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Power up your photo sharing with Desktop Flickr Organizer

By Nathan Willis on August 03, 2007 (9:00:00 AM)

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We have examined several applications for working with Flickr before, and they all have one thing in common: they focus on uploading images from the desktop. But uploading only scratches the surface of what the Web service can do. Desktop Flickr Organizer (DFO) gives you a lot more power.

There is nothing wrong with Flickr uploaders, but if you are a heavy Flickr user, you need to do more than just upload pictures. You need to manage your existing photos and sets, create new sets, edit tags, descriptions, and permissions, contribute to group pools, and so on. Using DFO, you can do all that, performing most (but not all) of the tasks in Flickr's online management tool Organizr.

DFO is a Mono app, so once your system meets the dependencies, you can download and run it without compilation. You need the core Mono libraries, the Mono SQLite library, and the Mono GConf library. All three are standard packages, so the chances are that your distribution's package management system already provides them. Once they are installed, you can grab the DFO tarball, expand it in any directory, and launch it with sh ./run.sh on the command line.

The first time you run DFO, the app won't know who you are or have access to your Flickr account, so all you will see is a window with several empty panes. To get started, select Connect from the File menu. DFO will open a link to the Flickr site in your default Web browser, where you must grant DFO authorization to connect to your Flickr account. This is a security precaution enforced by Flickr on all apps that use the Flickr API.

Taking a look around

Once you have authorized DFO, the app will access your photo stream and load thumbnails and descriptions of all of your pictures. At the leftmost edge of the DFO window you'll see three vertical buttons: Sets, Tags, and Pools. When you select Sets, the pane immediately to the right displays a list of all of your sets (complete with title, thumbnail, and number of photos), and the rightmost pane displays a scrollable list of all the photos in the selected set. Similarly, when you select Tags, the middle pane displays a list of your tags, and the rightmost pane show all the photos using the selected tag. Pools is a bit different; it displays a list of all the Flickr groups to which you belong, including those to which you have not contributed any pictures.

The toolbar at the bottom allows you to perform basic maintenance. In any mode, you can click on Edit -- or double-click a photo thumbnail -- and edit the title, description, visibility, license, and tag settings. You can also resync your local changes to your Flickr account, download full-size originals, and upload new photos.

Working with sets, tags, and pools is easy in DFO. You drag and drop thumbnails to add photos to sets or group pools, or to assign new tags to them. You drop photos into a "kill box" to remove them from sets or pools, just as you do in Flickr's online interface. Performing these tasks with tags is a little unusual because the metaphor is reversed -- normally in Flickr parlance you assign a tag to a photo; here the drag-and-drop interface makes it feel like you are assigning a photo to a tag.

Creating a new set in DFO is a bit different from creating one in Flickr online as well. Start by selecting a photo, then clicking on the + icon in the top toolbar. You can then add a name and description for the new set, and it will immediately appear in the Sets tab, using the selected photo as its "cover image." From this point on, you can drag and drop photos into the new set just as you can with your existing sets.

New and improving

DFO has some interface weirdness -- for instance, it provides separate toolbars at the top left and bottom right, which divide apps functions arbitrarily and not by context. And DFO doesn't implement every photo management feature of Flickr -- collections, favorites, comments, and geotag maps are absent -- nor does it give you access to Flickr's discussion system. Still, it is a far more complete tool than most of the other desktop Flickr interfaces out there.

In some ways, DFO is easier to use than Flickr's online Organizr. Organizr is AJAX-based, and can sometimes be slow to respond or buggy. Plus, most of Flickr's pages have hard limits on how many images you can put on screen at one time, to reduce HTTP traffic. Working with local copies through DFO lets you sift through very large photo streams faster, especially for tasks like adding or editing tags and descriptions.

Can DFO replace the Web as your primary method of working with your Flickr account? For basic image management, I think it can. For bigger tasks like set management, it is still incomplete (you can't rearrange the order of photos in a set, or delete sets entirely, for example).

Consequently, you will continue to have to use Organizr -- but that's no burden. Flickr is fundamentally about sharing photos, and you can't sever that experience from the Web itself. DFO is just one way to make your photos a lot easier to share.

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on Power up your photo sharing with Desktop Flickr Organizer

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Power up your photo sharing with Desktop Flickr Organizer

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 201.50.171.8] on August 03, 2007 09:07 PM
How does it compare to f-spot?

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Re: Power up your photo sharing with Desktop Flickr Organizer

Posted by: Nathan Willis on August 03, 2007 11:05 PM
DFO and F-Spot don't do the same tasks.

Nate

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Mono? No thanks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.167.130.137] on August 04, 2007 02:38 AM
1. Mono perpetuates the .NET code base.

2. Mono will work until MS decides to break it.

3. Mono is supported by MS via Novell to accomplish #1

4. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_de_Icaza">Miguel de Icaza</a> is a brilliant programmer and leader who has no problem with the MS/Novell patent agreements. I'll not support him in that.

5. There are a plethora of other development frameworks that are fully Free and unencumbered. Why bother with applications for this new one?

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Re: Mono? No thanks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.37.3.180] on August 05, 2007 05:18 PM

1. Mono perpetuates the .NET code base.

No it doesn't. It perpetuates C#. .NET can die and mono will have no issues surviving on.

2. Mono will work until MS decides to break it

Like I said that won't happen. Mono is separate from .NET. Mono doesn't need .NET.

3. Mono is supported by MS via Novell to accomplish #1

I would like to see you prove that allegation.

4. Miguel de Icaza is a brilliant programmer and leader who has no problem with the MS/Novell patent agreements. I'll not support him in that.

I don't really like the patent deals either but in the long run I don't think it will matter for either camp.

5. There are a plethora of other development frameworks that are fully Free and unencumbered. Why bother with applications for this new one?

There is a plethora of other environments but there are only a few good ones and only really one or two which are comparable to Mono one of which is Java, and that has only recently been opened up.

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Re: Mono? No thanks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 128.221.197.21] on August 06, 2007 06:09 PM
It is always sad to see the effects of religion on ones thinking.

> 1. Mono perpetuates the .NET code base.

A religious argument indeed. You are not making any argument about whether the technology is appropriate or helpful, you are simply stating Mono = .Net = Microsoft = Sauron/Valdemort/<your favorite source of evil here>. I am no lover of Microsoft, but at least I am willing to judge a technology on its technical merits. And there .Net (and by extension Mono) have a lot to offer.

> 2. Mono will work until MS decides to break it.

FUD. You are attempting to sow fear by making a statement for which there is no support. But since you are expressing your religious views, you are entitled to your own facts, no?

> 3. Mono is supported by MS via Novell to accomplish #1

And again FUD. Do you always write postings where you use opinions to make assertions? Where do you outline even a shred of evidence to substantiate what you are saying?

> 4. Miguel de Icaza is a brilliant programmer and leader who has no problem with the MS/Novell patent agreements. I'll not support him in that.

Miguel is actually a Microsoft agent being paid to gradually change the mindset at Novell so that they can be acquired/destroyed by Microsoft. Gee, I can see where you are coming from - this making up stuff is rather fun!

> 5. There are a plethora of other development frameworks that are fully Free and unencumbered. Why bother with applications for this new one?

Hmmm. Good point. The question I would ask is WHY WOULD YOU NOT? And I'm gonna do something that apparently runs a little counter to the way you like to post - I'm going to provide some tangible reasons as to WHY YOU SHOULD:
1) Development of contemporary applications is not so hard with .Net/Mono. Taken a look at web services lately? Maybe you ought to - it is orders of magnitude easier to do this in .Net than in some Java equivalent such as Axis. In fact, the whole network infrastructure to support just about anything you want to do is there, in one very easy to use bundle.
2) I say potato, you say poh-tat-o. If I want to develop in Java, I can certainly do so in .Net. What's more, if the other folks on my team want to develop in C#, Python, Ruby, VB.Net, etc., they can do that too. And guess what, all of our code integrates together in a natural fashion. It is as nothing for me to extend a Java class with C# for instance. Let me know if you need the code. And as an added bonus, going from language to language a diverse team can all leverage the same set of libraries, cutting down on learning curve requirements and giving a standard context in which to talk about solutions.
3) Assemblies put Java jar files to shame. If we are talking about reuse, this is an important consideration. If we are talking the development of plug-in based applications, this is critical. To get the same level of functionality I can pair OSGI with Java, but really, with this functionality provided out of the box in .Net/Mono, why mess around with a lesser solution?
4) Java has, for some time now, been trying to play catch up with language features appearing in .Net. If you want to know where programming is headed, you don't look to Sun, you look to the folks that they are playing 'me too' with. Why on earth would I want to bet the race on a platform that lets someone else dictate their vision?

By all means stick with the solution you already have. Mono doesn't need or require the kind of closed minded worship you seem to exhibit.

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New v0.7 release includes desired features

Posted by: Manish Rai Jain on August 06, 2007 08:13 AM
Released v0.7 yesterday, which allows commenting, and posting photos to blogs; along with other new features. Unfortunately, access to collections is not supported through public flickr APIs. On the other hand, Geo tag maps is a feature which is tricky to implement in an offline-capable application, however, I'm looking into it, and you will surely see it in future versions.

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