It’s totally normal that working on a review\proofing tool we pay attention to all the competitors on the market and every new face in the sphere catches our eye.
This week, our Marketing Jedi approached me, saying the new review tool appeared in the search, and it seems that the guys invest into advertisement a lot.
Of course, I couldn’t miss the new proofing solution and registered right away to compare it with Approval Studio.
Frankly speaking, I’m not sure if it’s really new, but this is the first time this application drew my attention and after reviewing this review tool, I truly hope that this is just a beginning.
So let’s start the review.
According to the website, at the moment, Quickreviewer has only 3 plans – Free plan, Power and Enterprise.
Both Free and Power plans seem to be similar with the only difference – storage space. Free plan foresees 100 Mb available in file storage, while Power plan offers 5 Gb ($29 per month for a single user).
Traditionally, we take a free plan for our comparison, as Approval Studio is still free of charge with no storage or user limits. (This is temporarily, of course, but the free plan will also be on the plate.)
One feature that I truly like, at least from the Quickreviewer description, is their support of video files for review. However, I wasn’t able to find the file formats that they support.
Of course, we will focus on graphic files, since Approval Studio is not working with videos, we support only graphic files of the following formats: TIFF, JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, AI, PS/EPS, PDF.
I repeat, I wasn’t able to find what file formats Quickreviewer is working with on their web page, but it might be that I wasn’t too attentive.
In any case, having a video files support is a plus for Quickreviewer, and they get the first point in our comparison, becoming its leader.
Let’s move to the account creation and see how fast and easy it is.
Both Quick Reviewer and Approval Studio allow to create an account instantly using “Sign up with Google”. The classic method – with email and password is also available for both web apps.
While Quickreviewer is focused on single users (freelancers probably), Approval Studio requires to enter a company name. It’s up to you if you want to add more people to your account, but Company Name is a must.
BTW, one thing that only few people know about Approval Studio, you can have access to different company accounts with your single user account, we call it – social media approach.
In any case, account creation workflow is very similar in both apps.
Once you submit the form, QuickReviewer offers you to choose the plan – Free or Power, but Power plan foresees the yearly subscription of $300+.
We choose a free plan and for some reason need to log into the system one more time.
In Approval Studio, you need to confirm your email, by clicking the emailed link, that will bring you directly to the Dashboard, no need to enter your login and password again.
By the way, about signing up…
The dashboard design in QuickReviewer is quite straightforward. By default, it says you have no files and by clicking the “Add New” you are offered to upload a file or create a folder, where you can add files later.
In Approval Studio, you need to create a Project first, where you can add one or multiple files. Basically, it’s the same as creating a folder, but even if you plan to work with one file only, you need to have a project for it. We need it for reporting and search purposes.
So far, the flow is pretty similar.
Just a reminder, we are looking at review tools or proofing tools, so the important part here is not the Dashboard (although it’s very important for any tool to be intuitive), but the ability to work with graphic files.
I will use the same file as I used in GoVisually review for my test – downloaded from NASA, 20 Mb jpg. The link to that file you can find the GoVisually Review article.
The upload speed is very good in both apps. Although, the file was processed by QuickReviewer some 30(!!!!!) seconds faster then in Approval Studio. Another score for QuickReviewer.
Once the file was uploaded, I stumbled into an empty interface, with no action buttons. I got used to Review button next to the thumbnail in Approval Studio highlighting the next step for me.
In QuickReviewer I saw nothing, until the moment I clicked the thumbnail. Once I did it, few icons appeared on the top panel, but without any description, I couldn’t figure out what options I had in there. Not very user-friendly.
Try to find the next step in Approval Studio.
Of course, Quickreviewer has hover over tips on their icons, so it took a second to find the available options.
I was able to:
- Add Star (whatever it means, probably “add to favorites”)
- Update Revision
- Set Expiry
- Move File
Renaming the file is a good idea, since QuickReviewer doesn’t have projects. But the first feature I wanted to explore was “Preview”. I wanted to see how good the Review Tool of QuickReviewer is – how intuitive and user friendly it is.
And that’s what I saw after clicking the Preview button.
For some reason, the gigantic image was not set to “fit to screen” mode by default, and I saw just a part of it. I have no idea what it is, really, I know that image, but I have no idea where am I at this moment.
Of course, I wanted to zoom it out, but believe it or not, I wasn’t able to figure out where the zoom button is. Tell me, can you see it?
There is no way you can use mouse wheel to zoom in\zoom out either.
As it turned out, the zoom controls are in the left bottom corner. Why? Have no idea.
I also have no idea why the image is set to 270% zoom by default and does not fit my 24 inches screen.
Now, let’s open the same image in Approval Studio.
The image is opened in the “fit to screen” mode, the zoom control seems to be very obvious, you have a bunch of buttons in the right upper corner, including rotation buttons that you can’t find in QuickReviewer.
The scroll wheel is also working fine and you can zoom in\zoom out with a mouse wheel.
Image Zoom quality
Let’s start with QuickReviewer. Traditionally, I tried to zoom in Spain on the map and it was totally inconvenient with the current zoom options, zoom and pan are different buttons, so you need to click zoom in, than click another button to move the picture in order to center the place of interest and repeat the same steps again.
I zoomed in the image up to 190% in QuickReviewer and noticed serious quality loss.
Now let’s take a look at the same region with 200% zoom in Approval Studio.
The difference becomes even more obvious when you try to zoom in the Balearic Islands.
Take a look at Ibiza in QuickReviewer.
Now, the same place in Approval Studio.
As you can see, the zoom quality is quite poor in addition to the totally unfriendly zoom controls.
But let’s continue.
QuickReviewer offers 2 types of annotations – Point and Square Area annotation, but you are not able to change the color of annotation or anything.
In addition, when you make the annotation there is no graphic or logical confirmation that it was posted.
In the right upper corner, you can see All Annotation section, and you think you would see the annotations you’ve made if you click on them, but no – you will see an empty sidebar.
For some reason, you need to unwrap the annotations again to see them.
You can even post a reply in there, but to save it, you need to hit the Telegram icon, Enter button is not working either.
Now, let’s switch to Approval Studio.
There are 4 types of annotations – Square, Circle, Free drawing, Point and you can choose different colors for them. Once the annotation is posted, you will see it in the right bar, no need for extra clicks.
You can also post a reply in the annotation section, and if there are several people online, they would see the new annotations and replies immediately, no need to refresh the screen. This is like a chat conversation.
For me, this is a point to “Gryffindor” Approval Studio.
The key feature for every review tool is an ability to invite your colleagues\clients to review the artwork. Let’s take a look at how we can invite an external user to review our file.
Let’s start with QuickReviewer again.
In order to invite somebody to review the asset you need to click Share button after you choose the asset you want to be proofed.
A pop-up message appears, where you need to enter an email of invitee and set the permissions – can view and edit, or view only.
What I like about QuickReviewer is that it saves the emails of the invited users and grants them access to the file during the whole project progress. At any moment, you can take a look at who has access to the file and withdraw the permissions if you need to.
What I didn’t like, is that by default the external user needs to create an account in QuickReviewer to see the asset. Basically, your client will need to create own account, and will have the asset you need to proof under shared assets.
However, if you pay enough attention, you will find a checkbox saying “Allow comments without login” that send the link to the file without the necessity to create an account.
Plus, the annotations made under this mode are anonymous, so you have no idea who left this or than annotation if there are several external reviewers.
In Approval Studio, we have 2 approaches to external users invitations and none of them requires external user to create the account.
The first approach is to send an invitation via email, you can also set “read only” permissions or even protect system access with a password.
In this case the external user, you client, will not need to register in the system. Simply click the link from the email and you are in the system.
The access link is unique for every invitation and you will see the name of the person who added a comment or annotation.
The second approach is to share a quick url. In this case, your client needs to enter name and email, but that will not create an Approval Studio account, this is just a way to identify who he\she is.
In addition, this link is unique for every Approval Studio user, so you will definitely know who invited this or that reviewer to the system and see this in the reports.
Another point goes to Approval Studio, right?
File versioning and Comparison modes
Both Approval Studio and QuickReviewer have file versioning. Which means, you can store all the files in one place and see the step by step project progress. This is very important and common feature in all the proofing systems. What makes Approval Studio and QuickReviewer different from their competitors is the ability to compare different versions of the files to make a wise choice, what version is better and what has changed from the previous iterations.
Approval Studio has 4 different modes, while QuickReviewer has only 1 mode – called side-by-side (at least this is the name of the mode in Approval Studio).
Let’s start with QuickReviewer.
To upload a new version, you select the file, click on “Update Revision” button, select a file that will become the next version of the asset and upload it to the system.
When you open the file in the viewer, you will see a new button in the top menu, click on it to enable the comparison mode.
You can actually see what system generated the preview to me.
Unfortunately, both file versions are not “synced” by default, and you cannot make them sync automatically while working in QuickReviewer.
Let’s say you have 2 separate pictures in one window. If you move one of the pictures, the second one does not move anywhere. The same goes for zoom. If you zoom the right picture, nothing would happen to the left one, you would need to repeat the same actions with the second picture for them to “sync”. Now let’s recall how inconvenient these actions are in QuickReviewer and you will understand that it’s a headache.
Let’s move to Approval Studio.
As I mentioned, it has 4 different comparison modes – Side-by-Side, Fader, Difference, and Toggle.
In side-by-side mode both pictures are synced, so whatever you do to one of the pictures, the same will happen to the other. In addition, there is a checkbox that allows you highlight the differences in the file versions.
Fader allows to “slide” from one version to another to see the changes.
Difference mode will show ONLY the changed parts of the image to know where to look at to make sure you have noticed all the changes.
Toggle is my favorite mode – it toggles the versions. ?
No matter how many file versions you have, you can compare any 2 of them.
The last thing I wanted to compare is reporting.
After the project is complete, you need to be able to recover all the steps taken in the project, who added comments, who rejected or approved file versions.
Take a look at the Dashboard and try to find the project report.
Nope, you are wrong!
Now, go back to the image and take a look at the right upper corner. Can you see the information icon? This is where report is hidden.
When you unwrap the sidebar you will be prompted to select the file you need to have the report for.
That’s what you see.
I can’t say that it’s very informative, only basic information with no details. No details at all! Even logs in Approval Studio have more information. Actually, our log records every movement, except zooming and rotating.
Let’s take a look at Approval Studio proof report.
As you can see, this is a formal PDF document showing the image, the annotations, annotated areas, internal and external users who annotated this design, etc.
In addition, you can always take a look at the project history report that shows not only the changes done to the image, but the whole project progress, including authors of the descriptions, due dates change, EVERYTHING. And it has an intuitive search that allows you to find the very action that you are looking for.
QuickReviewer is a proofing web application supporting both – video files and images. To my mind, this is the only strong point of this review tool – video files support. However, I have no idea how good it is in terms of video reviews and approvals, – I haven’t tested this feature, as Approval Studio does not support videos at all. This moment is the total win of QuickReviewer over Approval Studio.
At the same time, video files support is the only good thing I can say about QuickReviewer. It is totally not user friendly, some of the core feature controls are placed in the totally unexpected positions. QuickReviewer kind of has lots of features, but they all seem to be “raw” and the overall tool looks more like a prototype, than a fully functional review application.
You can call me prejudiced, but I wasn’t able to find any feature in QuickReviewer that would work as I expect or even better. Zoom is fast, but the image is resized and you can’t get the full quality of the original asset. You can zoom\pan the image, but it is so uncomfortable… The scroll wheel is not working, you can’t select the area of the image to zoom in with one click, you can’t rotate the image after all.
QuickReviewer kind of has comparison mode, but it feels like you have two separate browser windows next to each other, so using it becomes a pain in the neck. In addition, it won’t highlight the differences for you, so you can easily miss something important.
The overall user interface is not thought through and, sometimes, unclear. Remember “Add Star” button? Sharing the files with external users is not very convenient either, as instead of just sending a ‘’plug-and-play” link, your client will need to create own account and they don’t want to do that. Of course, you can bypass it with one extra click somewhere at the bottom if you don’t forget about it… But even if you remember that you need to disable account creation during this session, you would not know who is be the author of an annotation or a reply in case there are several reviewers, as they will show as “Anonymous”.
I truly hope that QuickReviewer is a new tool that will evolve with time, that the guys would hire a UX\UI designer that helps them to reconsider their controls placement and some other stuff.
Who knows, maybe in a year or two I would say that they are better than Approval Studio, but at this moment – not even close.
Call me prejudiced, argue with me, tell me where I’m wrong. I promise to read your every comment and reply to it. If I’m unjust somewhere, I’m ready to add your points to this article.
No hard feelings, this is my personal opinion and nothing else.