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News and Reviews > Image Manager Shootout

Xnview vs. IrfanView - integrity issue examined

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I can't say I recall any dialogs in Irfan that were anything special.  How can you claim copying when your dialogs are standard windows dialogs?  Maybe I'm missing some hidden, super-cool, knock-your-socks-off dialogs buried deep within the bowels of irfan.  That being said, I rarely use either program since I bought Directory Opus and have been using its built in viewer.

I understand that in certain fields, dialoge/controls ideas can be a competitive advantage (I can do things in certain tools in acdsee and lightzone or lightroom that i cannot achieve in the more traditional setting systems), but actually not as much. I did not buy acdsee because of that one dialogue/tool, i bought because the whole package was put together in a way that suited what i needed to do.

It is true that if you spend time thinking about a particular task long enough to work out a better way (you think) you might feel cheated. It happened to me several times that both writing and features (it was in ecommerce and cmses at the time) you come up with ideas noone else has done yet - then they end up somewhere else, exact copy down to the help text... Especially if these others manage to be more successful than you it does feel really unfair.

It is also true than most times if you are honest with yourself you can imagine that any smart person spending the same amount of time as you thinking about this has a high chance of coming up with a similar idea. I am not sure how many ways there are to do batch operations, for example, although I do remember irfan being great for this about 10 years ago.

Very rarely does someone come up with something that others couldnt come up with. Rarely is there an idea that is so unique and new and fresh - but those ought to be protected some. How you protect these without allowing all the i-m-just-the-first-person-to-spend-10-minutes-thinking-about-this pointless patents, alas, is near impossible in the software field.

Imagine if when writing messages you had to consult some database to make sure your wording is different from every app out there? or if you had to do a file/open in a different way from everyone's? Ugh!

But you still feel cheated when someone lifts and idea from you and they make more success than you with it - that's the bit that rankles and upsets.

Steven Avery:
Hi Folks,

  The issue about the dialog boxes, or the same screens, I believe is being misunderstood
some.  I doubt that the issue is the amount of work involved.  If the exact wording or screen
elements are copied from one product to another, it cannot be accidental, because of probability.
It is a demonstration that product B actually looked at product A and used it word-for-word,
or screen feature by screen feature.  Now, on the other hand, this does not mean that anything
was "reverse engineered" or "pixel by pixel" (or that any code was copied) since those are
technical terms that operate at a lower level. 

   What is strange about copying of wording or screens is the type of thumb-your-nose
chutzpah (arrogance) and laziness involved.  We likely all agree that looking at other products
to see what they accomplish is totally part of modern software enhancement design (although
of course the original designer can feel upset.  And it is unclear whether Irfan, when his ideas
showed up elsewhere, fully understood and agrees that this is legitimate).  However to be so
lazy as to not even always make a facial overhaul, a wording overhaul (and of course, technically
speaking, a somewhat different look-and-feel) while not being technically vital, is a slap
in the face of the original designer.  Even if there was nothing super-special in the elements
copied. From the comments and history here,and Irfan's offer to give us screens, it does
appear that XnView has done some of this lazy face-slapping copying.

   On the other hand, Irfan has not been Mr. Diplomat in the way that he discussed this
on his web site, or how he knocks things like other 'bloated' programs here and there.
Perhaps he was surprised that a later-comer like XnView was so successful in establishing
credibility and being a viable alternative to his software baby.  I have not checked downloads
and market share but neither one seems to predominate, both are considered very fine products,
and this is something that Irfan should probably be more gracious about. 

   I still have not come to a decision on this personally.  I would have liked XnView's
Gougelet to say ... something.  The lack of *any* response anywhere supports the
idea that he has been blatant at times.  Never denying the allegation (probably
because of evidence ready to be presented) or being a real mensch and saying
something like:

"Your right.  Structurally it was a minor issue, I always write my own fresh, clean
code, my system has its own advantages, and I have every right and it is proper
to look at a dozen programs for new features.  However my apologies for at times
implementing them in a way that was lazy and improper, using the visual elements
of IrfanView.  There is plenty of room for two or even more excellent freeware
viewers and I hope all the good programs can prosper.  I respect Irfan's excellent
program, that pioneered Windows viewing, and I will be more professional in the future".

   Gougelet He has not said this, he has not said anything, anywhere, leaving me with
an impression that he has dealt with this in an underhanded manner.  And stupidly,
since he probably could have sufficiently altered all the dialogs and visual elements
in a matter of hours to make the whole issue moot.

  These issues are important to me, I wrote a 30-page article on a Bible version
plagiarism, where the copying was totally blatant, but the original source was hard
to track down, however when one lady researcher tracked down the original source,
the fella was 'busted' (he had claimed it was an original translation).  From that
experience I am particularly sensitive about how these copying issues are approached.



It feels like you are taking Irfan's side. Are you? Why should Xnview respond to Irfan's accusations? If that's true let Irfan provide a proof.

Steven Avery:
@Steven  It feels like you are taking Irfan's side. Are you? Why should Xnview respond to Irfan's accusations? If that's true let Irfan provide a proof. -PhilB66
--- End quote ---

Hi PhilB, I think you are reading more into what I said than is warranted.  Irfan clearly offered to send pics (and you can ask him for those) when I wrote him.  Yet, if Irfan took the time to make a whole web page up, some of you might rail at him for making too much of the issue, with all sorts of juicy adjectives. So the offer to document upon request seems appropriate.  One could take the position that the accuser should give the full evidence with the initial accusation, I think that is a bit of overkill in this situation, however his strident accusing tone could (and still can) have been moderated.

I also am going by big picture, including the comments here, in saying that so far I have some sympathy for Iran's view.  I also was pretty critical of Irfan above, so you had to bypass that to put me on one side. 

Now if XnView says "that is untrue, I didn't copy dialogs and screens" then I would be very interested in seeing the technical details, because one or the other would be lying. However XnView says simply nothing, not even "unworthy of comment" or "how I program is standard in our field" and his silence gives me an appearance of impropriety. 

However, I also grant that even if there was such impropriety in the past, it may be very minor (the point of some of the posters above) and I suggest how it could be corrected.  So in that sense you could say that I am, potentially at least, on the XnView side.  I personally would like to feel at ease to load both products on my systems without any integrity concerns.



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