MAY
10
2005

LWN.net: The Grumpy Editor's Guide to Image Management Applications

LWN.net's Grumpy Editor examined image management applications including digiKam and KimDaBa after some time ago he already evaluated digiKam for accessing his digital camera: "digiKam is a capable and useful tool with a few remaining shortcomings. Given its pace of development, chances are that those issues will be ironed out in short order."

Comments

I use digiKam, and I like it. Although it's UI would benefit from some "lifting", it's by far the most useful and powerful application of this type for Unix (as I know). The plugins make it sooo useful. It only tend's to move into a direction I personally do not like too much. It is extended by more and more plugins to manipulate the images. I'd prefer if those functionality would be left for gimp/krita. Instead easy of use, and image-handling should be more in the focus. Let's see what versions 7.3 and 8 will bring.
Anyway - great work of the digiKam development team!
And maybe I should have a look for KimDaBa again...


By birdy at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

The way I see it, digikam's focus is plugins that are useful for photographers. I don't think you have to worry about them introducing selection tools, gradient tools, and silly painting tools.

However, what you will see are things like lens distortion correction, grain reduction, white balance alteration, advanced b&w conversion, red eye removal etc. Things that are directly relevant to photographers and not for people who want to do massive screwing around with photos a la photoshop/gimp.

At least that's how I hope digikam will go.

There are actually several filters in digikam that the gimp doesn't have plugins for yet.

Offtopic, but something I would like to see that has been talked about for a while is a timeline bar.


By Robert at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

I completely agree:
- Timeline bar would be useful
- Digikam is more focus on photography

I would add:
- Krita is about picturing
- Between Krita and Digikam there is a huge potential for reuse. And that's good.


By veton at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

I would vote for advanced selecting tools. Maybe not as part of the image editor but it would be useful for plugins like DRI (dynamic range increase) et.al. To have an internal powerful base with selection channels and alpha channels is a good thing.
I miss a 16 bit/channel framework and bette raw-file handling

Bye

Thorsten


By Thorsten Schnebeck at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

I don't know all the apps, but I know a little of Digikam, as that is what my wife uses (she is not computer literate).
And it is evident from this article, that the author took way too little time reviewing at least Digikam (and I guess most other programs too).
Digikam does nearly (one exception is erasing in-law) all of the things that the author complains it does not.
That's nearly as if all the plugins (kipi-plugins and digikamplugins) where removed when he reviewed digikam.
For examples, he complains about rotating images being slow, I don't know, since at home the option for auto-rotating based on EXIF is activated.
Or the rotation not being lossless (It IS lossless if you have kipi-plugins).
Or printing capability. I'm pretty sure my wife could not have done by herself the calendar she has printed, with pictures of our daughter. I'm pretty sure it is in the print wizard plugin.
Seems to me he didn't have any plugin installed, so how can he review Digikam (or kimdaba) correctly ?!


By Ookaze at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

I think he just could not find the image printing wizard, because it is in a VERY weird place. I had used DigiKam 0.7.2 for weeks and could not find it either. Later I found it somewhere in File -> Export -> ... I never looked in that spot because I never needed to export anything..


By Meneer Dik at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

If Jonathan corbet, who is a very respected member of the community (*), has not found the functionalities such as "printing", it outlines some bad interface design in digikam, admitted by digikam users both in the lwn comments and here on the dot.

It is very sad that his criticism is not taken as a positive feeback and an opportunity for improvements. Did you noticed that his makes compliment to digikam ? Have you noticed too the title of the article series ?

(*) and this is an understatement.


By oliv at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

Except I think its a reviewers job to know what they are reviewing. Note the functionality it has, but say that finding it is a hassle and bad UI. Instead of just saying it doesn't exist since he apparently couldn't be bothered (perhaps a bit grumpy).

Like was noted at LWN, he really did miss the point of KimDaBa.


By Ian Monroe at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

I really like digiKam there are, however, two features that I think it lacks. The first lacking is the ability to search. In my opinion you should be able to search for pictures based on multiple tags, comments and even exif data.

The second lacking is possible to work around already but, it would be nice if it was easier. That is the ability to restrict editing the images. digiKam makes it almost too easy to alter or damage a picture. I think that it would be better if the changes or editing was done in the database and the original image was preserved. As I said, you can work around the problem by using file permissions. Simply set the file permissions to Read Only.

Search would be awesome!


By None at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

Search is coming. 0.7.3 is around the corner (though without search), and .8 is in development. Giles et al on the list are quite friendly, and tend to fix things quite quickly (like the endianness issue with colour stuff like solarize). I've got the beta running on Kubuntu on amd64 using nothing more than apt-get source and a compile call. Quite stable, quite fast :)

For the poster who raised the editing plugins thing - digiKam seems to be keeping the core plugins purely photo related. It's up to kipi plugins (which are meant to be plugins for every KDE image app) to do the fun things like make a calendar etc. Don't want that in your digiKam? Don't enable the plugin.


By Duncan at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

Ideally the search would use the kmrml framework, which has awesome potential but I think is underutilized!


By kundor at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

> In my opinion you should be able to search for pictures based on multiple tags,
> comments and even exif data.

> ability to restrict editing the images.

It seems to me that you are looking for KimDaBa[1]. While digikam is a very good application which does well image management and image editing, Kimdaba only does image management but is excellent at doing it. It allowed me to set quickly information about locations/persons/keywords for my 7 000 pictures, and navigating between them is now very pleasant.

It can search for multiple tags, including incrementive search [2], and for comments, but not for exif data[3] for now. Since it's not an image editor, he never touch original files, you can set your pictures read-only if you want. For example it you rotate a picture, it will store this information in his XML database, and apply it at runtime.

[1] http://ktown.kde.org/kimdaba/ Version 2.1 is only a few days old.
[2] picture 1 and 3 of the 3 minute tour http://ktown.kde.org/kimdaba/tour/
[3] The mailing-list is open if you have good comments about this issue.

PS: and if you need an image editor too, I would of course recommand to use our beloved Digikam at the same time.


By jmfayard at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

> The second lacking [...] is the ability to restrict editing the images. [...]
> you can work around the problem by using file permissions. Simply set the file permissions to Read Only.

That's not a "workaround". Everything *else* would be a workaround. Just add a lock action (e.g. with lock icon in the toolbar) that does set/unset the writable file permission. Saving that in a database is IMHO silly and misguided.


By Melchior FRANZ at Thu, 2005/05/12 - 5:00am

digikam is a nice program. However, I had to figure out that it completely *ignores* the file permissions. I set all my image files to read-only, but after editing, it just overwrites the files! Indeed, this should be considered a bug.

What would be nice: an undo button for all actions, e.g. for adding keywords to a selection of files or for removing files.

Cheers,
Erwin


By Erwin at Fri, 2006/06/16 - 5:00am

Unrelated and still somewhat related - which is the best image screensaver available for Linux? Mac supplies a really good one: it shows high-res pictures, with a slow zoom and pan movement, and after a while fades to another picture. Simple, but really effective and good looking. I have not found anything similar for Linux - there are all kinds of fancy effects but they are more annoying than anything. If none can be found - which is the best image library available to write something like this?


By Claes at Tue, 2005/05/10 - 5:00am

xscreensaver comes with glslideshow. Which is very nice.


By Robert at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!


By Claes at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

One of the basic graphic tasks in KDE bothers me still. You can't get a screeshot with a simple click on 'Prt Scr' and paste it to an image editing application.

The current way of using KSnapshot is a bit akward IMHO. It's not a big problem for me, but newbeginners find it difficult to take screenshots and paste them into a document.

You can bind Prt Scr to KSnapshot, but you still need to save the image and insert the file into document manually. I'd rather not use KSnapshot if all I wanted is a full screen shot. KSnapshot is nice when you want to take a shot of a certain application window.

Eleknader


By Tapio Kautto at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

Really? Works for me.

I pressed "Prt Scr" and pasted it into KolourPaint...

Global shortcuts in the Control Center have "Desktop Screenshot" and "Window Screenshot" actions, with "Prt Scr" with some modifiers assigned as the default shortcuts.


By Dima Ryazanov at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

Ctrl - Prt Scr ->screenshot of desktop
Alt - Prt Scr ->screenshot of current active window.

And as an added bonus you get a thumbnail of the image image in the Klipper menu.


By Morty at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

You should have told me this long time ago! *Really* nice to know.


By Carsten Niehaus at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

I didn't actually know myself before I tried it prior to posting. It's a feature I newer have used myself with KDE, but I have used KSnapshot a few times. Since I take a minimal amount of screenshots I have never bothered to do it another way. I have on the other hand used Ctrl-Prt Scr on windows and guessed that KDE does much the same. I tried it and it worked perfectly.

Sometimes when you want a feature or way of doing something in KDE, try it like it's done on other desktops or in the way it's most logic to do. In my experience more cases than not, KDE already has the feature:-)


By Morty at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

Since when does this work? Or is this distribution-specific?


By ac at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

The feature has been in KDE since at least KDE-3.1.0. There was a problem in Qt that made the feature a bit flakey, but it has worked fine for me for the last two years or so now.

(See http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=51620)


By teatime at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

The Ctrl-Prt Sc has worked for a long time, KDE 2 times I'd guess. Just tested on KDE 3.2 and it worked so every release after that. Of course it can become distribution specific, as some distributions are known to do strange things from time to time. Afterall the keybindings are fairly easy to change/mess up, so some distributions may very well have managed.

The preview in Klipper is a KDE 3.3 thing, I think. Since I have not seriously used 3.3 to any length, I'm not sure.


By Morty at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

My Alt-Prt Scr is reserved for the kernel so I assume that doesn't work. I prefer ksnapshot anyways since I'm usually saving the screenshots online, KDE's network transparency makes this easy.


By Ian Monroe at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

Just curious - by "Alt-Prt Scr" you mean the "Sys Rq" feature, right? That requires you to compile kernel in debug mode - does that make the kernel slower or have any other side-effects?


By Dima Ryazanov at Wed, 2005/05/11 - 5:00am

It doesn't put the kernel in 'debug mode' - the option to enable sysrq just happens to be under 'kernel hacking' in the kernel config is all. Doesn't have any side effects really. Its nice if your computer crashs a lot (like my previous one did).


By Ian Monroe at Thu, 2005/05/12 - 5:00am

These are configurable shortcuts. Check proper Kcontrol module.


By m. at Thu, 2005/05/12 - 5:00am

Thanks Morty, I thought that I'm an advanced KDE user, but...

I feel ashamed now - and enlightened :)

I always tried using just simple Prt Scr without modifiers. This is just one of those little rough edges we still have in a very nice desktop environment.

Eleknader


By Tapio Kautto at Thu, 2005/05/12 - 5:00am

As others have said, you can use Ctrl-PrintScrn and Alt-PrintScrn, but you should also know that you can press Ctrl-C in ksnapshot to copy the image to the clipboard.

Rich.


By Richard Moore at Thu, 2005/05/12 - 5:00am

If the print screen button isn't working for you, check that you have a recent version of KDE, and then under control center->Regional & Accessibility->[Global Settings]->General Settings, make sure that Disable KHotKeys daemon is not checked, and double check the settings under Preset Actions.
I just had a weird thing where this was only working on one of my two systems, and that was the cause


By DSS at Thu, 2006/10/05 - 5:00am

To be honest, I hate this single key screenshot. My PrtScr/SysRq key is right next to Backspace (both being small, normal size keys) and when I type fast, very often I am getting 1-2 snapshots popping up and I have to stop and kill them. Went to KDE hot-keys menu and there it says that it should only work with Alt+PrtScr - not true since I know I don't make this combination... A single key for snapshot with my keyboard is not a good thing, especially when one has my keyboard type. And no, I will not change my keyboard with one that has PrtScr at a safe distance, just for an application.


By Andi V at Sat, 2007/06/09 - 5:00am

KDECC > Regional & Accessibility > Input Actions, Preset Actions > PrintScreen, check the box labeled Disable and click the Apply button. Problem solved!


By Stumpy842 at Sat, 2007/11/10 - 6:00am

Hello,

digikam offers a slideshow feature.
(This is AFAIK part of the kipi plugins library, and therefore only loosely
related to digikam, I know. But a naive user won't recognize that!)

Does anyone succeeded displaying images containing EXIF information
for rotation correctly? (Is there some settings dialog to activate it?)
I like to keep the original versions of my images
and not rotating it with an extra, even "lossless" tool...

The "build-in" image editor does not have any problems with that!
For the "aspect ratio crop" feature, using "reset values"
portrait/landscape is also not chosen according to the EXIF information
with my Installation here...

(SuSE 9.2, supplementary rpms for KDE3.4)


By Martin at Thu, 2005/05/12 - 5:00am