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Online photo editor dumps Flash, makes the leap to web tech

PicMonkey no longer relies on Adobe's dying browser plug-in. An overhaul also turns the photo editing tool into a design tool, too.

PicMonkey's online photo editor now can graphics and multiple photos, including graphic elements filled with photo imagery, for better design abilities.


PicMonkey, an online photo editor, has taken the web technology plunge -- and not a moment too soon.

PicMonkey for years used Adobe Systems' Flash Player plugin for web browsers. But browser makers have been banishing plugins because of problems with security, performance and battery life and because the web itself has embraced many of Flash's features, like advanced graphics, camera controls and polished text. Browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari have made it harder to run Flash, and Adobe in 2017 announced it'll scrap Flash in 2020.

But the new PicMonkey foundation, announced Wednesday, is only one change. The company also significantly expanded the app's utility as a design tool, not just a photo editor. Multiple photos can be placed on a larger background and turned into fill for shapes and text, Chief Executive Frits Habermann said.

That makes PicMonkey, which costs $6 a month for an annual subscription, a more serious competitor to Adobe's own products -- not just Photoshop for photo editing, but now Illustrator and InDesign for design and layout, too.

Habermann should know. He co-founded InDesign earlier in his career.

PicMonkey logo

Sixty-employee PicMonkey isn't likely to dethrone Adobe among serious professionals, Habermann said. But there are plenty of small businesses and creators touting their wards on Etsy and Instagram, and members of small teams who can benefit from a package that's useful and much cheaper than Adobe's $50-per-month Creative Cloud software suite subscription.

The new PicMonkey technology is still in testing. People can sign up to try it now, but PicMonkey expects the first finished product won't be done until May or June.