imatch 5

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 Color-coding this category allows us to see right in the File Window if a file needs to be backup up or has already been archived.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 »

IMatch Pack & Go Icon

Use IMatch Pack & Go For Quick And Easy Backups

IMatch Pack & Go for quick and easy backups.IMatch includes a flexible backup and restore tool named Pack & Go. The purpose of Pack & Go is to transfer IMatch databases, settings, scripts, presets, cache files and other IMatch data from one PC to another – ideal when you use IMatch on a PC at home and on a notebook while on vacation or on location.

Pack & Go combines all backed up files into a compressed and secured archive package. These packages can be versioned, which makes it easy to keep multiple backups available. Pack & Go is also able to run database diagnostics and compress operations on-the-fly while creating the package. Very convenient.

Running Pack & Go

You can run Pack & Go directly from the Windows START menu or a shortcut placed on the desktop or task bar. The user interface is easy and explained in full detail in the IMatch help.

The Pack & Go WindowOnce configured, you can backup, verify and restore packages with a single press of a button.

If you work with the digital asset management system IMatch on multiple computers not connected to the same network, or you just want to transfer IMatch settings, databases, presets, scripts and other files quickly and easily, give Pack & Go a try.

Use IMatch Pack & Go For Quick And Easy Backups Read More »

Use the File History to Keep Track of Things

Keeping track of events is a key feature for digital asset management systems. IMatch automatically maintains a history for each of the files you manage in your database. The history records events like “File added to database”, “File updated”, “File Viewed”, “Metadata changed” and many other event types.

The History Panel

To view the history of a file, open the the History Panel (View Menu > Panels > History or press <F9>,<H>).

The panel lists all events recorded for a file from top to bottom. Icons are used to indicate the different event types, and a textual description gives additional details. For events like file copy or file move, the target of the operation is also recorded. The user column tells you the name of the (Windows) user who created the event in the history.

The History Panel
The History Panel displays the history of the file currently focused file in the active File Window.

 

Use the context menu to access the commands available in the History Panel. You can purge old events and even add your own events to record information you want to keep in the history.

See the IMatch help on the History Panel for all details.

Use the File History to Keep Track of Things Read More »

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.

Gaining Insight with the Data Map App Read More »

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.

IMatch and the Windows Clipboard Read More »

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:

{File.MD.XMP::Lightroom\hierarchicalSubject\HierarchicalSubject\0|count:true}

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:

im5_fw_key_4

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:

{File.Ext|substr:0,1;to_upper}

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.

{File.MD.Composite\ShutterSpeed\ShutterSpeed\0|value:formatted}

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.

{File.MD.Composite\Aperture\Aperture\0}

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}

Summary

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.

Fun With Custom File Window Layouts Read More »

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

Using Comments And Icons To Annotate The Timeline Read More »

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.

Panels

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

Configuring IMatch for High-DPI Screens and Easier Reading Read More »

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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.

Write-back

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.

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