Software Entrepreneur, Aaron Morse, out of Anchorage, Alaska, recently posted in the the Flickr.com Aperture group (which I frequent on a regular basis) a request for the types of plug-ins Aperture users would like to make their life easier. As you might imagine he got a significant list of responses, ranging from a plug-in to “easily export a set of images in pre-determined sizes within separate folders,” to a popular request for a plug-in that would integrate with Noise Ninja, a digital noise reduction application.
Aaron is partner in a Seattle-based company called Übermind which has already developed three plug-ins including the ApertureToGallery plug-in which integrates with Gallery the popular open-source photo album. Their other two plug-ins are ApertureToFTP Pro, which automates the process of uploading photos from Aperture to a remote FTP server, and ApertureToFileMaker, which also automates the process of getting photos from Aperture into the data management and processing software, FileMaker.
And as this article is being written, Ubermind has just announced the release of their newest plug-in, Aperture to Picasa Web Albums, an export plug-in that automates the process of getting photos from Aperture into Google’s Picasa Web Albums.
So in line with the World Wide Developer Conference last week, and the recent post about Aperture Plugged-In 2.0 by Micah Walter, I thought I’d fire off a few questions to Aaron about plug-in development for Aperture.
I thank Aaron for taking the time to respond to my questions.
1. Plug-ins seem to be a great way to expand a software application for particular needs of users. So could you explain the possibilities and limitations of developing plug-ins for Aperture? What are there certain parameters you have to work within?
We think plug-in architectures are a great way to build a software ecosystem. And, plug-ins also allow systems to evolve more quickly and maybe in unanticipated ways. The current plug-in API in Aperture is primarily intended to be used to export images out of the system. This opens a lot of doors, but at the same time it seems that many users would like an enhanced API that could support additional filters and tools within the system. For example, in responses to our inquiry on Flickr, several users requested a plug-in for Noise Ninja to provide enhanced noise reduction. Right now this type of plug-in is not feasible.
2. Most photographers are always looking for ways to make their post-production workflow easier and more efficient. What plug-in ideas do you have for Aperture that you think will help photographers in our post-production process?
It seems like enhanced integrations with printing services, web portals, network storage systems, and transfer systems could all be useful. We are exploring all of these areas.
3. One Flickr.com Aperture Users group member requested an export plug-in that “feeds a Photoshop action,” whereby, as he says, an Aperture user “could click Export to Photoshop Action from Aperture, have Photoshop load the image, process it with the chosen action, and save the result with whatever quality settings to whichever folder.” Do you see this as possible? If so, why or why not.
With an enhanced plug-in API, this sort of thing will absolutely be possible.
4. Can you talk about the plug-ins you’re currently working for Aperture and when they might be released?
Here is a teaser.
We expect to release several plug-ins over the next two quarters.
5. Finally, what changes are you looking forward to in Aperture that will help you more as a developer for the program?
Apple already offers a stellar development environment with Xcode and Cocoa. And we think that the possibilities of the existing API have not been fully explored. An extended plug-in API that is intended for image modification, within the system, would expand the options available to plug-in developers.