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  • ACDSee database

    I'm thinking about moving from Lightroom to ACDSee to manage my images and use whatever editor is best to develop. However, I do not want to be "locked in". Is the ACDSee database proprietary?

  • #2
    As with most other DAM systems the AC database is proprietary. However, you can use the IPTC meta data which follow a common standard.
    Also the development settings are proprietary, and while it often is possible to copy AC proprietary meta data into matching IPTC meta data fields, this seems impossible for development settings. To get around incompatibility of development settings, you must save/export developed images as new images if you want to leave AC. Afaik there doesn't exist a common standard for development settings.

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    • #3
      Thanks Emil. I understand that develop settings are not transferable but my question was related to the DB itself, albeit poorly worded :*) For example, Lightroom uses SQLite. I can access the catalog database independently. What database does ACDSee use? I highly doubt ACD Systems built their own database system.

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      • #4
        I've read somewhere that ACDSee uses some dBase implementation. But instead of accessing the database in a native way, you can apparently export it to an XML file. I never tried it, but it might be worth a shot to have a look at that option - in Manage Mode under Tools -> Database -> Export.

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        • #5
          Many years ago I've read it's a customized Foxpro database, but I'm not sure. If you find a way to get at least read access with any programming language, please let me know. Janto's tip regarding xml is good but not handy enough for everyday usage.

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          • #6
            Now I was curious (argh, it will kill me one day) and as mentioned in the refered post, I tried opening the ACDSee database (a copy of course...) with LibreOffice's "Base" component. I used the dBase connector to open the database, and it worked.

            So the me does not have any clue about dBase databases, but I'm sure there will be ways to write scripts for data extraction and/or manipulation, although most likely it is not as easy as for a SQL based database.

            Hope that helps.
            This is a long-standing and common FAQ - how do I find out what files are "orphans" in AC? It will declare "xxx orphaned files/folders",

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            • #7
              Interesting question per se, however, for a regular photographer use, what's the use of bothering w/ underlying DB mechanism ?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by jpu018 View Post
                Interesting question per se, however, for a regular photographer use, what's the use of bothering w/ underlying DB mechanism ?
                You're right of course. It's just a way to future proof your metadata.

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                • #9
                  AC lacks a couple of features and at least some of my workarounds could benefit from read access to the db.

                  #1 is the knowledge which categories or collection have been used to export a set of images. If you work on just a few images daily, you will most likely not understand this request. I export several hundred images daily from various collections and have lots of extra work with mapping collection into folder structures.

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                  • #10
                    You mean, you want to keep a history of exports, including which set of criteria were used to gather the files which were eventually exported ?
                    I understand your request functionnally, however, I suppose you're using ACDSee in a professionnal context ?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Emil View Post
                      AC lacks a couple of features and at least some of my workarounds could benefit from read access to the db.

                      #1 is the knowledge which categories or collection have been used to export a set of images. If you work on just a few images daily, you will most likely not understand this request. I export several hundred images daily from various collections and have lots of extra work with mapping collection into folder structures.
                      I suppose you have already tried DBF Manager? Supports FoxPro.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jpu018 View Post
                        I suppose you're using ACDSee in a professionnal context ?

                        Yes we are.

                        You mean, you want to keep a history of exports, including which set of criteria were used to gather the files which were eventually exported ?

                        Yes that's indeed something else I do from time to time. For various reasons we can no keep all old collections within the AC database. So occasionally I export the database into XML files (AC itself has a function to do this). Then I run a small program, that wil parse the file for collection names and file paths and than recreates the collections as folder tree filled with hard links and/or short cut files. This tree currently contains 400,000 links in 15,000 folders. However it's tricky to get the XML file for a database containing 270,000 catalogued items. Displaying and handling an image well with this amount of files is very time consuming. So imho best option is to export each year of photography individually.

                        To understand my request #1 you surely need to know what we actually do: We daily receive inquiries from our customers for images for their products which are magazines, calendars, blogs, on line guidebooks any many other things. On this we create collections trees:
                        HTML Code:
                        - customer name
                          - product 1 name
                            - chapter 1 name
                            . . .
                            - chapter n name

                        Most products have several chapters. Imagine a tear-off calendar with 365 pages:-) After creating this collections tree, which also often is done using a script to create a folders tree and then imported in AC as categories, we fill the chapters with the images we think that match the requirement. When finished we export the whole product tree with all chapters into the file type the customers needs.

                        Now here comes the tricky part: AC only allows to export into the same folder where the master file resides (Imho not suitable for an export feature at all), or to export all files into one single folder. There's no option to create sub folders according the collection names. So we are forced to recreate the whole folder tree by hand and move the exported files! There in fact is a pretty silly trick to simplify this, but it's still quite time consuming and error-prone. Embedding the AC meta data prior the export is no option, because this includes all collections assigned to an image, not only the one that gets exported.

                        Originally posted by SamDring View Post
                        I suppose you have already tried DBF Manager? Supports FoxPro.

                        I've just had a quick look on this tools. When trying to open a AC database dbf file it's tell me the file is encrypted and asks for a password. For cdx file it reports an invalid header. No idea what going on. It also doesn't seem to offer an api to be used from other programming languages. Anyway, thanks for the tip, I'll take a closer look.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Emil View Post

                          [...] This tree currently contains 400,000 links in 15,000 folders. However it's tricky to get the XML file for a database containing 270,000 catalogued items. Displaying and handling an image well with this amount of files is very time consuming. So imho best option is to export each year of photography individually.
                          [...]
                          That's clearly professional needs :-).
                          Impressive !
                          To be honest, I had not even noticed export does not allow to specify several different target folders...

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                          • #14
                            Emil - Thanks - handy description
                            I Also wanted to cover a couple of gaps i percieve
                            1. - what was the criteria used to create the collection - be nice if you could at least have some notes against he collection - description
                            2. - like a periodic batch export of Collection - i use it for Publishing to folders for other Apps to use - eg Google Photos, Slideshows for folk without ACDSEE, Plex...
                            Anyway - found the export to XM was grand - used Excel and a couple of formulas to create a Batchfile of Xcopy commands to build/update the Collections structure into Folders

                            Thanks

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bones View Post
                              - what was the criteria used to create the collection - be nice if you could at least have some notes against he collection - description
                              Here's as small comparison of collections and categories. As a result we completely ignore the collections and use a top level category for this as replacement.

                              These categories contain strictly private data that must not be given to any other customer. The "description" is used to to depict the obvious content shown in an image.
                              We use exiftool to delete unneeded meta data from the exported pics. AC has such a feature too, but it is a sledge hammer in comparison to the scalpel of exiftool.

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