photos and IPTC support

I spent some time discussing digital photo management with Adam Tow yesterday evening. Adam is re-organizing his vast digital photo collection and has looked at a number of different tools. What he wants is a nice fat client interface for captioning and browsing photos while on the Mac and a good web interface (probably using photos) for use elsewhere. I’d love to have this too.

I don’t build web applications because I prefer them to native applications, but because of the benefits you get from a web application (centrally located, accessible by any computer, etc.). I work hard to make the interface as rich as possible in my software to improve the user experience with things you don’t normally see in web applications (progress bars, resizing text areas, etc.) but it can’t match the power of a native application.

We also discussed the data format. Adam wants to use IPTC data to store the data about each image in each image. I agree with this approach. It lets you use a number of standard tools without tying you to any specific tool. Most good digital photo applications know about IPTC data.

I’ve been approached by several people who have asked me to make the photos database mirror the IPTC data format. I resisted at the time for several good reasons:

  • Most people who use digital cameras don’t know about or care about IPTC data.
  • More fields make the application more complicated and slower to use.

There are also technical issues around adding multiple keywords and such (make the user enter them one at a time or separate by commas, etc.). I think I’ve come to the conclusion that for all of this, the value of working with a :scare: standard :/scare: set of data is worth the extra hassle.

Using IPTC fields as the main database fields would also make it easier to write that data to the photo files and (gulp) even sync the data between the database and the data in the file. It will also make the application more suitable for newspapers, magazines and other industries that already use IPTC data for everything.

I’m not sure how this fits into the photos roadmap I outlined last week, but I know the upgrade script will be a royal pain in the arse. 🙄

This post is part of the project: Photos. View the project timeline for more context on this post.