Photo management is a task of great importance for the desktop user. We GNOME users are once again lucky enough to have a great variety of applications that can do the job easy and effectively. On this article we will compare two of the most popular photo management applications for the GNOME desktop environment.
Shotwell is an image organizer designed to provide personal photo management for the GNOME desktop environment. In 2010 it replaced F-Spot as the standard image tool for several GNOME-based major Linux distributions like Fedora and Ubuntu. Shotwell’s power is its simplicity, ease of use and speed.
F-Spot was designed to provide personal photo management for the GNOME desktop. The interface is very simple to use, yet still supports advanced features to cover more specialized needs. The latest version dates 18 months ago showing an uncertain development situation, but it still is a great tool to manage your photos.
The first thing that a photo management application must offer is a clear and ergonomic way to organize your photos. Both are doing well using a different approach.
After importing your photographs, Shotwell arranges them automatically using their creation date data. You can choose the year, month and day in a tree structure on the left panel and see the respective photographs on the main screen. Very plain and easy to use.
F-Spot is also using creation date to organize your photos, but it features a different tool to browse them. There is a top date-panel that shows how many photographs are in every month of the year in a bar graph form. This way can be more helpful for some users as you can more easily spot something that you know is included in a large album etc, but it can be confusing to others.
You can also set tags that reflect certain people of places a more personalized organization.
While organizing, reviewing and searching for photographs, it is very important to be able to have some basic editing tools within the application itself for some fast and simple editing.
Shotwell can rotate, crop, straighten, remove red-eye, adjust colors, saturation, shadows, exposure, tint and temperature, and finally enhance your photographs. The auto enhance option is very useful as it will attempt to guess appropriate levels for the image and for the pictures that I tried it, it works great.
F-Spot editing tools are easy to use but not all of them work as expected. For example the red-eye reduction tool did nothing for me while in Shotwell I did the job with one click. The soft-focus tool didn’t work for the selected area quite well either. Apart from these, there is also the ability to crop images, desaturate, sepia tone, straighten, auto color (that worked quite well) and color adjustment with more options that in Shotwell.
Uploading your Photos
Every modern photo management application must offer a straight forward way to upload your photographs to various image hosting services on the internet. Both Shotwell and F-Spot seem to get that pretty well.
Shotwell offers mainstream uploading options like Facebook and Picasa Web Albums. The thing that I didn’t like is the absence of an “add more plug-ins” button that would allow for the easier expansion of Shotwell, and the ability to upload to more services than those offered by default.
F-spot goes a step further on this sector, allowing users to export images to more on-line services than Shotwell, while at the same time offering some very handy local options like export to CD (that means burn it). To enrich the on-line integration, F-Spot offers the ability to set a cloud repository that it can be synchronized with. While there isn’t a button that will send you to an on-line repo with more plug-ins, at least here you will find an “install from local folder” button.
Both applications are simple and relatively powerful. My heart says F-Spot because of the more options that it offers, but my mind says Shotwell because of the efficiency and stability (F-Spot crashed twice while testing). Whatever the choice, it is sad to see a very useful application like F-Spot being in development freeze – as it seems.
Shotwell is doing the job just fine and it certainly is a worthy replacer for F-Spot, but it still lacks some “details” found on F-Spot, that I am sure that soon will be available.