Some ideas about categorizing images

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german_beaver
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Some ideas about categorizing images

Post by german_beaver »

Hi! First of all I would like to thank all of you for coding this cool program for free!

Actually I wrote this post because I miss some advanced picture management functions in xnview like categorizing images. There was another one post on his forum where various ways of categorizing and organizing images were discussed. Here it is:
http://newsgroup.xnview.com/viewtopic.php?t=938
However there are some problems with any of this methods.

A - Categorizing using IPTC keywords
Works only with JPEG and TIFF. Another problem - assume that I want to view my pictures categorized as "cool cars". To do so I have to start new search, enter "cool cars" as search phrase, hit "search now" and gaze some minutes at my monitor while my whole 3 Gigabyte picture collection is scanned for cool cars (I am actually not sure if this search function is already implemented in xnview, but that's the way this function works in another picture management programs).

B - Categorizing using folders
Nice! I can make folder "Nature" containing folders "high mountains", "deep waters" and "funny monkeys". Than I can put file links to my nature pictures in this folders and have well categorized collection. It is very simple, doesnt require any special program feautures and works very fast. But... If I rename or move to new location any of my pictures, link wouldn't work any more. Furthermore links contain absolute pathes. On my desktop I have my pictures in E:\My Documents\My pictures\ but on the laptop they are in Z:\My Pictures. It means that after file synchronization links from my desktop wouldn't work on my laptop and vice versa.

C - Categorizing using description
The same problem as with A. It takes a lot of time to scan all of files for special keywords and the search procedure is too complicated.

D - Categorizing using database
The same problem as in B. I cannot synchronize database in my laptop and desktop because of various pathes. Also if I copy my pictures to another location in Windows Explorer, database information wouldn't be copied because it is not in the picture folder but somewhere in program location. Another problem: assume that I have my private documents like scanned letters from my grandma, pictures of my girlfriend wearing lingerie and plans of world domination saved perfectly secure in encoded partition on my laptop ;) However in my database there are categories "World Domination", "My girlfriend half-naked" and "Will of my grandma". Even worse! There are thumbnails there! Not good... Well, I can turn caching images off but I cannot disable category functionality because I need it.

I've speculated for a while about how to organize pictures and here is my idea about how it could work:
Special album files are used to categorize images. Albums can be created from within xnview and saved in any location on your computer just as ordinary files. Xnview could handle this albums as normal folders, so that you can drag&drop any images to them and click on them to view images, which are inside. You should also be able to add albums to your favorits like normal folders. These albums are just text files with a special extension like .xva (for xnview album, just an idea). They contain pathes to the images which belong to those albums. However those should be relative and not absolute pathes. For example, we have our pictures in D:\My Documents\My pictures. Album files are stored in D:\My Documents\My pictures\My albums
So if one album contains link to D:\My Documents\My pictures\My friends\big_boss.jpeg
then the relative path would be something like \..\My friends\big_boss.jpeg
I don't know if this "\..\" can be interpreted by shell. But the program could interpret it as a command to go one level higher in the folder structure and search there for "My friends". The idea is that links shouldn't be restricted to a special disk letter or special root path. Albums should be in the data structure of the image collection. The advantage is that the albums can be copied or synchronized with this data structure, are indenpendent from local data structure on local PC and can be encoded with the images.

The images must also contain information about which albums they belong to. I am not really familiar with those descript.ion files. I assume that they can contain any kind of information linked to files. If so, xnview could write the relative path to an album for every corresponding image in this descript.ion file. If moving or renaming an image, which is in an album, xnview would scan descript.ion file and automatically update file path and name in the corresponding album or albums. If descript.ion doesn't allow to keep such kind of information, then xnview could save its own description files in image folders.

There could be also some additional functions like a wizard for automated convertion of existing normal Windows file links into xnview albums.

Let's summarize now. The meaning of albums is categorizing images. This system doesn't replace IPTC functionality but complements it. It is easy to implement. It works fast because only files in the album are loaded instead of searching through all files. It allows you to create very complex structure of categories, with many subfolders and possibility of adding one image to as many categories as desirably. It doesn't depend on a special data structure on a local PC, albums can be easily copied or synchronized to another computer. Albums can be encoded with the image files. The only restriction I can see is that you have to use xnview to rename or move or delete your images if you want your albums to be updated correctly. Theoretically it could be possible to write a service programm which runs in background and traces any changes made to files with descript.ion, updating albums even if xnview isn't running. But that isn't necessary at this time I think.

So I would like to know what do you think about this idea. Is it possible to integrate it in xnview? Does it make sense at all? Are there some other problems?

My regards and appreciation to the xnview team!!!

P.S.: I've just got another idea. It could be possible to create a special search routine, which can scan folders with pictures choosen by user for IPTC keywords or keywords in descript.ion and automatically create a special album for every keyword in a choosen directory. It would allow you to categorize your existing picture collection for use with xnview.
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helmut
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Post by helmut »

german_beaver et al,

thank you very much for your long post. Categorizing of images is an important issue and your pros & cons of the various methods are valuable.
Moving images really can happen (backup & additional drive, CD, ..) and should be supported by the categorizing solution. Looks as if there's no really good solution in XnView at the moment.

I don't know XnView DeLuxe, the commercial version of XnView very well, but it supports albums using an album database, already. Not sure what happens if you moved both database and images, perhaps Pierre can tell us, here.
Dreamer
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Post by Dreamer »

german_beaver wrote:...Special album files are used to categorize images. Albums can be created from within xnview and saved in any location on your computer just as ordinary files. Xnview could handle this albums as normal folders, so that you can drag&drop any images to them and click on them to view images, which are inside. You should also be able to add albums to your favorits like normal folders. These albums are just text files with a special extension like .xva (for xnview album, just an idea). They contain pathes to the images which belong to those albums. However those should be relative and not absolute pathes...
I don't think, a new, not universal format is the right way...

I've got an idea... more here: 'm3u file list support'.
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xnview
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Post by xnview »

helmut wrote:I don't know XnView DeLuxe, the commercial version of XnView very well, but it supports albums using an album database, already. Not sure what happens if you moved both database and images, perhaps Pierre can tell us, here.
XnView Deluxe use database to store albums, categories, ... So you can import pictures in album.
Pierre.
Xyzzy
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Post by Xyzzy »

german_beaver, if you are looking for cataloging solution, I suggest trying photools iMatch.

X.
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helmut
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Post by helmut »

xnview wrote:
helmut wrote:I don't know XnView DeLuxe, the commercial version of XnView very well, but it supports albums using an album database, already. Not sure what happens if you moved both database and images, perhaps Pierre can tell us, here.
XnView Deluxe use database to store albums, categories, ... So you can import pictures in album.
Thanks for telling. Is it possible to move the images & database?
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Post by xnview »

helmut wrote:
xnview wrote:
helmut wrote:I don't know XnView DeLuxe, the commercial version of XnView very well, but it supports albums using an album database, already. Not sure what happens if you moved both database and images, perhaps Pierre can tell us, here.
XnView Deluxe use database to store albums, categories, ... So you can import pictures in album.
Thanks for telling. Is it possible to move the images & database?
Move images from one categories/Albums to another? Yes
Pierre.
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helmut
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Post by helmut »

xnview wrote:
helmut wrote:Thanks for telling. Is it possible to move the images & database?
Move images from one categories/Albums to another? Yes
Think the main issue of german_beaver is moving images and database on different drive. E.g. when backing up both images and database on CD or adding a hard disk (with change of Drive letters). Will the album still be consistent? If not, any way to make / keep it consistent and working?
Dreamer
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Post by Dreamer »

Read this, please (and also support this idea if you like it), it could sovle the problem with not relative paths and more...
german_beaver
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Post by german_beaver »

Hi! First of all my apologies for not answering you posts for so long! I have internet access only on weekends and cannot answer during workdays. I thank all of you very much for your posts.
Xyzzy wrote:german_beaver, if you are looking for cataloging solution, I suggest trying photools iMatch.
Thank you very much for this idea! I will try this program out. Description of the program on their homepage looks promising. However, iMatch isn't freeware (49$) and it hasn't many advanced functions which are implemented in xnview (like mass converting ).
helmut wrote:Think the main issue of german_beaver is moving images and database on different drive. E.g. when backing up both images and database on CD or adding a hard disk (with change of Drive letters). Will the album still be consistent? If not, any way to make / keep it consistent and working?
That's right! My problem is synchronization of my desktop and laptop. On workdays I use my laptop to work with images. On weekends I am at home and use my desktop. I have to do sync once in a week at least. However, another one important issue of me is that if I move or rename my pictures then my file links or my albums in ACDSee or other program don't work anymore. It happens pretty often that I move some images from one folder to another.
helmut wrote:I don't know XnView DeLuxe, the commercial version of XnView very well, but it supports albums using an album database, already. Not sure what happens if you moved both database and images, perhaps Pierre can tell us, here.
Well, I don't know XnView Deluxe as well. However I know that in ACDSee you can create albums, but those cannot trace changes in your files like moving to another location or renaming.

I find the idea of Dreamer very interesting. m3u files do really work as Dreamer described and can solve some of the problems in a very elegant way. Main pro of this method is universality. However you have to pay for this universality. m3u files have relative pathes and solve the problem of different drives or backups on CDs, but they cannot handle the problem with renaming/moving files. Maybe it could be possible to implement several categorizing methods in xnview, like m3u for universality and albums for full functionality?
Another one question: does anyone know if descript.ion files can contain any information or only some special information?
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