Aviary – another feather in your design cap?

An “early-bird” invite for the intriguing looking Aviary suite plopped into my particular corner of the Freshleaf inbox today. I’ve been following the development of this collection of Flash-based online tools for a while now, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands covered in a few feathers…

OK, so maybe I still can’t try all of the tools just yet, and I’m still not entirely sure how well things like the sound, music and 3D editing tools will shape up against their desktop counterparts, but on first glance the two tools available as an early beta seem pretty darned impressive.

Phoenix is Aviary’s image editing application, and while the market is increasingly crowded (Adobe’s own Photoshop Express currently front-runner, with more specialised apps like rsizr filling in any of the big player’s shortcomings), Phoenix nevertheless seems to fight a decent fight. The interface is intuitive, fully featured (including layers and blend modes), and responsive enough to be of actual use when the more familiar desktop equivalents aren’t to hand

Peacock is a bird of an altogether different feather though, describing itself as a “Computer algorithm-based pattern generator”. Which on paper sounds incredibly dull, but in practice is great fun, if seemingly limited in practical value.

Again, the interface is surprisingly intuitive. I delved straight in, dragged my initial procedural generator onto the canvas, chucked a load of effects and controllers into the chain, and before I knew it I had a swirly, swooshy abstract image to rival anything to be found on OS X’s desktop…

The Aviary project is incredibly ambitious, with a mind-boggling array of apps currently in development. Especially if those applications are to interact and integrate in any kind of meaningful way. Even Adobe’s CS3 suite struggles in some areas of this (despite the best efforts of Bridge and Version Cue to mediate), so if they can pull this off successfully this talented dev team will have quite an impressive product on their hands. And being away from your office computer will no longer be a valid reason for any lack of productivity…

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