Aperture Wishlist: Export Develop Settings

by James Duncan Davidson

At this point in Aperture's life-cycle, and with the release of Lightroom to stir up the pot, my thoughts have been turning more and more to things I'd like to see in the next version of Aperture. A few weeks ago, I blogged wanting live two way XMP support of IPTC metadata. It might be a bit ambitious, but it's something that would be useful to me if all of my applications supported it. In the last week or so, there's now a new feature has come to mind that would also be incredibly useful: Being able to export develop settings for a single file.

In Aperture 1.5, the best way to move photographs, their metadata, and their development settings such as Exposure and levels adjustments, from one Aperture library to another is to export a project. However, what if you want to export just a collection of your picks to another Aperture user and send along all of your image adjustments? Right now, it seems that the only way to do this is to drop them into a separate project and export that new project out. That sort of violates the grouping abilities that projects give you. It'd be much simpler if you could just export out a set of photographs, either individually or as a group, in a form that could be imported by another user of Aperture. Once imported, they'd have access to the full information in your RAW files, and they'd start out with just the adjustments you left off with.


Brian Fox
2007-03-12 18:32:25
This is funny... I just sent a feature request for export to DNG to the Aperture team last night. I was thinking the same thing... I really don't like sidecar data and really prefer the DNG format as it encapsulates the RAW file with adjustments.
2007-03-12 19:20:15
Well, I've said all I need to say on the DNG topic here and on John Nack's Blog.
Apple has it's reservations on DNG support for cameras it does not support in native RAW. Agree or disagree, but I understand it. Here is a good discussion on the Aperture forums:
Regarding applications...what feature/features in Aperture are you really needing if an Adobe-Centric workflow answers your needs?
2007-03-12 20:23:15
I'd rather see priority go to developing some API hooks deeper into Aperture made available. It'd be extremely useful to be able to use something like Noise Ninja directly as part of Aperture. Heck, I'd love to see what third-party developers could do with extending the app.

It seems less likely that Apple would support Adobe's DNG. I've always thought the development and promotion of DNG seemed like a play straight out of Microsoft's handbook.

James Duncan Davidson
2007-03-12 23:08:37
In this post, I'm not asking for full support for DNG (which is something that Apple needs to support fully rather than the partial support that's there now), but rather for a way to move an image complete with it's development data from one copy of Aperture to another. Using DNG and putting Aperture specific metadata into it would be one way to accomplish this. There might be others.

It might be enough to export a "project" containing a subset of images in a project rather than all of the images in the project. That at least would be a start.

As far as DNG: I understand David G's reservations with DNG when it comes to a pure non-destructive workflow for the point of capture to viewing on screen. But, I'd consider that a philosophical argument. The fact that linearlized DNG is a public spec, albeit an Adobe spec at this point, and which is entering wider use means that it should be supported. But that's a whole 'nother thing.

2007-03-13 04:09:07
James, Apple has it's reasons for not "fully supporting" the DNG format, and they are valid. Adobe continues to hold onto ownership of the format (as they state: in order to more fully develop the format...what does that mean?), rather than turning it over to a truly neutral development standards body.
Why? Only Adobe really knows. Apple says they will be more open to supporting the format when it is a true neutral format, like JPEG is. Even Microsoft states it is willing to turn ownership of it's new HD Photo format (designed to replace JPEGS) over to a standards body now.
This also gets back to your previous article on XMP compatability: Neither Adobe nor Apple are willing to risk file corruption by embedding any information into a camera's RAW file. Hence XMP sidecars, and DNG which is an "open/proprietary" format of a RAW file that HAS been embedded with information.
Migrating one set of images in Aperture to another Aperture library is pretty straight forward and easy (See one of Micah's posts). No need to even bother with the DNG conversions. Now if Aperture gave us the ability to export any part of a project individually, that would be cool. Export a smart album with all adjustments and search criteria could be very useful, especially to multiple users.
2007-03-13 05:45:27
The RAW term in press speak means original jpeg, not RAW as we know it. Infrastructure is still not developed enough to allow a RAW workflow in the field for most, especially war zones.

BTW Adobe has openly said that it will happily turn DNG over to an independent body (see John Nack's blog)

2007-03-13 05:48:37
Wish list for Aperture: Accurate colour? Real image adjustment tools, not the film industry derived 'levels' that really do not work and cannot adjust images optimally? (Trust me, I develop this stuff!)
2007-03-13 07:03:01
The question that Adobe and John Nack don't answer is what (exactly) is the delay in turning the DNG format over to an independent body now? If numerous people (camera makers, software companies, even consumers), tell you that you should turn your format over to an independent body before they will fully support that format, and you don't do that ( but say you will someday), that seems a bit disingenuous to complain about it. Adobe has reasons for not turning it over now...and they are not being fully forthcoming on why. As long as DNG remains tied to an Adobe-centric world, universal adoption won't take place.

I don't have your problem with noise, but Noise Ninja looks to be a very good product! Their site states only JPEG and TIFF file formats are supported. So do I understand NN isn't directly being used for RAW files? Then have you tried either selecting Noise Ninja as your "Export to external editor" for post production, or if referencing your files from the hard drive, Applying NN settings prior to importing into Aperture (as referenced files). Noise Ninja doesn't appear to rely on XMP data, so I wonder if this will work?

James Duncan Davidson
2007-03-13 10:28:32
Trace: Being able to export a smart album would, as I said, be a step in the right direction. It might even be just enough. As ar as Adobe nor Apple being willing to tweak stuff directly in Camera RAW files, I agree with that 100%. As much as I dislike sidecars, it's a better solution than tweaking a CR2 or a NEF.

Even tho DNG is currently an Adobe spec and isn't (I hope yet) a publically-controlled spec, it--or something that looks a lot like it--is a needed thing in the photographic community.

Nick: The press infrastructure may not be developed enough to support a total RAW workflow in the field, but RAW files are being asked for in order to aid inspection. From PDN:

"Editors at some publications, including National Geographic and The New York Times, routinely ask photographers and photo services to provide RAW files for inspection if something looks unusual."

Dev: Oh, my wishlist goes on and on. :) Better performance comes to mind.

2007-03-13 12:22:41
i don't know if this has been added yet, but do miss the double rating of PM and IVMP. stars are great, but stars AND colors are better...
Jack Foster Mancilla
2007-03-13 19:31:16
One thing that is very important to me is the ability to use Lens Fix (or something that works as well) to repair lens distortion on straight lines. I really hate having to go into Photoshop for that task. ... Not only that, but when I do that, I have a hugr .psp file that I do not want keeping.
2007-03-17 18:52:46
James - Apologies for delay.

RAW: Agreed - requests are made by editors for raws - In the case of NG, I have little doubt that raw means "RAW". In most cases this means the original file, which in the majority of cases is jpg. The quest for authenticity is currently bordering on the obsessive and It cannot be long before it is decreed that a 300 at 2.8 is biasing the image? ;-)

I strongly advocate RAW for any photographer that has the bandwidth and I have personally shot nothing else for the last 6 years (it was very tough in the days of Yarc and breezebrowser only...)

DNG - agree your point - perhaps we ought to ask John?

James Duncan Davidson
2007-03-19 12:57:31
Nick: Cool. I hate that the term RAW has an ambiguity to it in common use. In my head, there's a difference between "original image" and "RAW image data". But alas. As far as the quest for authenticity, yah, it's getting loud right now.

I actually find myself surprised when I find out how many pros are shooting JPG. It's a bit baffeling to me actually now that we have tools like Aperture and Lightroom. However, I've been shooting RAW as well ever since I picked up my first Canon D30 in 2000. My, how time flies.

Tom Hogarty
2007-03-20 02:23:49
"The question that Adobe and John Nack don't answer is what (exactly) is the delay in turning the DNG format over to an independent body now?"

I believe John did answer this question on his blog post. "Ultimately Adobe would like to turn stewardship of the format over to a standards body, but we've wanted to let it build momentum first." J Nack ( http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2007/03/dng_notes_compa.html )

What does momentum have to do with turning the format over to a standards body? Well, the format is only 2.5 years old in a market that is still growing. And a single company that works with raw formats across the industry is in a unique position to react quickly to the needs of a new format. As DNG adoption continues to increase and raw file formats stabilize Adobe is constantly evaluating the opportunity to hand over the format to a standards body.

Tom Hogarty
Adobe Systems

2007-03-21 05:52:24
If "waiting to build momentum first" is the exact and only reason for Adobe to delay turning it's DNG format over, we may be in for a long delay. in the Cnet article (posted again here): http://news.com.com/Adobe+taps+the+power+of+negative+thinking/2100-1041_3-6136875.html?tag=st.num
it seems several companies and others take issue with the problem. Perhaps it's time to have a major roundtable discussion with all interested parties (Adobe, Apple, Camera manufacturers, professional photographers, etc.). If you want to build momentum, this would certainly do that...or not.
It's interesting that the history of JPEG format (created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group) was not this problematic. And this is an image format that is universally understood by ALL programs that use images. Even Microsoft Word and Excel can use JPEGS. And didn't the JPEG standard come along at a time when the digital imaging market was "still growing"?
It seems disingenuous to claim to want to "build momentum first", and "we are the best company to handle quick changes in an evolving market place", when those from whom you seek such support have said, that very claim of yours is one factor in keeping them from supporting it. If ever there was a time to put forth your call for support, and let the industry weigh-in, in a public forum or roundtable, that time would be now.
2007-03-28 19:05:25
Take a look at my posting on this topic at: http://homepage.mac.com/brettgross/Aperture/Aperture/SharingMastersEdits.html