Location: United States

A New Yorker relocated to Florida. I have fifteen years in the IT industry, with stints in product management, database management, application programming... I've been a CIO, a consultant, a software evangelist... one of these days I'll write up a proper profile.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Change of Pace: Windows Photo Gallery

Today we'll take a quick look at the Windows Vista Photo Gallery applet. It's safe to say that many people will probably say "cute!" the first time they see it. Would you use it to store hundreds of family photos, or thousands of downloaded photos? The jury is out. It has some promise.

Windows Photo Gallery, Grouped by Tag

It appears to have the capability to do the standard actions you might expect; download images from a camera, display a slide show, and import pictures from a directory. Additionally, it can manage video and burn DVDs.

This is Microsoft's feature list. The page appears to be still a work in progress.

The user interface is very Explorer like, with a tree on the left and view pane on the right. Folders can be added by right clicking on any of the nodes below "Folder" and choosing "New." Notice that the folders are the equivalents of the "My Pictures" and "Shared Pictures," "My Videos," and "Shared Videos" in Windows XP. You can move or copy a folder from outside that hierarchy into one of the nodes. To link to a folder outside the hierarchy, including a network folder, right click the top level folder and use the Add command.

You may also do some editing of photos. The color management was quite simple to use. A useful addition would be a red-eye reduction tool. The applet failed to save my changes, but I assume that will be corrected.

Using the Fix Tool in Windows Photo Gallery

The View options for the view pane are thumbnails or tiles. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the ability to group photos and videos: based on standard photo metadata tags (date taken, month taken, year taken) or on keyword tags. It's easy to create a custom tag such as "childhood photos." The screenshot at the top of this article illustrates grouping by tags.

What is to me most interesting is that you can't use drag and drop to add a tag to a picture; I would have thought this the quickest way to tag. Instead, you have to right click, choose "Add tags" and then type in a tag name! You can't even choose from a list. This may simply be a problem with the beta. You also can't drag from another Explorer folder window into a tag group to simultaneously add a photo to the gallery with a specific tag!

The picture tags appear to be stored in a metadata repository; folders are not automatically created, and no files appear to be moved when a tag is applied. Note that the search function appears to rely only on a file name search.

Note also that you can "rate" your photos via selecting a quantity of stars.

I've not tested creating a DVD from video files at this time.

While I hesitate to use the Mac as a standard, Windows Photo Gallery appears to be an iPhoto like application with "tags" and video as an added twist. Some of the publishing features in iPhoto are unmatched. iPhoto claims to support up to 250,000 photos, and I can attest to its robustness; I will "torture test" Windows Photo Gallery by copying some tens of thousands of photos and report back!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red-eye correction is in the latest builds.

6:46 PM  

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