Annotation Copier Beta Testers

Annotation Copier is the tentative name for this application that I’m now ready to seed to a select group of beta testers. Currently, the app transfers annotations from iView to Aperture. A future version of the program will allow you to go the other way, Aperture to iView.

The target user for this application is the photographer who wants to use both iView and Aperture in their digital photography workflow without having to perform double-entry of metadata.

The user interface has been greatly refined since that ugly initial version I wrote a few days ago. Specify the direction in which you want to copy annotations, choose an iView catalog, check off some preferences, and click Copy Annotations.

  • Overwrite existing annotations: Annotation Copier will overwrite any annotation in Aperture with the corresponding annotation in iView.
  • Skip empty fields: If a field is empty in iView, don’t copy the annotation over to Aperture. This means fields you add in Aperture but not iView will remain the same.
  • Confirm changes: Before running, the application will ask you if you want to perform the operation. This is useful if you change your mind since you can’t undo the process.

Here are some interesting tidbits that I came across during the development of this app:

  • Annotation Copier matches media items in iView with image versions in Aperture with the same filename and version name respectively. It’s too bad that Aperture doesn’t expose a file name property for an image version, because that would be the ideal way to keep track of a file between the two applications. For instance, if you change the name of an image version in Aperture from “original_filename – Version 1” to “my new photo”, Annotation Copier won’t be able to transfer annotations back and worth.
  • Aperture handles two types of keywords, IPTC and its own flavor. For the time being, Annotation Copier transfers iView keywords only to IPTC keywords in Aperture. It appears that Aperture writers to both their own keywords fields and to IPTC fields. If you update the IPTC fields using AppleScript, however, the Aperture-specific keyword fields are not automatically updated.
  • You can copy an image from one project into an album of another project without it appearing in the album’s project. Furthermore, if you place one image version into multiple albums, there doesn’t appear to be a way in AppleScript to detect that the album image is the same image that you annotated one level up. A workaround that I came up with involves creating a custom tag with a unique identifier for each annotation session. If an image has already been annotated, we skip it, greatly speeding up the process.

Here are some screenshots of the application in action. If you are interested in beta testing this product, please leave a comment in the form below with some details about yourself and your current iView/Aperture workflow. There will be a closed beta of about five to ten photographers before I open up the application to the rest of the photography community. Thanks!

Annotation Copier

13 thoughts on “Annotation Copier Beta Testers

  1. I’d love to give this a whirl. I’m curious, though – how exactly does this handle the Aperture database vs. iView? When you add new photos to Aperture or iView are they picked up in the other application some how?

    This is the key thing that has prevented me from diving 100% into Aperture, as I still need to use iView for a bunch of things and really want to avoid the file duplication issue that Aperture forces now.

  2. Annotation Copier currently does not handle syncing between the two applications. You will still have to manually import items from iView to Aperture and back. If you don’t change the filename, you should be able to transfer metadata back and forth without a problem. I don’t think I’d want to keep one album in iView synced with another album in Aperture. The differences in organizing selects and stacks makes this a difficult problem, I feel.

    Last point is files are going to be duplicated no matter what, since Aperture copies the originals into the library package. Think of it as having a good second backup of your files!

  3. rob

    so will this be open source? the community at large also needs a photoshop sidecar XMP -> aperture converter… did you reverse engineer the aperture formats or did apple publish this stuff?

  4. I wrote an extensive german review of Aperture in my blog:

    and I formerly used iView. I’d be interested

  5. Carsten Hoever


    I’d really love to test Annotation Copier. I have around 23,000 pictures in different iView catalogs that I would like to import into Aperture with the right metadata. I have spend a lot of time this summer to “metadata” my pictures with iView and though I really like what I’ve seen so far from Aperture, i simply do not want to add every piece of metadata again.

  6. Hey, Adam — I imported the images you sent me into iView, and the People fields were all only populated with one entry of comma-delimited entries. So for example, instead of two People entries with “Eric Cheng” and “Adam Tow”, there was only one entry with “Eric Cheng, Adam Tow”.

  7. I’ve been an extensive user of iView for several years and, thus far, find the two apps different enough to each hold their own. Combining the two seems fairly ideal, so definitely chalk me up as a beta-tester if you still need some.

    – Aaron

  8. Eric – Yes, this is one bug or limitation in Aperture. When you import IPTC fields that can hold multiple items such as Keywords, Supplemental Categories (Categories in iView or Contacts (People), Aperture flattens the structure into comma-delimited values. Adding in returns or tabs between the items in Aperture doesn’t help either. Hopefully this is something that Apple will fix in the future.

  9. Eric – I discovered the root of the flattened fields problem:

  10. Julian Fricker

    I’d be very interested in trying out your app.
    I’m involved with event photography and have an iview catalogue with around 5,000 images I want to bring across to aperture.
    These images are useless to me without the metadata.

    I also write software, including some applescript, so I might even be able to help out with any problems.

  11. J'nie Woosley


    Sounds wonderful. Chuck me into the pile of testers. I am already using iView and am waiting not so paitently on getting my copy of Aperture. Would love to see what your program does that will reduce the work in getting annotations move over.

    I am currently working with over 200,000 digital images so this is no small task to transfer annotations for me.

  12. Chris Nicholson

    I would love to try it. My iView annotations are fairly light. I mainly use number labels to rank my shots (1 button being better than 9 button) and assigning keywords/people/location. Would be great if there was the ability to map iView “labels” into Aperture “Stars” in a flexible way (because different people prob have different ideas of the correct mapping).

    Also, on a (largely) unrelated note, does anyone know how to get around the “No Network Vaults” rule? I have a big NAS box connected to my G5 Quad and would love to backup to a networked Vault. Weird that this is not allowed. Perhaps it’s a paternalistic reminder that networks are (generally) slower than FireWire– but I am getting 100+MB/second over link-aggregated GigE, so this is not an issue. ;-)

  13. I haven’t yet done a mapping of iView 2.6.4 labels to Aperture ratings. In iView 3, there is a rating system which should eventually transfer over in the final version of Annoture. I’ll see what I can do for labels in the previous version. I am all over the place with the numbered/colored labels – Red sometimes means good or bad?

    Haven’t done much investigating on networked vaults. Right now, my Library is on my computer’s hard drive. Annoture will let you select another Library location, though.

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