January 22, 2013

Update May 2014: We’ve ceased our development efforts of integrating Seagate’s line of wireless portable hard drives natively with Photosmith. Despite many attempts, we have been unable to interface with the drives in a way that we can guarantee reliability. We have talked to Seagate about these issues, and they assure us the drives work as designed, as a media consumption device. However, the use of the Wireless Plus and GoFlex devices as a backup device through its wireless interface has sadly not proven to be dependable enough for us to support it natively within Photosmith.

About a year ago, we announced that we were including support for the Seagate GoFlex drive into Photosmith. The idea is very appealing for those of us who shoot and manage while on the go – the original GoFlex drive could store 500Gb of data, perfect for photographers looking for a mobile storage solution.

But it was not to be – after a round of testing with users, we decided to pull support at the last minute. We just couldn’t make things work like expected. We were able to get in touch with Seagate, signed some paperwork, and started talking to the drive’s engineers. In short, the hardware itself was designed for data consumption, not data creation. Seagate intended the drive to be used primarily as a media device, where you could load up videos or pictures and then look at them while on the go. An internal indexing process scans the drive upon startup, cataloging all the files on disk; files added to the drive after it was running wouldn’t show up until the index process ran again. For a data-critical backup device, this just wasn’t acceptable. Photosmith needs to be sure that when your images and XMP files are saved to the drive that they’re actually there; a backup device is only good if you can read back the data. We tried several work arounds, including even delaying the verification until the drive had rebooted, but still couldn’t produce reliable results. So… we had no choice but to pull support within the app.

Fast forward a few months. Seagate is already working on the next iteration of their wireless drive. Completely new hardware. Completely new firmware. And a chance to change things so that we can reliably upload to the drive. Seagate graciously included us in some of the design and features of the drive. We also were able to get a pre-production drive to start testing and developing against, and did so through November and December.

Why didn’t we say anything until now? We have a non-disclosure agreement with Seagate. It’s the condition of having pre-release knowledge and input. Seagate announced their new drive, the Seagate Wireless Plus at CES a couple weeks ago, and the drives are hitting shelves now.

OK – so what about my original GoFlex drive?

Well, there’s really no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: we won’t be able to provide support for the original GoFlex drive. The internal design simply won’t accommodate Photosmith’s needs, and we’re not going to release support for the drive if it doesn’t provide what you need.

We understand that there will be some unhappy users who bought the GoFlex drive for this reason, and we’re sympathetic – heck, we bought several for testing and personal use. If you’d like, you can talk to Seagate about the situation by contacting them here.

Enough already! What’s the plan?

I’m glad you asked. :) We finished up development of the new Wireless Plus drive in December. Everything works well, and we’ve added some additional options, such as byte-by-byte read back verification and uploading / updating XMP files. There’s only one problem – up until now, we’ve only had one drive to test against. And we’re not about to release this into the wild with a sample test size of one.

However, if you’ve been reading our blog, you know that we’re currently in the middle of a really big update to the app. An update that is proving to be the best thing we’ve ever done with regards to stability and performance. Given the feedback from many, many users, stability and performance are our top priority right now, so the Wireless Plus testing and support will need to wait until the next release. However, given that it’s working here on my desk, I’m 99% confident that we can deliver on it “very soon”.

I don’t want to leave you with empty promises, so here’s a screenshot of the development version of the app (note the new Import Photos button and rearranged menus). This is all live and working – no smoke and mirrors:

 

The plan is to get v2.3 with the updated architecture out the door as soon as possible, and then we’ll focus on getting the new drive fully tested and out as well.

 

 

 

Posted in: Current Progress, Development | 12 Comments

12 Responses to “Seagate Wireless Plus”

  1. Tom Fairley says:

    Sick and tired reading your comments and old promises, I have decided to use an app that works for me.

    • Anon says:

      I’d be curious to know what you decided to use. Not sure this comment will be up for very long, but figured it was worth asking.

  2. Kevin Gale says:

    Thanks, as always, for your regular updates. Thanks too for not releasing a half-baked app! I can’t wait for the new version but the current version also works well for me too.

  3. Ian Skinner says:

    I am somewhat disturbed to find yet another example of a half baked app. Hiding behind non disclosure agreements and blaming Apple for the poor performance is not good enough. This app should be good, but its not.

    • Aaron says:

      I don’t see how you could be a software/hardware engineer and have this opinion.

      I’ve developed hardware and software and this sort of thing happens all the time. You think something is possible and as you dig in it just isn’t feasible to continue unless things are drastically changed. Also, as a developer I know how IMPOSSIBLE it can be to make your software/hardware do everything that everyone wants it to do EXACTLY how they want it to do it.

      This app has been really helpful and has delivered all I could ever expected it to do. Although, I don’t live in a world where my every whim is granted.

      Aaron

      • Chris Horne says:

        Thanks for the kind words, Aaron. You’re right – I wish we had the foresight when we started down the GoFlex road (and others, for that matter) to know exactly how it would pan out, but it wasn’t until we developed and tried to finalize that piece that we realized that it wasn’t going to work. It’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately.

        If we’ve learned anything from this project, it’s that everyone has a different workflow, and we’ll never be able to create a product that meets everyone’s needs – even if we had a thousand people on the project.

        We realize that the app isn’t perfect, and we do our best to try to be open and forthright with the known problems and what we plan to do to fix them. Some will see these as excuses or failed promises, but we still feel that it’s important to keep our users informed the best we can.

      • Brian Wong says:

        Totally agree! You know what they say: “The best laid plans…”

        I actually find it encouraging that the developers are even willing to look at devices like the GoFlex and the Wireless Plus. It’s never easy working with third parties, especially when their APIs or Firmware don’t support your specific use case. In this particular instance, PhotoSmith is working with no less than 2 third parties–Apple and Adobe–add in Seagate, or any other hard drive vendor, and you’ve upped the complexity significantly.

        • Chris Morse says:

          You speak truth, man. With us being so small even getting emails returned can sometimes be difficult and large companies have their own scheduled and priorities. Nobody we’ve ever worked with has been bad, it’s just a lot of work.

  4. JOE says:

    I have one of the the Wireless Plus drive and if you need Beta testers…
    I was planning to use the drive on s Dive trip in May

    • Chris Horne says:

      Joe-

      Great- we may be taking you up on that. Give us a couple weeks to get 2.3 out the door; we’ll follow up with the Wireless Plus testing almost immediately. Look for an email from us.

      Thanks!
      -chris

  5. Brian Wong says:

    Thanks for the update, Chris! Still rooting for you and the team. I’m excited about getting my hands on 2.3 Let me know if you need a beta tester for that.

  6. Doug Berg says:

    I can beta test also, I have an Ipad 3, 2011 Macbook Pro and the new Seagate 1 TB Wireless Plus hard drive.