Wow.  I've been playing with the new SWAT album designer from KISS for a few days now, and the first impression I had is still the same... wow.  Now, you should understand that designing beautifully simple albums is a huge part of our business.  It's also a very efficient part of our business - which means it's a very profitable part of our business.

I have used Aperture as not only an image organization and editing tool for the last few years - but I've also taken advantage of it's best in class book designer to create the albums we provide our clients.  

I'm a pretty tough critic of album design tools.  If I'm going to make a change in my workflow it has to make me more efficient and be better at doing it's core function than what I'm already using.  Aperture has been the perfect tool for me, but I've been excited about SWAT ever since I first saw what it can do.

Now, as an Alpha tester, I can't show you much (or anything really!). What I CAN do is tell you this:  It's super simple (surprise, surprise), it's wicked cool, and it's extremely intuitive.  In fact, it will do 90% of the work for you.

Even in this early stage, I love how easy it is to create beautiful books.  I love that even though it's a web based software tool, everything behaves exactly the way you'd expect - even your very first time logging in.  I love that it's fast.  I love that our clients will be able to leave feedback and we'll be able to dialogue with them about their album design. 

The two reasons most photographers aren't making what they should on their albums is that they don't have a simple tool for creating beautiful books, and they don't have a good way of presenting their albums to their clients to allow for feedback.  

There are some solutions that at least partially solve one of these problems - but this is by far the first to solve BOTH for photographers!  It takes the stress out of designing albums, and makes it super easy to present them and SELL THEM to your clients. It's a robust, yet simple tool that makes designing albums easy, fast, and cool.  

To be completely fair, the only two drawbacks I see, compared to what I currently use (Aperture), are that you 1) can't make instant changes to your native images (processing, b/w conversion, etc) because it's hosted online, and 2) you can't add images to your design after you've started, quite as easily as Aperture.  

It's hard to call these drawbacks though - because it's not a fair comparison really.  Aperture is an application that runs on my machine and already has all of my native RAW files and all of their changes right in it.  

It's also hard to count these against SWAT since 99% of all other album design solutions suffer the exact same issue.  There is no other album design tool that lives natively in your editing software (like Aperture) so if you're currently using ANYTHING else (photoshop, photojunction, indesign, page gallery, etc), SWAT will be a HUGE improvement.

Oh yeah, and FREE!