13 Dec 2008

I’ve talked a lot about OS X apps recently, and I’m slightly nervous of doing it again so soon. Let me make it clear though, that I only blog about those that interest me, and for no other reason!

I’ve mentioned before about creative spongery, and how I collect images, screenshots and type samples from the internets and shove them into iPhoto. I loved the idea of being able to use one app to do multiple jobs. After 3 years of doing this, I became bothered by having my photographs and family snaps in particular, mixed up with ‘work stuff’. iPhoto is an excellent app for storing though, so I decided to create a new iPhoto library and switch between the two. If you’ve not come across this trick before, hold down the alt key while launching iPhoto – it gives you the option to create a new library and choose a different one!

This worked for a while. but became a pain to remember to switch, especially when importing images off a camera. I clearly needed to start using a dedicated app for all this stuff. So, over the course of about 6 weeks some of the apps I tried and rejected were:

Yojimbo – No thumbnail previews of images at all, so no way to quickly scan through the collection. Does have tag support though, so the catalogue could be categorised easily

Evernote – This does have thumbnails, and what’s more, they’re resizable like iPhoto. However, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, it embeds the images into a note. This makes the thumbnails less useful, and harder to export. I also prefer a dark background to view my thumbnails against – just a personal thing!

Together – works really well. It keeps images in a clearly marked folder in the Finder (rather than hidden inside a database), and there are multiple ways to drop images in. It loses points on the thumbnail viewing though – there are 3 set sizes to view at, and they can only be displayed as a list, rather than a grid of thumbnails. Does do tagging though.

Finder – This is almost ideal, but as there is no tagging solution, images that you want to be in more than one category have to be copied.

This is where the whippersnapper LittleSnapper comes in, and just in time! It takes the elements of iPhoto that work well – the thumbnail browsing style, keywords (tagging in LS), and adds features that make it more suitable for design collections. An in-built browser with DOM-snapping, remembering URLs and providing a variety of tools to capture information.

Suffice to say, I love it. I didn’t love it until quite late on in the development process, when it became possible to drag an image to the dock icon to import it. This is how I do most of collecting, rather than full-page screenshots with Paparazzi. Once that feature was added, LS suddenly started becoming useful to me.

I won’t repeat the full feature list here, this is a blog post, not a press release, and there are too many to cover. It has ambitions to replace Paparazzi and Skitch, and while it does the former, it doesn’t quite do the latter. Namely you can’t resize images.

It also isn’t the cheapest app you can buy – so is it better than just using iPhoto? It certainly is, but iPhoto still does one thing better: thumbnails. Quickly scroll down thumbnails in iPhoto, and there is no lag, the thumbnails are there. Do the same in LittleSnapper, and you’ll reach a point where it takes a second to draw the thumbnail. Not a long time, but it means you can’t quickly browse – you have to scroll, wait, scroll, wait, etc. One final whinge – no tag completion, so you need to make sure that you type it the same each time.

With the communication I’ve had with the lovely Nik at RealMac, I’m confident that all these outstanding features are planned, and that’s enough for it to become my ‘trusted system’. I’m excited to have finally found a decent solution!

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