iView Multimedia has announced v3.0 of MediaPro, a new version of the company's flagship image cataloger for Mac and Windows. The upcoming release beefs up the program's image import, image assessment and captioning features, improves web gallery generation, rolls in support for additional multimedia and text file formats and adds a progress indicator for certain operations.
What's New in MediaPro 3.0
Improved captioning Captioning (Annotations in MediaPro-speak) in the program has seen a fair bit of attention: reading and writing of text metadata now adheres to IPTC/XMP Core and UNICODE specs, entry of keywords and similar types of metadata can now be done via a user-defined controlled vocabulary, parent/child keywording relationships can be established for easier entry of multiple keywords and the names next to IPTC fields in the MediaPro interface can be customized (to change Author to Photographer, for example). In addition, it's now possible to choose which text fields will be shown.
Rename on import The card/camera import function now offers renaming, with the option to use photo metadata as part of the file name. A mini-browser displays the files on the card and enables either the entire card or a subset of files to be transferred, if desired. Captioning templates can be used, though it appears to be necessary to create the templates manually from outside the program. Several template formats are supported, include Adobe's. There is also a rudimentary destination folder-naming feature.
Snazzier web galleries Web galleries are no longer limited to table-based layouts, and Cascading Style Sheets are now supported. Galleries can be uploaded via FTP directly from the gallery maker.
The Lightbox Headlining what's new in v3.0 is the Lightbox, an image preview mode that enables up to 4 photos to be displayed simultaneously. Each photo in the lightbox view can be zoomed and scrolled separately or together, and the display of a histogram, simple toolbar and a magnifier can be toggled on/off with single-key keyboard shortcuts. The QuickTime movie below shows the Lightbox in action.
Getting to Know the Lightbox
This QuickTime movie covers the basic features of MediaPro 3.0's Lightbox, including the scrolling and zooming of four pictures simultaneously or separately, a histogram overlay, magnifier, rotation buttons, image ranking and urgency label popup menus. Almost all Lightbox functions are controlled via single-key shortcuts. (Photos by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)
Progress indicators The program now displays a progress bar when cataloging, making it possible to determine when the cataloging process is likely to conclude. The progress indicator portion of the interface automatically appears during other operations also, including image import.
Other changes include improved contact sheet generation, image watermarking, the ability to email pictures directly from within the program, XML import/export, enhanced printing, multi-term searches based on the search options available in the Organize tab, support for WMA, WMV, archived web pages, RTF and Microsoft Word formats and more.
The changes in MediaPro 3.0, while reasonably significant, address almost none of what we've wanted to see revamped in the image cataloger we use most here. In running a private beta copy of v.3.0 for the last several days, it's apparent that how we use MediaPro will be mostly unchanged by the new release (though the Lightbox and improved web gallery builder will see some action).
Topping our list of what MediaPro needs is dramatically improved search speed, especially when doing multi-field searches on medium-size catalogs, or practically any search that includes the caption field. We'd also like to be able to generate largish previews, in addition to thumbnails, at the time of cataloging, plus save search queries as clickable entries somewhere in the Organize tab. We also want catalogs to auto-save during extended import sessions. And, it's time for the program to include a dedicated preference for the size of thumbnail generated during cataloging, as opposed to having the size of thumbnail displayed at the time of cataloging be the size that's generated.
This is a small taste of what we've communicated to iView Multimedia in the past, as well as more recently, about where we hope MediaPro is headed. We've restricted the list of wants in the preceding paragraph to features found in the client version of Extensis Portfolio 7, and in fact we use both apps here in parallel. Portfolio is an intensely frustrating and buggy program to use at times, and its RAW format support is updated too infrequently, such that we don't prefer it to MediaPro overall. But for larger collections of pictures it simply scales better than MediaPro (Portfolio search speed is blazing while its Smart Galleries are way-cool). Version 3.0 of MediaPro, as announced today, won't do anything to compete more effectively with Portfolio 7 (or the upcoming Portfolio 8) in this regard. MediaPro will continue to be perhaps the best-available cataloging application for the individual photographer, but it also needs a shift in development focus away from adding more browser-like features and back to its core strength, which is image cataloging.
MediaPro v3.0 for Windows and Mac is slated to ship November 1, 2005 for US$199 direct from iView Multimedia (it will also be available from the company's network of retailers), and is a free upgrade for those who purchased v2.6.4 of the application on or after October 1, 2005. Upgrade pricing is planned for earlier purchasers, though no details have been announced.