know-how

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:

{File.FullName}[tab]{File.DateTime|format:DD.MM.YYYY}[tab]
{File.MD.XMP::photoshop\Headline\Headline\0}[tab]
{File.MD.XMP::dc\description\Description\0}

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.

Using the Copy Data App with Your Office Application Read More »

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

http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/xap:Label

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:

http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/xap:Rating

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.

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

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.

Using Large Icons for Toolbars in IMatch Read More »

photools.com Logo

IMatch and NAS Systems (Network-Attached Storage)

What’s a NAS?

A NAS unit is a computer connected to your network that only provides file-based data storage services to other computers on the network. There are cheap NAS systems and quite expensive ones. They differ in reliability and performance.

Can I keep my IMatch database and image files on the NAS?

Yes. IMatch can work with databases and images stored on NAS systems in your network. No problem with that. The database and images can be shared (if multiple users work with IMatch, every user needs an IMatch license of course).

Use UNC Shares

You can either use a drive mapping or (better) UNC paths like (\\server\share\folder) to address the files on your NAS system from within your IMatch database. UNC paths have the advantage to be unique within your network and accessible from all computers in your network without the need to create a drive mapping first.

Performance

The performance of such a configuration depends on your network speed and the performance of the NAS system. Usually the database performance suffers when the database file is stored on a NAS.

What you have to keep in mind is that most (cheap) NAS systems are designed for streaming usage. This means they are intended to keep your backups, and to deliver video, image and audio data. And they usually do a great job with this.

Keeping your images on the NAS box is usually no problem and performance will be OK or even excellent.

But the IMatch database file is a different matter. When you work with IMatch, IMatch reads and writes very often from and to the database file. These are usually small changes of a few bytes to a few kilobytes. And, especially for cheaper NAS systems, this creates a worst-case scenario. Many small read/write operations over the network are bad for the performance and thus the overall IMatch performance will suffer. Even a moderately fast built-in hard disk is 10 times faster than NAS storage.

How to Test

If you experience performance problems with IMatch in a NAS environment, just copy your database from the NAS system to your local hard disk. Then open the database from there via the Database menu > Open command in IMatch. If your NAS is the performance bottleneck you will notice a much snappier response time and overall better speed with the local hard disk.

Then its up to you if you want to work with the local database or prefer to NAS-based database with slower performance.

Worst Worst-case Scenario

The worst worst-case scenario is keeping the IMatch  database on a NAS which is only connected by wireless (WLAN) to your computer. The latency of such connections may be OK for image storage, but not for your database.

Conclusion

I often get reports from users about sluggish performance in NAS environments. Especially when you don’t want to spend the money to buy a real high-performance NAS system with multiple processors and fast disks and controllers. The price for these high-end systems is often three or more times as high as the price tag for entry-level or ‘Home-use’ NAS systems.

If this is the case, it is usually better to keep the files you manage in IMatch on the NAS but the IMatch database on your local hard disk or, even better, a SSD. If you don’t have a SSD, using an high-speed USB 3.0 stick to store the database stick can be a real speed booster.

IMatch and NAS Systems (Network-Attached Storage) Read More »