Sunday, May 06, 2012

iPhoto to Aperture: Summary and managing the Event/Album problem

Apple's Aperture photo management software was a mistake.

I don't know what they were thinking, or where it came from. Obviously it was intended to be a "professional" alternative to iPhoto, but someone (Jobs?) never thought through how customers would move from one to the other. Migrating complex data between fundamentally dissimilar applications is an impossible problem.

Apple's customers wanted iPhoto Pro, instead we got Aperture 1.0.

Apple must know they made a bad mistake. Over the past three years they've been trying to turn iPhoto into Aperture-lite, and Aperture into iPhoto Pro. Despite the marketing claims, they're not there yet. They may never arrive -- it's almost impossible to change an application's fundamental behavior without producing a smoldering wreck.

Eight weeks after starting down this road I recommend waiting for Aperture 4...

iPhoto to Aperture: My experience: Apple Support Communities

... Several weeks ago I migrated three iPhoto Libraries from iPhoto 8 to Aperture 3.23. (In limited testing iPhoto 9 migration appeared to have similar results).  

.... if you are a demanding sort, wait for Aperture 4.1 and iPhoto 10.x.   My migration process was fraught with traps and errors that resulted in loss of 'metadata' (image descriptions, etc). Video migration was particularly problematic. I spent many, hours experimenting and testing. I had to repeat the imports several times to find the best path.

Some data loss cannot be avoided; Aperture does not store iPhoto Event or Album descriptions. Keyword consolidation is a tedious process.   At the end of the road Aperture gives me many new features, scalability, and a (relative) confidence that I'm committed to an application with a demanding and technical user base.  

On the other hand, I miss iPhoto's many clever features for managing Events/Rolls. Aperture is taking me back to the days of Albums...

It's too late for me though. I've paid the price and made the transition. 

Most of the transition that is. I'm still trying to work around edge issues. Consider the "Event" to "Project" migration.

The two concepts have quite a bit in common. Each photo belongs to exactly one "Event" (iPhoto) or Project (Aperture). Photos can be moved from one Event to another. By contrast, a single photo can appear in multiple Albums.

Even so, there are significant differences. Over the last few years Apple added a lot of clever workflow and UI affordances to Events. They became so easy to work with I came to use Events for many things I'd done with Albums. I went back in time and reworked older Events to fit the new model.

After the migration however, most of those conveniences are gone. Aperture "Projects" are only superficially "Event-like". They'e relatively awkward to work with. I'm back to using Albums again, and I'm looking for an AppleScript method to turn hundreds of Events into Albums.

I'm sure I'll work around a lot of the issues. I wish, however, that Apple had created a true iPhoto Pro rather than go down the Aperture road. I wonder if, in the Cook era, Apple will finally introduce iPhoto Pro, and quietly retire Aperture.

See also

Update: I did work around the issue -- in an illuminating way. In iPhoto Events and Albums live in separate UI views. In Aperture both can be contained in Folders. So I mix my Events and Albums now.

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