Using multiple programs to manage images

Ask for help and post your question on how to use XnView Classic.

Moderators: XnTriq, xnview

Post Reply
User avatar
CenoZoic_Jurassic
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:24 am

Using multiple programs to manage images

Post by CenoZoic_Jurassic » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:06 am

I'm just starting to set up and use XnView, and I'd like to know if I'm going to run into any big problems if I manage images with other programs at the same time as I'm using this program.

I have a bunch of tool-assisted image download folders that need to be sorted into several different categories, renamed, put into different folders, and all that good stuff. The thing about XnView that made me want to pick it up and try it out is the tagging feature, like some image websites have.

If I have an image with a tag set on it through XnView, and then I later go to that image with a different program and change the name and location of it, will that image still be findable by XnView? I expect my image storage and organization system to be in flux for the forseeable future, so this could be important.

As I opened up the many different sorting directories and various stashes of unsorted images transferred in from old laptops, I noticed that the "categories" list was being populated with tags. That suggests to me that tagging / category information is attached to the file itself.I just don't know if that's a rule, or whether each program or website might do it the same way. It's only the odd picture that has it's own tag, but when I'm dealing with many years of internet image hoarding, those odd pictures add up.

User avatar
CenoZoic_Jurassic
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:24 am

Findings So Far

Post by CenoZoic_Jurassic » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:54 pm

[Note: Looking at all I've written here, and what I'm doing on the side, it's like I'm almost making a journal as I learn the program. Maybe I could turn this into a guide of some kind.]

Doing a little reading and searching around, I've found m.Th.'s post here very helpful. Particularly the second part, as it explains where those mysterious, and sometimes gibberish tags are coming from.
m.Th. wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:44 pm

1. Think that we have TWO separate engines:
1.a. One which writes/reads to/from files.
1.b. One which writes/reads from Database

- - - - - separator - - - - -

If you enable in Tools | Settings | Metadata - "Import XMP subject or IPTC keyword to DB Categories" this means that these fields FROM the image files will be automatically imported into DB (Engine 1.b) for search, display etc.

If you change a Category by RMB menu, in Categories pane and/or in Category Sets pane it will be changed in DB (Engine 1.b.), BUT if in Tools | Settings | Metadata "Export DB Category to XMP Subject and IPTC Keyword" is checked then this info from DB will be saved ALSO in your file. If this setting is NOT checked then this info from DB will NOT be saved to your image file. The same applies to Rating and Color - they are controlled by similar checkboxes in the same Tools | Settings | Metadata pane.
It appears that this program was primarily meant for a specific use scenario: Managing images that you've taken yourself, in a dedicated "Camera Pictures" folder. My use scenario of "I have thousands of images of all kinds, some funny, some useful, some pornographic, that I've downloaded over the years. My current way of organizing them isn't cutting it any more. I'll need to re-work my filing system, rename a bunch of files, and I also want to use a tagged image storage / finding system (particularly for the useful images like reference guides on drawing, reaction images for online discussions where context needs a bit more than just text in a post, and also the porn.)"

Now that I have that in mind, I can re-set how I plan to use this program and understand where some of the weird behaviour I don't understand came from.
  • Other file system programs (like Directory Opus) should move images and image folders around from my downloads directory to a dedicated sorting directory
  • Sorting by renaming and then moving the image to it's destination folder (first stage sorting) can be done either with XmView or Directory Opus.
    • Due to the inconsistent renaming schemes random online image files may have, mass renaming will most likely be done either with DOpus to append something to the front quickly, or Advanced Renamer using a programmed DOpus button. Computer created images that have passed through who knows how many hands, cannot be counted on to have the right kind of metadata that these other programs seem to need.
  • The strength and unique features of XnView are it's utility as an image tagger and storage / retrieval database. So far, it's abilities in renaming, moving, and organizing image files seem a bit clunky compared to other alternatives. (I'm still learning the program, so it's possible I might discover some tricks that help things along.) XnView should NOT be used to browse to folders with image files I want to manage. It should not be treated like a file browser.
The best case use scenario I can work with from what I understand so far:
  1. Use programs like Directory Opus for
    • Setting up the folder directory where I will store the images in the long haul
    • Set up an 'unsorted images' directory that will basically serve as my 'inbox'
    • Do first-stage renaming of images (adding terns like "reference guide" and "gaming - warframe" to the front part of the image filename so that I can see it in detail view and move it to the appropriate general folder)
    • Move files to their general folders (first stage sorting)
  2. Use Advanced Renamer on the quickly renamed files that are already in their general sorting folders to give them more specific and permanent names for the sake of standardizing the file naming system
  3. I will occasionally need to go back with my file manager to do second-stage sorting.
    • That would be something like seeing that there are enough images within the "Fantasy Characters" folder that are Knights or Mages to justify making a new sub-folder for those. This could also be done in XnView.
  4. Bring in XnView to work ONLY with the FULLY RENAMED AND SORTED files to tag them
    • Further minor renaming tasks and LIMITED REORGANIZATION of images can be done here, but I must use XnView to do it
    • Remember to go to [ Tools | Settings | Metadata - "Import XMP subject or IPTC keyword to DB Categories" ] and DESELELECT this option so that I don't get mysterious tags showing up out of nowhere that may or may not fit my existing schema. They're normally not that useful anyway, and the inconsistency is aggravating.
With all that said, I still have a few questions.
  1. What happens if I use a non-XnView program to rename an image file that's currently being managed and tagged by XnView?
    • Will the image "disappear" from XnView's database?
    • Will I get a "double" if, when XnView next reads the file, XnView is set to import the subject and keywords into categories, and the image has some embedded tags/categories
    • I've added Advanced Renamer to the list of programs I can tell XnView to open any selected images with. Open With > ARen (Shortcut Alt+2). I've verified that it will automatically open a new instance of Advanced Renamer and place these selected files in the workspace. Can I make a button that will re-use the same ARen window when I want to rename multiple sets sequentially?
  2. Why would I use category sets when I could just put categories themselves into sub-categories as a de facto filing system?
  3. Is there a way to open all dropdown categories in the "Categories Filter" at once, like there is in the "Categories" tab by clicking the
    [ ... |▼] button?
  4. Why do I need to have an image selected in the browsing panel before I'm able to move, rename, merge, or otherwise work on organizing my Category tag system in the "Categories" tab?
  5. Why does the "Merge with..." function in the context menu of the categories list seem to not work? There are very few files with tags on them. Does it have something to do with file disorganization and how many files there are that are scattered through the filing system?
  6. Why is the default indicator of a category that has sub-categories a tiny dot, almost indistinguishable from a speck of something on my screen? How can I change this? I'd like to get a good "dark" theme, but I think I'll pause that until I learn more of the basics in how to use the program.
  7. When I am in a folder and Shift-clicking or Ctrl-clicking to select multiple files in a folder that have an attribute I want to tag (either through the "categories" tags, or through renaming them with something descriptive), why do I lose all the folders I selected if I accidentally click something without holding down the Ctrl button? Is there a way to let the selection remain constant, so I can potentially open up a file to see the full version and verify that it has what I'm looking for? I liked this feature in NexusView.
  8. What, exactly, are the non-Category tags supposed to be for?
    • Tags are simple. Either On or Off. I don't know if they're persistent over restarts. My best guess is that they're a way to preselect which photos from a set you want to send to a slideshow that you're going to send to a friend, or that you'll move somewhere else away from your computer.
    • Ratings, I suppose, are mostly a way of prioritizing photos in a set. Which ones have good framing, and which ones were from a kid wanting snap photos and not exactly having the eye for it.
    • Labels. The pre-written labels seem like a mix between prioritization and categorization tags. Looking at the [ Tools > Settings > Browser > Metadata > Labels ] menu, the three columns don't make sense to me. Label, Read (multiple values), Write. I'm going to assume these are meant to be re-defined and customized for any random user-defined purpose that comes up. Meaning that I think the purpose of this was to have a limited set of tags related to "what should I do with this image" or "when do I need to do stuff with this image" rather than the descriptive purpose of the infinite list of categories.
    • Categories, being a user-defined, unbounded list (can have as many as you want, including simultaneously) appear to serve as a way of saying "what defined items are in this image?"
I'm losing focus and running out of brainpower at this point, so I'll finish this off here. There's some things I could probably learn by continuing to read through to documentation, and some things I have no clue about that I'll probably either pick up by accident in the documentation, or I'll learn "some day", like what ICC, XMP, IPTC, and EXIF metadata sections of an image are for, and when I might ever use them. My use scenario is sorting and managing images sourced from the internet rather than a fancy camera.

I'll try sorting through my Camera photos next to see what stuff suddenly starts to click.

User avatar
CenoZoic_Jurassic
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:24 am

Re: Using multiple programs to manage images

Post by CenoZoic_Jurassic » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:09 pm

I did a test where I made a new folder and put a single image in it. I then applied several tags to this image. Using a different program, I renamed the image. Then, I swapped back to XnView to check on it. The new image, with the new name, was instantly recognized in the folder contents, however, it did not have any tags. Searching the tags that I applied to the old test image showed a broken link to an image.

It looks like I can only justify using this program on image galleries that are already very well sorted and have the filenames exactly how I want them. Camera galleries, with rare subfolders for specific outings, appear to be the only way to consistently use this program. Trying to sort tons of images that have wildly different gibberish filenames, renaming them into something descriptive, and sorting and re-organizing them into destination folders is something that other programs seem more suitable for.

Maybe this wouldn't be the case if the tag/category system was tied to the images themselves, but I understand that there are technical reasons that make that unfeasible.

Is there anyone who uses XnView as their main image renaming, sorting, and tagging program from their bulk image downloads folder to their pictures folder? I'd *like* to use a specialized image manager, but the situations where this is the best tool seem limited to amateur photographers rather than general internet users.

User avatar
xnview
Author of XnView
Posts: 31143
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2003 7:31 am
Location: France
Contact:

Re: Using multiple programs to manage images

Post by xnview » Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:58 am

CenoZoic_Jurassic wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:09 pm
I did a test where I made a new folder and put a single image in it. I then applied several tags to this image. Using a different program, I renamed the image. Then, I swapped back to XnView to check on it. The new image, with the new name, was instantly recognized in the folder contents, however, it did not have any tags. Searching the tags that I applied to the old test image showed a broken link to an image.
XnView Classic us only a database to store tags, so if you rename outside the file, XnView can't update it.
XnView MP can add/edit tags in metadata of the file or use a sidecar, so tags are never lost
Pierre.

User avatar
CenoZoic_Jurassic
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:24 am

Re: Using multiple programs to manage images

Post by CenoZoic_Jurassic » Thu May 02, 2019 12:40 am

The thing is, I wanted a program that I could use to manage images from the point of download, all the way to finding more efficient ways to peruse them afterwards.
  1. Download
  2. Partial sorting folders
  3. More detailed sorting folders, where they're going to stay in the long term
  4. Possible later organization and renaming, if I decide I want to do that
XnView doesn't seem to be so great at the file management part of the image management. At least not for the parts where the file name would change dramatically over time, or where I'd need to rename files with a good amount of control.

I still want to use XnView, but the issue right now is that if I see a folder with 80-100-odd images in it, and suddenly want to rename half a dozen of them, I have to either do it manually inside the program, or try to use it's own image renaming system, which I'm finding not as good as other methods. I don't think this is a bad program, just that it wasn't able to live up to what I was looking for at the time.

It's probably just getting relegated to only being used with my image storage folders (as opposed to the downloading and sorting ones).

Does XnView use multiple cores when it's pulling thumbnails from the images?

Post Reply