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Out of order

I try to automate as much of my process as I can – time is too short to do manually what a computer can do automagically. One of my favorite tools for such automated processing is ImageMagick. It runs on a FreeBSD server in the closet. I drop my stitched panoramas via the network at one end and at the other end I get a whole bunch of output formats. When I need a new type of output, I just update my scripts and run them all over my archive of images.

I regularly update the server. The FreeBSD ports collection is one of the best things I’ve ever seen for system upgrade and maintenance, I have been a happy user for years. The nature of the system is such that sometimes a package will break despite the robustness of the ports system as a whole. When it does, careful analysis is required. Is this a problem of my specific system configuration or a bug with a software package or library? And if it is a problem of a software package or of a library, which one is it?

After the last upgrade to ImageMagick my engine broke down. Before filing a bug report with ImageMagick I looked for confirmation from other ImageMagick users on the Magick users mailing list. Is it a problem with my specific system, or with ImageMagick? I don’t know yet.

I was surprised to say the least by this reply asking me to file a bug report on a web based forum. Web based forums don’t even work as proper mailing list replacement (can’t read/reply offline). Now they are supposed to replace a bug tracker?

Compare it with dedicated bug trackers like the SourceForge bug tracker (not the best one) that we use for hugin; Bugzilla used amongst other by the Mozilla foundation and Gnome; trac used amongst others by WordPress and wxWidgets.

Can a web based forum keep track of the status of a bug? assign it? prioritize it? find duplicates? close a bug?

17 pages, 814 topics (bugs?)! that looks like a lot of noise to me. Purge! A bug tracker should only list relevant information, and if there are 17 pages of open bugs against a package the size of ImageMagick, something is badly broken. Web based forums smell stale.

I wish I had the time and resources to confirm if the problem with manipulating TIFFs in ImageMagick is specific to my box or a bug in the code, and to file a bug report if necessary. Unfortunately I currently lack the time and resources. I found a workaround for my specific situation: GraphicsMagick. In my glue script, it worked as a drop in replacement for ImageMagick. And it has a bugtracker where I can file bug reports without the nuisances of a web based forum. I will get back to ImageMagick when I have the time to make my system work again with it.

2 Responses

  1. GraphicsMagick claims among other things that it is faster than ImageMagick. What are your experiences?

    What is the reason to go back to ImageMagick again when you have managed to get the system to work again. Did you have issues with GraphicsMagick?

  2. @Serge: I don’t really care about speed of execution. I use the tool for batch processing overnight, so if the server finishes at 2 AM or at 3 AM, I am usually still nicely asleep and don’t notice.

    The reason to go back to ImageMagick is habit. I have plenty of scripts for ImageMagick. GraphicsMagick is just a workaround. I only dropped it in for an intermediate conversion from TIFF to PNG, my ImageMagick scripts work well with PNG. This actually makes the process slower, but CPU time is cheap.

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