February 28, 2013
This is part of the development cycle where there’s just not that much else we have to say. Development has been continuing at a rate as fast as we can maintain. Only a few items are left – mostly code for “just in case” types of situations, reducing memory load, and some other odds and ends.
What we can talk about is some of the newest features that will be introduced with v2.3. Almost all of these are things we’ve wanted to do, but due to “ahem”… protections… put in place by the Photos app, have been unable to do so. They’ve been long requested, and our hands have been tied… until now
Syncing deleted/removed pictures
This one has come up a LOT. And for good reason- it directly affects people’s workflow. The situation is simple: remove a picture from a Lightroom published collection, sync, and it’d show up again. Or remove it from the Photos.app, sync, and it’d be transferred again. Both sides of the sync saw the list of images and decided that, because it wasn’t there, it needed to be transferred, and so the sync did it’s thing. The problem is… this logic wasn’t always right.
Now that we have more control over the images and we know when they’re either removed from a collection or deleted altogether, we can update sync so that it properly handles the situation. Starting in v2.3, the following logic is applied:
- If you remove an image from a Lightroom published collection (or delete the image from your LR catalog), sync will remove the same image from the corresponding Photosmith collections upon sync
- If you remove an image from Photosmith (or delete if it resides in Photosmith), sync will remove the reference in Lightroom’s published collections.
- Sync will never Delete (that is, permanently remove) an image from your Lightroom catalog.
We have a policy to preserve images as much as possible, and that includes not deleting them from your Lightroom catalog. It’s too dangerous, so we’ve made a conscious decision to avoid that one. If you want to delete photos from your Lightroom catalog just mark them with a star, label, or keyword that means something to you and then use Lightroom’s normal menu options to accomplish it.
Syncing updated images from Lightroom
Another big request.
Let’s say you sync over 100 images from Lightroom to Photosmith. Tag, rate, etc. No big deal. But what if you *edit* the picture in LR (such as change the exposure, white balance, cropping, etc)? In the currently shipping version, we’re not allowed to update images in Photos.app / Camera Roll (again…. for your “protection”).
Starting in v2.3, if you update an image(1) in LR and perform a sync against that image (either in a published collection or via an Export to Photosmith), then the updated image itself will replace the existing one on Photosmith. This gets into some weird logic if you have original raw files in Photosmith; only the previews are updated – your original raw data is always untouched.
Footnote 1: Except for rotations. Inexplicably, the Lightroom plugin API is missing the ability to apply rotations so those sync from LR to Photosmith but can’t go back to Lightroom.
Everytime you do a sync in the current version, a little dialog pops up during the sync to show you the progress. But you’re blocked out of using the app while this happens. This was an unfortunate consequence of Photos.app and how it deals with threading and memory. If we tried to access Photos.app while a sync was in progress, it’d eventually crash the app. The spinner was the only workaround to the problem – it showed the progress while blocking access to the app during sync.
We don’t have those restrictions anymore, so starting in v2.3, LR sync will happen as a background task – you’ll see it in the Activity Center like you do any export action. And you can continue to use the app while a sync is in progress!
Another bonus is that you can continue to sync with Lightroom even if you app-switch out of Photosmith and into another app. For example, you can go catch up on your email while a sync is in progress. However, there is a 10 minute timeout that is imposed on every app by iOS, so you get a warning after 9 minutes to return to Photosmith if a sync is still in progress.
Oh yes, you now also have the option to receive images via FTP or Eye-Fi while Photosmith is in the background. The same 10 minute limit applies.
Before you get too excited – no you can’t sync over USB. We’ve looked and looked for solutions on this, and while it’s within the realm of possibility, it’s just too difficult to implement and support long term.
However… what we have done is open up Photosmith’s Photos repository to iTunes, so you can use iTunes to find the Photosmith app, show the “documents”, and find your entire Photos repository available for download.
In a worst-case scenario, if you have to get your pictures out of Photosmith and your iPad is locked, frozen, apps aren’t responding, etc, etc, then you should still be able to get your images off. Unfortunately, you can only download the entire repository, but that’s still 1000x better than no access.
As I touched on above, the items left to develop are mostly contingency items (ie- your previews become corrupt or weren’t restored in a iPad restore), minor quirks, updated graphics, and some other bits and pieces here and there.
We can’t give a launch date – remember we still have day jobs, so all we can do is work as quickly as possible to get things out. We’re sending what is hopefully our last mid-development release (Alpha 4) out this week to our internal team, and then planning our Beta out to a much larger audience in a week or two. Assuming all goes well, it’ll be sent to Apple and in the hands of users a week or two after that.