Interested in a Standard for hierarchical organization?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by og, Dec 26, 2005.

  1. og


    I have been thinking about that for quite a while, and this year evolution of IPTC (from IIM v4.1 to IPTC Core 1.0) made me consider XMP as a good solution.
    I would like to provide a way to support the exchange of photos organizations between different persons and different softwares...
    Here is the idea:
    - You organize your photos into Hierarchical Categories (just like usual proprietary systems: iMatch, ACDSee, etc...)
    - ...but in addition to the internal DB, this organization is replicated real-time as metadata that goes along the image (in XMP, embedded or sidecar)
    - ...and this replication includes rules to manage IPTC data as well
    Some examples:
    A. Several specialized Photographers working for a Nature project: when centralizing/exchanging photos, their detailled classification travel along and is automatically integrated into the existing organization (be it per species or whatever...)
    B. An Agency "A" builds its own categories and ask Photographers to use it in order to populate its stock => they just have to import the hierarchy (starting with "Agency A"), and manage it in parallel to their own organization (they will also be able to check to which Agencies their photos are distributed).
    ...the same situations exist in any group, like a family and its members (centralized or decentralized), a university project, etc...
    Moreover, there are some technical advantages: exchangeability based on a standard, perenniality of classification (ie: not proprietary), data is archived with the file during backup, etc...
    I would like to get some support before submitting this idea to software authors or proposing the idea to IPTC and/or Adobe as a more elaborated standard.
    => would you be interested by such an open standard, that allows the exchange of organizational data (Hierarchical Categories) along photographs?
    (please provide your feedback, even if others gave a similar opinion, as more feedback will obviously provide more support)
    If you are a developer/author of a Browser/Viewer, Image Management, etc... software: what is your opinion about incorporating this idea into your own program.
    Thank you,
  2. Yes.

    I would like to use the flexible classification systems of ACDSee/IMatch/Photoshop but have all this categories/keywords data stored within the archives/transferred/... files in a standard manner.

    I would like to have a forest of category trees as well as several keyword lists (organizations, people, places, events...). I allready complained (twice) to the Fotostation forum that the IPTC headers are annoyingly limiting, but the obvious answer is: no better standard.

    So please. Suggest that improvement.
  3. og


    Ralf: thank you for your support.
    Others: please support or express your opinion.
    (I am right now trying to propose some Image Management system to the author of XnView, but it will obviously be difficult to support such an exchange standard if only Ralf and me are interested...)
  4. og


    I must have done something really wrong in the way I expressed my idea... as there has been little feedback :(<p>

    If you have any suggestion on how I should proceed, please advise... so that I could make a better try on other forums.<br>
    Thank you.
  5. Hello Olivier,
    I have read your post 3 times and I'm beginning to think to anderstand your proposal, not being an academic as such, but interested in usefull solutions. I suspect most creative minds keep an archiving system looking like Einstein's hair, or the creative desktop were only the owner finds anything in a jiffy. Your proposal sounds of interest to a person with a mind and duties of a librarien. Having said that, it's like the need of backing up files becoming more urgent after sufering a collossal loss of data.

    Then there is the anoing habit of certain programs to change exif data wen moving files.

    Seems I remember a story about two years back at the hight of the federal database histeria. Two or tree vital departements wanted to coordinate theire data and paid big bucks for it. well, after several years and $ overdrafts enlightenment showed it could not work with old divers data systems despite promises to the contrary. Its been dead silence since. Sooooo, I dont know what to tell you, but pakaging the idea in a way people can get the head around it may be a start.

    Best, Michel.
  6. Now that I've had time think about your suggestion, here's my thoughts:

    The need to make applications aware of each others metadata and supported metadata structures is actually a quite interesting challenge. You are not alone with your quest. Few others are interested too (the whole information technology industry, actually).

    You should probably study RDF, XML, HTTP, Unicode and such enabling technologies. You can, for example, read related very technical books and then, after you understand it all, write your suggestion to w3c and iptc and others. It's not going to be a light read.

    A few links that might be interesting:

    How about using some controlled vocabulary while waiting?
  7. You should probably not post that suggestion to IPTC. The "International press telecommunications council" is probably not interested in such a solution. Instead they work to solve the problems of photojournalism and news industry. I guess the last thing they would want would be multiple ways of categorizing things. I read somewhere that use of the "category" field would be deprecated and I have seen a list of standardized numerical codes somewhere describing the type of shot. I guess then, that IPTC would work for more automated processes for the news industry.

    The needs of event/product/portrait/arts photographers might differ from the needs of photojournalists. Hence, a different classification system might be usefull ("event type" included for event photographers, "organization/group type" for those doing group photography or documenting organizations, location fields better suited for out-of-city-shooting and so on...)

    Now who is going to standardize that? I guess it's not goint to be IPTC. We have already seen fields like "event", "rating" etc. introduced by Adobe and these new fields are not part of the IPTC standard, are they?

    Someone with "the mind of a librarian" would need to work out a comprehensive yet widely adaptable (and simple enough to be usable) categorizing system standard for those not doing photojornalism.

    I guess that if the XMP allows for easy customization and if a few new key fields would be added then we could have a good basis for a standard in the future.

    The questions I want to have answered are WHEN, WHERE, WHO, WHAT.

    Then "WHEN" part is simple. The EXIF shooting date and IPTC dates are enough - for me at least. The "WHERE" part is easy too. I just need a geographics location system (geographic area, geographic position) but there might be other positioning systems too, needed by someone, not covered by the present IPTC fields (country, state, city). "WHO" is a simple question too. Names of the individuals, names of the organizations/groups/companies/... but also types og groups and types of individuals (such as rock bands, soccer clubs...). The most difficult task to me would be to answer "WHAT?" Should one split it as product/portrait/landscape/event and what would be the complete, standardized vocabulary here, or should one use some other method.

    I guess that the best way to proceed would be to first develop an categorizing system (new metadata fields that the developers agree to implement, and standardized vocabularies) answering to those above mentioned needs. When it would/might become a de-facto standard for freelancers and hobbyists etc...

    Maybe Adobe could help us a bit? Do they have a "feature requests" forum? The proposal needs to be well thought out, anyway.

    In a previous life, I must have been a librarian :)
  8. Ok, and how do I correct my typos and remove that 4th last line?

    :) sorry for the mess - creative mind at work :)
  9. I must also add that if I would categorize (answering to "WHAT?") my fish photography as "big fish", "small fish", "tiny fish" etc. and someone else would use "saltwater fish", "freshwater fish" and so on, then I would just love to be able to share BOTH the images AND the categorizing systems, just like you originally suggested.

    I would then have a category tree "categories-fish by size-big/small/tiny" and another tree "imported categories-N.N-fish by habitat-saltwater/freshwater/..."

    - next associating a bit more -

    Thus one would have multiple category trees. This would be a "nested keywords" approach... Using keywords like these:


    could be used and split by the semicolons and presented graphically. This would ONLY need changes to the user interface/presentation of keywords (and not to metadata fields) making it a quickly implementable solution and it would also nicely integrate to existing systems without introducing unsolvable incompatibilities - unless one would want to include semicolons in the keywords... So, there would be some problems, but this solution - while maybe not fit as an international standard - would still improve the present situation a bit.
  10. I forgot to propose this menu: Edit > Keywords > Import keywords from media

    No need to export these categories/keywords. They would be included in the images themselves. The more images, the more complete the category tree...
  11. og


    "You should probably not post that suggestion to IPTC"
    Exactly. This is why I considered XMP directly rather than IPTC Core: flexible categorizing schemes is not what IPTC is mainly interested in...
    XMP is particularly appropriate because it was designed to handle that kind of situation: we can define many fields and manage them accordingly.
    My goal here is to propose a standard for storing/exchanging organizational structures... not to provide the hierarchical categories themselves: I believe there are as many good ways to organize information as there are individuals, groups, organizations, etc...
    Some ideas:
    - One can organize When, Where, Who, What into hierarchical structures as well (and if they want to). Be it per Year/Season... Continents/Countries/Area... etc...
    - Ratings can be considered as 1-10 categories under a 'Rating' group. Nothing prevents you to have several groups and types of ratings (be it on 10, 100, whatever).
    - You can organize Albums, Workflow, Status, Priority, Relationship, etc... in the same way.
    So each user would be able to organize things the way he wants.
    Complete organizational structures could be made available (import) in order to help people organize their photos (ex: Controlled Vocabulary structure, an organized list of species, geographical structure...). It would even be possible to consider non modifiable structures in order to establish organizational standards and be sure that they are maintained.
    It would be easy to have several parallel organizational structures because you can isolate them simply by their top level name (ex: "Controlled Vocabulary", etc...).

    Right. You may be interested by this one-year-old thread on XnView's forum.
    I consider XnView to be the best Browser/Viewer for photography - and even more important - to be the most promising one. I have been involved on its forum for quite a while now and will try to support such a hierarchical standard - although this may take some time, as it is not a high priority in the dev.
    Thanks Ralf and Michel: I think it's important to discuss this more before suggesting the idea to Adobe and co.
  12. Thanks! That was an interesting thread. You seem to have given this categorizing issue a lot of thought already.

    I would certainly benefit from the system you proposed. Go on and suggest it!

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