I did some on screen research on Octopuses (or Octopi) and I wanted to create a custom thumbnail for the episode. One again Google Draw came through. Now she has this thumbnail template shared with her to use with upcoming episodes.
We often overlook the lower end of the software spectrum because of its lack of tool set or key features, but the low end of the spectrum in some areas is certainly powerful enough to lift some very heavy loads. Google Draw's big draw for us is the ability to share and export in easily recognizable formats, whether it's the open source SVG format for editing in other applications such as inkscape, or a ready to publish PNG/JPG file, this is more than the little program that could. It's the little program that does!