Author Topic: WIC... and ptc RAW  (Read 1399 times)

Mario

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WIC... and ptc RAW
« on: October 30, 2017, 08:37:05 PM »
Windows WIC was such a good idea...
Microsoft provides a common, documented and supported framework. Free tools as well.

Camera vendors can utilize this and allow Windows to support their proprietary and ever-changing RAW formats out of the box - without revealing any of the internal details about their RAW formats, compression algorithms etc. Neat!

An application like IMatch can just request a preview or the RAW Bayer RAW data from WIC for a given RAW file. WIC delivers it in a standardized format, relying on the WIC codec supplied by the camera vendor for the low-level file access.

Problem is: This was always optional.
And camera vendors, always cost-cutting, either never supported WIC or stopped supporting WIC over the years to save a few grand per year in developer cost.
Shame, really. And bad for camera buyers.

Windows 10 thankfully comes with a range of built-in WIC codecs provided by Microsoft.
Unfortunately, they don't support all camera brands and models.

FastPicture Viewer codes are good alternative, but a) cost a bit of money and b) require users to install something to make IMatch work. Not good...sigh.

So... tl;dr;

I've decided to look into this misery and try to find a better solution.
Dave Coffin did a great job with cracking RAW formats and providing (for free!) a command line application which can read several hundred RAW formats and output them as JPEG or TIFF. With about 50 options.

Based on that, the LibRaw project provides an 'easier' way to integrate RAW processing into applications for all operating systems. Thanks, guys!

As one of my side-projects (IMatch Anywhere™ was one of my side-projects once, and see what it has become!) I have worked on integrating LibRaw into IMatch and IMatch Anywhere™ as a secondary way to read RAW files.

The outcome is ptcRAW, a component which I will ship with the next or the December release of IMatch / IMatch Anywhere.
ptcRAW allows IMatch to read and process RAW files from almost 900 camera models. Without the use of WIC codecs or any external components.

I'm still working on the details (e.g. when to favor WIC or ptcRAW) and which options I should provide to users to control the thing, but I can already successfully ingest, process and display the ~ 1000 RAW sample files I keep in my test collection. These 1000 samples are from all kinds of cameras (past 10 years up to the latest smart phone DNG files and digital back outputs for Hasselblad).

As with WIC, ptcRAW favors the embedded preview in your RAW files. This is usually a very good rendition of the image - produced bay the camera itself and applying all the know-how of your camera vendor (I hope). It's also super-fast.
If the embedded preview is missing or too small, ptcRAW uses a true linear RAW development process to get something 'usable' from the RAW. Naturally this is not the same as processing a RAW with Adobe Lr or another RAW processor. But at least you will be able to see your files in IMatch, even if no WIC codec is available.

And yes. I will add that in a normal release. Not holding it back until the next fee-based upgrade. Or limiting it to a subscription license model version of IMatch.
I hope you all remember that when I ask for an upgrade fee the next time  :( :D

jch2103

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 09:23:40 PM »
This should be quite useful. Although I use FPV Codec and don't have any issues w/ RAW images, I've certainly noticed quite a few discussions here on the board where other people have had significant issues. It might even save Mario some time in the long term...(?!).
John

Carlo Didier

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 10:17:53 PM »
Great idea, Mario. Too bad that you have to resort to this when it would be the camera vendors' task to support their file formats ...

Aubrey

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2017, 06:17:18 AM »
Interesting. I use FPV but I'm willing to change.
We get too much "free" with Imatch!
I hope your business model is sufficient for you.    It's great for users!
Aubrey

Mario

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2017, 08:21:43 AM »
This should be quite useful. Although I use FPV Codec and don't have any issues w/ RAW images, I've certainly noticed quite a few discussions here on the board where other people have had significant issues. It might even save Mario some time in the long term...(?!).

Usually people have problems when they don't have FPV installed.
Or when they configure it wrong, e.g. forcing it to use the preview even when the preview is small or setting it to apply EXIF orientation internally.

Frankly, RAW files cause more and more problems.

By now every camera vendor has produced ~ 50 different and incompatible formats (all with the same file extension).
The built-in RAW codecs in Windows support only a sub-set of these formats.
Camera vendors stop providing WIC codecs. And even if they supply them, many users are incapable of locating and downloading WIC codecs. Or by the concept itself.

New generations of users have been educated mostly on smart phones and are a bit overwhelmed by concepts like metadata, RAW formats, the potential requirement to install a 3rd party software to see their RAW files in IMatch etc. This is bad for business. Lr does it all out of the box, after all...

"Dumb it down" is a general IT trend. "Mobile first" is another.

Interesting. I use FPV but I'm willing to change.

If you have FPV, you're good. No need to change.
Unless the developers stop updating FPV and you buy a new camera which is not supported.

We get too much "free" with Imatch!
I hope your business model is sufficient for you.    It's great for users!

Yes. I'm thinking about this, too.

The agile development model with frequent updates and (substantial) enhancements is great for users. But it is bad for me.

As I have learned with the 2017 upgrade  :-X, many users only upgrade (and pay) when there is really no other choice.
Or they have purchased IMatch 3 10 years ago, used it all the time and now complain when they get no free/discounted upgrade to IMatch 2017.

Of course there are always users who see reason and upgrade straight away. Others still use IMatch 5 but have purchased a 2017 upgrade to support me. Thanks!

From a commercial standpoint, "Big Bang" upgrades with new features once a year and otherwise only bug fixes is much better.
Or an agile model (frequent updates) in combination with a subscription-based license model.

Otherwise it is "Working a lot, shipping new stuff every month and then hope that enough users purchase the upgrade so I can continue to work on IMatch and IMatch Anywhere"...
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 08:29:48 AM by Mario »

Aubrey

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2017, 12:57:56 PM »
Rather than incorporating all these bells and whistles in the main code, could these "extras" that you work on be be plugin's? Then a user pays a small sum,typically 10-15 US$ to incorporate the plugin into his workflow.

When a major upgrade comes around all these plugin's could be incorporated, and users who have bought plugin's get a further discount when upgrading.   :D I know it could be an accounting headache, but I expect you would be able to code this!  ;)

If the LibRaw project continues, I do fear for FPVs business model, it is a good revenue stream and not overly expensive to buy.  On the other hand, I think that IMatch should not rely too heavily on  code that is free; developers may get tired of supporting it....

However, we all rely heavily on Phil Harvey's exif code. I do wonder what sucession planning Phil has in place?

My 10 cents,

Aubrey.

PS: Have you thought of a "donation" paypal account? Sometimes I feel with the support and excellent product I'm not paying sufficiently for all the service I'm getting.

Jingo

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2017, 02:24:07 PM »
Rather than incorporating all these bells and whistles in the main code, could these "extras" that you work on be be plugin's? Then a user pays a small sum,typically 10-15 US$ to incorporate the plugin into his workflow.

When a major upgrade comes around all these plugin's could be incorporated, and users who have bought plugin's get a further discount when upgrading.   :D I know it could be an accounting headache, but I expect you would be able to code this!  ;)

If the LibRaw project continues, I do fear for FPVs business model, it is a good revenue stream and not overly expensive to buy.  On the other hand, I think that IMatch should not rely too heavily on  code that is free; developers may get tired of supporting it....

However, we all rely heavily on Phil Harvey's exif code. I do wonder what sucession planning Phil has in place?

My 10 cents,

Aubrey.

PS: Have you thought of a "donation" paypal account? Sometimes I feel with the support and excellent product I'm not paying sufficiently for all the service I'm getting.

A donation paypal account (or patreon account) would seem like a good idea... of course, there is nothing stopping us from just buying another license of Imatch either...  ;)

herman

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2017, 03:30:55 PM »
From a commercial standpoint, "Big Bang" upgrades with new features once a year and otherwise only bug fixes is much better.
Or an agile model (frequent updates) in combination with a subscription-based license model.

For what it is worth: there is a third model, somewhere in between these models, which is used by DDI (QImage) and probably some others.

What it boils down to is that one buys a license for the full price only once.

With the license come one year of updates and upgrades.

After that year the updates and upgrades stop, the software keeps working.
One can then buy another year of updates and upgrades for a reduced price.

I don't know how this works out commercially compared to the other models, but maybe it is something to consider.
Enjoy!

Herman.

Mario

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2017, 03:34:33 PM »
I don't know how this works out commercially compared to the other models, but maybe it is something to consider.

Sounds similar to what I have now
If you don't buy an IMatch upgrade, you don't get access to new versions and updates. And you won't get support from me after six month.
See my fair upgrade and update policy for more info.


herman

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Re: WIC... and ptc RAW
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2017, 05:19:59 PM »
Sounds similar to what I have now

Not exactly.

When you need 1 1/2 or 2 years to produce a paid upgrade you won't have revenues from existing users until the new version is ready.

When you would cut-off even minor updates and bugfixes after a year unless the user pays a moderate fee (say 1/3 of the initial license price) you may have a more continuous cashflow.

I guess in the end all models have their pros and cons......

Enjoy!

Herman.