Adobe has just released Version 1.3 of its Lightroom photo-workflow software, two months after releasing Version 1.2. You can download the new version from Adobe's Lightroom Page, or use these direct links: Mac · Windows.
- Better OSX Leopard support
- Bug fixes
- Support for a few new cameras:Nikon D3 & D300
Canon 1Ds Mark III & PowerShot G9
Olympus E-3 & SP-560
- Added support for Fuji compressed RAF files and Canon sRAW files
- You can now render 1:1 previews during import (yeah!)
- New functionality for repairing corrupt catalogs
However, the big news for many will be support for export plugins.
Lightroom has always allowed you to “export” images to your local disk, creating new versions of your images (for example, reduced-size thumbnails for a blog). With export-plugin support, third-party developers can create plugins that do things with the generated images, such as upload them to a photo-sharing site.
For example, let's imagine that some brilliantly-genius (but incredibly-humble) programmer creates plugins to export and upload images to, oh, the Zenfolio and SmugMug photo-sharing sites, and you install those plugins on your Lightroom computer. When you bring up Lightroom's export dialog, you can then choose from among three options:
Lightroom 1.3 does not come with any plugins installed, so until you obtain and install a plugin (or write one yourself), your export dialog will have only the “Export Files to Disk” option.
To enable third-party developers to write plugins, Adobe has also just put out a “Lightroom Export SDK preview release” (get it here). “SDK” stands for Software Development Kit, and is a package of code and documentation to help programmers create export plugins.
The SDK is helpful to create plugins, but is not required to use plugins, so the SDK itself is not something that most Lightroom users would be interested in. However...
Export Plugin for Flickr
The SDK zip file also contains a sample “Export to Flickr” plugin, allowing users of Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing site to easily send their images to their Flickr accounts.
If you're a Flickr user, you'll probably want to get the SDK zip just for the Flickr export plugin.
Adobe, Lightroom, and Me
I've been an enthusiastic user of Lightroom for a long time, and a volunteer tester of development releases since last December. I've written about Lightroom enough over the years that I have a whole category dedicated to Lightroom posts on my blog.
However, during this 1.2 → 1.3 cycle, I upgraded to consultant, doing some paid work on testing and debugging the export-plugin support.
Since I got to know the export-plugin programming interface fairly well, I put that to use and created export plugins for two photo-hosting sites popular with those looking for something a bit more polished than Flickr: Zenfolio and SmugMug.
Export Plugins for SmugMug and Zenfolio
First, here are links to the per-plugin pages, from which you can download them:
- Lightroom Export Plugin for SmugMug
- Lightroom Export Plugin for Zenfolio
- Lightroom Export Plugin for Flickr ← added after this post was originally written
- Lightroom Export Plugin for Picasa Web ← added after this post was originally written
Installing a plugin involves unzipping a folder to a specific location on your machine, and the links above will have details once I'm allowed to provide the plugins.
You can install the plugin without having an account at the related service, but it won't let you do much until you get an account and log in via the plugin.
I do not really use any photo-sharing site, but I have liked the polished look of these two services whenever I have come across them in viewing others' photos, which is why I chose them. If you don't already use one for your photos, I suggest taking advantage of their free trials to see how you like them. I think both are excellent, yet they're quite different in their vibe, so try them both to see which one fits your style.
Since I created both plugins, and they both do pretty much the same thing (upload to a photo-hosting site), they look almost identical. The first time you select one, you're prompted for your login credentials:
(Update: since first writing this post, I've added Flickr and Picasa Web plugins...)
There's a lot more to these export dialogs, but most of it is disabled until you are authenticated to the photo-hosting service.
Once you log in, the export dialog then looks something like this:
Several of the sections (“File Naming,” “File Settings,” and “Metadata”) are the same as the standard Lightroom export dialog, so to save space, I have those sections closed in the view presented above.
Once you log in, you're presented with buttons that bring you to your page at the photo-hosting service, and to log out.
Once I log in, I generally leave that section closed. Your username/password are saved in the Lightroom database, so be sure to [Logout] if you don't want them to be saved there.
The “image Settings” section of the dialog is the standard Lightroom one, except that the “resolution” option is removed, since that makes little sense in this context.
The top of this section indicates what gallery the images should be uploaded to.
As a convenience, the plugin also provides a way to create galleries on the fly. After creating a gallery, it automatically becomes the default destination.
The upload-management section offers a number of options related to the upload...
Both plugins offer the “Visit destination gallery after upload” option, which brings up the destination gallery in your browser after an upload.
Both also offer the ability to automatically delete previously-uploaded versions of the same Lightroom photo (at least, those that had been uploaded with this plugin). Enable this option to affect a “replace” operation. However, if you're uploading several different copies of the same image (such as different sizes, or with different develop settings), leave this option off so that new ones won't delete the old ones.
The two collection-related options are available only for the Zenfolio plugin because SmugMug does not have a collection-like functionality. These options allow you to keep a collection of all images you've exported from Lightroom, as well as a “most recent export” collection. I'm not sure how useful these will be in practice, but they were easy enough to add, so I did.
“Export Plugin Info”
This section offers basic info about the plugin: its version, a link to its home page, and a version-check option...
I expect a fair amount of version churn early on for a number of reasons...
- They have not yet been widely tested yet, since the Lightroom pre-release community is fairly small.
- They were written by someone who does not use any online photo-hosting service, so perhaps the guesses as to what would be useful and/or convenient are off the mark.
- These plugins are my first foray into Lua, a programming language that seems to me to be designed explicitly to create error-prone code, and I'm sure I've lived up to its full potential in that regard.
This section also contains a note about what metadata is sent with each picture over and above what might be included within the exported image itself. For SmugMug, that list is Caption, Keywords, and GPS Location/Altitude.
Both SmugMug and Zenfolio convert non-sRGB images into sRGB for display, but it's probably best to export them as sRGB directly unless you have a specific reason for doing otherwise. Thus, if the color-space setting is not sRGB, a warning shows up in the upload-destination section:
Clicking on the [more info] button brings up a dialog in which you can turn off the warnings...
The [visit here] button takes you to my writeup on Digital-Image Color Spaces.
The Lightroom plugin support is just getting started, and is nowhere at all near the breadth and sophistication of Photoshop's, but it's a good start and I'm sure we'll see it expand greatly as new versions of Lightroom are released over the next few years.