How to Manage Large Image Libraries with iPhoto 2
Subject:   RE: WHY won't iPhoto scale?
Date:   2003-06-18 00:02:36
From:   derrick
Response to: Fine, but WHY won't iPhoto scale?

Hey John, Well I can't speak for Apple on why iPhoto bogs down after a gig or two of photos. I don't know why. But from experience, I know that it does. (And I also know that managing images is a lot different than handling text.)

You could use FileMaker as your photo database. I've seen them, and they're cool. But, I like the output features of iPhoto that I can't get from other systems.

What I'm trying to do here is show folks how they can use iPhoto, if they choose to, and still manage lots of pictures. And there are a couple upsides to the method I outlined in the article.

For one, you regularly archive on to optical media. I think it's safe to say that many of us don't back up out stuff as often as we should, and the results of not doing so can be disasterous.

Second, if you're a PowerBook user, such as myself, your hard drive probably tops out at 60 gigs. Regardless of any iPhoto performance issues, laptop users need to have a flexible system for backing up and retrieving data while on the go because hard drives fill up fast. This is especially true for photographers.

By taking along a handful of DVDs, you can provide hard drive relief and still quickly access your image libraries.

All of that being said, some people won't be satisfied with iPhoto until it can handle more pictures. No argument from me. That's the beauty of technology: there's always an alternative. I'm not trying to convince anyone to use iPhoto. But for me personally, the many benefits of this application outweigh the limited library size.

Thanks for reading!

Full Threads Oldest First

Showing messages 1 through 4 of 4.

  • RE: WHY won't iPhoto scale? iTunes can.
    2003-06-19 07:49:59  jfaughnan [View]

    It was a harsh of me to say I was disappointed in your article, especially since I'm a big fan of your writing. It really is a good article with a lot of value. I am really displacing my frustration with Apple's iPhoto development priorities onto your article, which is quite unfair.

    Like Grzegorz I use the trick of collapsing rolls to prevent opening of large image collections. That helps me get up to a 1000 images. Still, that's only a drop in the bucket.

    I looked closely at iViewMediaPro 2.x. I think it was missing the ability to create an image subset with an arbitrary sort order. In other words, one could not readily create a sub-album with its own independent sort order. I also found iViewMediaPro to be (for me) very non-intuitive, which I could live with except I found the documentation a bit lacking as well.

    I'm going to look at iViewMediaPro 3.x quite closely. I'd like to see iViewMediaPro use AppleScript to drive iPhoto. So one could use iViewMediaPro as a staging environment and create a disposable iPhotoLibrary on the fly to leverage iPhoto's output controls.

    Note that migrating an image library, with metadata including albums and sort order, from iPhoto to iViewMediaPro is a very non-trivial task.

    Even better, of course, would be a redesign of iPhoto. iTunes is actually a very good template or what iPhoto should be. iTunes manages larger file sizes in vastly larger numbers with aplomb on a slower machine. It handles multiple sound libraries on multiple servers. It allows creation of dynamic queries. It has comprehensive metadata management. It scales on any machine very easily.

    In other words, iTunes is what iPhoto should be. This may be because Apple derives iTunes revenue by selling music, but iPhoto revenue by selling hardware. So there's an incentive to make iTunes work well on any platform, but a different incentive to make iPhoto slow on most platforms. iMovie is in the same boat as iPhoto. Economic reality is so cruel.

    Meanwhile iPhoto is good enough to block alternative software being developed for the smallish OS X marketplace.

    Sadly I may end up moving my image library to the Wintel platform if Adobe continues to improve its album software.

  • RE: WHY won't iPhoto scale?
    2003-06-18 06:35:36  anonymous2 [View]

    Hi Derrick,

    Thank you for excellent articles, great books and instant inspiration.

    I believe that problems with slow performance of iPhoto are rather not related directly to the size of library but to amount of computations required for screen rendering. So you can have really big library and work efficiently just by reducing the amount of photos that iPhoto is rendering on the screen. The best approach is to sort photos by film rolls and then just then click the triangle next to a film roll to hide any photos you're not using.

    Using this simple technique I was able to work efficiently with libraries of about 3GB on my PBG4 1GHz.

    with best regards

    Grzegorz Lucki
    Krakow, Poland
    • Derrick Story photo RE: WHY won't iPhoto scale?
      2003-06-18 08:28:55  Derrick Story | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

      Hi Grzegorz, Yes, this is an excellent tip. I forgot to mention it in the article, but you're absolutely right. Thanks for chiming in.
      • RE: WHY won't iPhoto scale?
        2003-08-04 09:14:48  rohidas [View]

        I just had a question regarding your recent discussion of iPhoto performance. And that is, will adding more RAM to my G4/400 make any difference? I have 256MB now, and am experiencing very sluggish operation when just working on one film roll, with others closed. One poster said that the main problem was really screen re-draws, and so closing all other rolls would help. But when I import let's say 100 shots from my Nikon D100, it takes forever just to open a shot at larger size, close it and view another. Will doubling my RAM at least make this bearable?