Friday, 3 September 2010

Shotwell replaces F-Spot in Ubuntu

Shotwell, the GNOME application developed in Vala and SQLite, is the default photo manager application in Ubuntu 10.10(Maverick) replacing F-Spot. It is also the default photo manager in Fedora 13 (Goddard). F-spot is the second Mono based application after Tomboy(replaced by Gnote) which is removed from the "default application" status in popular distributions. Shotwell is licensed under GNU GPL v2.1

Shotwell is still in early stages of the development, but it has proved to be a stable application to import, manage and edit(with limited capabilities) on GNU/Linux desktop. The current version of Shotwell is 0.7 and Fedora 13 ships with version 0.5. Here are some of the key features of Shotwell-0.7:

  • Import photos from digital cameras supported by gPhoto or from a disk or from F-spot
  • Supports JPEG, PNG and Raw formats.
  • Automatically organise photos based on events and collections.
  • Organise photos using tags and titles. A photo can have multiple tags. The tags will be included in the metadata when you export the photo.
  • Publish photos to Facebook, Flickr and Google Picasa
  • Rate the photos
  • Photo editing - crop, rotate, auto-enhance, red-eye correction, colour adjustments, etc..
  • Edit the photos which are not imported to shotwell.
  • Allows the user to set the photo as the desktop background and slideshows
  • Automatically detect missing photos
  • The original photos are stored in ~/Pictures
Shotwell seems to be fit for all the basic photo management tasks. However, there are some minor disadvantages which I noticed in version 0.5. The tags are case-sensitive and each time the user have to remember the exact case and spelling of the tags used earlier. An autocomplete feature which will solve this issue partially is already in the trunk. A feature request for case insensitivity is also reported in the bug tracking system.

The Shotwell team has published a short, but comprehensive user guide for end-users, which can be accessed here. Shotwell packages are available for Fedora, Ubuntu and OpenSuse. It has also a Microsoft Windows version with limited features.

Note on editing features:
Shotwell doesn't write the edits(crop, rotate, auto-enhance) to the image file. Instead it records the changes in a database and apply them on the fly when the image is viewed. This will make sure that the original image file is not tampered even if you do something wrong while editing. You can always get a modified version of the photo by exporting it. The RAW editing features are also limited in Shotwell. This may improve in the course of development.

References:
  1. Ubuntu Release Notes: http://www.ubuntu.com/testing/maverick/beta#New%20features%20in%20Maverick
  2. Fedora release notes: http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/Fedora/13/html/Release_Notes/sect-Release_Notes-Changes_in_Fedora_for_Desktop_Users.html#sect-Release_Notes-Fedora_Desktop
  3. Shotwell Wiki: http://trac.yorba.org/wiki/Shotwell
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