"Ember is your digital scrapbook of things that inspire you"

“Ember is your digital scrapbook of things that inspire you”

Realmac Software has been busy at work this year, releasing Analog Camera for iPhone, updates to Clear and Analog for Mac, and now releasing the next generation of its digital scrapbook LittleSnapper, now known as Ember for Mac.

Ember simplifies the management of screenshots and web clips into collections and features annotation functionality. Ember can even plug in to popular sites that feature beautiful imagery like Dribbble and National Geographic. In addition, integrated services like Messages, Twitter, Flickr, and CloudApp allow for easy image sharing.

When you launch Ember for the first time, it welcomes you and encourages you to import or collect images for your library. Browser extensions exist for Safari and Chrome allowing you to easily snap and import images into Ember even when the app is closed. Users upgrading from Ember’s predecessor LittleSnapper can simply import their existing library (if you skip this step during setup, you can still import later).

Once you jump into the main view of Ember, you will notice three viewing modes: library, subscriptions, and browser.

Your library is comprised of content you gather and can be organized by tags, screen sizes, and collections. I found collections especially useful, as taking a ton of screen shots is one of the first things I do when reviewing a new app. Seeing a layout view of an app’s various screens helps me better understand and map out what I’m looking at, but the desktop on OS X doesn’t offer the optimal view for processing these images. My desktop often gets cluttered with thumbnails and hiding them has an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ effect. Making an ‘Ember Review’ collection cleared my desktop while creating an easily accessible library of just the photos I wanted to see.My 'Ember Review' Collection

The photo viewer allows you to zoom and pan, crop, rotate, and annotate with multi-color text and drawing. Ember can create smart collections based on rules dictated by you or categorize images based on the display for which the image was intended including phones, tablets, and full displays.

Annotate images Ember also features a subscriptions viewer for finding new material for your digital scrapbook or inspiration for your design project. Sources include Popular Dribbble Shots and National Geographic. My favorite source is called iOS Icon Gallery, a site that features beautiful iOS icons at full scale. It’s really cool seeing the detail that goes into iOS icons when they’re this large.

Images can easily be shared from the subscription view or saved to the library for organizing. You can also visit the source site if you want to see the image in context.

Ember also features a built-in browser with its own set of tricks. Notably, Ember’s browser has built-in scaling. You can select from landscape or portrait iPad, iPhone, or full width presets. Alternatively, you can adjust the browser size manually with the edges of the interface as you would expect. Like with the browser extensions, this allows you to explore the web for new content and inspiration offering a range of tools for capturing exactly what you want and organizing in your library.

Ember icon

I really like this use for Ember. It solves many problems of the Finder while keeping your screen shots and collected images separate from your personal library in iPhoto or Aperture. Anyone who collects a lot of snapshots or keeps photos for inspiration for design or other projects can benefit from Ember.

I have a weird obsession with seeing how other people arrange their desk or workspace. Previously, I saved those photos in a folder labeled ‘Desk’, but Ember feels like the perfect home for such a collection with its tags and site labels to easily call back the source location in context.Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 1.48.47 AM

Because the Mac App Store doesn’t offer upgrade pricing (as we saw with Apple’s own Logic Pro last week) and Ember is a major update to LittleSnapper, Ember will be a new purchase for previous LittleSnapper users. Realmac Software promises iCloud support for managing Ember libraries between Macs in a future update. I highly recommend Ember for anyone interested in organizing their snapshots for projects or studying design in a simple yet powerful environment.

Ember for Mac is available starting today via the Mac App Store for $49 and requires Mountain Lion.