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My suggestions for EM3
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Author Topic: My suggestions for EM3  (Read 6854 times)
jayp
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« on: August 30, 2009, 01:58:51 PM »

In response to this post announcing that Expression Media is still important to Microsoft, I wrote a lengthy email to Josh Weisberg about my suggestions for EM3. This is largely a list of processes that I think do not work very well or could be greatly improved, with perhaps just a few new features requests. I thought it worth posting here for others to see, and possibly add their own list of what they'd like to see. Perhaps it doesn't matter and no one will really listen anyway, but then again perhaps they will. It seems Peter has had the ear of at least a few folks at times.

So without further ado, here it is. And forgive any typos. I didn't proof it like I should because I've spent too long typing this anyway.

I’ve got a laundry list of ideas, and I really hope they could be considered? My father has been a software developer for 25 years, and I have just a few good ideas I believe. I’ll rattle them off as quick as a I can, and list them in order of most to least importance to me.

  • Better and faster keywording entry. I cannot beg enough for the following:
  • Allow users to enter keywords for one or more pictures without ever taking their hands off the keyboard.
  • Hitting “Enter? should add the keywords that are typed (or matched by partially typing) and select the keyword field again, so that if you continue typing, you can match further keywords.
  • Hitting “Tab? would advance to the next picture, but typing would once again start matching keywords for that picture.
  • There is an incredibly maddening bug when entering keywords. Consider the following scenario. Image1.jpg and Image2.jpg. I use keywords sets, like “John Smith, Smiths, Family, People? to add all four keywords Image1.jpg at once. I now select both Image1.jpg and Image2.jpg and enter the keyword set “Mary Smith, Smiths, Family, People?. When I’m finished, Image2.jpg has only the keyword “Mary Smith? and is missing the keywords “Smiths, Family, People?. This is presumably because xMedia see that these three keywords exist for Image1.jpg and therefore doesn’t apply them. However, if I select Image2.jpg first and then select Image1.jpg and apply the “Mary Smith, etc, etc? keywords, now both images have all the right keywords. This has caused me more frustration over the years and I’m terribly tired of it.
  • Allow users to select multiple vocabularies for use at one time. I’d allow one vocabulary to be the “default? vocabulary, such that if a user adds a new keyword term, xMedia would add it to the default vocab file. It’s very time consuming to select one vocabulary, go through my images and apply keywords only to those that match a vocabulary, then select another vocabulary and go through my images to apply its keywords, and so on. I dream of being able to select multiple vocabularies at once and have xMedia lookup keywords from all of them. Here’s a mockup of what this interface might look like.
  • In the light table view, preload images into memory for lightning fast performance as users look through a list of images to evaluate them. I suggest loading the next 10 images in the list and maybe the last 5 going back in the list. You could check how much memory a computer has to scale up or down this feature appropriately. But as it stands, it’s painful to flip through a group of DNG or TIF images, waiting for them to load in the light table. It needs to be instantaneous.
  • Allow users to show both the Info and Organize panels at the same time. Maybe side by side. Maybe one on the left side and one on the right side. With wide format screens increasingly common, it’s incredibly frustrating to have to switch constantly back and forth between these two panels.
  • Allow custom keyboard shortcuts. Maybe I want 1-4 to assign ratings and 5-9 to assign labels. Maybe I want different shortcuts for List, Thumbnail, and Media views.
  • Add virtual stacks to the thumbnail view. Allow users the option of stacking pictures automatically by filename such that jpacker_070627_3837.dng, jpacker_070627_3837_master.tif, jpacker_070627_3837.jpg would all show up as one stack. Perhaps hovering over the stack would expand it to show all thumbnails. Allow an option for stacks by time of capture, such that all shots captured within a certain timestamp would automatically stack. Finally allow a user to select a group of shots and make a stack manually. Perhaps even allow the user to choose which image is chosen to represent the stack. Otherwise use the most recent image? Allow storing manual stacks in the metadata so that it doesn’t have to be created again if a catalog is recreated.
  • Read the real DNG file, not just its embedded preview.
  • Allow DNG previews to be rebuilt from within xMedia. I want to select 2 or 2000 dng files and choose Action -> Rebuild DNG Previews and be able to choose a previews size, color profile perhaps, etc. It’s painful to open up groups of DNGs in Camera RAW just to update the preview images. (I don’t have Lightroom, but it hear it can do this.)
  • Remember the size and position of each catalog as it was last saved on a specific computer! As it stands now, if you close a catalog sized for a 1600 x 1200 screen and then copy that catalog to a smaller screen (like a laptop), the catalog comes up sized as it last was on the big screen! It should stay sized appropriately for each individual computer.
  • Allow hiding the Hierarchial Keywords palette. Some people don’t want it or need it. In fact, why not allow every palette to be shown or hidden and reordered and resized anyway users want.
  • On picking GPS coordinates, allow users to select one or more photos, then search the map, add a push pin, and then hit an Ok or Apply button. This would be slightly easier and quicker than having to drag pictures onto the map.
  • Where possible, look up GPS coordinates from existing location data.
  • If I have a mess of a top level folder with various numbers and levels of subfolders, I should be able to toggle the entire thing on or off in a single click. Don’t make users laboriously drill down to find each and every individual subfolder and deal with them all individually.
  • Allow an option to store preview images as jpgs in a subfolder besides the catalog. This allows catalogs to grow to enormous numbers of records without hitting the 1.8GB file size limit. It’s particularly frustrating that you can’t keep a full-sized preview without the catalog becoming enormous and quickly filling up. It might improve performance too? It would also allow users to select a photo, and export a jpg or email a jpg even if the original files were offline.

I'm hopeful that EM3 will be released, in good order, and improve in a number of areas. I'm also hopeful that Microsoft will do a better job of communicating. If not, then I take the view that someone said about cataloging software being serial monogamy and will look forward to the next great thing, whoever it comes from.
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Jay Packer
peterkrogh
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2009, 02:56:23 PM »

JAy,
Lots of good suggestions in there.
You do realize you can drag images to keyword in the keywords panel to assign the term?
Peter
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jayp
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2009, 04:25:14 PM »

Yes Peter,

I'm aware that one can drag images to keywords. However, I don't see that as being particularly beneficial to me, unless I missed something. For starters, I have a few hundred Keywords in the panel. I also assign many keywords as sets, where typing one keyword loads a list of 4 or 10 all at once. I wouldn't get that by dragging images to the keywords panel. Finally, I find that typing is much quicker than using the mouse, which is one of my greatest frustrations with EM. I hate how every time I enter a keyword I have to use the mouse to focus the keyword field so that I can enter further keywords.
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2009, 05:03:05 PM »

Jay,
I suggest you use Catalog sets for this, and worry about migrating the data to the appropriate fields later.
I think you're probably trying to make keywords do too much.
In the end, they are still a blunt filtering tool.
Peter
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jayp
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2009, 05:43:08 PM »

Well, one beautiful use of Keyword sets that I make use of for taxonomies. Keywords like this:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus, Tyranninae, Tyrannidae, Passeriformes, Aves, Vertebrata, Chordata, Animalia, Birds

This allows looking for one species, a genus, a family, etc. And when taxonomies change, it will be easy to search through the collection at the appropriate level and rework keywords as needed.

I guess it sounds like you tend towards using keywords as a general tool and then make catalog sets to further narrow things down. I make catalog sets when I need or want them, but often I don't do anything beyond keywording and never take the time to go through and make a catalog set for an events best pictures. Instead, I'd like a way of finding an event when I need to, and then I can make a catalog set if I want to further narrow it down. But I'll ponder my approach, and I appreciate the feedback.

I'd invite anyone else you wishes to leave their thoughts on what they think really ought to be included in the next version of Expression Media.
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2009, 06:36:37 PM »

Jay,
Linnaean taxonomy is another one of those things that's been debated a good bit.
I'd suggest doing this in Catalog sets in Expression, because of the better nesting and flexibility that the program uses when handling hierarchical data there.

You can do it in hierarchical keywords, if you like, but they are not handled as well by the program's database.
Peter
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jayp
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2009, 05:33:48 AM »

I'm not using hierarchical keywords. I'm using flat keywords but all the keywords at once. It's very easy to create a vocabulary file like this by getting the data somewhere on the net and cleaning it up in Excel to save as .csv file. With catalog sets, I'd have to constantly expand and collapse groups to find what I needed and then drag files to annotate them. I'd also have to enter all the information by hand I believe, as I know of no way to import the data. The approach I've been using has worked well.
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2009, 05:39:16 AM »

Jay, I am doing the same, enter a line of comma-separtated keywords with German, English and Linnean terms [sometimes I include several higher branches of the systematic]. Apart from the exploding fragments bug the only downside is the ever expanding keyword file as you have to enter general terms over and over again. With your inclusion of the full branch it is even worth.
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Dierk

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jayp
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2009, 09:15:58 AM »

...the only downside is the ever expanding keyword file as you have to enter general terms over and over again. With your inclusion of the full branch it is even [worse].

I'm not sure I follow. My keyword file doesn't expand. In fact, it hasn't changed since I created it. I create the file in Excel and fill out the columns appropriately, then save it as a .csv. Change the file extension to .txt and EM sees it as a vocabulary. If by general terms you mean higher taxonomic levels, then it's fairly easy to either download the information with most of this present and fill in the remainder in Excel in mere seconds.
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Dierk
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2009, 12:33:17 PM »

See here for a screenshot and probably a slightly more lucid explanation.

Just after I did that screenshot I, again, purged the keywords file manually from the most blatant duplications. This bug is known to the developers since it surfaced somewhere during a beta phase of xMedia v2; I think it surfaced after the initial v2 release, so it must be around since SP1.
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Dierk

IDimager on Windows XP/SP2; 3.2 GHz, 2 GB RAM, loads of storage space.
Other: Nikon D2x, Nikon D200, Capture NX 2, Adobe Creative Suite 3
jayp
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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2009, 03:10:42 PM »

Ah, hadn't seen that gem.  :Smiley I've avoided it because my taxonomic vocabularies are "constrained to the defined terms" (the checkbox on the image you provided). That seems to prevent the exploding keywords. My default list does have a few.
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Jay Packer
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