Some may recall that sometime ago I had jumped into the Picasa as a photo organizer with both feet.Â Of course, that was when Picasa, a Google product, had support for not only Windows and Macs, but Linux as well.Â Granted, the support wasÂ kludgy Wine based conversion that was pretty slow, but it worked and allowed it to be used on Linux with out the overhead of Windows.Â Most anyone who is interested also probably knows that about a month (or maybe it has been two) Google announced that they would no longer be supporting Picasa on Linux going forward.Â Much to my dismay, I had to search for something else as I rarely boot my desktop machine in Windows and even less does my laptop go there, but those are for other discussions.
Reading and looking at what there was in the various Linux distros, I decided to give Shotwell a try out.Â I am really glad that I did, because it meets my needs and functions like me more than any other photo organizing software that I have ever used.Â Before I get into my glowing positives though, let me touch on the two slight possible negatives.
First is the fact that is Linux-based only.Â I have gotten to expect and like software that is available in at least Windows and Linux, though I admit havingÂ a mobile version for the iPad is a nice addition to any software and now that I finally have a true smart phone (another discussion, I promise) the Android platform will be nice going forward.Â But Shotwell, while open sourced is completely based in Linux and to my knowledge has not been ported anywhere.Â This is probably in part because of my second minor complaint.Â It is designed to run on only one machine, period.Â There is a blurb in the documentation that says doing so otherwise will result in corruptions in the database and so on and that it just not intended to be ran on multiple machines.Â Given that so many people are probably like me, with multiple machines this would be a nice feature.Â Especially with the cloud share ability most of have access to – allowing one copy of the photos, having some sort of implementation to access things from different machines would be nice (see more later in my positives).
So on to the positive side of things.Â As expected, you can autoscan directories for photos to include, pull photos off of devices into it, and select individual files as well.Â You can also specify the storage scheme you would like to use, but the default is Year/Month/Date folder structure, which really appeals to my strong sense of being organized the way it should be.
Each grouping of photos will be stored under the date structure name with the database unless you give the “event” a name other wise.Â I really like this, because I am not apt to remember that the pictures I took regarding the garden growth were on May 5th, June 10th, and July 28th of last year, but I will easily recognize the event name of Patio Garden.Â Additionally each photo can be given a title and of course tags.Â While I am just organizing and reorganizing my photos I am keep the titles simple and pretty much using the event name unless there is some huge reason to do otherwise.Â I may revisit them later or more than likely, not.Â As for tags, what ever is appropriate for each photo is what I am using.Â I have tags for names of most friends, family, horses, and pets already, as well as the obvious ones like Christmas and Thanksgiving.Â I also tags for more general and mundane things like SCA, medieval, garden, fishing, boat and so on, I am sure you get the idea.Â The tags allow an obvious quick and easy way to find a general like themed group of pictures.
Of course it has all the editing pieces you would expect of any photo software, which include rotate, crop, reduce red-eye, and adjusting the exposure, saturation, tint, and temperature of each photo.Â I am not so much on those, as my photo archive should be just that, an archive.Â The archive should be the original photo with no alterations.Â If I am using the photo on a website or something and it needs to be cropped that version should not necessarily be in the photo archive, if that makes sense?
One really nice edit piece that is not mentioned is the ability to change some meta data associated with the picture, especially the date and time.Â Normally I would not be interested, but despite my admonishment above about alter, more than a few of my older pictures were cropped and most often this was done with Gimp.Â No offense to Gimp, but it does not store Meta Data and in fact wipes out any that is there.Â So, a LOT of my older photos are stored in folders with the correct dates but without the dates in the meta data.Â This allows for the fixing of mistakes made when I did not know better in an easy way.
Returning to the not having the ability to run on multiple machines issue, the Shotwell software does have the ability to export to various web-based platforms including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, and YouTube.Â Though they actually call it Publish and Share, and that makes perfect sense.Â My biggest need to have it on a different platform is because I will do most (or in this case all) organizing and such on my desktop machine but would like the option of the tablet or laptop to share with family and friends.Â By pushing to the various platforms it is easy to give them a link for access (much as I was doing in Picasa, which is still an option) or bringing my own device over for those that have limited access otherwise.
Bonus ability is the ability to archive and incorporate right into the photo library videos.Â Makes sense, as almost all digital camera devices these days have the ability to shoot some kind of video.Â It does not have any ability to edit these at this point, so while I am still evaluating video editing software I have 2 videos correct and two showing on their side or upside down.