Aperture 3 - Labels

Ap3labels.jpgThere were three things on the enormous Aperture 3 feature list that caused me some excitement at first glance. they are probably not what you are thinking, they were color labels along with the ability to read and write IPTC metadata to image masters. This probably does not sound too too exciting but for me it was, and it should have been to a lot of others.

After using Aperture 3 for quite some time, actually almost immediately my excitement waned somewhat. It is sort of a glass is half full, half empty sort of thing depending on what day it is. I have lived so long without color labels in Aperture that I found them completely unnecessary at this point because there are so many other, possibly superior, ways to control your work-flow (like albums). The reason for my initial excitement was that I envisioned using color labels as a simple and efficient way to provide communication across the many tools that access my RAW master files. That is the only reason I could think of to actually use them - as a signaling device that is shared among software that accesses my masters - that's it. Honestly I can live without them in the context of Aperture alone.

Alas the one thing that I found them useful for does not work due to the continuing ridiculous split personality that Aperture 3 exhibits. The split personality that I am referring to is that all of the bits and pieces that are there to suggest that it is useful as a universal tool to coordinate a broadly diverse work-flow that plays well with others. The harsh reality is that it goes 80% of the way there but for reasons that I cannot fathom in my wildest hallucinations leaves out what seem to be small but absolutely critical details.

Okay we have core IPTC supported, we have read/write IPTC sync capabilities with our masters from Aperture, we have color labels. Oooops  we forgot one thing - they are on the list of things that DO NOT get written out as part of the sync with the master files - along with rating. What the F…? We'll why the hell not? We'll that's okay - we'll just make it so we don't read labels or ratings from masters either - there we go - all fixed up. Again WTF?

The same kind of thing goes for other data elements as well, along with the seemingly "can't get there from here" behavior with XMP sidecars. Yep you can write them any time you want but… you can only read them at initial import - that's it. I guess that is an improvement from not reading them at all in Aperture 2 but again - why the F..K not? Why oh why oh why may I ask put in the vast majority of the effort to make multi-product integration via metadata a reality and then stop at the last tiny little bit to make it useful? This has continuously caused me to invent and implement bizarre manual rituals to implement my ethnically diverse products into a cohesive whole sharing my RAW masters.

Just so all of you new readers don't think I have all of a sudden turned into an Aperture basher (I have always been a bitter critic of Aperture's shortcomings, there is some good news on this front. The IPTC data synchronization that is there performs brilliantly. Especially compared to the truly bizarre behavior of Aperture 2 (where any tiny little master file change had the more infuriating habit of completely decimating EVERYTHING you did in Aperture without warning or notice - even some Aperture plug-ins caused this). The new behavior, which is largely automagic, does an incredibly brilliant job merging metadata in Aperture - even if it was not previously synchronized to the master file. I actually use this to overcome a bizarre decision by the Aperture team to provide no option to deal with embedding the keyword hierarchy.

No product is perfect - heck Adobe can't even make bridge play well with Lightroom - it has unexplainable quirkiness and a complete lack of options regarding XMP sidecar vs embedded metadata as well as truly bizarre behavior when there are both present but at least you can figure out a some sort of work-flow with the features it does provide. Maybe it's just me but due to the lack of ability to communicate color labels outside of Aperture via the way EVERYTHING else in the photographic universe works, I have subconsciously boycotted their use within Aperture. Has anyone found a fantastically good use for them that is not already solved by other long existing Aperture features?


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