July 18, 2012

Update 2: Version 2.1.2 has now been released that fixes the startup delay added in 2.1.1.

After a couple false starts, Photosmith v2.1.1 is now available (or will show up shortly in your part of the world)!  We’ve added a few new features and fixed many old issues as well.

Please note: If you one of the few that downloaded the update before we pulled it from the store, please see the second linked post above and/or this comment for instructions on how to remove and update Photosmith and still retain your data.

Picks / Rejects

Yup- you finally have the ability to set Pick and Reject flags and sync them back and forth with Lightroom. Adobe added the ability to Lightroom 4.x to modify the flags a few weeks ago, and since then, we’ve modified the app and the plugin so that it works with the sync. There’s not too much visual change – only adding the needed flag buttons (shown here in the inactive and the Pick active states):


And having pick and reject doesn’t do much good unless you can filter and sort on them, so we’ve added that as well:

The flags work like any other metadata – set in either Photosmith or Lightroom, sync, and the setting will be made on the other side. For a lot of people (including us!), this is a big part of our selecting and culling workflow.

For those using Lightroom 3.x, the Copy Name field is still used for at least getting the data over, allowing you to sort within Lightroom.

Sync Stability

We’ve had a number of users who have had some issues with sync – either the inability to connect, problems with Bonjour and automatic device detection, and other network related issues. While we haven’t been able to change the laws of physics and make WiFi faster, we have added a number of automatic checks, re-checks, and detection to hopefully address these issues.  We’ve also added additional error checking and error handling for the times where there’s a bad image or bad data. If you’re still having problems after this update please let us know so that we can look into it.

Several people have asked for dimming the display during a long sync, so we’ve added that too. It’ll dim to 10% of the display for any sync longer than 5 minutes and automatically restore at the end of the sync.

Large Syncs

When we were talking to users a few months ago, the typical use case we heard was that people wanted to sync 50 or 100 photos at a given time, so we didn’t do much testing for very large sets. And, as we should have guessed, it seems that many people have been doing large syncs. Very large syncs – 4,000-8,000 photos at a time. And a large number of keywords – 15,000. The sync would just timeout in those scenarios.

So… we’ve focused on making things work with the small AND the large syncs. We’ve tested up to 14,000 photos and 22,000 keywords. (And if you’re a super-power user that has even more than this, it *should* work.. we just ran out of available test sets!).

And to go with the large keyword lists, we’ve also sped up the keyword interface for those who have many thousand keywords.

Use of Lightroom Previews

Lightroom stores the pre-rendered previews of images for faster loading internally. Unfortunately, it’s not part of the SDK to allow access to these. Fortunately, not everything has to be done through the SDK. :)

It does require a little more setup, but is otherwise automatic. For Windows, everything is built-into the plugin. For Mac, you’ll need to install ExifTool so we’ve added the installer to the plugin too. See the Publish Manager in Lightroom under Photosmith for assistance on setup.

Previews are checked for each image, and if it’s available, the sync will use them. If not, then it’ll generate the images from Lightroom the old-fashioned way. And as luck would have it, the preview sizes almost directly match the three Full Screen and Full Res sizes that we use in sync.

This significantly speeds up the sync process – what used to take 5-10 seconds per picture (and spike your CPU) now takes a less than a second.

Advanced Conflict Detection

Like most sync protocols, Photosmith uses a “latest wins” logic, where the last modified location is used as the source for the metadata. This works most of the time, but there are some scenarios where it just doesn’t. Worse yet, you can easily make a change to one side (such as apply a metadata preset or develop preset to a large batch) and not realize that you’re about to wipe out all that data you’ve typed in on the iPad. The logic may be technically correct, but it can lead to some unexpected (and frustrating) results.

So… we’ve put a bit of work into what we’re calling “advanced conflict detection”. Essentially, by looking at the date/time that the files were written, synced, modified, etc, the sync can make a pretty good determination that things may not be what you’re expecting. And in those scenarios, it’ll prompt you:

(The “OK” button actually says “Cancel Sync” – please pardon this image still stored in my inbox from a beta build!)

This way, you can make the right decision for the given photo (or all the photos), or you can cancel the sync to look into it in more detail.

Image Processing Updates

You’d think that everyone would write out EXIF metadata the same way. You’d think this until you wrote your own EXIF parser and found out otherwise. GoPro images choose to write out date/times differently than the iPad camera images. Nikons store their rotation data differently for some cameras than others. And so forth.  I’d like to believe that camera manufacturers do this just to keep us on our toes, but either way, it causes problems sometimes (including crashes in some instances).

So… all known instances of those have been fixed. Especially a number of rotation and display issues. Please report any weirdness to us directly (with sample images) if you still find something that’s off.

Filename Matching by Sequence

For those who have really pushed the sync protocol, you’ll know that there’s only so many ways to match images between the iPad and Lightroom. If there were some universal ID per image that camera manufacturers used, it’d make life much easier, but I’m afraid we’re stuck for now.

However, what we have added is the ability to match on the image sequence. For example, if you have a photo named IMG_1234.JPG in Photosmith and IMG_1234.CR2 in Lightroom, we can now match on the “1234″ part of the image (any four or more sequential numbers).

Coupled with other matching (notably, by date), this becomes pretty powerful. In particular, this means we officially support a “proxy JPG” workflow, where JPGs are sent from an Eye-Fi card to Photosmith, and the raws are on Lightroom. Syncing using the filename matching means that you don’t need to store the space-consuming raw files on your iPad.

Other updates

We’ve also added a bunch of other small fixes, including support for subsecond image times, bug fixes for Flickr and Facebook, emoji character support in metadata presets, preliminary shake-to-undo support, and others.

Please make sure you download the updated plugin (also version 2.1) to take advantage of all the new features, and contact us if you have any problems.

Lastly, please consider leaving or updating a rating in the App Store. Higher ratings lead to more sales which lead to more features – good for everyone!


Official change lists


  • Added Pick & Reject flag sync with Lightroom v4 or higher (LR 3.x cannot sync flags)
  • Added Filtering by Flag
  • Added display dimming during long syncs to save battery power
  • Added support for emoji characters in metadata presets
  • Added support for grid sorting based on subsecond capture times
  • Improved handling of iPad sleep mode during sync
  • Improved display speed of large keyword sets

Top bug fixes:
  • Fixed rotation problem with certain images displayed stretched
  • Fixed EXIF date/time parsing for many file types
  • Fixed bug where sync would stop unexpectedly for large datasets
  • Better handling of Facebook sessions when flipping between tabs
  • Fixed formatting of user names for Flickr
  • Increased Flickr upload timeout to allow for large uploads without timeouts
  • Fixed occurrence of "null-null" display in Grid group headers
  • Fixed hangs & crashes when purging offline photos
  • Fixed color label order in QuickTag bar and sorting to match Lightroom's order


- Added ability to use LR cached previews during sync, speeding up sync
- Added checking and notification of sqlite and exiftool executables needed for preview
- Added support for searching for filenames by image sequence number (needed for jpg proxy workflow)
- Added advanced sync conflict detection
- Added write permissions check for remote updates
- Added additional networking retries to help re-establish sync communications
- Added keepalive thread to better handle large sync operations
- Re-enabled matching by file date/time with the 2.1 version of the app
- Text/formatting updates to Plugin Manager screen

Posted in: Current Progress | 15 Comments

15 Responses to “Photosmith v2.1.1”

  1. Dennis says:

    V2.1 won’t load keeps crashing

  2. Chris Saunders says:

    Thanks for the update guys. I was telling a friend of mine about the app and when I went to the app store to show them, it was gone completely. Did you intend to pull the app completely or just the update (can you pull just the update)?

    • Chris Horne says:

      It’s an all-or-nothing scenario. It doesn’t appear to be affecting new downloads (best we can tell), but we can’t strict it to new download vs. update, so we had to pull it completely.

      I’m about to write an updated blog post to describe what we know.

  3. This app just keeps getting better, thanks for all your hard work I would be lost without this app it just makes life so much easier. Big thanks to all the team.

  4. Dave says:

    Just got latest version iPad app and plugin. How do I install Exiftool on my Mac?. I am in the Lightroom Publishing Manager, clicked “Photosmith”, but I don’t see any reference to setup Exiftool or to previews.

    • Ryck says:

      @Tony Flanagan
      It’s in “Lightroom – File – Plugin Manager – (left list) Photosmith – (scroll down right) – Plugin Preferences…

      I installed the latest exifTool from the original site (8.97), generated 1:1 previews in Lightroom, but still takes some 8-10 seconds (vs “less than a second” like it’s been promoted) syncing a 22Mp photo from LR, like it is still rebuilding the preview instead of using the already produced one. It’s the exifTool coming with Photosmith plugin customized in some way, or should I see speed improvements with the 8.97 version I installed too? because like I said, I see no improvement, sync speed has remained the same as before. On the other side, sync reliability has been greatly improved now, although not perfect.

      +1 for the cable sync option

      Thank you to the team for the great effort put in continuing to improve the product at this fast pace.

      • Ryck says:

        Sorry Tony, my reply was meant for @Dave

      • Chris Horne says:


        If you feel so inclined, you can read through the plugin log file to verify that the plugin is using the preview data. It does about a dozen checks along the way to make sure that the plugin data is valid, the right size, up to date, etc, so even if a preview file is available, it doesn’t necessarily get used; the sync needs to be sure that it’s sending over the latest image. “Less than a second” was based on the retina full screen previews – I should have specified.

        The exifTool shipped with the plugin isn’t special- it’s just provided as a convenience for users. The preview data in Lightroom is a jpg stripped as bare as possible – we re-inject rotation, lens info, etc before it gets sent back up to the app, so you won’t see any noticeable speed improvements with a different version.

        We’d love to be able to cable sync, but Apple is protecting everyone from the harm they may cause themselves by not giving us any access to the hardware cable. We’re still working on a couple ideas.

        Sync still has one or two issues that we need to work out – namely deletes. It’s an incredibly complex function – much more than we ever anticipated. If you have a specific problem, please contact us at support.photosmithapp.com so we can work on it.

    • Chris Horne says:


      Ryck nailed it. Contact us at the support email if you still have trouble finding it.

      We really need to get our forums up and going…

      • Dave says:

        Thanks Ryck and Chris, I found it! I already had exiftool installed in /usr/bin on my Mac, and the Photosmith plugin found my installation and used it. Very cool! Chris, you might want to add a description of exiftool to the Support Knowledge Base.

  5. Chi Yan Chan says:

    During the first sync which presumably is putting the preview pic from LR to iPad.

    Is it possible to do it via USB? WIFI is just too slow. I love the fact that after tagging and rating them, I can sync via WIFI (the rating and keyword). But the initial sync is too long. Just one trip to Li Jiang I netted over 1900 pic, and it is taking over 3 hours to sync…. I have a lot of trip needing to sync..

    (it feels like an open beta that you charged us for testing…)

    • Chris Horne says:

      Chi Yan-

      Under Apple’s restrictions, it’s not possible to do a sync via USB – they don’t give developers access.

      However, you can sync much faster by plugging your iPad via USB to your computer and downloading the pictures directly into Lightroom, and then performing the WiFi sync. Depending on your matching options within the Plugin Manager (the default options should work fine), the sync will find the existing photo and merge everything together without needing to transfer the images via WiFi.

      re/ beta – as you know from this blog, we are a small team working on this because we’re passionate about it, not because we’re making any money from it. We’d love to hear feedback if you’re having problems at http://support.photosmithapp.com email so we can improve it for everyone.

  6. Ben says:

    When you say “… the preview sizes almost directly match the three Full Screen and Full Res sizes that we use in sync.” what specific numbers are you talking about?

    For example: the “standard” LR previews can be set to 1024, 1440, 1680, or 2048 in the catalog settings while the Photosmith plugin settings can be Full Screen, Full Screen (Retina) or Full Resolution.

    I would guess that you statement refers to the the 2048 standard size preview matching the Full Screen (Retina) setting in the plugin? If wrong please correct. If right, what happens if only lower resolution previews are available? I assume the size specified in the plugin settings must be generated?

    • Chris Horne says:


      The lrpreviews filestore contains 7 different image sizes. The top three are 1280×960, 2560×1920, and full resolution. The iPad full screen resolutions are 1024×768, 2048×1536. This happens to work out well for Photosmith, since we’ll have slightly more resolution needed than the iPad’s screen. As for the other numbers you mentioned – I can’t explain the discrepancy – none of this is documented by Adobe.

      The Photosmith sync protocol makes several checks for available size and a “freshness” value, to know that it’s getting an up to date preview of the correct size. If neither are available, it’ll generate one using the normal export process.