11 November 2006

[design] In-House: Organizing Assets With iPhoto 6

One of my current tasks is organizing a photo library, as I've said before. At the same time, I'm learning a new corporate culture and way of communicating and looking at the world via this culture.

It's fascinating.

Also rather fascinating is the process of using iPhoto 6 to do all this.

The benefits of iPhoto are simple to list; it's quite user friendly, the interface is very accessable, you can easily shift from one size thumbnail to another, and getting information on the pictures themselves is easy.

There are some drawbacks. For instance, you can only have one iPhoto library at a time. To chance libraries one actually has to quit the application, move or rename the default library (moving which can be a stone pain if it's very large, and the one I'm working with is currently at about 80 GB...but it has a lot of duplicates), restart iPhoto, then choose the new library–which, if you aren't too familiar with the essentials of how iPhoto arranges its stuff, can be the very definition of non-intuitive.

If Apple asked me one new feature that should come out in the next iPhoto, I'd tell it that they need to figure a way to let the user maintain multiple libraries. That would be sweet.

Also, one of the big problems with iPhoto as it is is that certain older TIFFs will cause the application to crash on import (at least that's what I'm being told–it hasn't happened to me yet but I haven't been able to reproduce the exact conditions of the crash, which is kind of an impractical thing to do anyway, considering the sheer mass of the files involved).

Anyway! After flailing about with promising but ultimately unproductive experiments with Automator (which is sweet but I'm not quite on the same page with it as yet) to do things like extract the images from the folders and move them elsewhere so I can sort through them, I went back into iPhoto to see what I had to work with via that app.

And it's turning out to be productive. The first phase is complete; naming the film rolls (which is the latter-day iPhoto's way of allowing the user to view picture files by import session) by date and by descriptive contents in plain English so at least I have some idea of what I'm looking at (and I can skip, for now, rolls marked "Personal Photos").

iPhoto isn't the idea application for this, but then, I can really find no ideal application that fits all the needs. It is one of the better ones (despite being developed for the home user) which has the definite benefit of being able to catalog about a quarter of a million photos–more than any user I'm aware of might need.

So, I'm forging ahead in iPhoto, all the while with an eye toward eventually growing the cataloging system out of it. All that is wanted here is storage, identification, and retrieval, with usablility.

Somehow, I want to craft a reasonably tight system that can be maintained by cow-orkers or anyone who follows me.

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William said...


You can change libraries in iPhoto by holding the option key while starting it up - no need to move or rename any library files.. its actually quite simple.


Samuel John Klein said...

Good gosh almighty, that's brilliant!

Thanks for the hint!