Gaining Insight with the Data Map App

A digital image management system should not only allow you to manage and find your files, it should also be able to provide additional insight about your files and the metadata associated with these files.

Did you ever wonder which of your folders occupies the most disk space? Which lens and ISO settings you use most often? How many files you took per location? Or the 50 most often keywords and which files have them?

All these questions can be answered and visualized using the Data Map App shipped with the digital asset management system IMatch. To use this App, open an App Panel in IMatch via View > Panels > App Panel (keyboard shortcut: <F9>,<1>) and then select Data Map App from the drop-down list at the top.

The 50 Most Often Used Keywords

In the screen shot below we see the Data Map App showing the 50 most frequently used keywords in a database:

Gaining insight by visualizing the 50 most often used keywords in your database.
Visualizing the 50 most often used keywords in your database.

This visualization uses the @Keyword category hierarchy for input and then calculates how often each keyword is used. In the resulting visualization, each colored box represents one of your keywords. The size of the box indicates how often the keyword is used – the larger the box, the more often the keyword is used.

To see all files with one of these keywords, just click on the box. IMatch switches to the Category View and selects the corresponding @Keyword category.

Visualizing ISO Usage

Another of the sample presets allows you to see the most frequently used ISO setting. The Top 50 ISO visualization is based on the a data-driven ISO sample category that is automatically created for new databases. By clicking any of the colored boxes you can open the corresponding category to see all images taken at that ISO setting.

Visualizing the most often used ISO settings for your images.
Visualizing the most often used ISO settings for your images.

The Data Map App ships with a number of other pre-built visualizations, e.g., Top 50 folders (great to see what your largest folders are), lens usage statistics, the 50 top locations (based on the number of images taken) etc.

Extending IMatch with Apps

While being useful all by itself, the key point in the Data Map sample App is to demonstrate how you can extend IMatch with custom Apps. The unique IMatch 5 App technology makes it easy to add custom functionality to IMatch using only HTML and JavaScript.

This Data Map App uses the renowned open source D3JS visualization framework and combines it with a bit of custom JavaScript which loads data from an IMatch database and transforms it so it can be used as input by D3JS. Much more can be done with D3Js, check out their web site for examples.

Using an IMatch App written in HTML and JavaScript allows you not only to create your own Apps, but also to utilize all the awesome JavaScript libraries available today. These cover all kinds of topics: visualization, animated time lines, multimedia, presentation, slide shows, animations and much, much more.

If you know a bit about HTML and JavaScript (or you always wanted to learn these key technologies which drive the Internet) IMatch Apps are a useful and fun way to use these technologies.

IMatch and the Windows Clipboard

clipboard iconThe clipboard is a fundamental component in Windows that enables users to exchange data between applications.

The digital asset management system IMatch supports the clipboard in many creative ways, making it super easy to exchange data with other application. This know-how article gives you a quick overview of all the clipboard functionality available in IMatch.

Copying File Names

Select one or more files in a File Window and then press <Ctrl>+<C> to copy the fully qualified file names of all selected files into the clipboard. You can also use the corresponding command available in the File Window context menu.

When copying the file names, IMatch puts each name into a separate line, using carriage return / linefeed pairs to separate the lines. This format is ideal to transfer the file names into other software like text editors, Office applications or web browsers.

Copy one file name to quickly insert the name into a File Open dialog in another application, a command prompt window or the Windows Explorer address bar.

Tip: After copying files into the clipboard, you can paste (copy) or cut (move) them into another folder inside IMatch. If you instead paste them into a category, they will be assigned to that category. This is an easy way to copy/move files between folders or categories.

Copying Folder, Category and Collection Names

Select one or more folders in the Media & Folders View and then press <Ctrl>+<C> to copy the fully qualified names into the clipboard. To copy category or collection names, apply the same principle in the Category or Collection Views.

Copying Images

You can copy the file currently selected in the File Window as an image into the clipboard:

Copying files as images
Copying images to the Windows clipboard via the context menu in the File Window.

IMatch loads the existing cache image (or creates one on-the-fly), renders Annotations (if you have added any to the file) and copies the result in bitmap format into the clipboard. This format is compatible with all applications which support transferring of image data via the clipboard.

Copying Files

To copy one or more files from IMatch to Windows Explorer, select the files and press <Ctrl>+<C>. Then switch to Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder to which you want to copy the files and press <Ctrl>+<V>. Exactly as you would do it in Windows Explorer itself. This method allows you to quickly copy files from IMatch to folders not managed by your database.

You can also use mouse drag & drop to copy files from IMatch to Windows Explorer, or to open files from IMatch in other applications.

There’s  Still More…

This know-how article covers only the clipboard commands which allow you to copy data from IMatch to other applications.

IMatch itself uses the clipboard for many additional features and commands, e.g., to copy/move files, folders and categories, to assign files to categories, to add files to collections, to copy and move categories, to create Favorites and much more. Please see the IMatch Help for detailed information and examples.

The know-how article about the Copy Data App shows another way to copy arbitrary metadata from IMatch to other applications via the Windows clipboard.

Fun With Custom File Window Layouts

The File Window in IMatch offers a wide range of customization options. From simple things like font size or color to custom templates based on IMatch variables, XAML formatting instructions and more. All this is controlled via file window layouts. And you can create custom file window layouts to display exactly the the information you want to see, and how you want to see it.

This article shows you some of the things that can be achieved using custom layouts and IMatch variables. Make sure you read the File Window layouts topic in the IMatch help for general information about how to use File Window layouts.

Displaying A Keyword Counter

Sometimes it might be useful to see how many keywords you have added to a file right in the File Window.  We use a Custom Template for this purpose and fill it from the variable containing the hierarchical XMP keywords of the current file (Click on the … button next to the input field to select the variable):

Setting up a custom file window layout.
The File Window layout editor. Open it directly from the File Window toolbar.

The Count Formatting Function

The trick is to combine the hierarchicalSubject variable with the count formatting function. This function calculates the number of elements in the variable and returns a number:


The count formatting function can be used with all repeatable tags to count the number of elements.

The Result

The result of this custom template displays the number of keywords in the left thumbnail panel footer:

Your custom file window layout with keywords.

Displaying All Keywords

If we want to see the actual keywords instead of a count, we use the same variable. But this time, we use a replace function to replace the single ; character used as the keyword separator keywords with ,<space>. The extra space after the comma allows the File Window to wrap the keywords into multiple lines.

We also increase the Size property of the footer to 60 pixels in order make room for multiple rows of keywords:

How to display a wrapable list of keywords
How to display a wrapable list of keywords

The variable we used (for easy copy/paste):

{File.MD.XMP::Lightroom\hierarchicalSubject\HierarchicalSubject\0|replace:~;==, }

Note that ; has a special meaning in IMatch variables so we have to escape it with a leading ~

This custom layout now shows all keywords assigned to the file right below the thumbnail:


More Custom Formatting

The file layout above uses some other variables to display more custom information.

The file name is displayed in the top left header, but using a larger font for easier reading.

In the right header we show the first letter of the file extension in upper case. This leaves room for longer file names, but is still sufficient to identify the file format. We achieve this by using a Custom Template together with an IMatch variable:


The {File.Ext} variable returns the file extension. We use substr:0,1 to extract the first letter, and to_upper to convert the extension to upper case.

See the IMatch help topic Variables for detailed information about variables and the available formatting functions.

Camera Settings

The bottom right header displays the camera model, shutter speed and aperture used for the photo in a custom format. Again, a mix of variables was used to render this information. We used these variables:

{File.MD.Exif::Main\272\Model\0|replace:NIKON ==}

The Model variable contains the camera name as written by the camera. Since Nikon writes strings like ‘NIKON D4’ into this tag, we use a replace formatting function to strip out the leading ‘NIKON<blank>’.  This gives use the model name only: D4.


By default, the shutter speed variable returns the raw value (e.g. 0.02 for 1/200). By using the value formatting function, we tell IMatch to output the formatted value instead: 1/200.


We use the aperture variable as-is, but add a bit of XAML formatting (see the IMatch help for details) to output an italic f in front:

<Italic>f</Italic> {File.MD.Composite\Aperture\Aperture\0}


You can just use the standard IMatch File Window layouts to display your files. Changing attributes like font size, color etc. is simple. And if you want to display custom information, special metadata tags, maker notes or Attribute data, you can do that by using custom templates in combination with one or more IMatch variables.

Using Comments And Icons To Annotate The Timeline


The digital asset management system IMatch includes a unique timeline feature which automatically arranges all your files along a time axis. Did you know that you can add your own comments and even custom icons to each node in the timeline to make it even more useful?

To add a comment or custom icon to a timeline node, make sure the properties panel is visible. Select the node for which you want to add a comment and/or icon and then enter text and pick an icon from the drop-down icon list.

The IMatch Timeline
The IMatch Timeline with several text annotations and icons. Click for a larger view.

Note: If comments are not shown, click on the Gear icon in the toolbar to open the configuration options. Then enable the Show Comments option.

Timeline Configuration

Configuring IMatch for High-DPI Screens and Easier Reading


If you are using IMatch on a high-resolution monitor (High-DPI) or your eyesight is not tack sharp anymore, you can customize IMatch easily to use larger fonts and icons.

IMatch automatically adapts to the default font sizes configured for your user profile in Windows. This means IMatch uses the system font sizes for menus and other screen elements (tree controls, panels etc.). If you configure Windows to use larger fonts, IMatch automatically adapts.

It does not increase the size of all screen elements automatically, however. IMatch gives you the choice to control if you just want to see ‘more’, or if you prefer bigger icons, fonts and menus in some or all areas.

Menus and Toolbars

Under Edit > Preferences > Application: User Interface you can switch the menu font size and toolbar icons between normal, larger and big. The big toolbar and menu size is good for even the most high-resolution screens:

Toolbar Sizes

Tree Icons

IMatch includes a second set of icons for all tree controls: Folders, Categories and Collections. This second uses 32 x 32 pixel icons and and looks good on displays with resolutions of 2000 pixels or more. You can enable this larger set under Edit > Preferences > Application: User Interface. New IMatch installations default to this larger set when a display with more than 2000 pixels (horizontal) is detected.

File Window Icons

The icons used in File Windows (rating stars, dots, pins, bookmarks…) also exist in two sizes. Choose the size you prefer via Edit > Preferences > Application. These larger icons are also used in the Filter Panel, the Viewer and wherever else collections and rating icons are displayed.


You can configure individual font sizes for the features and panels where you spent most time reading and editing text: the Metadata Panel, the Keyword Panel and the Attributes Panel. Use the Increase/Decrease Font Size commands available in the toolbars of these panels to change the font size to your liking. You can increase and decrease the font sizes in several steps up to about 300% of the standard font size.

Font size animation

The File Window

You can configure your file window layouts easily to use different font sizes for different elements:

File Window Layout and Font Sizes

The File Window Tip

This popup window is used in the File Window, the Viewer and the Stack and Version Panels to display details about the file under the mouse cursor. By default, this popup window uses the system default font size for most elements, and larger fonts for selected items.

You can change the data to display and the font sizes to use by editing the tip popup under Edit > Preferences > File Window Tip. See the IMatch help for details.

File Window Tip Logo

Configuring Process Control for Slow Media (CD-ROM, DVD, NAS, …)

IMatch by default utilizes all available processors and disks when indexing files. It automatically adapts to your system configuration to balance and to overlap file system operations and in-memory computations for optimal performance.

Sometimes, if you plan to add large batches of files from slow media like CD-ROM or DVD, you can achieve a better performance by telling IMatch to use only one processing thread and not several in parallel. What gains a lot of performance for hard disks and fast network storage can actually be much slower for slow media like DVD or CD-ROM.

To change how many parallel processes IMatch uses to index files, go to Edit > Preferences > Application: Process Control. To limit both reading and writing to one parallel process, set both values to 1 (one).

Process Control Settings

After you have indexed your CD-ROM and DVD collection, revert both values back to the default value of 0 (zero) for optimal performance when indexing files on hard disks and similar storage media. 0 means: Automatically adapt to the available number of processors and overall system performance.

Network Storage

If you manage files on network storage, you can also change these values to try out which values give the fastest throughput. The best value cannot be determined automatically, it all depends on your network connection speed and the server or NAS system you are connecting to.

Adjusting the process control values is not required if you just want to add a few hundred files. But if you plan to index 10,000  or even 100,000 files, you can skim off a few hours by testing which values work best.


On some configurations, the defaults selected by IMatch may not work best. This is sometimes the case for NAS devices in combination with slow networks (Wi-Fi!) or on some notebooks which reduce CPU speed to compensate for additional heat caused by prolonged disk activity (e.g. while writing back hundreds of files). If you experience this, you can limit the number of parallel write-back threads to 2, to see if this improves overall throughput.

The Info & Activity Panel and the Progress Overlay show you how IMatch is performing and you can use these elements to judge which settings work best for your system and environment.

Using the Copy Data App with Your Office Application


Exchanging data with other applications is one of the key features for an digital asset management system like IMatch.

If you want to transfer data from IMatch to your Office application, e.g., Microsoft® Excel, you can use the  Text Export Module to output the data to a file on disk. See the IMatch help on the Text Export module for detailed information.

An alternative is to use the neat Copy Data App. This App allows you to quickly copy arbitrary formatted data into the Windows clipboard and then you can insert it into your Office or other application. For this know-how article we use Microsoft Excel as the receiving application.

The Copy Data App in IMatch. Three files are selected in a File Window.
The Copy Data App in IMatch. This App comes pre-installed and with full source code.
(Click for a larger view)

Open an App Panel if none is visible: View menu > Panels > App Panel or press <F9>,<1>.

What to Copy?

The Copy Data App uses a mix of free text and IMatch variables to specify which data to copy. This makes it easy to produce exactly the format you want to use in your other application. The special [tab] token can be used to insert a tabulator character (09hex) and by pressing <Enter> you start a new line.

For this example, we want to copy the fully qualified file name, the file date in DD.MM.YYYY format, the XMP headline and the XMP description. Since we want to copy into Microsoft Excel, we separate each variable with a [tab]. This ensures that Excel automatically arranges the four values into separate columns.

We are using a free mix of text and variables to specify what to copy.
We are using a free mix of text and variables to specify what to copy.

Copy the text from below into the Copy Data App input field if you want to try this yourself:


Copy the Data

When we now click on the Copy button in the App, IMatch copies the requested data for all selected files into the Windows clipboard. From there we can insert it into the receiving application.

The data in Microsoft Excel
The data in Microsoft Excel. Click for a larger view.

Migrating XMP Rating and Label from IMatch 3 to IMatch 5 without processing pending updates…

In order to import XMP metadata into your IMatch 5 database, the XMP data has to exist in the image file or a corresponding sidecar file. IMatch 5 cannot import XMP metadata directly from the IMatch 3 database for technical reasons.

If you have never written back XMP metadata to your image files in IMatch 3, you may be faced with tens of thousands of files which have no up-to-date XMP metadata. Updating the XMP in all these files can take a very long time.

Note: This only affects XMP metadata. When you have updated classic IPTC or EXIF data in IMatch 3, this data has been written to the image file immediately and is thus always up-to-date.

The Trick

If the only XMP data you have used/updated in IMatch 3 are ratings and labels, you can use a trick to avoid having to write XMP data to all your files before importing them into IMatch 5.

You perform the trick before you migrate your existing IMatch 3 database into IMatch 5 with the Database Converter. The trick consists of three easy steps:

  1. Create a data-driven category for Rating and Label in.
    This step creates one category for each rating and label you have used and assigns the corresponding files to that category.
  2. Convert the data-driven categories into regular categories.
    This ensures that IMatch 5 imports the rating and label categories automatically.
  3. In IMatch 5, assign ratings and labels using these categories.

1. Create Data-driven Categories

Switch to the Category View in IMatch 3.
Select the @All category and press <Ins> to create a new child category. Name it Rating. Repeat these steps and create a category named Label:

Rating and Label Categories

Right-click on Label and choose Properties. In the Properties dialog box, enable the Auto-group images based on… option and either select the XMP field

from the drop-down list or use copy/paste to transfer the name from above:

Data-driven properties

Click OK to close the dialog box and answer Yes when asked whether you want to create the category. After a short time, IMatch has finished creating the data-driven category Label:

Label Category

For each label used in your database, IMatch has created one child category under Label. Each child category contains all files with that label.

Repeat these steps for the Rating category: Select the Rating category, right-click and choose Properties. In the dialog, enable the option to Auto-group images based on… and select the following XMP field from the drop-down list:

or copy it from above. Press OK to close the dialog and then answer the prompt with Yes. IMatch creates child categories for each rating used in your database and assigns all files with that rating:

Rating Category

2. Convert the Data-driven Categories Into Regular Categories

Select the @All category and press <Ins> to create a new category. Name it Rating and Label.

Select the Rating category created above. Left-click and drag it to the Rating and Label category. Release the mouse button. In the dialog, set the options as follows:

Category Options

Click OK. IMatch now creates a copy of the entire Rating category (with child categories) under the Rating and Label category. The copy is a normal category, not a data-driven category – and this is exactly what we want.

Repeat these steps for the data-driven Label category. The end result will look similar to this:

The final rating and label category

3. Migrate Your Database

Close IMatch 3 and run the IMatch 5 Database Converter to convert your database. Follow the instructions in the Database Converter help for a quick and smooth transfer.

IMatch 5 automatically imports the Rating and Label category you have created. This transfers the information which files should have which rating and label from IMatch 3 to IMatch 5. And that’s the trick.

4. (Re-)Assign Ratings and Labels

Open your new database in IMatch 5. Switch to the Category View to see all categories imported from your IMatch 3 database. The Rating and Label category will be there:

Categories in IMatch 5

Now start assigning ratings and labels:

Note: For the following steps, you should disable background write-back under Edit > Preferences > Background Processing if you have it enabled. This way IMatch only updates the database but does not automatically write-back data to the files on disk. This improves the performance during the following procedure.


Select the Green category under Rating and Label > Label. This shows you all files which had a Green label assigned in IMatch 3 in the File Window.

Select all files in the File Window with <Ctrl>+<A>. Right-click to open the context menu and choose Green to assign all files a Green XMP label:

Assigning a Green Label

IMatch writes the Green label into the XMP record of each file and marks the files as pending because the metadata was changed. Repeat these steps for each Label and Rating category under Rating and Label. Then delete the Rating and Label category, it is no longer needed.

This trick takes quite a lot of text to explain, but in fact takes only a few minutes to execute. Much faster than writing back XMP data to thousands or even tens of thousands of files just to get the rating and label information imported into IMatch 5.

Using Large Icons for Toolbars in IMatch


If you work with a very large or high-resolution monitor, the size of the standard toolbar buttons may be too small for comfort. You can change the size in two steps to up to 32×32 pixels.

Open Edit > Preferences > Application: User Interface. There, change the toolbar size to your liking.

Application Settings

IMatch will restart to apply the new settings. If you use the largest setting, the toolbar buttons will be suitable even for very high-DPI screens. Here, for example, the toolbar in the Category Panel.

Big toolbar buttons

Other Settings

You can also control the font sizes used for the Metadata Panel, the Keyword Panel and the Attributes Panel individually. These are the panels where most of the text editing takes place, and using larger fonts causes less strain to the eye.

The rest of IMatch automatically adapts to the standard font sizes configured for Windows, e.g. for menus, tree controls, list boxes and other controls. If you switch to using larger fonts for Windows, IMatch adapts automatically.