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24 Messages

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4.4K Points

Sun, May 1, 2011 9:55 PM

411

Lightroom Classic and CC: Allow Catalog to be stored on a networked drive.

I'd love to make LR more multi-computer friendly. I have no doubt that there's probably database architecture issues and a host of other barriers... But I have to believe that the need for either multi-user or at at lease multi-computer use is widely desired. And yes, I know you can do the catalog import export thing but I find this less than ideal.

Responses

1 Message

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82 Points

9 years ago

Would love to see this functionality implemented. With multiple machines for capture/editing, a shared catalog on a NAS or server is an ideal situation (and saves from having to move a portable drive between machines with the catalog stored on it).

14 Messages

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570 Points

9 years ago

Last year, I submitted a feature request that was received by Adobe to implement a multi-user version of Lightroom. In this forum, I discovered that the reason this has not been implemented is that the underlying database is SQLite which does not effectively imlement record-level locking. Also a comment given for not considering the now much more standard MySQL was potential cost...but that was dismissed in a subsequent comment.

I am a (volunteer) database administrator at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and am coordinator for a major internal database using Microsoft Access. For years, MS Access has had no problem with record level locking and multiuser access. We are converting this database to MySQL and so far have had very good success. Multiuser access in MySQL works well.

If SQLite is the problem, I suggest Adobe seriously evaluate recasting Lightroom to use MySQL.

My personal reason for needing multi-user access is that I maintain a personal database of over 40,000 photos and this is growing very quickly as I add both family and air & space photos (I am also a docent at NASM and share responsibility for training new docents, so a photo database is important in that regard too.)

At home I have Microsoft Home Server and a small 3-client machine network (my machine, my wife's machine, and my laptop.) Currently, we have the Lightroom catalog installed on an USB connected external drive and move it from machine to machine whenever one of us needs to access Lightroom (and that is frequent.) Both my wife and I need concurrent shared access to the same Lightroom database. Record-level locking would prevent use both from working on the same photo at the same time. Being able to install the catalog on the server would greatly simplify life for us (and would help to ensure domestic tranquility by preventing conflicts over whose work is more important or highest priority.)

At NASM, we have an intranet implemented using MS server with Windows clients. We don't currently have Lightroom installed on our machines because it is a single-user application. I certainly would recommend it in a heartbeat if there was a true multiuser version available.

In regard to licensing, I think Adobe should consider a "family license" much like Micorosoft, Norton, McAffee, etc. This would authorize up to say, three concurrent uses of Lightroom using a single license.

Lightroom should also be authorized for organizations by selling licenses for multi-user versions. We certainly would be interested in that for our Education Department.

Please be advised that NASM has NOT authorized me to speak for them or to commit. Since I am a volunteer, any such interpretation of my comments would cause grief to me and to NASM. I appreciate your consideration in considering these suggestions.

14 Messages

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570 Points

Well, it now has been nearly 2 years since I formally submitted a long list of suggestions to Adobe about future software. Primary among them was the suggestion to go to a multi-user networked version of Lightroom. Apparently, now that LR 4 is out, we see that Adobe has ignored all of those suggestions.

111 Messages

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1.3K Points

That's simply because they don't need to care, these forums are full of our "needs" but they always have a convenient and uneducated reply.

I wonder constantly now why I bother spending thousands every few years on what is increasingly becoming poorer and poorer implementation of what once was an awesome thing.

Employee

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166 Messages

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3K Points

9 years ago

If we were to create a multi-user system for Lightroom, the database would be unlikely to be the exposed interface anyway. The exposed layer would probably be at a higher level than that (web service-like, regardless of the protocol particulars).

Note that even a multi-user MySQL installation doesn't just put a file on a network share and let file locking manage concurrent access. It has a network daemon and clients connect on a TCP port to make queries and get data.

So SQLite isn't the reason we don't have a multi-user system, it's the reason we don't do multi-user by just putting the catalog files on a network share.

Besides, multi-user Lightroom isn't just about the catalog data. There's previews, the original image files (neither of these are in the lrcat file), and lots of other pieces that would have to be managed as well.

If the task of making Lightroom a multi-user, multi-machine system is a book, the SQLite versus MySQL part is a footnote. Ok, maybe a short chapter. :)

149 Messages

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3.3K Points

9 years ago

Thanks Dan for clarifying some of the issues involved.

It occurs to me that this topic probably could be split in two separate but related discussions.

1. Multi-user - Two or more people working on a shared catalog and image database. This requires a client-server architecture with the necessary file locking etc. This is not the common use model but would be highly desired by anyone with a small studio and one or more assistances up to an organization managing a large archive.

2. Multi-computer - One person working with one or more catalogs. I think that today this covers a large majority of Lightroom users. Many of us regularly use a lap top computer in the field to start working on the days images and then want to have a say to simply merge this back into or main catalog on the desktop at home.

In either case you should probably treat the previews more like cache than "data". They are being regenerated all the time anyway as you make edits so it make sense to me that my previews would always be localized to my local computer user workspace.

-louie

946 Messages

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13.8K Points

"In either case you should probably treat the previews more like cache than "data". They are being regenerated all the time anyway as you make edits so it make sense to me that my previews would always be localized to my local computer user workspace. "

Since the previews can be dozens or hundreds of gigabytes and since they could easily represent tens or hundreds of hours of CPU rendering time, this might not be all that practical for a "client" system.

66 Messages

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1.2K Points

Exactly! I don't need a multi-user-environment but just an easier way of synching my catalogue between desktop and laptop computer. Right now, the only way I can do this is: Before I take my laptop somewhere, I synch my LR catalogue from my desktop to my laptop so it matches it exactly. Then I can work with LR on my laptop. After that, I sync my laptop's catalogue back to my desktop and continue to work there. So, every time I switch computers, I need to sync my catalogue.
It would just be so much easier, if there was a sync feature in Lightroom that would allow to sync and contribute in both directions (let's say, for example by keeping always the most recent edits of both machines).

Cheers,

Timo

2 Messages

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70 Points

Totally agree with that... it's much more about being able to seamlessly switch computers. I've managed this by using synctoy between PC's but that always made me nervous. I'm trying to see if I can get a dropbox based solution to do the trick.

Anyway, a fully integration "move everything to laptop" button would be great.

149 Messages

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3.3K Points

Jay,

Good point to consider for the Multi-user use case. Even then especially when you are edting most of the your work is going to be local to the client system you are on. You really don't want to have the client constantly updating the previews for every edit. That's what I was thinking about.

To your point there should be a way to "release" work back to the server that would also update the server previews so that additional clients would not have to re-render finished work just to browse the image database.

11 Messages

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234 Points

I don't really want to share a catalog, because the laptop won't be attached to the network most of the time. A shared catalog would be OK as long as each computer keeps a copy of the preview files, and changes to develop and metadata are only permitted when the machine is connected to the network. But I do need to be able to reconcile the same image on two computers.

There are ways of doing it without sharing the catalog - basically things to help me instigate a regime of self-discipline. Colour coding of folders in Lightroom (this has already been discussed), and/or the ability to lock/unlock folders would help greatly, so that I can more easily keep track of which images have been 'sent' to the desktop - then I know not to do any more adjustments or metadata on the laptop.

Another requirement is to be able to export a collection (from the laptop) in a way which only exports membership of that collection, instead of overwriting all the metadata in the target catalog (on the desktop), because I sometimes do a selection on the laptop after the images have 'gone' to the desktop - where they may have been added to other collections and may have had more develop work done. I don't want to clutter the catalog with loads of virtual copies either.

Patrick Cunningham

42 Messages

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768 Points

I think that there is a third case:

- Home NAS with a single user

These things are becoming more and more common. I understand the imperative to keep the system operationally simple, just enabling network access to the database would lead to people who have been trying to use it as multi-user software complaining vociferously that they were innocent victims of Adobe when they corrupted their databases but there should be support for common high-end hardware configurations. Locking need only be done at the file level and imposed by the application not the database, no finer granularity is needed, but from discussions above it looks like the locking APIs are a mess.

4 Messages

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214 Points

9 years ago

I don't have a need for a multi-user catalog, but a multi-computer catalog would sure be handy. Sometimes I want to do some quick edits while sitting in the family room with my laptop. For more serious editing sessions, though, I'll be on my desktop. It would be nice to have the same files, and the same catalog, accessible from both.

14 Messages

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570 Points

9 years ago

So, is the bottom line that Adobe is not currently considering creating a multi-user version of Lightroom? Or is it under consideration for a future version?

14 Messages

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570 Points

9 years ago

It seems to me that lots of reasons have been given for why a multiuser version has not been accomplished in the past. That said, a rebuild of Lightroom to make it multi-user would move Lightroom from a niche to a major consideration for small to large organizations where data synchronization are essential for any organization wide solutions. I think Adobe should consider how this will improve its competitive postion in the market and go for this major increase in functionality.

Adobe Administrator

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15.8K Messages

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295K Points

9 years ago

Have you guys looked at Adobe Carousel? It's the start of multi-user, multi-computer, multi-device workflow.

Sr. Product Manager, Adobe Digital Imaging

164 Messages

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5.2K Points

Yikes. Carousel doesn't even come close to addressing the needs of this feature request. It's jpg only and it's a separate program. Either of those are deal breakers. Together....

Adobe Administrator

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15.8K Messages

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295K Points

Remember, I said "It's the start..."

Sr. Product Manager, Adobe Digital Imaging

Adobe Administrator

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15.8K Messages

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295K Points

Check out the last paragraph of this blog post: http://blogs.adobe.com/photoshopdotco...

Sr. Product Manager, Adobe Digital Imaging

164 Messages

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5.2K Points

Yes, I know, and I'm honestly trying not to be too negative here, but Carousel will never be the solution to this problem. I shot 6 GB of images this afternoon, 6 GB yesterday, and 30 GB on Thursday. I need a solution that allows me to work from my laptop or my desktop across my LAN. Uploading all that data to a cloud services to work from is simply not feasible.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

I wonder if it would be possible to implemented localized "cloud-lets". i.e. take advantage of Carousel/Cloud software technology fitted for local net.

Employee

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166 Messages

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3K Points

With the caveat that I don't work on the Carousel team (though I know several of its members), nothing it does would preclude P2P operation of the sync'ing protocol. At least for my part, it is of no interest to me until there is a P2P version since I don't really _want_ all my photos in the cloud even upstream bandwidth didn't make the upload process impractical.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

So, if I got it right, in a few years or so, we may actually see Carousel be the multi-user version of Lightroom... in the global cloud, or local-cloud/p2p/lan...(?)

164 Messages

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5.2K Points

That's exactly my thought Dan!

13 Messages

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370 Points

Same here. I think I'd rather have a locally installed Lightroom (on all the computers I want to use), but with a cloudish backend, that might sync all the settings + when necessary the files I want to be working on. Or if I'm on the go I could press a sync button and it sends the files to a fileserver running at home (or in the cloud). But such a system would have to be very flexible, which could make it rather confusing to use I suppose?

I can see myself using a backup/cloud service run by Adobe, where all my photos are stored (encrypted), something like Backblaze/Mozy/Carbonite/..., but with a photography focus and a tighter integration into Lightroom (it should be competitively priced (perhaps slightly above the aforementioned services, when you have a Lightroom license there are discounts or vice versa, ...) and offer backups of other files too... especially media files, but also documents). Perhaps Acrobat.com could be integrated into it, so that when we have backed up our Word documents that way we can, online, access these files and modify them, Acrobat.com documents are automatically synced with your computer too, ... I think that would be really awesome.

2 Messages

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70 Points

Hey Jeff. I'm excited about the potential of Carousel. Recognizing that it's just "a start" I'm holding back my criticisms to this--I think it would have been nice (speaking personally) if the the "start" had been a feature set more geared towards lightroom's serious or pro users. What I mean by this is addressing RAW file workflow, and as Sean Mentioned, more of a LAN based synching solution.

Carousel seems like and circle on Adobe's big Venn diagram of partially overlapping products; and it certainly introduces some features and Ideas that will satisfy certain types of users. But for me, there's just not a point in engaging yet and therefore, difficult to give constructive feedback.

Adobe Administrator

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15.8K Messages

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295K Points

Sure. I knew the *current* file support angle of Carousel would be a deal-breaker for most pros, but the synchronization aspect would show that we're investing in multi-user, multi-computer, multi-device workflows. Because Carousel is heavily tied to Tablets and Phones, raw file support wasn't in the cards for that workflow with those devices as 1.0 release - but realize that what's underneath is a subset of Adobe Camera Raw (the subset that these devices can drive in a performant manner) and that the rest of the engine can be engaged later on. Hopefully that gives you an idea of the trajectory they're on.

Sr. Product Manager, Adobe Digital Imaging

7 Messages

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230 Points

9 years ago

Adobe already has this programmed for Bridge using MYSQL and full access control and locking permissions. (They did a too complicated job in my opinion) SQlite can literally be emulated on top of mysql. The only piece would be to add a few lines of code that point lightroom to a TCP socket and network share containing the files; and have a little listening port that keeps your local copy of LR up to date on what files other users have clicked on. (or that could just be part of the sqlite db presented to the client) The "server" could be any dumb sql backend + sqlite emulator layer + a file store. All the "processing" could be done by client computers at ingest and outclick. If you want to dumb it down even more, use some userland Fuse implementation of SQL so Lightroom doesn't even have to know it's going over TCP. You would have to optimize it.

I run networked LR catalogues this way by putting them inside writable DMG files hosted on a fiber server 5 miles away from my desk. It works like a charm and haven't had a corruption once since I started 3 years ago. (only one client at a time mind you.)

This mutli-user thing is totally normal workflow and there is no reason why a networked DB would cause any performance slowdowns or be a trouble to build. Local cache/ripping would have to certainly be implemented but how much time does it take to upload a 3 megabyte jpg to a central cache file? Less than 1/2 of a second at gigabit. I could see a multi-client interface actually increasing the speed of Lightroom in the future by farming out intensive tasks to multiple idle computers just like Final Cut does today.

As long as the server is running memcached and is powerful enough, I don't see this back and forth of part of the db being a problem at all really. SQlite can run multi-user as long as their is a layer between it and the client. So build a layer that presents Lightroom clients with their "individual" sqlite db. That individual sqlite db is really constantly updated by all the other users and the only sql that is unique (and that the client caches in memory) is each client's opened files. Networks are fast enough.

Walker

8 Messages

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176 Points

9 years ago

Are you guys (Adobe) working on a solution to allow Lightroom to work from a networked hardrive?
Seems like an obvious next step, so places like my studio can run multiple machines and reference the same catalog...

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Network Catalog.

6 Messages

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178 Points

9 years ago

I think there is really a need for a network catalog for multi-computer usage.
We have the usb harddrive solution but it more a workaround.

18 Messages

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232 Points

9 years ago

I see where this will probably boil down to a 'multi-user' vs. 'Multi-machine' issue. Not being a programmer, this sounds difficult to easily satisfy all users. Large/small portrait studios would most likely only be working on one client's folder of images at a time. e.g. downloading and first edits. I doubt 2 or three employees would be doing the same job to the same client at a time.

From a business standpoint, most 'studios/photographers' work by themselves or with staff of three or smaller. Most of us smaller operators would be thrilled to be able to leave our catalog and images on a 'server' and then access from our laptops and maybe one or two desktops in our work area.

Having the mega stock photo business with large databases and then everyone else would seem that having two different versions of LR would be your answer.

Is this unreasonable? I don't know.

8 Messages

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246 Points

9 years ago

I see three scenarios:
1. Catalog Sync: for single-user/multi-computer use. A automatized sync of a catalog between lets say a laptop and a studio computer. That would satisfy a lot of users
2. Networked Catalog: I'm not sure if this is doable (avoiding db corruption) but I would imagine that the performance of such a catalog would be 'less then desirable' even over Gb-network
3. Lightroom Server: a real client/server application for larger working environments. But this would then require a dedicated SQL server AND file-server (to store the RAW images and previews) and a new client application. But I would expect a hefty price tag on such a version

I'm sure there are people at Adobe that have already looked into this - but I'm also sure it is not easy to come up with a real good solution, especially because the possible scenarios are going in very different directions.

18 Messages

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232 Points

9 years ago

Sounds easy, but the beauty of software that's user friendly is usually very difficult to implement, so I guess LR will just remain a one machine software.........

8 Messages

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150 Points

9 years ago

The one machine restriction is ridiculous. Just drop a lock file into the folder so that only 1 instance of lightroom can access the catalog and you're done. Don't need multi user I just want my catalog on the network so it's backed up and accessible from anywhere.

13 Messages

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370 Points

I have had a few corrupted catalogs due to having the thing on a network drive. It works... most of the time, in snail mode. But it can go wrong. Terribly wrong. Are you sure you want that?

What you _can_ do, and what I do, is to have the files on the network (my notebook HDD isn't big enough, + my desktop/file server is backed up), but the catalog on the laptop. I figured that I'd only be using my laptop for Lightroom, so that works for me. The catalog is backed up to the desktop once in a while, but feel free to use software to keep them in sync once a day or something like that (I'd do some versioning in that case, just in case).

This also helps the performance a lot. Since the thumbnails and the database are on the drive, it speeds up things when scrolling through the library. It's not as good as having the photos on the internal drive too, but at least it's something.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

There is another option I can think of for keeping a shared catalog on the network, but you're not going to like it:

- A home-brewed lock-file kept on the network alongside the catalog, and use a batch file to startup Lightroom, which:

Checks if this machine has the rights to the catalog, and if so - proceeds to do the normal Lightroom startup (if local copy of catalog is stale, then copy catalog from network first).

If this machine does not have the rights to it, then startup is denied (or at least discouraged...).

When Lightroom exits, the batch file that started it relinquishes the rights to the catalog, and copies it back to the network.

There are some variations of this theme that may be better suited for different situations, but the idea is: copy catalog from network before using locally, then copy back to network when finished using locally, and institute some means to keep two computers from screwing each other up.

I used a similar scheme to share an iTunes music library amongst multiple computers (one-at-a-time) a decade ago when iTunes insisted the library be on local machine (dunno how it is now).

example of "lock file" contents:
- who has catalog rights now, if anyone.
- who was last to copy catalog back to net.

These two pieces of info determine whether one can use the network cat, and whether it needs to be downloaded first.

Rob