Photoshop Elements 3, Organizer... Digital Island

Like many others I am extreamily frustrated by Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 export features. The Organizer (only in Windows version) alows you to do some great management of collections of photos and of hierorical keywords. It starts out with multiple first level Keyword groups; People, Places and the like. Each of those top level keyword groups gets a unique icon. In each of those groups you can have more keyword groups or individual keywords. And these keywords can have thumbnails assigned to them. For example in my People master folder, which has a person icon, I have my imediate family as individual keywords; Wyatt, Daria, Gwendolyn and Lyle. I also have a hole bunch of sub folders; Geeks, Family - Troxell, Family - Sterlin, Family - Byrd, Wrights, UCSC, and many many more. Each of those folders has sub folders or indevidual keywords with thumbnails. So - now I can drag a person's keyword icon onto an image (or multiple) and assign the keyword to the photo. It is fantastic. Oh - and if I want to find all of the Photos of my son, I just click on the checkbox next to his keyword thumbnail... presto. And you can do that with any keyword or keyword group/folder. But there is a catch. After you get in the 12,000 photos and above range the application starts taking 30 seconds or more to assign a keyword to a photo. Being the Geek that I am I decided to try and get to the bottom of this.

I found that Photoshop Elements 3 uses an Access database file and ODBC to read and write to it. I don't think there is an easy way to make the app more efficent, but there might be one: you may be able to determin the ODBC name it is trying to use and hard code that to a better database... MS SQL for example. But this would probably be... well practically not possible. The route I went was "get far away from this app". But I want my data. So I opened up the Access file and tried to grock the relational structure. Big problem... I can find the groups and keywords and how the keywords are assigned to the groups/folders... all of that has fairly understandable relationships. The problem is that there are no references to the acutual photos. Well there are some, but none that map to any of the keywords. I think the app does something special with this album file that acces does not get... or I don't know access well enough to pull the data out.

Status: I can get the keyword structure from Access. I just need to do some exports and the throw it into a better database (open source). And I can have Photoshop Elements 3 Organizer write the keywords to any jpegs I have. (it can write exif data to jpgs, psds and tiffs). And then all I have to do is write a perl script, or some such, that will read in the exif and find the keywords in the hierctical keyword structure... I'm thinking a RubyOnRails app for viewing and such. But here is the rub. I have about 10,000 photos in Elements Organizer that are in RAW format, specifically Nicon Raw (NEF). PSE 3 Organizer can not write to NEF and will not even use the new Adobe RAW converter to go to NEG files. So the work around that I am planning: export all of my RAW files at JPEG. And do the grab thing I had planned. So.. that is my goal. I'll post my progress.... oh and my long time goal is to have all of my photos online as small files (max 800x800) and an easy way to add meta info to them and to get the RAW file. Yeah, that should be a breeze.