MEET THE DEVELOPER
His Big Photo Op
Gus Mueller on making a photo editor for all.
Acorn 6 Image Editor
Image editor for humans
Developer Gus Mueller of Flying Meat never intended Acorn, his lightweight but powerful image editor, to be all things to all people.
Sure, it’s one of the fastest ways to crop, resize, and add text to an image. And yes, it offers more than 100 photo effects as well as nondestructive filters. But the appeal of Acorn has always been that it doesn’t overwhelm you. In fact, Mueller’s inspiration for coding the app was largely creative. “I was curious what it would take to write an image editor,” he says.
We spoke to Mueller about Acorn’s humble origins, his culinary aspirations, and meat (flying and otherwise).
When Acorn debuted, there were already firmly entrenched image-editing apps on the market. What made you want to jump in?
Acorn grew out of upgrades to another app of mine, FlySketch, designed for screen capture and sketching. Customers asked for new features, I started adding brushes and layers and multiple windows, and all of a sudden I had a full-blown image editor. But Acorn still serves different needs than professional-level editors. Acorn is powerful, but nimble and approachable. It also has excellent documentation that we’ve worked hard on for years.
What’s one feature you wish Acorn had that it doesn’t?
Tools to deform and skew Bezier paths. It’s not so much that I would use these, but I think they would be really fun to code up. Fully vector brushstrokes come as a close second and probably wouldn’t be too hard to do, but that’s not really a fit for Acorn.
As far as something actually useful, probably a single-window interface, with the tools and inspectors permanently placed in good locations, and with tab support for going between images. It’s been a trend that applications have been moving toward for years.
What do you love about being an indie developer?
Being able to create something from nothing. You use a text editor, a programming language, and your brain. And on top of that, being an independent developer means I get to be my own boss. I get to decide what I work on, and if I feel like taking a day off, I can do that. Being indie means I also have to juggle a lot more responsibilities, but it’s worth it.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Feedback from people who really enjoy the application. Whenever someone sends me an email—or even a physical letter or postcard—I always file that away to a special folder. I don’t hear from 99 percent of my customers, but I love when someone writes to tell me how Acorn is making their life easier or even making things possible for them that they couldn’t do before.