image management

The File Window displaying multiple keywords per row.

Tune Your File Window Layouts

The File Window in IMatch can be customized in many ways using file window layouts. You have full control over whether you use a thumbnail or a tabular layout and over the data to be included for each file.

File window layout customization in the digital image management system IMatch.

This know-how article explains some tricks which you can use with custom templates in conjunction with variables.

See the File Window Layouts help topic in the IMatch Help system for a full overview of all available features and many examples.

Custom Templates and Layouts

When creating a custom layout, you usually just pick the IMatch data elements and metadata tags to display in the file window. Maybe also change the font size, alignment or color. This already gives you a lot of control over the data you see for each file.

Even more options are available when you switch the layout element to use a custom template. This allows you to use IMatch Variables and all related functionality, plus a subset of XAML formatting to control font sizes, colors and other aspects of the output.

You can use custom templates for each of the four headers and 8 footers, mixing them freely with standard elements. In the following example we configured Header 2 left to display the XMP headline. We also changed the font size and the color:

The File Window Layout Editor
The file window layout editor.

The resulting file window layout displays the contents of the XMP headline tag under the file name, in a bigger font and a orange color:

Screen shot of the file window.
We could use any other variable, or multiple variables in the template. Whatever is needed to produce the output you want.

Displaying Lists

Some variables return lists of elements, e.g., the XMP hierarchicalKeywords variable or the Categories variables. IMatch separates list elements with the list separator character configured for Windows (usually ; or , ) . This results in values like “vacation;summer;family;holiday;Hawaii”.

IMatch offers a wide variety of variable functions, which allow you to manipulate the results of variables. By using the replace function, we can replace the default list separator ; with something different.

For example, if you want to display each keyword in a separate row, replace the ; with a line feed {lf}:

{File.MD.hierarchicalkeywords|replace:~;=={lf}}

Note that we use the short code for the variable instead of the full variable name ({File.MD.XMP::Lightroom\hierarchicalSubject\HierarchicalSubject}). The output is identical, but using the short code makes it easier to read.

To make room for the keywords, we increased the height of the footer to 120 pixel. If there are more keywords than there is room in the thumbnail panel, IMatch automatically crops the excess keywords.

The File Window Layout Editor showing the template for the custom footer.

The resulting file window layout displays the keywords assigned to the file in the footer, with one keyword per row:

The File Window Layout with Keywords.
A file window layout which displays XMP hierarchicalSubject values (keywords) in a ‘one keyword per row’ layout.

 

An Alternative: Let It Wrap

The approach to put each keyword on a single line may be a waste of screen space when you increase the thumbnail size. In this case there is likely enough room to fit multiple keywords per row.

To allow for that, we replace the ; separator with something like ,<blank> (a comma followed by a SPACE character). This allows the file window layout engine to fill the available space, automatically wrapping at the SPACE to create additional rows as needed. This variable

{File.MD.hierarchicalkeywords|replace:~;==, }

yields the desired result:

The File Window displaying multiple keywords per row.
The same file window, but with larger thumbnails. This makes room to fit multiple keywords per row. The layout engine in the digital asset management IMatch automatically re-formates the keywords to fill the available space, wrapping into separate lines as needed.

Displaying IMatch Attribute Data

Attributes allow you to create your own database inside the IMatch database. They are used to store custom data for each file, independent from the file format or the supported metadata. Attributes are great for purposes like keeping notes per file, submission tracking, billing, etc.

You can store any number of Attribute records per file. The corresponding variables return all values for a given attribute in a list semicolon-separated, just like the XMP hierarchicalSubject variable we used in the examples above.

In a recent post in the photools.community, a user asked how he can display this data in the file window. There may be multiple records per file, and each record may have multiple attributes.

For this example, we use a typical submission tracking Attribute Set. The IMatch user keeps track of which stock photo agencies (or web sites) he has submitted a file to, the state of the submission and the revenue. In the IMatch Attributes Panel, this looks like this:

The IMatch Attribute Panel
A submission tracking Attribute Set in the Attribute panel. Click for a larger view.

See the Attributes topic in the IMatch help system for detailed information about the IMatch Attribute database. The Submission tracking is used there as an example as well.

The file used in the screen shot above has 3 attribute records, each keeping data about one submission. If you want to display this data (or some of it) inside the file window, you can use the same method described in the keywords example above: You use a custom template for the file window layout, and control the data to display with IMatch variables.

But how to deal with the multiple records per file? When we just use the variable

{File.AT.Submissions.Client}

IMatch returns a list of all values for the Client Attribute, separated with a semicolon : DaguckstDu Stock Fotos;Bright Eyes Stock Photography;Whoa! Stock. The same happens for {File.AT.Submissions.Amount}: 280,00 $;450,00 $;250,00 $. Not really helpful. We would like to see the client, the date the file was submitted and how much money we made from it next to each other, in the same row, somehow.

The Trick: Indexing Variables

To achieve this, we use the index variable function, which allows us to access individual elements (aka records) in the variable. For example:

{File.AT.Submissions.Client|index:0}

returns the name of the Client from the first record (variables start counting at 0). With index:1 we get the second record, and so on. Now, after making some experiments in the awesome Var Toy App which is included in IMatch (see the App Panel and the IMatch help), we created this:

{File.AT.Submissions.Client|index:0}↵
{File.AT.Submissions.Date submitted|format:YYYY-MM-DD;index:0}↵
{File.AT.Submissions.Amount|index:0}

We use three variables to access the Client, the Date Submitted and the Amount attributes. With index:0 we tell IMatch to return only the first record. The resulting output is:

DaguckstDu Stock Fotos  2015-04-06  280,00 $

which is exactly what we want. Now, we just duplicate this variable group a number of times to access the 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4th record (we assume that we don’t sell each image more than five times):

{File.AT.Submissions.Client|index:0} {File.AT.Submissions.Date submitted|format:YYYY-MM-DD;index:0;prefix:(;postfix:)}{File.AT.Submissions.Amount|index:0;prefix: : }

{File.AT.Submissions.Client|index:1} {File.AT.Submissions.Date submitted|format:YYYY-MM-DD;index:1;prefix:(;postfix:)}{File.AT.Submissions.Amount|index:1;prefix: : }

{File.AT.Submissions.Client|index:4} {File.AT.Submissions.Date submitted|format:YYYY-MM-DD;index:4;prefix:(;postfix:)}{File.AT.Submissions.Amount|index:4;prefix: : }

Each of these variable groups produces one row in the file window. If a file has only 1 or 2 records (or none), IMatch automatically suppresses the output of the remaining variables., no rows are emitted. Which is of course exactly what we want.

We used the prefix and postfix functions to add ( and ) around the date instead of just adding them as literal text. This means that the parentheses will not show when the variable itself is suppressed.

This may look a bit complicated, but it really isn’t. It’s just variables, but with a neat twist in order to create this advanced example. To give this a try, we created a tabular file window layout and the five groups of variables from above to a custom template:

The digital image management system IMatch upports file window customization.

Each submission is displayed with the name of the client, the date of the submission and the amount of money created from that submission. Awesome!

Summary

File Window Layouts in IMatch enable you to control the data displayed in the file window. You can easily control the attributes or metadata to display, and also choose font sizes and colors.

If you need more advanced layouts, or you want to have fine control over the data to display, and how this data is formatted, you can use custom templates. In combination with IMatch variables this gives you a lot of options to work with.

Tune Your File Window Layouts Read More »

Ignoring Small Embedded Previews in RAW Images

RAW Previews

Sometimes older RAW files have embedded preview images with dimensions much smaller than the RAW file itself. For example, some early cameras included smallish 1200 pixel previews even if the RAW had 3500 or more pixels in each dimension.

The digital asset management system IMatch by default uses the embedded preview image to produce the thumbnails and cache images. That’s usually a lot faster than extracting and developing the full RAW data. But if the embedded preview is much smaller than the RAW image itself, this may lead to unwanted results and too small images in IMatch (Quick Preview, Viewer, Slide Show).

Modern cameras usually embed 100% previews, but older cameras did not. If your image archive managed by IMatch contains files produced by older cameras, you may run into this problem. But there is an easy solution.

Cache Settings

You can handle this situation easily with the cache preferences in IMatch. Go to Edit > Preferences > Cache to view and configure cache settings.

The trick is to tell IMatch to use the cache image in general (for speed) but only if the cache image dimensions exceed a certain pixel size. For example, if the too small cache images are 1200 or 1600 pixel, set the Minimal Size property to 2000 pixel:

The IMatch Cache Preferences for RAW previews

IMatch then uses embedded previews (from your new RAW files with standard 100% size previews) but falls back to developing the full RAW image if the embedded preview is less than 2000 pixel in either dimension. This gives you 100% previews for all your RAW files, old and new.

WIC Codecs

Sometimes the installed WIC Codec is unable to extract the embedded preview. In this case it usually helps to install the most recent WIC codec provided by your camera vendor, or a 3rd party WIC codec.

You can use the built-in WIC diagnosis in IMatch to check if the WIC codec installed on your system supports a given RAW image:

  • Select the file you want to check in a File Window
  • From the Help > Support menu, choose WIC Diagnosis

After a few seconds, IMatch displays a text file which lists all installed WIC codecs, the file extensions they support and the results for the selected file. This shows you if the WIC codec was able to extract a thumbnail, a preview and the full RAW image.

See also the knowledge base article WIC Support and Codec Availability for more information about WIC codecs.

Ignoring Small Embedded Previews in RAW Images Read More »

Consolidating XMP Color Labels

XMP Labels

XMP metadata includes an optional field named label. A label is a text or tag you can assign to an image. Digital asset management systems with XMP support like IMatch use this label for various purposes.

Common examples are labels like ‘Red’, ‘For Review’, ‘Für den Druck’ or similar. Most XMP-aware applications also associate colors with a specific label texts, e.g. using a red color indicator for files with the label text ‘Red’ or blue for ‘For Review’.

There is no standard for label texts or if and how label names are associated with colors. Or how an application displays labels and colors in the user interface.

IMatch displays XMP color labels in the File Window.

Applications and Languages

The fact that labels are ‘hard-coded’ text stored inside XMP metadata often leads to problems when you work with multiple XMP-aware applications, you switch RAW processors or you work in teams with a mix of tools and user interface languages.

A German RAW processor might write the label ‘Rot’ when you assign a red label to a file, while the English version of the same software writes ‘Red’ instead. Sometimes application vendors also change the label names between different versions of their products.

This may create a challenge for long-term archival, consistency and interoperability. Thankfully, IMatch has the features to handle this.

Labels in IMatch

IMatch supports XMP labels in a variety of features, e.g. in the File Window, the Metadata Panel or the Viewer. In order to be compatible with all label-generating applications out there, it handles any number of labels and allows you to add your own labels and associate colors with each label individually.

To configure XMP labels, open Edit > Preferences > Metadata. IMatch by default ships with a mix of labels which cover the most frequently used applications.

Configuring XMP labels
Configuring XMP labels

You can add, rename and remove the pre-configured labels to your liking. Add all label names used in your other applications and configure IMatch to use the same color to ensure inter-application consistency.

[font_text icon=”info-circle” color=”dark” size=”medium”]Note that changing a label here has no effect on the labels already stored in your files! To change a label globally, follow the instructions below.[/font_text]

Importing Labels

When you click the Import button, IMatch scans the database and adds all unique label names used in your files to this list. This makes it very easy to pick up the various labels used in your files, to assign colors or to re-arrange their order to make them directly accessible via the keyboard shortcuts <Shift>+<1> to <Shift>+<5>.

Consolidating Labels

Sometimes you need to replace labels in entire sets of files, e.g. in order to consolidate labels between applications or to change the language used for a label.

This can be done in IMatch using only two simple steps:

1. In the Collection View, click on the collection representing the label you want to change:

Label Collections in IMatch
IMatch automatically maintains collections for each label used in your database. To see all files with a specific label, just click on it.

2. Select all files in the File Window and assign the new label – that’s all. After a write-back, all files have the new label stored in their XMP data.

Consolidating XMP Color Labels Read More »

Using Google Picasa™ Face Tags in IMatch

[icon_text icon=”Warning” link=””] This article is for an older version of IMatch.
Since version 2020 IMatch includes AI-powered face detection technology and powerful features for managing people.
See People and Face Recognition in the IMatch help system for more information.[/icon_text]

Viewing, using and editing face tags created in Google Picasa or Adobe Lightroom is easy in IMatch.

When importing files, IMatch extracts face annotations created by these products from the XMP record and converts them into IMatch Face Annotations. When writing metadata, IMatch converts Face Annotations back into XMP regions automatically. This fully integrates faces into the powerful IMatch Annotations concept, while ensuring compatibility with all applications that support XMP face regions.

Face Annotations in IMatch

The digital asset management system IMatch 5 contains a face detection feature in the Viewer which works in conjunction with the unique IMatch 5 Face Annotations. With a single mouse-click you let IMatch 5 detect all faces in an image and then you tag these faces with a name. IMatch optionally converts this face tag into a hierarchical keyword. Working with Face Annotations in the Viewer is easy, and fast.

In addition, IMatch supports XMP face regions created by other applications. Since IMatch handles the conversion between simple XMP face regions and IMatch Face Annotations automatically, you don’t need to do anything – it just works seamlessly.

Working with Face Annotations in the IMatch Viewer. Click for a larger view.

Face Tags in Google Picasa™

Picasa is an entry-level image cataloging software from Google. The most notable feature of Picasa is that it employs the very advanced face recognition technology developed by Google.

IMatch can import face tags created in Picasa. If enabled, IMatch automatically converts face annotations into IMatch annotations, and the name tags into hierarchical keywords. It also maintains dedicated collections for images with face annotations, which makes it very easy to find and see all files with one or more persons.

Configuring Picasa

You need to configure Picasa to store face annotations in the XMP metadata inside the image file (Picasa only supports this for JPEG files at this time). Otherwise the data is only stored in the proprietary Picasa database and not accessible for other applications.

For recent Picasa versions, the corresponding option is available under Tools  > Options:

Picasa Options
Configure Picasa to store face annotations and tags in the image file.

Configuring IMatch

IMatch offers a number of options which allow you to control if you want to import face tags from Picasa and how to treat the tags assigned to these faces. You find these options under Edit > Preferences > Metadata. Press <F1> when the dialog is open to display the corresponding help topic with detailed information.

IMatch Face Annotation Options
IMatch Face Annotation Options.

[icon_text icon=”Warning” link=””]IMatch 2020 and later don’t directly import XMP face region tags into keywords. Instead, you can add any number of keywords to a person. And IMatch then ensures that the keywords are added to all files containing that person. See Person Keywords in the IMatch help for more information.[/icon_text]

 

 

Result

If you tag faces in Google Picasa and save these changes afterwards, IMatch imports the face information automatically and displays them as annotations in the Viewer. Face tags created and written by IMatch are also visible in Picasa.

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An image file with face tags in Google Picasa™

The same image in the IMatch Viewer:

Adobe Lightroom™

Recent versions of Adobe Lightroom also store face tags into XMP, using the format recommended by the Metadata Working Group. IMatch supports these face tags automatically and converts them into IMatch Face Annotations. You can see and edit them directly in the Viewer. When you make changes to Face Annotations or you create new Face Annotations in IMatch, they will be saved to the XMP record associated with the image file.  Lightroom then picks them up automatically when you let it reload the metadata.

 Summary

By enabling face tag import in IMatch 5, you can reuse existing face tags created in Google Picasa or other software. The only requirement is that these applications have to support the standard XMP metadata face annotation format, as defined by the Metadata Working Group.

IMatch converts the simple name tag added in Picasa into a proper hierarchical keywords and even allows you to specify where in your keyword hierarchy to import face keywords. The dedicated collections maintained for images with face annotations allow you to find images showing specific persons with a single mouse click.

Since IMatch also supports the face annotations managed by Adobe Lightroom, you have a perfect end-to-end workflow with either application.

Using Google Picasa™ Face Tags in IMatch Read More »

Use Visual Clues to Improve Your Workflow

Visual Clues

The digital asset management system IMatch offers a range of visual clues which allow you to improve your workflow. These visual clues are shown in the File Window, the Keyword Panel and also in other views and panels.

Using visual clues effectively can save you a lot of time. You can find files faster, notice problems quicker and even judge metadata quality and consistency at a glance.

Using Colors to Highlight Folders

If you work with a large number of folders, you can use color-coding to make certain folders easier to identify. For example, you may use a special color to indicate folders which have been backed up or archived. Or you use different folder colors for different kind of files or topics.

Using colors in the Media & Folders View as visual clues.
Use colors to highlight folders or to group related folders by using the same or similar colors.

Color-coding for Categories

Using color-coding for categories allows you to highlight certain categories or entire category hierarchies by making child categories inherit the colors from their parent category.

In addition to the Category View and the Category Panel, you can configure IMatch show category colors in  File Window panels. This makes it easy to display file states, the hierarchies a file belongs to and many other things right in the file window, with easy to see color codes.

Using category color-coding to add visual clues to the File Window.
Color-coded categories and how these colors are displayed in the File Window. Click for a larger view.

In the example above, we have colored the entire FAMILY category hierarchy with orange. Every file assigned to one or more FAMILY categories thus displays an orange-colored segment in the File Window. Files assigned to the Children category hierarchy additionally get a light blue color.

We use an Archival State category to indicate which files have been backed up or archived. Color-coding this category allows us to see right in the File Window if a file needs to be backup up or has already been archived.

Which categories and colors you use is entirely up to you. The file window can display 8 to 20 unique category color segments per file, depending on how large you display the thumbnails.

Color-coding Keywords

IMatch 5 automatically mirrors keywords contained in your files in the special @Keywords category hierarchy. This not only makes it easier to work with keywords, but also enables IMatch to implement some special features.

When you color-code @Keyword categories, IMatch can (optionally) display these colors in the File Window and in the Keyword Panel. Whether you color-code the standard 5 W’s (WHAT, WHERE, WHO, WHEN, WHY) keywords or you color-code keywords by topic or even scientific or genealogical criteria, displaying keywords in colors makes it  easier to tell if keywords are missing or duplicated.

And if you need to assign many keywords to files (e.g., for stock photo usage), using colors-coding makes it easier to keep things in check.

Quality Control

This feature can also be utilized for quality control. For example, you require at least one  Motive, Location and Food keyword per image for your food stock collection.

If you configure each of these category hierarchies to use a different color, you are able to see with once glance at the Keyword Panel if keywords are missing or duplicated.

Color-codes in the Keyword Panel can serve as additional visual clues.
Using different colors for different types of keywords makes it easy to see if keywords are missing.

Label Colors

IMatch displays the color of the XMP label assigned to a file in the Rating and Label bar inside the File Window:

Associating colors with XML labels makes them even more useful.
A file with a blue XMP label and a 3 star rating in the File Window.

You can configure the colors associated with each XML label under Edit > Preferences > Metadata. This is especially useful if you work with multiple applications which use individual XML label names or colors.

For a better overview, you can customize a File Window Layout to apply the XML label color to the entire thumbnail panel background. Especially if you combine this with a compact thumbnail arrangement you can quickly get an overview over which labels have been assigned to how many files:

Using XML label colors for thumbnail backgrounds creates excellent visual clues.
Using the XML label color to color-code thumbnail panels in the File Window. Click for a larger view.

Summary

IMatch offers a variety or color-based visual clues which allow you to improve your workflow, to find files faster and even to check metadata quality at a glance.

 

Use Visual Clues to Improve Your Workflow Read More »

Exporting Images For Devices

Producing content for different devices is a key feature any digital asset management system. The Batch Processor in IMatch enables you to export images in a variety of formats and styles. It offers many options to control features like colors, text, overlays, borders and watermarks.
Examples for images on different devices.

Fill Resize

IMatch 5.2.16 introduces a new Fill Resize method which enables you to create outputs for a wide range of devices, ranging from smart phones to high-resolution TV sets. When choosing the Fill resize method, the Batch Processor produces output files with exactly the specified dimension (e.g., 1920 x 1080 for a HD TV set or tablet).

Automatic Cropping

If the aspect ratios of the input and output images don’t match (e.g., you export a 4:3 image to a 16:9 format), the input image will need to be cropped. The Batch Processor allows you to specify on which edge the cropping occurs, enabling you to keep the ‘important’ part of your image unmodified and in center.

Cropping Modes
The supported fill resize modes make it possible to align the input image on each of the 8 edges and the center point. This allows you to keep the important area of the input images in the center of the output images, even if the aspect ratios vary.

Summary

Whether you need to create output images which fit exactly on your smart phone, tablet or TV screen or you need to meet specific media sizes for printing, the new Fill mode added to the Batch Processor makes this easy and automatic even for large image volumes.

Exporting Images For Devices Read More »