We’re very happy to announce the release of Photosmith for iPad v3.1.1 – While it’s tempting to call this “just” a bug fix maintenance release, that would be selling it a bit short.

Addressed in version 3.1.1 are several app crashes introduced by iOS 7.1, including crashing after importing photos from Camera Roll and after converting imported photos to/from link/copy in Photosmith’s Dashboard. Develop changes made in Lightroom will now correctly get synced back to Photosmith, as well.

More importantly, especially for folks with the latest and greatest camera bodies, we added compatibility for 100 more cameras in Photosmith v3.1.1 – We now support camera raw files for almost 500 different camera models! Actually, 491, but who’s counting? :) Take a look at our updated full list of camera raw compatibility; the highlights include Nikon’s new flagship, the D4s, and even more Sony models, including the Alpha 7, and Alpha 7R, and a wide swath of the FujiFilm, and Olympus camera lines, including the gorgeous OM-D E-M1.

Our camera compatibility page only lists camera raw files for which we have personally confirmed compatibility – If you own a camera not on the compatibility list, we want your camera raw files! Please contact our Support Team so we can validate your camera.

Photosmith v3.1.1 is a free upgrade for all current users, and is now available for download in Apple’s iOS App Store. New users may purchase Photosmith for iPad for $19.99 USD (or equivalent local currency). The Photosmith for Lightroom plugin is available on our website as a free download.

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While our Engineering Team works to iron out some bugs related to iOS 7.1, the Creative Team recently started production on some training videos to compliment our existing (some might even call verbose) online documentation.

The first topic we’re covering is importing your photos into Photosmith from your iPad’s Camera Roll.html:

Photosmith 3.1 – Import from Photosmith App on Vimeo.

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We’ve received a number of emails asking where we are and a few complaints that the current update is taking a long time, so I wanted to give everyone an update on where we are. Development continues, and we’re getting closer to the final revision. So why is it taking so long? Because we’re focusing on making it right – no exceptions. We understand that people’s photography workflow actually defines how they work. For us to ship Photosmith out at this point with known bugs or even without pieces of functionality that complete the workflow is simply unacceptable. And so we’re making the time to make it right.

So what exactly is taking so much time? For those interested in the details, I’ll hit on a few points that have been unexpected time sinks.

Image Orientation

Rotate an image clockwise or counterclockwise. Easy stuff, right? Right? One would think. And, as always, the devil is in the details. And we’re not the first developers to hit the orientation trap. See this page for an interesting read on how most services can’t handle various embedded image orientations.

Yes, the image orientation (rotation) is contained in the image’s EXIF, set by the camera when the picture was taken. But keep in mind that there’s typically a thumbnail image, usually a full-resolution jpg, sometimes a medium-sized jpg, and the raw data, each with their own orientation. Each needs to be calculated separately so the GPU can rotate based on the image that’s being displayed.

Now add in the user’s custom rotation for when they want to modify the orientation – we now have 3 (thumbnail, screensize, full res), plus a user orientation modifier.

But for more fun, it turns out that Apple doesn’t quite follow the norm with EXIF orientation. It took some time to realize that Apple’s implementation, albeit unconventional, was valid. Given that this is  an iPad app, we can’t just ignore iOS-generated images.

And to make things more fun, Lightroom exports images without an orientation. But only if the plugin doesn’t use the previews database…

All of a sudden, there’s about two dozen different combinations of orientations that have to be handled in different ways. We claim to be a photo management app, so we have no choice other than to make it right. And that burned up several weeks of two developers’ time.

But… it’s finally all working. The torture set linked above now completely works in Photosmith:

RAW+JPG Support

The current version of Photosmith supports RAW+JPG, and because of some technical details, we can’t easily support all formats (DNG, for example), so RAW+JPG remains the only viable way to support those formats. This version of Photosmith is being completely revamped so that all images are handled within the app, rather than pointing back to Photos app. And while RAW+JPG was one of the items on our list, it took about two weeks of work to bring the app back up to support it everywhere (import, image extraction, display, export, sync) and thoroughly test the changes.

It now works as before – if we can’t extract everything we need from the raw file and there’s an associated jpg, then we get what we can from the jpg. It’s just now, the files sit in our own repository.

Nothing complex about this one – just a lot of small rework items spread throughout the app to get things working right.

Transferring Photos from Link to Copy

If you’ve been following our blog posts, you’ll know that the upcoming app will be able to either Copy the pictures directly into the app, for full control under Photosmith, or Link them back to Photos.app. In fact, here’s a screenshot of the import process:

However, during testing, we found a hole in the workflow: what happens if you link a picture from Photos.app, apply a bunch of metadata updates, and then decide you want to move it into Photosmith and clear out your Photos.app? Without some kind of transfer method, you’d essentially have to remove the linked references (and thus your metadata), and then run the import process again to Copy the images in. That would just plain suck for workflow management – badly enough that we created a new dialog to allow users to do exactly this – transfer linked images from Photos.app into Photosmith without losing their existing data. Design, coding, testing, and refining all combined to take several weeks for that one too.

Remaining Items

All new development items have been completed at this point – we’re working on bugs and cleaning up some things throughout the app: Collection image counts that don’t update from a background import. You can’t change a selected album in the import dialog after making a selection / deselection. Facebook re-upload isn’t working right. Delete dialog sometimes hangs when it’s done. And about a dozen others of those kinds of items.

We’ve been doing a lot of in-house testing as we go, so we’re pretty confident that it’s getting close.

OK, dammit – when will you ship?

When it’s ready. And not a moment sooner.

Believe us when we say that we want it out to you guys as quickly as possible – we’ve spent the past 7 months’ worth of nights and weekends designing/coding/testing, and are eager to see it complete as well. But we’re committed to making it right, from beginning to end. (And we really appreciate of all those who understand this!)

Details matter. It’s worth waiting to get it right – Steve Jobs

Posted in: Current Progress | 16 Comments

IMG_1938The snow continues to fall in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, but despite outward appearances, we’re not in hibernation – The past few months have been extremely productive for Photosmith. Winter (especially this season!) is a great time to stay indoors and continue work on refining what has become the daily go-to mobile photography workflow and organization solution for many thousands of amateur and professional photographers. Not a day goes by that we don’t receive very encouraging emails, Tweets and Facebook messages from enthusiastic users –  We love discussing photography and workflow, and feel fortunate every day to have such a wonderful user community behind us.

Our most recent development efforts are focused on making the next version of our iPad app and Lightroom plugin really special – refining existing functionality and carefully adding new features that will continue to set us apart from other mobile organization solutions, both today and in the future.  Of course, pouring on this extra work behind the scenes put us a little behind with blog posts, we plan to make up for lost time.

Over the next few weeks, we will become much more chatty here on our blog, and over on Twitter (@photosmithapp) and Facebook (facebook.com/photosmith) as we discuss the long list of new and refined features in Photosmith for iPad and the Photosmith plugin for Lightroom, and the myriad of bugs addressed in version 3.1. We’ll also begin posting weekly Photosmith and Lightroom tips and tricks. We’re just as passionate about photography as you are!  We will also address recent industry rumors, and talk about why we’re just as excited as everyone else is to have some major players validate the iPad as a photography workflow tool for the professional and advanced amateur.

Current Status

Final testing of Photosmith 3.1 wrapped up late last week, and we’re really excited to share the results of our many late nights and long weekends with everyone. For those keeping score at home, this puts us on track for release this week!

New and improved in Photosmith 3.1:

In-app Camera Raw Rendering

Camera Raw Import Settings

As we previously mentioned, photographers will be able to render over 25 different camera raw formats from hundreds of different cameras, right on your iPad in Photosmith! This is a big deal for folks with cameras that use raw formats which can’t be viewed directly on iPad using Apple’s Photos.app (Hello, DNG? And many FujiFilm RAF files, for example), and for raw formats that don’t contain a full-resolution JPG preview, like Sony ARW.  Leica users will be thrilled to finally have the ability to see full-resolution DNG files right on their iPad!

We’re still conducting comprehensive speed and compatibility testing against other iOS camera raw processing, but it appears Photosmith is best in class for speed: With an iPad Mini Retina (A7 processor), massive 38 megapixel Nikon D800 NEF files render in under 15 seconds!  Canon 5D Mark III CR2′s render in under 10 seconds. On the iPad Air, camera raw rendering is is even faster.

For many photographers, camera raw rendering right on iPad will be a real game-changer, as this will be the first time they can view full-resolution raw photos on iPad, without first converting to JPG in camera or computer.  And to render raw files in batch, automatically creating sized thumbnails for rapid Grid View and full-screen viewing… this is a huge step for not just Photosmith, but mobile digital photography.

Of course, Photosmith is smart enough to know if a camera raw file contains a full-resolution JPG preview, and will optionally use that if you prefer to speed things along. This means D800, 5D Mark III and other camera raw formats that contain full-res previews will import into Photosmith’s catalog in under 2 seconds each – import speeds that rival even Lightroom!

This is just the start of our adventures in image processing – We’re incredibly excited about what our camera raw rendering engine will mean for the future of Photosmith.

Smarter Lightroom Sync

New in Photosmith 3.1 is a dashboard-like Lightroom sync overview, right in the iPad app. At glance, see the sync status of all your User Collections in one place – and optionally choose one (or more) User Collections to sync by tapping a single button. Yup, more than one User Collection can be synced at once, and all right from your iPad, including metadata conflict resolution.  For photographers managing many User Collections and wishing to manage Lightroom syncs while not sitting in front of their Lightroom computer, this will be a real timesaver.

We are also performing a quick audit of metadata changes in both Photosmith and Lightroom, and you can choose, prior to starting the sync, if you want to use Photosmith’s or Lightroom’s metadata in the event of a metadata conflict. This will be a big win for folks that prefer to start a long before going to bed, so that Photosmith is ready to use during the morning commute on the train.

Better Stability

We logged over 300 “items of improvement” over the past three months – and confirmed that those issues have been fixed.  Have we mentioned lately that Photosmith is a nights and weekend project undertaken by a very small team of guys spread over three timezones?

With stability comes a couple of hurdles, which we will talk about later today on our blog.  The update for Photosmith’s Lightroom plugin will need to be updated in a certain way, and Publish Services will need to be re-saved.  This is a one-time thing, and will take less than 20 seconds, but it’s important that this update happens so that you will see our increased sync stability and new features (and bug fixes).

Thank you!

Finally, a heart-felt thank you to our incredibly supportive user community! We view your purchase as not only an investment in the future of the Photosmith app, but in independant app development. Over the coming months, we’ll talk about lessons we’ve learned over the past three years of iOS app development, as well as stories from our users: How and where they use Photosmith, unique workflow solutions, and tips and tricks. Again, it’s the user interaction and engagement which helps to validate our strong belief that iPad is a wonderful organizational tool in the arsenal of the mobile digital photographer.

We also want to thank Claudio Emmrich for helping us to identify some sync-related issues that have been plaguing us the past few versions.

2014 is already shaping up to be a great year for Photosmith… and we’re just getting started! :)

Posted in: Current Progress, Design, Development, Marketing | 1 Comment

We are very happy to announce the release of Photosmith for iPad version 3.0.2.  This is a maintenance release only, and fixes the crashing many users experienced after upgrading to iOS 7, especially when swiping through photos in Loupe and Fulllscreen Views.

Photosmith uses caching to help increase performance.  We cache a number of things, but in particular, we keep photos in memory so scrolling and movement between large images is more responsive.  For example, if you just viewed a photo, then swiped to look at another photo, there shouldn’t be any reason to wait for the previous photo to load again if you swipe back to it – simply pull it out of the already-rendered cache if needed.  It only makes sense, right?

To do this, we made use of iOS’s built-in NSCache for some of our photo caching needs.  NSCache is handy because iOS manages what is kept in cache automatically, discarding anything that it doesn’t have room for anymore.  This is especially handy when writing code that isn’t dependent upon a particular piece of hardware – available RAM varies from around 35MB on an iPad 1 to several hundred megabytes on the iPad 4; we can simply cache as many photos as necessary, and if iOS decides there isn’t enough memory, it will handily remove it from the cache for us.

Except… that’s not what happens in iOS 7. For reasons we can’t quite explain, this appears to no longer be the behavior.  There were no announcements in the iOS 7 pre-release notes (or even in the released SDK documentation) and we didn’t run into the issue while testing beta versions of iOS 7.  And this is why things will work for a while and then crash unexpectedly – NSCache is getting filled up, and iOS 7 is no longer removing photos as it did in the past when cache memory got full.

In Photosmith for iPad version 3.0.2, we still use NSCache, but added some code so that for users running iOS 7, the total number of entries was limited, thereby having a somewhat similar (though not quite as optimal) effect.

Users with iOS 6 (or earlier) will see no difference, as our method of handling this caching issue only applies to iOS 7.  Also, there are no updates to our Lightroom plugin at this time.

We are very interested in hearing your thoughts on Photosmith performance in iOS 7 – please drop us a note over on our User Forums at http://forums.photosmithapp.com.

Photosmith 3.0.2 will be become available today as a free update in the App Store for your country – standard delays may apply as the update propagates through Apple’s servers worldwide.

Posted in: Current Progress, Development, Musings, Uncategorized | 4 Comments