Lightroom: How to make Library mode much more helpful and attract many people who have been put off

  • 4
  • Idea
  • Updated 4 years ago
  • Not Planned
I tried to like Lightroom but like many people found that Library mode didn't work the way I wanted. When I criticised it some time ago I was told very clearly that the problem was me and not Lightroom. I just needed re-educating to understand why I was wrong.

Well I do understand Lightroom and the design reasoning, and after much thought I still think my views are valid, and I decided to try to help by setting out how Library mode could have an option added that would make its use far more intuitive, in particular for new users. I really think that there are tens of thousands of people who could flock to buy it if it had this implemented.

Please note that this change would be an OPTION, so existing users would not be affected in any way. People who like the way it works now would be unaffected. So here it is...

How to change Lightroom so it works intuitively for everyone, in three easy steps (which would be turned on as an option, and all fit together)...

1. When the user navigates the Folders, and clicks on a folder, automatically update the catalog with the photos that are in the folder. (The feature could be called Auto-Sync). If they have been deleted, remove them from the catalog. If there are new ones, add them to the catalog.
Benefits: Very often no need to Import or to Sync - it just works.

2. When the user is looking at Folders, allow F5 (Or View/Refresh) to refresh the folder view. For example there may be new folders.

3. Make Folders work with the key missing Explorer features added, so it can be used like Explorer. Make Cut, Copy and Paste work, so you can select folders or photos, Copy, then select another folder and Paste. It isn't hard! Naturally they would be added to the Catalog automatically. If you do Cut and Paste, the Catalog would be updated with the new location. There seems to be no down-side to this idea at all!

On a deeper level, the issue is that Lightroom (sensibly) goes half-way to being a total photographic database. Everything is in the catalog/database except the photos themselves, they live in the filesystem. My suggestion makes the relationship between the database and the filesystem much more intuitive and automatic.

Please accept this as a helpful suggestion and not an attack on an excellent product.
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes

Posted 7 years ago

  • 4
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
You do need to go back and refresh your understanding of the concept - Lightroom tells you where stuff should be, not merely what happens to be there. Imagine someone is using your computer and deletes or copies a few pictures in Explorer/Finder, or let's say the drive starts failing and wipes them out. How does your point 1 alert you that something is wrong?

Remember that "options" do impact on others who don't use them - development time is wasted and cannot be devoted to features you value.
Photo of jdv

jdv, Champion

  • 728 Posts
  • 56 Reply Likes
Honestly, we are way past the era of depending on a file system view, and the limitations thereof, for managing large datasets.

Lightroom gives you the tools to go beyond folders and slice across your dataset using a variety of powerful techniques.

Few people need to store their photos in anything more than a simple dated folder structure, and run the library with the Folder section completely disabled.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 135 Reply Likes
I run my system with the collections and keywords sections disabled. That's with about 200,000 images.
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 384 Reply Likes
Richard,

I hear you - importing and folder synchronization... - can be a bit of a hurdle, especially at first...

I have no big problems with present design in this regard, however I do like your idea of a folder view that includes what's *not* in the catalog - with a more expedient way to add that stuff...

I also think automatically adding / deleting stuff would be a disaster for Lightroom, and that you need to make peace with the fact that Lightroom's library is a catalog database view, and that importing, deleting, and folder synchronization is how things get in and out...

Rob
Photo of Peter Werner

Peter Werner

  • 12 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
Richard, Adobe Bridge (which comes with Photoshop/Creative Suite) may be the solution you are looking for.
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Peter, thank you for your suggestion.

I am well aware of Bridge, and its capabilities. I was hoping that Lightroom could be brought up to the the same level of file handling.

Ideally there would be a single program combining Bridge and Lightroom. This would make perfect sense. The basic version wouldn't have the DAM features or the database and various other things would be missing. That basic version would be included in Photoshop. Buying Lightroom would get one the full version, which would do everything Lightroom does, but upgraded as I described.

Unfortunately it won't happen because I understand the two teams regard each other as competitors and are therefore unlikely to work together. A recent public statement by the head of Lightroom said this quite openly.

I've been amazed by the blinkered responses to the suggestion, and the way it was quickly marked to be discarded. My core argument is that since Lightoom's database does not contain the photos themselves, which are in the file system, the two should be as tightly connected as possible. Seems obvious to me. And for anyone who says it is impossible, take a look at ACDSee Pro, which already does exactly what I am describing.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
Blinkered? Are you having a laugh? Your "tightly connected" is a "browsing" app which is distinct from the concept of a database which catalogues where images should be. This "should be" versus your real time is an important difference in DAM and allows LR to safeguard your picture collection, showing you when stuff has gone missing and allowing you to reconstruct your folder system after a catastrophe. Browser-based workflows like you propose merely reflect what's there now, not much use when things go wrong, but if that's what you want there is Bridge with its different (rather than competing) character and development teams.

As for your proposed changes being "upgrades", well, I'm just off to polish up my Newspeak....
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
No, I wasn't joking, and I continue to be surprised by your attitude. I understand exactly how LR works. A browsing app need not be distinct from the concept of a DAM. Only in the current LR implementation. Please open your mind to the possibilities I open up.

I note that the ONLY benefit you can come up with for the present system is that when you lose files the system goes wrong (in the sense that you can't see files that don't exist, and doesn't display files that do exist!) and you can see that you have blundered. That IS a valid point that you make, but that issue could be tackled separately.

In contrast the changes I propose would make the system hugely more helpful and would I believe increase sales. Many people have rejected LR because of its file handling limitations and its failure to automatically keep the database in line with reality.

There is no point in pointing me at Bridge. It is not a DAM.

Why are you so fixed in your belief that you can't have a DAM which is automatically tied to the file system? As I pointed out, have a look at ACDSee Pro. It is a DAM, with a database with many features similar to LR. When you go to a folder, it automatically updates. No need to sync. And it works like Explorer. You can copy and paste.

And don't forget that I suggested that what I proposed could be an OPTION. So you could continue to work in your way, and many new customers could work the easy way. So why oppose it?
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
An option still means an unnecessary feature that runs counter to the very concept of Lightroom, and equally seriously to developers' time not being available for genuine upgrading. And of course, the database is for far more than safeguarding your pictures - though your "valid point" is what the rest of us would call "critical" - but I rather think my listing other advantages for someone who throws round the words "blinkered" and "blundered" might be wasted!
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
I don't do insults, so I shall ignore your last sentence.

If you really have other reasons why the database should be disassociated from reality, please give them.

Please remember that I think the database itself is excellent and I'm not criticising it at all. It doesn't need to be changed in any way to provide the features needed.

It is the concept of Lightroom that needs a slight tweak. The software changes needed would actually be quite small.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 135 Reply Likes
"If you really have other reasons why the database should be disassociated from reality, please give them. "

A lot of people use external drives to store their images, and disconnect them when they go to the field. In the current implementation, they can still browser their previews. In your approach, the entire drive full would be deleted from the database when the drive is disconnected.
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
No, it wouldn't. It is impossible to cover every little detail in my description, but all that would happen would be... nothing. With my suggestion the catalog for a folder gets updated automatically when you select that folder. When you did this for an offline folder, it simply would not update. It wouldn't know what changes might have been made, so it would do nothing. No catalog data would be lost.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
Oh, I see, using your words back at you means it's you that is being insulted. Right.

Where I think there's room for some change is in auto import where we have a watched folder concept, previously mostly useful for tethering. That might be extended so you can mark other folders as auto import, and you'd need safeguards for the numpties that would use Explorer/Finder to move files that are already in LR into the watched folders, and more. Even that limited change is a lot more than the developers can do over a pizza, and your "reality" upgrade is a few quite small changes?
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
I would ask you to go back and read the descriptions of the three changes suggested in the original message. These are not difficult changes, nothing like as complicated as the change you describe. There are no database implications. It is just a little extra code in one module. It is not a lot of work. I estimate 4 pizzas worth, by your measuring system.

But the benefits would be huge, it would invite into the Lightroom fold many users who have previously rejected it. The problem I have putting this over is that existing Lightroom users are, by definition, happy with the way it is, so they see no reason to change it. I'm asking on behalf of the many who have looked at it and rejected it.

I also think that if Lightroom 5 had this upgrade, it could be used as a significant marketing feature of the product.

My later suggestion of a single integrated Lightroom+Bridge would take a lot of work and I can't see it happening, however logical.
Photo of John R. Ellis

John R. Ellis, Champion

  • 3871 Posts
  • 1023 Reply Likes
Richard,

You raise a good point that I've also thought about -- is it possible to have a digital-asset-management system that provides the capabilities we associate with "database" programs, but that also reflects the current file system like a "file browser"? Users could apply, filter, and sort by metadata very quickly and aggregate into sets (collections and stacks) independent of the folder structure, but they could also manipulate images and folders using Finder/Explorer or any other file-system tool as well as the application. While I'm very comfortable with database programs like LR, like you I recognize that there are many users who are not or who have long-standing existing workflows intimately tied to traditional file manipulation, and such users will indeed resist database DAMs.

In addition to ACDSee, Windows Live Photo Gallery takes this approach. They wanted a consumer app with the ease of use of iPhoto but that didn't copy photos into a "library" ghetto separate from the user's normal files (which confuses users similar to the way that database DAMs do). You can search by date, tags, and other metadata very quickly (it uses database technology under the covers), but to the user, it's essentially just an extension of Windows Explorer. I think they succeeded -- I've tutored a number of non-sophisticated casual users in the use of both programs, and I find that WLPG is easier for them to learn and use.

WLPG is targeted to a much different audience, of course, and it doesn't provide collections and stacks, but that's not a fundamental limitation of the approach. (Bridge, a "file browser", provides collections and stacks too.)

However, I do think that moving LR very far in that direction is probably a very large undertaking. I'd think that as soon as they started trying to make the current underlying database reflect file-system changes in real time, Adobe would have to make fundamental, large-scale changes in both the user-interface design and in the underlying implementation. This is just my educated guess, and not being intimately familiar with the LR implementation, it would be hard to turn this from a modestly informed opinion into an authoritative pronouncement. Perhaps the features you suggest in your original post would be a useful step in this direction and more easily implemented.
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
John

Thank you for your comments. I agree your examples demonstrate how it is possible to take this approach and how intuitive it is for users.

I wasn't requesting large-scale changes, or any changes to the visible interface. If you work through my list of changes in the first message they are very modest. I have a great deal of experience designing and building computer systems, and although not of course familiar with the internals of LR, these do not seem a lot of work. I'm not asking for any more changes beyond these, I think they would have a dramatic effect on take-up by new users.
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 384 Reply Likes
Richard,

Far be it for me to want to keep users from doing what they want to do.

I'm probably not going to submit this FR/Idea for you, but I don't think you are on any kind of bad list - Adobe mostly takes ideas for their own merit.

I do however think it may help your case to explain how you would use copy/paste. "A user may want to do it" is perhaps not strong enough.

PS - When Lr4 SDK is released, I may revisit options for a plugin-assisted solution.

Good luck,
Rob
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Rob, If I'm going to have to do it - are you sure you can't be persuaded, you obviously know an awful lot about this - please can you tel me...

1. When you write "FR/Idea" what does the FR stand for?

2. Do I simply put a new message in the same place where I put my original one?

3. Do you have any other advice about how to write it compared to the way I did it this time? Be blunt.

4. Can you give me a description of the SDK shortcomings that I can include?
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 384 Reply Likes
Hi Richard,

FR stands for "Feature Request" - sorry for acronymization...

You'll be fine submitting a new 'Idea' - maybe something like:

Title:
-----
Lightroom: Copy/Cut & Paste folders / files - like Explorer & Finder...

Body:
------
Please support Copy/Cut & Paste of folders and files - via context menu and keyboard.

Drag n' drop is too squirrely, and anyway some folks (like me) are more used to doing it with the keyboard, like they do in their operating system.

=============================
(feel free to change the wording so it sounds more like you and less like me...)

You can leave out the part about the SDK - I've already submitted that stuff as separate 'Idea's.

Rob
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
OK I've just done it. Please take a look and support it, anyone reading this. Thanks. Here is the link:
http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh...
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 384 Reply Likes
Nicely done.
-R
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
I've looked over them again and I don't think you appreciate how grossly you are oversimplifying the implications of what you suggest. For instance, take your point 1 - automatic deletion of [the LR record of] files that are no longer in the folder and importing any that now are. So, these deleted files - what happens to the editing work that was done on them? Is it retained in the catalogue? Or written back to - back to where, as they're gone? So there's going to have to be some kind of automatic writing of XMP as long as LR has the files available. [You're going to need that if the user has deleted the files from one folder and put them in another which subsequently gets imported.] That's the garlic bread eaten. What about all the LR metadata that isn't currently saved to XMP? More development hours and we're into a long lunch hour now. Now what about folders that are offline - either because the drive is shut down or it's dead, or because you've deliberately deleted the folders in Explorer. Whoops, one click and they're no longer in Lightroom. So you'd be into code branching for folders which have changed and those that have gone missing etc. By the time you work through such permutations you're into an in house 24/7 Pizza Hut.

And the app as a whole would still be over these folks' heads!
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
John

No. You seem to have completely misunderstood what it would need to do. I never said to automatically delete files. If files have already been deleted by the user, then it should remove the catalog entry for that file.

I would happily explain it to a developer, but you seem so utterly opposed to this type of change that it doesn't seem likely I could ever convince you.

If you want to find out what it is like I suggest you download the trial of ACDSee Pro and try it. It is incredibly simple. Please note I'm not recommending that program to anyone, just using it as an example of how this particular way of working can be made to work very easily.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
"1. When the user navigates the Folders, and clicks on a folder, automatically update the catalog with the photos that are in the folder. (The feature could be called Auto-Sync). If they have been deleted, remove them from the catalog. If there are new ones, add them to the catalog.
Benefits: Very often no need to Import or to Sync - it just works. "
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Yes, that's right. It doesn't say the program deletes photos.
Photo of Son Nguyen

Son Nguyen

  • 61 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
You should use ACDsee. It offers what you asked for.
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Why bother to write that to me? I came to this forum because it is for people to make suggestions for improving Adobe products. It is irrelevant what I use. I would like Lightroom to be a better product. That is why I came here.

What I'm finding here is a fixed attitude that says the product is wonderful and suggestions to improve it are signs that the person making the suggestion is ignorant or misguided.

Why do people here have that attitude? Why the inflexibility in the face of suggested change?
Photo of Son Nguyen

Son Nguyen

  • 61 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
It's not that I don't want to see improvement in the product. LR still needs a lot of improvements and feature requests will push the product forward. However, I don't think your request is what LR aim for. This request is flagged as "NOT PLANNED" already. So I'm just giving you an alternative that I think would suite you better. I'm not in anyway trying to attack you. My apology.
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
No problem.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
Here you go again - "fixed attitude", "signs that the person making the suggestion is ignorant or misguided." Why can't you accept others do read your suggestions, understand them, and give you detailed reasons why they aren't so wonderful?
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1099 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
Neither did I. It's probably clearer if I edit my wording a little - to "automatic deletion of [the LR record of] files".
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
John - Given the change you have made to your wording I hope my suggestion is now clearer. And if you read my comments to Rob Cole's comment above it will further clarify my suggestion.
Photo of Babar_e

Babar_e

  • 138 Posts
  • 23 Reply Likes
Richard,
I understand your point of view. I had ACDsee.
But for your point 1 ->I prefer the way lightroom works.
Indeed that way I know exactly if file are missing and why. If someone accidently deleted a file with your way I would never know it, I would eventually replace my older back up with up to date backup, and would realize too late that I had missing photos that I would never be able to recover.
I am simplifying a lot but similar issues happened to me with acdsee.

On the other hand you could auto add the photos and grey out the one gone missing (it is the case currently), so that you can choose to keep or remove the missing ones.

note that I prefer to import photos as this lets you do a lot more thing than just add the photo to the catalog.

regards
Photo of Richard

Richard

  • 27 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Eric, I agree that it is useful to know if the file system has got out of step. As you say there could be a way of automatically showing this when you are visiting a folder.
Photo of YSANDER VON BOXBERG

YSANDER VON BOXBERG

  • 25 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Richard,
I see your point, too, at least for your point 2 that should be really easy to accomplish (and I don't see why anybody should feel insulted by your suggestions...?).
The point is, we are all used to our own special workflows that may well differ from the "ideal" one that Lr would wish us to adopt. For my part (already for "historical" reasons but not only), I import pictures and create my image folders outside Lr, and I'm actually glad I can backup my file system, and the Lr catalogue separately. I've already seen so many OS, and image treatment, cataloguing and other applications "die" that I don't want to rely on a specific one to safeguard my images for "the future", be it from Adobe. Soft-linking of Lr with the file system should not really be a problem (at least on the Mac; I don't know much about WIn). And soft-linking does by no way exclude that you be warned about missing originals, as is the case now for ex. when looking at images on a deconnected drive. (Sure this should never go as far as Google's Picasa that without you asking does a deep scan of all your drives for anything resembling to an image file).
Maybe what indeed confuses new users of Lr is that the drive and folder list at the left of the library module so closely resembles an Explorer window (or the Finder on Mac). On the other hand, concerning your point 1, Lr's import function works quite satisfactorily for me, since it automatically marks only newly added images for import, all others are greyed out (if you have checked non-import of doublets).

regards,
Uz
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 384 Reply Likes
Richard, you may appreciate some of the features in Ottomanic Importer (a free plugin I wrote).

For example:
* Auto-import upon folder selection (once or repeatedly).
* Auto-import a particular folder, ad-hoc/temporarily, or persistently...

It will allow all importable files to be imported, but won't remove any photos from your catalog.

Ottomanic Importer

Rob