Adobe today released a public beta sneak-peek version of Lightroom 3. It's intended to show where Lightroom is going, and to allow us to play with it so that we can provide feedback about how we want it to get there.
It's a Beta
The beta release is not intended for real, heavy, day-to-day work.
This is “beta” in the pre-Google sense, where it really means that things are rough, lots of things aren't as smooth as they could be, and some things don't work at all. For example, the image-render pipeline has gotten a bunch of new stuff, but the focus for the beta is on image quality, and it has not yet been optimized for speed, so in important ways LR3B can be slower than LR2. It's been known to freeze while importing from some devices, and to crash at random times.
It's a Beta.
One of the big changes for LR3 is in how its database works under the hood... changes that will allow the final LR3 to have much better response, especially with large catalogs. But that brings us to a beta-esque negative side effect...
Plugins (in General)
Plugins for LR2 might work in LR3, but they might not.
Due to the aforementioned under-the-hood work, there's at least one change in the plugin infrastructure that is not backwards compatible to LR2 and LR1, so some plugins that work fine in LR1/LR2 will get run-time errors on LR3.
As for my many plugins, it turns out that my export plugins (for Flickr, SmugMug, Facebook, Zenfolio, Picasa Web, Photobucket, and Expono) ran into this, but it was an easy fix and I've already pushed new versions that seem to work.
I have not tested all my Lightroom goodies fully yet, and Adobe has not released any information about what's new and changed in the plugin infrastructure, so there are no guarantees. It's a Beta.
Lightroom 3's new “Publish” feature is an attempt to integrate more strongly the places that you share your photos into the center of your photo workflow (Lightroom). LR3B comes with a sample Publish plugin for Flickr.
Publish works like this: you set up your details of an online photo-hosting site (e.g. Flickr), then an entry for it appears in the Publish pane, looking a lot like a collection. From then on...
- when you add photos to that “publish collection”, they automatically get uploaded to the photo-hosting site.
- as any of those photos are changed (new metadata, new crop, etc.), they are automatically re-sent to the photo-hosting site.
- when you delete photos from the publish collection, they get deleted from the photo-hosting site. (Take note! Potential troublespot.)
There are a lot of details, of course. For example, Facebook doesn't allow third-party applications like a Lightroom plugin to update or delete images, so those features won't work at all. Flickr allows image updating (the middle bullet point above) only for paid “Pro” users.
But you get the idea.
The Publish Functionality is also “Beta” !
The sample Flickr plugin included with LR3B is much more advanced than the sample Flickr plugin that came with LR1.4's Plugin SDK — you can actually use this one — but it's still fairly basic in that it lacks almost all the nice tidbits that my Flickr plugin supports (including support for group pools, multiple sets, Twitter, export filters like LR2/Mogrify and Metadata Wrangler, tag-driven Flickr visibility, user-defined title/description specifications, etc.). It also doesn't support regular-export image uploads.
I've no documentation from Adobe yet about how to code for Publish, but I've figured out enough to get the cute little icons in there, and to support the most basic aspects of Publish. I think. At this point, my Publish plugins are pre-beta.
Because I haven't seen the docs yet, I don't really know what will be possible. Will Adobe continue to update/enhance their sample Flickr support? Will you be able to migrate photo-upload history from LR2 exports to LR3 Publish? Will you be able to migrate upload history from my Flickr plugin to Adobe's, or vice-versa? At this point I don't know.
I do know that you can use them side by side, which makes absolutely no sense in the real world, but perfect sense while testing. (Have I mentioned that LR3B is a beta release?) Adobe's sample Flickr plugin uses “” as its icon, so to differentiate mine, I use “”.
I expect that I'll be updating my plugins frequently, so be sure to watch the plugin's version-history page.
My Plugins and Registrations
I release most of my plugins as donationware. They can be used for free, forever, but become a bit less convenient after six weeks if you don't get around to registering them (which costs one cent, of which I get nothing). The “bit less convenient” part is to encourage registrations, and the registration part is to interject a onetime speed bump to your daily workflow to allow a moment to reflect on the plugin and its author (me), during which time you'll (hopefully) want to send a gift in thanks or encouragement.
(I spend a lot of time working on these, and think it's a nice thing to provide them for free the way I do, but wow, you would not believe the hate mail some people send, as if I were holding their firstborn ransom while eating puppies for breakfast. But I digress...)
Important points about registration of my plugins and LR3:
- Versions of my plugins from before I added LR3 awareness may or may not work under LR3, but if they do, you can certainly continue to use them as long as you like, in LR2, LR3, or beyond.
- If you upgrade to a new version during the LR3 beta period, they require no registration to be used in LR3B, but they eventually expire a year from now. (I don't know when the real LR3 will come out, but I guess it'll be before then.)
- When the real LR3 comes out, I expect new versions of my plugins to have a completely new registration system, and registrations done in LR2 (before, during, or after the LR3 beta period) will likely not carry over to the new versions, so if you upgrade to a new plugin version, they'll eventually require new registrations if you wish to avoid the “bit less convenient” thing.
This is all consistent with the fine print on my plugin-registration page. (I've learned throughout this endeavor that being clear and forthright is no protection against those with a strong sense of self-entitlement or a weak sense of paying attention, but do what I can.)
More on LR3B
More on the LR3 public beta:
- Official announcement from Adobe
- LR3B download page
- Melissa Gaul (Adobe employee / Lightroom team) Twitter feed
- Victoria Brampton's “What's New In Lightroom 3 beta”
- Evolving list of LR3B resources at Adobe
And remember: The beta release is not intended for real work. Really.