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The End of Aperture, An Essay

Views on Apple’s decision to end development of it’s photo management application Aperture range from sad to furious. I’m with team furious. The end of Apple’s Aperture is a punch to the gut for photography professionals and enthusiasts alike. Apple has once again shown that it can’t be trusted with our professional work because it can’t commit, longterm, to providing for our needs. Prior to this recent news, Apple radically changed Final Cut Pro, it’s video editing software, and stripped important professional features without (seemingly) consulting the industry; at that point things didn’t bode well for Apple and Final Cut Pro. Apple saw professional Final Cut Pro users abandon the software in droves. Clearly this was a sign of things to come.

Apple has created a situation were professional users may be forced to end their relationship with Apple, for good, and for good reason. In the end this abrupt change is jarring for professionals; it disrupts workflow when Apple decides to make such radical changes to is product lines. Professionals and enthusiasts don’t like to be told what they can and cannot have as Apple has done with the discontinuation of Aperture. I understand Apple’s philosophy, they jettison old technology for the “cutting edge”, I get that, however this behavior throws a segment of an industry under the bus. Apple’s modus operandi, is to never stagnate in a technology, to always move forward at any cost. They are like a force, like evolution, it stops for nothing. Thus, Apple has a segment of a community upset with it for such a broad move. Apple cannot continue to do this to the professional market, it ultimately won’t be tolerated. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice… – I think you get the point.

The replacement, Adobe Lightroom is no replacement at all, it’s a dull hack of an application that feels like a mishmash of other applications. Don’t get me wrong, Adobe’s Lightroom is a very capable application, but it’s no Aperture. Aperture has an elegance that Lightroom simply can’t touch, but should strive for. Few could match Aperture in it’s ‘ease of use’ and organizational prowess. Lightroom on the other hand feels clunky in ‘ease of use’, skeletal at best in its organizational powers, especially in the area of file management. Adobe was unwise not to create a “library system” as Apple did for Aperture. This “library system” allowed for zero user worries when managing their file placement and versions of images. Apple’s “library system” is a single self-contained file that is managed by Aperture. Whereas Lightroom uses direct drive organization (no different than File Explorer on Windows or the Finder on the Mac) with versioning, which is an “easy way out” strategy of implementations. In other words, Apple created a robust file management “system” and Adobe just attached a file manager module to it’s application. Not to mention, Adobe’s subscription model is not for everyone. Honestly, who wants another monthly bill, especially for software? Though, thankfully Lightroom can be purchased as a standalone program. The same cannot be said for Adobe’s award winning image editing application Photoshop, it will set you back $9.99 a month plus tax, which does include access to Lightroom.

The coming ‘Photos’ application for Mac OS X Yosemite (Apple’s next operating system version coming this fall) had better be the best photos application on the face of the planet. To end both the consumer grade iPhoto application and professional grade Aperture at the same time speaks volumes about what is to come, or does it? Technically, a mixture of the best features of both applications should make their way into the new Photos application; this should make for a very robust and feature rich program and workflow. And yet it has big shoes to fill for photography professionals and enthusiasts. However there is limited evidence (so far) that Photos will be an application for the aforementioned audiences. In fact, there have been initial reports that Apple is working with Adobe to create a transition path for Aperture users to move to Lightroom. Such a move means that Photos will not be for professionals but perhaps passable for enthusiasts and targeted to consumers.

To sum up, the demise of Aperture is the end of a great photographic tool for photography enthusiasts and professionals on the Mac. It feels like the end of an era. What is to come is no guarantee to be a useful professional tool, on the contrary, it seems it may be for the average consumer. Apple will not be able to continue this bait and switch type tactic with the photography professional and enthusiast market any longer. Apple has become a well known brand, and with greater brand recognition comes greater responsibility to its’ followers. In this respect, Apple is not being a good brand. In the end Apple isn’t being consistent with giving us what we need to do what we love as professionals and enthusiasts.

Aperture of things to come.

As reported by MacRumors.com Apple is to offer “Image Search, Editing, Effects and Plugings” to the upcoming ‘Photos’ application.

This is welcome news but what they didn’t mention was backward compatibility with current plugins for Aperture. This I’m sure would be critical for any photography professional or enthusiast and the developers of the plugins for Aperture. That is if the current publishers of plugins for Aperture continue to develop for the Photos application at all. Perhaps they might abandon the Mac altogether, there’s no telling at this point.

As this entire situation is a mess, for those using Aperture, I’m sure a big issue will be plugin compatibility on Mac OS X Yosemite once it’s released this fall. The developers are stuck having to temporarily support their products for a version of Aperture that is to be discontinued. The main question is, will Apple make the Photos application plugin framework function with older plugins? Will Apple make it easy for current publishers to move their plugins to Photos? One would assume they would, but you know what they say about assuming.