Don’t cage your data!

It is such an innocent option in Apples iPhoto.app.

Copy items to the iPhoto Library

Or in the newer Photos.app from Apple:

Copy items to the Photos Library

But these checkboxes will haunt you for many years to come.

Why?

These options actually ask you to give up the ownership of your photos and videos, and place them inside the walled garden of iPhoto or Photos.app.

The golden cage.

But that is great, isn’t it? A paradise, right? You don’t have to worry about files, folders, and all that crazy stuff anymore!

Indeed.

But you will have to worry about something else.

How long will the software that you are trusting now with your precious data, survive?

 

Case 1: Apples iPhoto

Introduced in 2002, for no particular reason, Apple had suddenly killed it in 2014.

Case 2: Apples Aperture

The wonderful pro photographers app that was so highly acclaimed and loved, was suddenly terminated by Apple in 2014 as well.

Case 3: Google Picasa

A free app that Google had released in 2002, was also suddenly terminated in 2016, no reason given.

Case 4: Extensis Portfolio

A quite popular commercial digital asset manager, a desktop software for Mac and Windows, was also suddenly discontinued in favor of the vastly more expensive web service the company wanted to sell.

 

All these unexpected deaths of solid and useful software products show you a very important thing:

Don’t cage your data!

 

How do these products and others cage your data?

Extensis Portfolio had a nice way of dealing with keywords. The huge problem was that it kept these keywords only to itself. It never wrote them back to your actual photos. Caged data.

Of course, as long as you keep using only that software, this might be fine.

But what if that software suddently ceases to exist?

Fortunately, the Extensis Portfolio fiasco had a good ending, as the venerable NeoFinder is able to Import the Export text files of Portfolio, and these do actually include the keywords.

Apples iTunes is another great example for caged data. Or better, the Ratings you can assign to your favourite songs. These ratings are never stored in the song files. No other app can ever see them. And there were rumors already that Apple could take away these ratings as “too complicated”, and replace them with a single, simple “heart” vote. Boom. Caged data it is.

Adobe Lightroom also has a quite nice metadata editor, but it also keeps all the data you have entered there in its own private cage, until you explicitely ask it to disgorge it.

You must manually call the Save Medata to file command, hidden deep in the context menu, to force Lightroom to write back the data you have entered.

Conclusion

If you wish to keep your photos and videos and their metadata around for many years to come, and protect them, you need a better approach.

Free your data!

Step 1:

Store your photos and videos in a clear, and well designed folder structure.

A very common approach is to create a new folder for each year, and inside of it, create subfolders for the shooting, vacation, and event.

Step 2:

Only add keywords, descriptions, and other metadata in such a way that other applications can use them immediately, too.

A perfect way of doing that is the new NeoFinder 7 with its built-in Adobe XMP editor. It will write back all ratings, keywords, descriptions, and other extra information into the photo file itself, or in an industry standard “sidecar” XMP file.

NeoFinder does not cage this data internally somewhere, instead it immediately frees it!

That means that you can immediately use your valuable data with all other applications in your workflow, no extra steps needed.

And if one day you need to use a different tool to handle this? Or a different platform? Easy, just use it, as your data is free, and not caged somewhere.

Think long term. Five years, 10 years, or 30 years.

How long do you want to use your photos?

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