IM + Dropbox

Started by mt, September 09, 2020, 08:42:40 PM

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Since IMA doesn't (yet) allow folks to edit the photos (tags, people, titles, description etc), would the following workflow work:

we could have 3 licenses of iMatch (one for me, one for each adult daughter who live elsewhere)

Family photos are on dropbox
iMatch database is on dropbox

Therefore, all three of us are working on the same database (although, presumably we cannot work on it simultaneusly)

Is there a reason that would not work?

Thank you


IMatch Anywhere allows you to edit metadata like keywords, titles, descriptions, categories, rating, label etc.
Use the FileLens feature to edit this data remotely, even with multiple persons simultaneously. See the IMatch WebViewer documentation to learn more about the FileLens feature.

An IMatch database on DropBox is a bad idea,
IMatch databases, while open in IMatch, are updated several times a second. Depending on how DB has implemented their client on different OS, this means that DB would sync the IMatch database all the time between the devices. Or even get in the way, by locking and blocking the IMatch database. Or maybe they just sync when the database is not open? No idea.
A worst-case scenario, really. Besides the privacy issues caused by DP, if you live in Europe or other countries with strict privacy laws and your database contains images of persons.

It might work a few times. Or DP synchronization may damage your database.
DB does not publish hard documentation and I have never tried this. A live database system on a potentially shaky cloud connection is really not a good idea.


So, I assume the safer alternative for mt would be for each person copy the 'working' db from DB to a local copy, then when finished editing, copy that to DB, thus making it available for the next person to work on? That would probably need some kind of script to ensure copying was done correctly by each person... Or would uploading/downloading to/from DB be too time consuming?


What do you want to achieve?

Different persons adding/editing data for different images?


Hi Mario

Thanks for the detailed answer, and pointing me to FileLens; it's EXACTLY what I want.  I was pretty sure IMA had that feature, but I tasked my husband with help installing IMA and he didn't see that.

GOAL - is for my 2 grown daughters, and perhaps other relatives to access the family photos (from their homes), and - ideally - for them to help out with annotations (eg, keyword tags, or People annotations, or titles).  I do have 64-bit so that should work

My husband is also concerned that - when my daughters use IMA, they would drag down my computer and I would not be able to work (or other stuff) if they happened to be logged into IMA

As for Dropbox - is this accurate?
- the imatch database should not be at Dropbox
- the photos can be at Dropbox

Thank you for your continued, patient assistance

PS - searching for semaphore explained why I wasn't able to run the IMWS Controller... once i closed my database, I jumped right in!


Quote from: mt on September 10, 2020, 09:43:17 AM
GOAL - is for my 2 grown daughters, and perhaps other relatives to access the family photos (from their homes), and - ideally - for them to help out with annotations (eg, keyword tags, or People annotations, or titles).  I do have 64-bit so that should work

That was my original goal as well... in the end, I didn't want to open a port for free access on my network and setting up a VPN and the complexities of explaining to family how to do this was too much (my router doesn't offer VPN setup either).  Instead, I use IMA locally in my house to view/share images on my TV (with micro computer attached) and simply use an online gallery to allow access to shared images.  Perhaps not the best solution for annotating purposes.. but it seems easier and safer in the long run.


The images can be on DropBox, no problem. It's just not suitable for the database.

QuoteGOAL - is for my 2 grown daughters, and perhaps other relatives to access the family photos (from their homes),

IMWS can technically do that (and does so, reliably, in HOME or corporate networks).
The "load" on your PC would also be small, because IMWS is very efficient. Running it with a couple of users doesn't require much performance.

To allow others to access your image collection from the "outside", you theoretically only need to open the port IMWS is working on in your firewall, allowing "the Internet" to access your PC.
Everybody who knows the IP address of your PC (or the URL if you use a DynDNS service) can then access your image collection via IMWS, using only a web browser.

But there is one problem: SECURITY.
We live in harsh times and if you open your computer to the Internet, bad people and automatic 'bots' will try to break in. Trying to make your computer part of an illegal bot net, spread viruses, send millions of SPAM emails and whatnot.

It's very hard these days to make this secure and I can only advise against it. Doing this safely needs specialist know-how, setting up a VPN etc.
All well for typical corporate users, but not something a 'normal' user will/can do.

There are so many free and paid ways to present photos on the Internet these days. From Facebook to Instagram to smugmug, Google and Amazon photos ...
You can usually just drag and drop images from IMatch to your web browser to upload and fill your online gallery. And the hosting company takes care for security and your PC remains safely behind the Windows firewall.


Right -I'm aware of the options for sharing photos using Facebook, Google PHotos, etc - but then I'm not Crowd-Sourcing the annotation job - because the keyword tags, etc would be written to the 3rd party hosting site's organizer - not directly to the image.

I do not want the security risk of opening my computer; not good for my work, or my marriage.

Is this accurate?
On Day 1, my 2 daughters can use the IMA license at my house to help annotate, using my Home Network

On Day 2,  my sister and brother can use the same IMA license at my brother's house, using his Home Network, to help annotate


You can install IMA on one computer, unless you have multiple licenses.

Then n number of users can access it simultaneously, where n depends on the edition you have. For the HOME license, two users can access IMA at the same time. Access licenses are not user-bound, so different persons can access IMWS at different times. But only 2 (or 5 for PRO/TEAM) maximal at the same time.

If the PC you install IMA on is moved between your house and your brother's house, this is feasible.
What you cannot do is install a second version of IMA on a PC in your brothers house. The license server will not allow this.
Unless you buy a separate license for another PC, of course.
In that case you could work with IMA in both households, and only move the database between the locations (or share it via DropBox).

You can manually copy the database from its real location to your DropBox folder to make it available.
This allows you to share it, but prevents problems when the database is actually open in IMatch or IMWS.

If you know a bit about Windows PowerShell you can even write a small script which shuts down IMWS (to unlock the database), copies the database to the DropBox folder to upload it, and then restarts IMWS to make it accessible again.
Typically this is done to make backups from the database used by IMWS, but it will also work with Dropbox.

IMatch is licensed per user. The license holder can install IMatch on any number of PCs - provided that she/he is the only person working with IMatch. I'm not greedy and many users use IMatch on a PC at home/studio and on a notebook while on-location/traveling.


I'll have to read this several times to understand....

and, what with Covid, I'm not going to be anywhere near my daughters, brother or sister for who-knows-how-long, so I will concentrate on implementing PEOPLE, and perhaps EVENT, and DESIGN/PRINT - and leave IMA for when it is needed.


What is unclear to you? I'm happy to explain details differently.

One license of IMatch can be installed on one computer. And accessed by many users. How many users can access it at the same time (concurrently/simultaneously) depends on the IMA edition you have (HOME: 2, PRO: 5, TEAM: 5+*).

One license for IMatch allows one user to use the product on any number of computers.


Quote from: Mario on September 11, 2020, 09:05:00 AM
One license for IMatch allows one user to use the product on any number of computers.

Yes, but mt's issue is being able to let family outside his local network have access to his db. Which raises numerous security issues, hence his interest in using IMA on DB.

@mt: One option Mario has mentioned in the past is renting cloud server space for a Windows installation with IMatch installed. Users would access the database one at a time, and a copy of the database could be retrieved to your local machine if desired. I have no idea what the current cost of this would be (I understood it was relatively reasonable) and I don't know how much technical knowledge is needed to set it all up. But that would provide one possible solution to your issue.


Some users run IMWS on a virtual Windows PC rented from one of the cloud providers (Azure, AWS, Google, ...)
Or they run IMWS in a virtual Windows PC on a normal Linux server.
Cost is reasonable because the cloud vendors only charge when the PC is actually running. When you shut it down for a week because nobody will use it, no cost.

But these are not necessarily scenarios for "normal" people. While setting up a new Windows PC in the cloud is easy and takes only a few minutes, understanding the "dashboards" and pricing models is not.

In an ideal world an IMA user would just allow traffic through he firewall to IMWS and then tell family members the IP address of the PC. Or use a DynDNS go get a 'real' URL.
This works well, but is unfortunately not secure. You don't want bad folks breaking into your home network and taking over your PCs and other devices connected to your Wi-Fi.

IMW is safe to use inside your home network or company network.
This makes it easy to browse your file on your tablet and TV, even add and edit metadata with multiple persons.
Works great.

But to allow access from the Internet, I recommend at least a hardened Linux proxy server (standard in corporate networks) or a VPN.
And for normal folks like you and me, I recommend upload images to one of the popular image sharing sites to share them with others. Let them worry about security.