Archive for the ‘ThumbsPlus’ Category

ThumbsPlus 8 Available at Last

January 3, 2010

ThumbsPlus LogoI received the official email notification from Cerious Software this morning. They must have been working over the Christmas / New Year break to release it. The Version 8 Release Notes are here. I discussed their long Beta process (8 releases) here.

I really liked ThumbsPlus. I used it as my photo database (Digital Asset Management – DAM to the hi-so) for years. I was pushing its limits and I made the mistake of forsaking it for ACDSee Pro. That was a disaster and I moved to Lightroom 2. I talked about my migration path in one of my first posts on this blog here and discussed my reasons for abandoning ACDSee Pro here.

Sorry Cerious, you were too late for me. I cannot see how they would ever get me back given my investment in Lightroom (time, not money).

For me the biggest advantage of ThumbsPlus 8 is their scalability. You can use it with an external database, for example MySQL. Cerious understands database technology.

That would address my requirement that I want one database for every picture I have ever taken or will take in my life. Thus if Lightroom breaks down on me I may have to go back to ThumbsPlus. Fortunately one of the new features in ThumbsPlus 8 is XMP support. That should mean I can migrate photos easily keeping the keywords and other metadata intact.

I am sure there would be many other headaches. For one, ThumbsPlus has not moved to storing all the editing information in the database like Lightroom. Reverse-migration would be such a pain I don’t want to think about it.

Congratulations Cerious! I wish you success.

Lightroom Crash Worries Me

December 15, 2009

Perhaps this integrated approach to image management has its downside.

I was using my newly acquired skills with the Lightroom Adjustment Brush to try “dodging” an over-exposed portion of a picture.

From This ...

Without any warning the image portion went completely black and Lightroom hung. It was unresponsive to keyboard or mouse.

To This

I had to terminate the Lightroom process. I rebooted my machine (Windows XP, Lightroom 2.5). Everything seemed fine after I restarted but I backed up and optimized my catalog to be on the safe side. The incident wasted 10 to 15 minutes and increased my blood pressure.

I expect Lightroom ran out of memory: a memory leak. I’d been using it for some time without restarting. I read somewhere that the advanced editing tool use a lot of memory. I had not used them much before.

The problem started me thinking that maybe it is not a good idea to combine my photo management database and most of my photo editing in one application. If the editing component crashes it could easily corrupt the catalog database. For performance reasons database applications often delay writing their buffers to disk. The corruption may not show up for some time.

In the old days when I used Thumbs Plus I would edit a picture in Photoshop. Photoshop was a separate operating system process. So it was very unlikely that a Photoshop crash could affect the Thumbs plus (Microsoft Access) database.

Almost 30 years after the PC was introduced software is still unreliable and always will be. It’s written by humans and it’s fiendishly complex. I wonder if I am putting too much reliance on one piece of software (Lightroom) and it will come back to haunt me one day.

As the Thais say, I “think too much.”

Archiving Pictures in Lightroom

November 5, 2009

I wish there was a good solution for archiving old pictures in Lightroom, but I have not found one. I don’t need all my pictures immediately available for editing so I am happy to write old ones to a CD or DVD and free the disk storage.

But I want the information stored in my Lightroom catalog available. That way I can find all my pictures of a particular subject wherever they are located. I’d like Lightroom to keep track of which DVD I wrote the picture to and ask me to load it if I want to retrieve or edit the original file.

My old image database, ThumbsPlus, did this in a simple way. It could keep track of offline disks and CD-ROMs with the thumbnails and other metadata still in the database.


ThumbsPlus Archive

ThumbsPlus Archive


My problem was that I had so many pictures and archive CDs that I overloaded the ThumbsPlus (Microsoft Access) database. So I had to move the archives to a separate ThumbsPlus database. That was not optimal but at least I had a way of searching hundreds of archive CDs quickly.

There’s a post in the NY Times “Gadgetwise” blog here that addresses the same issue in a simple way. Read the first comment – a typical sarcastic Brit!

The problem for a vendor like Adobe is that there are so many ways to do archiving. After all it’s been an issue in data processing for ever. But now regular users have terabytes of information it’s a real challenge to make something that is simple but powerful for photographers – not DP professionals.

One solution that I like is to open up Lightroom more so that third parties can write archiving plugins. Then users could choose without Adobe having to support them.

Note how archive is different from backup. With backup you are making a copy of your files elsewhere but the originals remain in place. Archive moves the files but enables them to be located easily. It’s a different issue as my online backup tool Mozy Home observes.

Do you have any suggestions?

ThumbsPlus 8 Beta 5

June 24, 2009

ThumbsPlus 8 Beta 5.

I received an email message from Cerious Software today saying that the Beta 5 release is now available for download.

The message said

The major infrastructure changes are complete and I should be able to finish the remaining changes and fixes fairly quickly.

I wish Cerious success. I expect they had to do some major re-architecting of the software to support the new features but it has taken them a long, long time.

I may well upgrade to see what they have done, but I doubt it will persuade me to abandon Lightroom now I have made the switch. For one thing I have 28,000 and rising images in Lightroom I’d have to bring back to Thumbs Plus. Maybe their XMP support would make that easy. But from what I have read the XMP spec is a mess and it’s highly doubtful a cross-platform migration would DWIM (Do What I Mean.)

Note they say they now support the SQLite 3 database. Maybe that will allow them to support the Mac. That must be a big opportunity for them.

Lightroom: How Many Photos Can I Have In A Catalog? []

June 24, 2009

Lightroom: How Many Photos Can I Have In A Catalog? [].

I was going to write my own entry on this subject, but the Foto-Biz blog beat me to it.

I think the post has a misunderstanding about the SQLite database that Lightroom uses. SQLLite, to quote their About page is

SQLite is a in-process library that implements a self-contained serverless transactional SQL database engine.

To me that says that you compile the database code into your application but it doesn’t mean that the database itself is all in-memory (virtual or real). The Lightroom catalog is a true database with indexes and tables all in one operating system file. SQLite manages that file.

One analogous PC product is Microsoft Access. Thumbs Plus uses Access for its database. The major drawback with Access is that it isn’t cross-platform and Adobe needed something that works on the Mac.

Enterprise databases like Oracle and SQL Server use a separate database server process. That makes them scalable to many users but it so much more work to administer. Lightroom is simple, but in its current architecture it will not scale to support multiple users of the same catalog.

Interestingly Thumbs Plus is more scalable than Lightroom: you can use any ODBC compliant database with it. I experimented with that using the popular free open source database MySQL. It works but the database administration was too much trouble for my single user environment.

The Foto-Biz blog further says:

Backing up does garbage collection and shrinks the catalog

I don’t think so: I believe a backup is a pure file copy. To shrink the catalog you need to Optimize it using the facility presented in the Lightroom Catalog Settings / General tab.

There’s a brief discussion of this at the Peachpit Photoshop Lightroom Reference guide here.

I don’t want to be too rude but I think the Foto-biz post contains a lot of mis-information.

For myself I want to have all my images in one Lightroom database and damn the disk space! I want to be able to find any photo I have taken at any time without having to think what database I stored it in. But I will never have time to import and index all the photos in my old Thumbs Plus database.

But from here on out I do not intend to use more than one Lightroom database. I want the catalog I have now to index every photo I take for the rest of my life.

How I Got to Lightroom

June 9, 2009

My first photo database (image management system) was suggested to me years ago by Dr. Richard Soley, President of the Object Management Group (OMG). Thanks Richard!

I liked many things about ThumbsPlus and I eventually catalogued every image I had ever taken in a database.

But in late 2008 I was approaching the maximum size of database that ThumbsPlus could support using the Mictosoft Access database engine. I also felt that ThumbsPlus was falling behind its competitors in many features. Version 7 doesn’t even let you rate pictures (give them star rankings, 1-4 is typical).

The makers, Cerious Software, had been promising a new version for many months but the early beta I downloaded was underwhelming. Even today Thumbs Plus 8 has not been released – they are at Beta 4. I suspect that Cerious have some serious internal problems (pun not intended).

I really liked ThumbsPlus.

Initially I tried ACDSee Pro but I am sorry to say it was a disaster for me. It was unreliable and had some very annoying and productivity destroying usability issues. I could live with the latter but when the database kept on crashing it was unacceptable.

In the 1980s we accepted software like that because we had little choice. Now it is 2009 and users have higher expectations. I was sad because I wanted to support a smaller company. I was not alone in my frustration. The support web site was full of irate users and all the support folks could do was offer weak solutions. I tried engaging with them but got nowhere. Finally in March 2009 I sent them an ‘I Give Up” message and deleted the software.

Incidentally it wasn’t only the ACDSee software that was dynfunctional. Their web store was so bad that it let me purchase the software and gave me an activation key but didn’t charge my credit card. What a company!

I have saved screenshots of some of the things that annoyed me most about ACDSee Pro. I tried sending a few with my suggestions to the company but I got no response.

Another Bangkok based photographer, Kurt Heck suggested I try Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I tried the 1.0 release a couple of years ago. I liked it but it didn’t offer me sufficient advantage over Thumbs Plus to make me switch. I heard good things about verion 2 so I decided to try it again.

That was in March and three months later I don’t have any regrets. There are many things I’d like to see improved or changed but I am impressed. Still, in some ways I miss ThumbsPlus and wish Cerious Software had been able to keep up with the times.

I liked some of the features in ACDSee, for example its calendar views, but I cannot spend more time dealing with software bugs than I do working on my photography. Those days are long gone!

ACDSee Pro 2.5 Error

ACDSee Pro 2.5 Error