Aperture 3.3 Update

It's been quite a while in internet time since Apple released the latest update to Aperture 3. Since that day I have received more than a few emails asking for my opinions about the update. Instead of answering them one by one i'll just post a quick brain dump of my thoughts. The bottom line is that it's all good. At least the things that Apple actually worked on.

I mean who can complain about momentous changes like going from metadata to info. I was so hopelessly lost and confused before Apple made this change. You see for years and years I thought that metadata meant that all the stuff like keywords, color labels, IPTC, etc were supposed to be the same things as their counterparts in all the Adobe products, Nikon Capture, Photomechanic, Phase One Media Pro (iView), etc, etc. Now that that is finally fixed I understand completely the bizarre incompatibilities, insane handling of imported/exported keywords, inability to share color label tags, and all the other metadata related hassles that Aperture has in playing with the rest of the photo universe. I see now that this stuff is not metadata, it's info.

In case you are part of the very large population that doesn't really get my permanent sarcastic bent let me be very clear. Yea yea yea all the other sites are going to report to you with glee about the minor bumps in performance. You have also probably seen the hallelujahs about the magic wand and the needless new white balance controls. Maybe there are a few people that are really really excited about the integration with iPhoto and such nonsense. Me? Not so much.

The one and only thing I actually care about in the update is that the horrendous and unforgivable color bug is now fixed. Of course I cannot really count that as a positive as it was listed as fixed in the previous update. The rest of the improvements are more or less little toys that have no significant impact on my day to day photographic life. They may actually prove useful in some edge cases but come on now - does anybody that has been doing this for more than five minutes really need 62 new ways of dealing with WB? I guess the new "adjust my image for me" thingy is kinda interesting to see what happens but do you really need it? Does your vision and process really get moved forward with this? The highlights/shadow tool was already good - now it's better. Great - I use that on about .000001% of my images.

What I want is some much needed attention to the metadata handling. Oooops - sorry, I mean info. Screw Apple, I'm calling it metadata so everyone knows what I am talking about. The metadata handling within Aperture is fine. I can think of a couple things that would make it better but that is icing on the cake. The real issue that has been festering since Aperture's inception has been how Aperture plays with the outside world. At this moment in time ingesting metadata produced by another tool and embedded into image files is not too too bad with the exception of keywords and especially hierarchical keywords that is hopelessly broken at a conceptual level. Exporting metadata and sharing it with the rest of the world needs some serious attention. These things affect my everyday workflow far far far more than some stupid magic wand auto-shit.

I still use Aperture as my central organization hub, I still ingest every image into Aperture and use it for my edits, ratings, selection, compares, etc. I still use it to actually find images in my idiotically large library. I use it because I am far more productive doing so. Not just because I know it very well. I know a bunch of tools very well that fit into that space. Aperture has been and continues to be the best, fastest, most fluid, most visually pleasing and most logical tool. I fear that someday that will not be true in large part due to the convolutions I have to endure to deal with my metadata.

Forgive me for this non-review of Aperture 3.3 as I am not able to think entirely rationally at the moment. The fact that metadata handling has been at the top of my list for improvement for ages and all I got was the gall of changing the terminology from metadata to info feels almost like Apple is taunting me. "There, we fixed it - now it's called info so don't expect it to behave like anything else does". It may be a distress induced hallucination but I do believe that the function of writing out metadata and metadata changes to original files is now broken in the latest update. I wanted to test if they silently fixed some major gaffes but now that doesn't seem to work at all. I will verify with some more testing on more than one installation but I will tell you my current main Aperture machine 3.3 will not write out any metadata to original files.


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