Why you should read the small print

Not satisfied in ressurecting my book database, inviting a massive updating job, I’ve decided to change my image cataloguing software, too, opening a whole other can of worms.

Once upon a time I tagged my photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements. At some point I started digital scrapbooking and for some reason (partly because of the way PE worked), I decided I didn’t want to tag my digital supplies there, so I purchased ACDSee to handle that job. Which it did beautifully, as long as I bothered to put in the effort of tagging.

Then PE crashed. That is, it refused to start in catalogue mode (this is not what the mode is called, but I can’t remember the proper name) and if I started it in editing mode and tried to change over to catalogue it crashed. I searched for solutions online, and found several, nonoe of which worked. I was faced with doing a reinstall and a rebuild, and figured it would only mean putting myself at risk of the same thing happening again. I therefore decided to change over to ACDSee for photos as well, since it seemed to be working so well for digital supplies.

This was, oh, 3 years ago or so.

The last couple of years I’ve been increasingly tempted by Lightroom – especially because I’d like to learn to handle RAW files. And in August Adobe ran a pretty good promotion, offering Lightroom 3 at half off. So I purchased a licence, and I’ve been meaning to delve into it ever since.

Now, if I’m going to be using Lightroom for editing, it makes sense to have the catalogue there as well, no? Well, I thought so. And so I started testing out importing images. And that’s when I discovered a hitch.

See, ACDSee has this nifty menu option: “Write database info to files”, which I’ve been using regularly. However, it turns out it doesn’t write any info to the files that Lightroom can find. It seems (and I’ve only spent a very little time investigating, so correct me if I’m wrong) it only writes information in its own proprietary format. So, yes, you could resurrect your ACDSee database based on it, but you can’t import it into another program.


I mean, I can see that it would make the threshold for changing to other software higher if you should find out about it while considering a change, but as I’d already made that decision, it only made me determined to change as soon as possible so as to not waste more effort. And had I known before I started using ACDSee, I would probably have searched for another solution entirely and NOT purchased the software. And I’m unlikely to recommend it to anyone else now – which I would have otherwise, it works well and has a gentler learning curve for amateurs than Lightroom. Oh, and it’s cheaper. 

Anyway. I just landed myself with three years’ worth of photos to tag. Sigh. However, I’d rather make the effort now. Portability is pretty important to me, and when the lass decides to unearth her mother’s photograph collection from that dusty old drive in the attic (or from the cloud or wherever we will be storing such things in the future), I want the image data to be readable to her, and the best way of ensuring that is to get it written to the standardised EXIF/XMP, not some proprietary format thingamabob.

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