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Image Browsing


Image browsing is the backbone of the photographic workflow. When I first inserted a compact flash into the card reader of my Ubuntu box, the system tried to detect what media it was. It was faster and better than the equivalent Windows function, so I decided to give it a try.

photo import

Unfortunately, from here on the experience is rather confusing. In Windows, the thumbnail view is part of Windows Explorer. I can drag and drop the images like any other file, and switch seamlessly from list to thumbnail view. It’s an extension of the file system. It does not seem to be so with gPhoto. Or am I doing something wrong? I see Nautilus has an option to  View as Icons, but the Icons are not exactly like the Thumbnails. Why two different, half-backed and overlapping tools, instead of a proper image browser integrated in the file browser?

4 Responses

  1. You could put it another way, why put heavy duty image management in the file manager? The image manager does it better.
    Here’s the difference between the two:
    1. The file manager only cares where a file is (which folder), the image manager mostly cares about date
    2. The file manager sees two variants of the same image as two different files, the image manager shows them as one image with two images
    Reconciling those differences in one interface wouldn’t result in a good UI, IMHO. But in the end I guess there is no perfect solution to this.
    Note that you can easily zoom up with ctrl+wheel in Nautilus to approximate an image browser. I find it more convenient myself than XP’s bizarre image browser, which has a very different feel in a look too similar to the normal file browsing.

  2. @NM: sure, you’re right, and it would be good design if the image manager and the file manager would be more talkative / cooperative, i.e. integrate seamlessly and transparently to the user.

    Drag and drop an image or a folder from the image manager to the file manager.

    Open a folder from the file manager to the image manager.

    Provide alternative views; search/sorting orders from the image manager, using data that it is in XMP sidecars and that the file manager would see as another different file.

    There is a lot of room for improvement. “XP’s bizarre image browser” is not my benchmark. There are a lot of much better and well integrated image browsers on Windows. The image browsers that come free with most digital cameras fall in this category.

  3. Very recent versions of nautilus (2.22) allow you to browse the images on your camera directly. Perfect integration of the camera with the file manager.

    There are also a number of other image browsers available on the GNOME desktop. gthumb for example allows DND between the file browser and the image browser.

    Oh, and you may want to give f-spot a try.

  4. I got rid of that dialog completely and just run a shell script to copy my photos into dated directories. Much more convenient!

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