An Interview about Aperture Plug-ins

by Bakari Chavanu

Software Entrepreneur, Aaron Morse, out of Anchorage, Alaska, recently posted in the the 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 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.


Graeme Smith
2007-06-22 09:15:46
I think it's quite likely that Apple adds a plug-in API for image adjustments in Aperture 2.0. I personally would love to be access Noise Ninja (awesome program, by the way!) right in Aperture, preferable with non-destructive filtering like native Aperture adjustments.

If Apple did this it would give them a significant edge on Aperture's main competitor Adobe Lightroom and would save them the work of improving Aperture's editing tools, like the Noise Reduction tool which is pretty much useless in its current form...

2007-06-23 02:38:42
There are a lot of applications which I would love to see as a Plug-In to Aperture. I like that Aperture works losslessly on my RAW files and I don't wish to export my pictures to other Apps - and even less as JPEGs (think of loss in Quality) or as TIFFs (too much big space).

There are now a few very capable Apps which are Core Image based like Aperture, so this shouldn't be a hurdle which cannot be overcome (I'm no developer though...).

Wouldn't it be wonderful to Geotag the images with HoudahGeo, fix minor lens issues with Lensfix CoreImage and on and on? This and sending the images to "Color" from Final Cut Studio 2 would make Aperture not only the best Cataloging tool, but as well changing it into a graphic Powerhouse...

One more thing?

Yes, partial edits...


Steve Robertson
2007-06-23 08:45:08
Yes, it would be really sweet if Aperture 2.0 included an API for image enhancement. I too would like to see Noise Ninja integrated along with tools like DXO Optics. Please, Please Apple! I am waiting anxiously for apple to release Aperture 2.0 with lots of new cool features but am afraid that we might have to wait until after the release of Leopard as it is probably heavily tied to the new OS. Boy are things really slow at Apple this year!
Angelo Mourino
2007-06-25 19:26:55
How about a plug in that would simplify adding the
© All Rights Reserved, name, year on the images.
Angelo Mourino
2007-06-25 19:27:06
How about a plug in that would simplify adding the
© All Rights Reserved, name, year on the images.
Wendy Beverstock
2007-06-27 09:01:06
I don\t understand all the ins and outs of Aperture but this interview conversation convinces me that my Son-in-Law Aaron does! Way to go Aaron!
Yann Michel
2007-07-28 08:35:11
It would be great if one could delevop an export plug-in for pixelpost ( as well ;-)