Can you believe that Alpha 2 was released in March of 2010? Yes, it's really been that long. But Alpha 3 is a significant improvement, addressing many of the issues people had with Alpha 2.
I won't go into the details of what was added and fixed – the Release Notes will tell you exactly that – but I will highlight a few key points that are sure to prompt an upgrade. I can confidently say that you can use this release for much of your simple image editing. While no Photoshop, you can almost ditch MS Paint at this point. [Disclaimer: read the "known issues" below.]
Download link: http://nookkin.com/download/nps_obsidian_alpha3_3.0.51.exe
More drawing tools
One complaint about Alpha 2: "Most of the buttons on the left don't work!" Well, good news, Alpha 3 adds 6 more to the list, and features major improvements to some of the existing ones. For instance, you now get a full-featured bucket fill that operates in 6 modes, and a panning tool that actually works right this time.
New features added include custom brushes, textures, clone brush, filter tool, and warp tool. Yes, the stuff you loved from "legacy NPS" is back! (On a more grave note, the Bezier, Polygon, and Text tools aren't entirely in working order, to put it nicely.)
Other added stuff
NPS now includes a fast arbitrary rotation command, and you can even choose what to do with the parts of the image that get cut off – discard them, or expand the canvas to fit every precious pixel. There's a Tile Image option which comes in extremely useful when you have to, erm, tile an image. And finally, you now have finer-grained control over transparency; the selection tool can move transparent pixels effortlessly, and you can use the "keyed" transparency mode for a more familiar MS Paint-like experience.
A Mono build is not included in the installation package, but is available upon request. Just shoot me an email and I'll send it to you, along with some simple enough instructions on how to get it going. Note that the Mono build is well below alpha quality, and isn't even guaranteed to run on... well... anything, so this is only recommended for the hardcore ones among you.
Another complaint about Alpha 2: "It's too buggy!" While Alpha 3 is by no means production-quality, it contains fixes for many of the common bugs people complained about. This includes the one where zooming in on the selection didn't actually zoom the selected image (oops), the extremely nasty half-pixel-offset bug that's been driving me up a wall (whew), and various other "random" bugs.
This is not production code, folks! Don't use any alpha-grade product for anything critical without making backups. The trick to this release is to have fun and play around. Try bringing NPS down to its knees – then tell me how you did it so I can patch the hole.
One notable missing feature of this build is its lack of support for pixel formats other than 24-bit RGB and 32-bit ARGB. This means that if you edit a GIF file in NPS, you may find that the colors get screwed up. (It goes without saying that GIF animation isn't supported yet, either.) With that in mind, you should be able to confidently edit "full color" images of any sort.
What should I do?
Use Alpha 3 and tell me how the whole experience went. Keep the bug complaints a-flowin' and throw in some feature suggestions or general comments, and you'll see a complete NPS soon enough.
Want to do more? One of the best ways you can actually contribute to NPS development is by creating extensions or other components. Don't like the stock NPS color scheme? Build your own, and share it! Have an idea for a perfect brush? Make it! You can make full-color and animated brushes too, so the possibilities here are nearly endless. I'll consider anything you send me for inclusion as long as it's not R-rated; make enough, and you'll even be featured in the credits in the About box.
If you want to stay up-to-date on NPS stuff, please check out the Facebook page, where you will get a first glimpse at screenshots and upcoming features!