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I’m confident that this would improve LR.

Lightroom: More Flexible "Undo" and More Structured History in the Develop Module

It should be possible to "undo" any image editing operation, not just the last one.

Sometimes I discover after a lot of editing operations that an earlier choice I made wasn't optimal. For instance, I may have used a graduated filter for dodging an area and it turns out that using an adjustment brush would have been better. Initially, the graduated filter seemed appropriate but after further editing it turns out that it should be replaced.

Currently, to address the problem, I have to undo all the steps that followed the introduction of the graduated filter. Why can I not simply right-click on the "Add Graduated Filter" entry in the history and choose "remove"? Any dependent subsequent steps (adjusting this filter) should then be removed as well.

I see no obstacle to allowing non-linear changes to the editing history.

The proposed functionality might be accompanied with a better structuring of the editing history. For instance, brush strokes that belong together could be shown using a common background, or could be collapsable so that they are only represented by one entry (that corresponds to the respective editing pin). The latter entry should be automatically named according to brush preset used, e.g., "Teeth Whitening" (but should be renameable).

The above suggests that there should be two ways to look at the history:
1. Chronological (current view)
2. Essential

In the "essential" view all operations are always ordered in the same way (perhaps in the order the image pipeline addresses them?). All adjustments (e.g., changes to a graduated filter) are associated with a representative (e.g., the creation of a graduated filter). Only final adjustment are shown (e.g., only the final exposure adjustment, not all scattered exposure adjustments that cause it). The history would then allow an effective way to directly choose an "editing pin" from lists (with entries labeled like "Teeth Whitening", "Sky Darkening", etc.), instead of requiring the user to activate the corresponding tool first and then guess which of the many editing pins corresponds to the edit action they want to adjust.

As the develop panels on the right also show final values, perhaps the history panel in "essential view" mode only needs to show edit action representatives (and no values) but should simply bring the relevant panel into view on demand?
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  • The simple way to handle your example is to select the graduated filter pin and press the Delete key.

    If the example were a slider setting, panel switch, or something like that then the simple solution would be to just reset that slider or switch.

    There are a few examples of things that aren't quite that simple, like crops or brush strokes. But there are straightforward workarounds for those too.

    Part of the challenge here is that Lightroom doesn't render your final version by starting at the beginning and stepping through your history. The history is irrelevant to the rendering process, it only remembers the final state. The history is just for your convenience. So if you were to delete, say, a setting of the Blacks slider, that doesn't actually affect the final rendering.

    There are already several other proposals regarding the view and management of the history -- why not just add the second part of your idea (sorting the history steps) to one of those, rather than submitting a new one?
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  • Mark, you are of course right regarding the particular case of a graduated filter. My bad for choosing a poor example in my description (I wasn't quite awake yet, when I wrote this :)). There are other scenarios, however, where the "workarounds" -- as you describe them -- are more cumbersome.

    Say I have made some tweaks of the tone curve (potentially involving many edit points). I do some edits and then decide the curve needs further tweaks. I then do further edits. Eventually I discover that my initial tweak of the tone curve was the best, after all. How do I get it back without losing all the edits I've made till then? A reset doesn't help. Wouldn't it be great, if I could simply delete the later tweak of the tone curve? With my "essential view" proposal, one could just click on one representative for that edit (which would contain collapsed edit steps and might be labeled "emphasize eyes") and delete it.

    Note that even for the graduated filter case, it would be easier to select the "Darken Sky" entry from a list, rather than selecting the tool and then finding out which of potentially many editing pins one needs to delete. At least with adjustment brushes, I often find that I end up with many pins and need to click on them to find out which area they cover and what their purpose is.

    "Part of the challenge here is that Lightroom doesn't render your final version by starting at the beginning and stepping through your history.": Why is that a challenge? On the contrary, the fact that there is a fixed ordering implied by the image pipeline makes the ordering of history steps (largely) irrelevant (there are a few exceptions). The irrelevance of history step ordering means, they can be re-ordered to provide the "essential/logical" view I proposed, rather than the "chronological" one that is currently available. The "chronological" view is good to understand how one arrived at a particular set of edit settings, but not so good in order to retro-actively tweak the effective edit settings.

    Note that in my "essential" view, there would only be one "Black slider" setting (or a "Basic Adjustment" representative that contains a normally collapsed "Black slider" setting). If you deleted that, it would have an effect on the final rendering. In the chronological view, deletion might also have an effect. Either if it is the last "Black slider" tweak, or if all tweaks are relative. They are at least presented as being relative (e.g., "+3").

    "There are already several other proposals regarding the view and management of the history -- why not just add the second part of your idea (sorting the history steps) to one of those, rather than submitting a new one?": I'd be grateful if you could point me to the other, similar proposals.

    I think my proposal makes sense as it is, but I would like to see the others to see how I could contribute. Maybe even a merge would be in order, but that that depends what the other proposals aim at.
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  • I can imagine part-1 being relatively easy to do, or being a total can of worms.

    If the former, then I would love to see this (both things) be done, as part of an edit-history improvement set. If part-1 was to be a can of worms, but part-2 easy, I'd say do 2 but skip 1. If part-2 not so easy either, maybe better to work on other things...
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  • TK, the collapsed history view is something we've discussed here and elsewhere several times. In that model, if it were for real and not for display only, then perhaps deleting an intermediate step could be meaningful, though that's not the direction that those discussions had gone.

    I'd encourage you to search for those discussions and add to those, so we don't have to rehash the whole thing again here!
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  • 1
    Here's an example of how an essential history could look like:

    |> Adjustment Brush "Teeth Whitening"
        - Add Brush Stroke [1/25/2011 1:15:01 pm]
        - Add Brush Stroke [1/25/2011 1:14:05 pm]

    |> Adjustment Brush "Eye Enhancement"
        - Add Brush Stroke [9/25/2010 1:17:49 pm
        - Add Brush Stroke [9/25/2010 1:13:43 pm]

    |> Graduated Filter "Sky Darkening"
        - Update Exposure [8/15/2010 9:01:03 am]
        - Add Graduated Filter [8/15/2010 9:00:15 am]

    Currently, the above history would be shown as:

    Add Brush Stroke
    Add Brush Stroke
    Add Brush Stroke
    Add Brush Stroke
    Update Exposure Adjustment
    Add Graduated Filter

    Note that of the four brush strokes the first and the last belong together and the two middle ones belong together. I feel it almost makes no sense to list them like that because it is too hard to figure out to which brush stroke set they belong to.

    P.S.: Thanks to Rob Cole, for having the idea to present an example to go along with such an idea.
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    • Thanks Rob. I meant to correct some wrong dates in my example, but now can no longer edit my post. I think the overall argument is clear though, despite the incorrect dates for two of the brush strokes.

      Also, it should be clear that the example doesn't demonstrate the reduction feature of an "essential" history. If the conventional one would have shown lots of "Add Filter" followed by "Delete Filter" some time later, none of this would appear in the essential history. Only the remaining, active edits will be shown.

      The above example just demonstrates the utility of attaching names to editing pins, have them represented in the history, and re-organise steps so that they are not listed chronologically anymore, but according to their membership properties.
    • I'm an edit-historian-a-holic. This would be a righteous enhancement...
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  • BTW, the "|>"s are meant to be triangles which can be used to collapse all the details contained by a particular representative of an editing pin. I should have shown them as pointing down, actually.

    Collapsed the list would look like

    |> Adjustment Brush "Teeth Whitening"
    |> Adjustment Brush "Eye Enhancement"
    |> Graduated Filter "Sky Darkening"

    and you could click on one of these to automatically select the corresponding editing pin and activate the corresponding tool.

    Or, of course, right-click on one of them and select "Remove" to delete the particular adjustment (equivalent to deleting the pin, which you would otherwise have to locate by activating the tool and then trying to remember which of many pins you are looking for).
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