What this program does is simply let you stamp your images and digital photos with either a text message like "? 2007 Frank Abagnale", or an image, your company logo, etc, or both. Other utilities that I have used before irked me with needlessly complex user interfaces, but Watermark Factory is an example in simplicity, even if it deviates from the usual Windows user interface design. You might initialy miss some usual UI conventions like File->Open and the like, but in the end you will find the WF UI strikingly easy to use.
You start with a bunch of photos that you want watermarked
The subject of "custom user interfaces" is often "a call for a fight" among different programmer camps. For instance, Bill Higgins writes over here: "users do have certain expectations about how UIs should look and behave, and when you violate these expectations by not following conventions, you'd better be confident that the benefits outweigh the potential pain you'll cause users."
A clean and friendly user interface is the software's biggest selling point
He's right. I remember the famous Kai's Power Goo and KPT as one particular family of applications on which its publisher insisted on not following any OS user interface conventions and as a result we the users had a steep learning curve.
Selecting files to process. Notice the thumbnails and the "preview" window
In "Watermark Factory" all parts of the custom user interface make sense. You start by selecting a series of files (.jpg images) to be "watermarked" with your logo or message. But you can also select a whole folder, a feature which I found a "must have". Thumbnails are automatically created and displayed, so you're not working "in the blind" with file names but seeing the actual thumbnails of the images you're about to watermark. With a single click you can view the EXIF information saved by your digital camera into each file. As you move up and down the file selection list, a bigger "preview" image is displayed.
Clicking on the "Watermark" tab lets you edit the watermark message, it's font, size, location, you can even rotate it to the angle of your choice by clicking on totally intuitive round controls. Once you have selected a watermark you like (whether it's a text watermark or a picture one) you can save it for later use. Saved watermarks immediately appear under the "pre-sets" list, and will be there every time you launch the program (you can also, of course, erase those from the pre-sets list).
When I say the user interface is totally intuitive I mean for instance this: clicking on a check box titled "enable effects" proceeds to "un-shadow" the whole effects section, which before that click cannot be toyed with. This makes the whole experience much faster to the untrained eye.
Top: folder selection dialogue. Bottom: Preview
Once you are happy with your selection, you only need to select a destination folder for your watermarked pictures and click on the aptly named "Generate!" button. In a few seconds you have a new version of your photos with the watermark applied. It's that easy. And for added safety, the option "overwrite originals" is not the default. You can also save this information into a "profile", for later reload which also saves clicks.
The program is really fast and processed a batch of 15 images almost instantly.Very rarely have I come across a program from a small company which is so well designed from the usability point of view. As our resident editor says: "it does what it says in the box", with the only difference that in this instance there's no box. You just need to download the trial from the company's web site, and then order your registration and apply this information to the software. It should be noted that the company does not use any "on-line validation" of licences, which is a big plus in these days of 'active licence checking' which also has the side-effect of leaving you with no licence in case the company ever goes down when the company's validation web site disappears from the Net.
Selecting watermark text, size, colour, position and angle
The Good: very nice user interface. Fast operation, no bugs found during test.
The Bad: the price is a bit high for this category of application, specially since others in this category can be found for around $25-$30. This is still offset by the fact that this is the best watermark utility for Windows that I have found.
The Ugly: nothing really ugly that I could see.
After clicking on the "Generate!" button, here is the result:
Your photos and digital images all watermarked.
I recommend this utility wholeheartedly, both for novices and power users alike. With its custom user interface, this is the kind of application that even the total beginner can figure out.
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ