Rest in Peace, Rob Cole
A Pretty Picture a kusaridoi at the Eigenji Temple (永源寺), in Shiga Japan -- Eigenji Temple (永源寺) -- Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
A Pretty Picture
a kusaridoi at the Eigenji Temple (永源寺), in Shiga Japan

Rob Cole used to be one of the more prolific engineers creating plugins for Adobe Lightroom, until two years ago when he seemed to have fallen off the face of the Internet. His web site vanished, taking with it his valuable trove of solutions for photographers, and at the same time, his active participation in online forums stopped.

For the past two years no one in this facet of his life knew what had happened, but I've finally learned today that Rob passed away unexpectedly in January 2015.

This situation brings to mind On the Permanence of One’s Online (and Offline) Presence from seven years ago, but in this case the online presence disappeared at the same time he did. Judging by the various messages from his users that I've received since Rob disappeared, I know his work had helped a lot of people. For what it's worth, I've reached out to his family to see whether they'd like to find a way to make it available again, if they even have access to it.

Anyway, since his disappearance was so unsettling, I'm posting this to provide some closure to those that knew him online. Rest in peace, Rob, and condolences to your family.

All 19 comments so far, oldest first...

Rest in Peace Rob. Thank you for confirming what I (and others) had concluded. Rob Cole was always gracious and very helpful (as are you). Rob’s ‘Otto Toner’ plug-in is testament to his approach to helping users extend LR’s capabilities. It sits waiting to meet a revived requirement to auto-tone the cropped images content e.g. scans which have borders irrelevant to quick exposure adjustment.

London UK

— comment by Frank Elston on January 18th, 2017 at 10:03pm JST (6 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for posting, Jeff. Rob and I shared a lot of emails way back when he was developing his framework for plugins. Have you considered reviving any of his work? I can’t find it (because his site is now gone) but I recall his license was wide open – use it and derive from it all you want.

I have his last version of the ExifMeta plugin and it’d be nice to polish it up.

Boston, USA

— comment by David Burns on January 19th, 2017 at 3:07am JST (6 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

We miss him. Hope, he died peacefully.

Königswinter, Germany

— comment by Eckhard Henkel on January 19th, 2017 at 3:45pm JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I read in a post on the Adobe Lightroom help forums some months ago that he was killed in a boating accident in 2015. I’d also been wondering what had happened to him, as I only came to LR plugin development in the past year and found numerous links to resources he’d created which were all broken. I’d suspected he’d passed away. Shortly after I saw the post, it seemed a moderator had removed it (perhaps as an unsubstantiated rumor, I don”t know). Anyway, it is sad that he’s gone and his work, too.

If (some of his) work really was released with an unrestrictive license and people still have the latest versions of his framework, etc, maybe someone could put it on Github and we could work to build and extend it. That would be a good place for it, since Github is less likely to fall off the face of the earth than an individual’s website and it provides a great platform for collaborative work.

— comment by Lowell Montgomery on January 20th, 2017 at 1:16am JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks much for posting this. Rob was a great contributor to the Lightroom community, and he has been missed greatly these past two years.

— comment by John R. Ellis on January 20th, 2017 at 3:49am JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Rest in Peace Rob!
It makes me very sad to read this post. The last two years I always hoped Rob will return like a phoenix and go on with his great work.
I used and still use a lot of his very useful plugins – to name just a few: ExifMeta, FolderCollection, FileRenamer or the Scripts interface. All these great plugins helped me to solve problems with LR that I could not solve otherwise. I am still very thankful for Rob’s great work.
I am lucky that I had the chance to exchange a few e-mails with Rob and followed a lot of this discussions on the LR forum.
Goodbye Rob, we will remember you!

— comment by Thorsten Geisbe on January 20th, 2017 at 8:56am JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

@Jeffrey, fyi: I took myself the freedom to link to this page at Adobe’s LR SDK forum. I hope this was in your sense.

— comment by Eckhard Henkel on January 20th, 2017 at 9:06am JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I support your efforts took reach out took his family to resurrect his work. It may be a long haul
, as I’ve seen others & myself try it. But it’s worth it for worthwhile work.

— comment by Wei Chong on January 20th, 2017 at 11:33am JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Rob’s website with his shared code and general Lightroom plug-in experiences & tips have been invaluable in the development of the plug-ins I’ve produced. Very sad news. Thanks for everything you did for the community, Rob.

— comment by Rob J (NPP) on January 20th, 2017 at 11:17pm JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for closing this mystery. He will definitely be missed. I have a bunch of the plugins downloaded if anybody wants to host a central repository.

— comment by Bryn Forbes on February 5th, 2017 at 10:41pm JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Hi, Bryn. I was about to upload one of Rob’s plugins to GitHub. If you want to message me, I’d be happy to take what you have and add it to the mix. I’m dave at dave burns photo dot com (no spaces of course).


— comment by David Burns on February 7th, 2017 at 10:30pm JST (6 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Rest in peace Rob.

Finally I now know what has happened to Rob, it is sad to read.

I have been using Rob’s great plugins for years and there where very good, especially his ISO Detailer plugin. I have been looking for new download resources for months, after a new Windows and Lightroom install I lost the master files.
Would love to see a re-make of his great work.

— comment by Harald on April 13th, 2017 at 4:11am JST (6 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I wasn’t aware of this post until now. As part of an effort to resurrect his tools, I opened a GitHub organization over, coincidentally shortly before this post was published.

For anyone interested in collecting his work, feel free to collaborate there.

— comment by Kolen on November 15th, 2017 at 2:26pm JST (5 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Kolen, a couple of others have also captured some Rob’s plugins, and they may have more recent versions than you:

Perhaps you could contact them via the LR forum and merge your efforts.

— comment by John R. Ellis on November 15th, 2017 at 2:47pm JST (5 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Finally. At leasts the news is confirmed. Too sad. Rest in peace Rob. – sorry it is a bit late.

I am long time user of Rob’s TreeSync Publisher plug, and it helps me A LOT. I downloaded from the original website years ago, and then somehow the website vanished, and people were asking where did Rob go? Hope nothing bad happened with him…

Anyway if anyone want to continue to develop the treesync publisher, you are welcome contacting me and perhaps I can send out the package (v11). Currently it is all right although some minor bugs, but it is handy in my work flow.


— comment by Leon C on February 25th, 2018 at 12:44pm JST (5 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I didn’t know this. Sad news. Rob had an influence on me getting my job done with apps and photos. Thank you Rob, rest in peace.

— comment by Anssi Kumpula on March 15th, 2018 at 7:07pm JST (5 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I’m like Leon. Regular user of rc Treesync and just sent it on to Dave Burns for Github. I’ve gotten used to the way it works but worried it’ll break with a new version of LR like rc_File Renamer did with LR7. Has anyone else switched from Rob’s plugin to Jeffrey’s using Mirror collections? Any tips/warnings. Debating how to publish my 2018 collections to HD…

— comment by Seb on June 9th, 2018 at 12:27pm JST (5 years ago) comment permalink

Hi, all. I’m still trying to get TreeSync from Seb but in the meantime, I have just pushed 4 more Rob Cole plugins to GitHub: KeywordConsolidator, OddJobs, OpenInWhatever, and ScrewAutoSync. They are here:


— comment by Dave Burns on June 14th, 2018 at 5:45am JST (5 years ago) comment permalink

Just to let people know (sorry so late) that Dave updated treesync. It needed one more fix for a later LR update after that and that’s the latest fork on Github – seems to be working. Amazing tools and still chugging away with them seven years after he passed away. I love JF’s mirror – but my original hierarchy was set up with Rob’s and I can’t make it work with my naming convention using JF’s tool. And it’s been so long I’ve forgotten what I was even struggling with.

— comment by Seb M on November 20th, 2022 at 9:01pm JST (6 months, 13 days ago) comment permalink
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