Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

The Demise of Aperture

Last Saturday, some of us woke up to a piece of bad news. It was the announcement of the demise of a great one, one that many of us have grown very attached to and very dependent on. It’s Aperture, Apple’s prosumer photo editing and management software. It’s not yet dead, but Apple has announced that they would cease development of Aperture.

To many Aperture users, that’s pretty much as good as dead. Aperture has been around since 2005, even before Adobe’s Lightroom came to exist. In fact, it’s because of Aperture that a market came to exist for Lightroom. It’s surprising that Apple will kill a product like Aperture, considering that photos are one of the many things that Apple has a keen focus on. They still do, of course, but in the form of a dumbed down Photos app coming up in the next OS X release.

Yet, some industry pundits say the move to abandon Aperture isn’t all too surprising. Aperture hasn’t seen a major version update in a while. There were many numerous interim updates though, with the latest version 3.5.1 appearing in November 2013. Isn’t it possible for some development to be still happening on the back burner? Apple has many things going on, and Aperture just has to take its turn.

Oh well, something is going on. It’s the Photos app. In case you did not know, the iPhoto consumer app is also set to be retired. Will the new Photos be a more powerful iPhoto, sitting somewhere between iPhoto and Aperture?

However, remember that the new Photos ships next year. Yosemite will ship this year. I know the pros and semi-pros aren’t going to be happy sitting around wondering what they’re going to do with their Aperture investment between now and when Photos ships. I imagine that many of them are feeling betrayed.

Apple has said they will provide compatibility updates to Aperture to ensure it will run on OS X Yosemite, but development will stop. But do you want to continue working with a software you know has limited lifespan?

In the meanwhile, I’d bet Adobe is suddenly seeing a lot of renewed interest in Lightroom, and their Creative Cloud subscriptions. I’m not really excited about all my apps being turned into cloud services, but it seems resistance is futile. Everything is being made into a service and put into the cloud.

Lightroom seems like the most obvious alternative to me. I had evaluated Lightroom previously, but ultimately decided to go with Aperture. I was more comfortable with Aperture’s interface, how Aperture organised things, and how Aperture allowed me to work in the way I wanted to. Lightroom was not functionally inferior. It just didn’t fit so well.

I downloaded Lightroom to try out again. I felt lost. I think it’s going to take quite some getting used to. I was even struggling with basic things like, you know, where to edit metadata. I was looking in the Develop module, because in my mind that’s where editing takes place. I gave up, searched Google, and found that metadata edits happen in the Library module.

Why, oh why, does Adobe think people like to work inside modules with fixed functionality boundaries?

There’s certainly going to be some adjustments moving into Lightroom. I hope the time and effort will be worthwhile. I’m not even talking about the money part. Some of us Aperture users have made major investments in time and effort. Over a decade of photos are archived in Aperture libraries. Apple had better make the migration to Lightroom as seamless as possible. Make it work like magic.

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