Apple’s Aperture more revolutionary than you might think

By NewType

Apple’s new Aperture application is more revolutionary than it first appears. As Macworld’s first look at Aperture that could prove to be telling for the Mac platform in the near future.

“I’m a bit speechless, but it was only a matter of time–this is the same company that has produced such powerful and beautiful video editing software as Final Cut and audio software as Garage Band, as well as digital media management software like iTunes and iPhoto. I switched to PC a year ago for programming purposes (and have had a headache configuring the computer ever since), and have an OS 9 G4 tower at home, but I’m convinced now that I need to switch the hell back to Mac, to OS X, soon.”

It confirms my belief that Aperture was by far the most significant announcement out of this week’s media event.

Advertisement: Introducing Aperture. Designed for professional photographers. $499. Free shipping.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple’s new Aperture signals that Photoshop is no longer invulnerable – October 20, 2005
Pro photographers see Apple’s Aperture as complement to Adobe Photoshop – October 20, 2005
Does Apple’s Aperture threaten Adobe’s Photoshop? – October 20, 2005
Apple’s revolutionary new Aperture software a must have for every professional photographer – October 19, 2005
Apple introduces Aperture, first all-in-one post production tool for photographers – October 19, 2005


  1. “Look!! Here’s an instance where Apple is copying Microsoft! “Cuppertino start your copy machines.” Perpare to see more of this in the future.”

    Ha! Explain how it’s “copying” when Apple’s implementation actually works while Microsoft’s doesn’t? Sounds like Apple has beat M$ to the punch (yet again) to me.

  2. iPodder: “you can’t copy VAPORWARE.”

    WinFS isn’t vaporware. The Beta has been out for a few weeks now.

    Quite frankly, what Apple has done with Aperture’s method of saving files is not what MS is trying to do with WinFS. WinFS will not change the way files are saved, it will change the way files are stored and provide a mechanism to relate disparate files to each other.

    Apples and oranges here, no need to compare the two.

  3. I was going to provide my opinion regarding Aperture/Photoshop but after reading Dave’s post I think I’ll go hide.

    Please provide us with a clue. I would love to be educated. Please compare and contrast Aperture and Photoshop.

  4. Photshop is for image maipulation.

    Aperture is for processing RAW images.

    As of this moment, many digital cameras have their own proprietary way of handling RAW images. Photoshop has no way of handling ALL types (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc) of RAW images. Aperture can.

    Aperture does NOT do photo manipulation. Yes, you can do basic things such as hue, saturation, brightness and contrast, and level manipulation. But, you cannot add text, apply PS filters, create layers, make web buttons, etc.

    In other words – you use Aperture to import all of your RAW photos from your card, choose which ones you want, save them, THEN open them in PS and manipulate them.

  5. “You might recall that an SQL-based filesystem was exactly what WinFS was supposed to be. Microsoft had to drop that from Vista because it proved to daunting a project for a general filesystem.”

    I love the random MS bashing. Apple didn’t implement a goddamn FS. Just a SQL-based diff system for an application. Don’t you even dare to compare the two.

  6. So … let me get this straight. Apple’s so-called brilliant move is taking Microsoft’s SQL-as-a-file-system idea and implementing instead as an application file format???

    >sigh< Why are Mac writers so utterly clueless?

    Do you doofuses have any idea what SQL even is? It’s an application file format. Apple is simply using it to organise information in a single set of related files — EXACTLY AS ORIGINALLY INTENDED. It doesn’t take an Einstein to use SQL to store an incremental history of changes to a file. It has been used in this way only since FOREVER. And it has nothing to do with any subversion of Microsoft’s file system plans for SQL. It’s just a *reversion* of SQL to its normal habitat.

    There is nothing superspecial about SQL. The advantage of doing something in SQL is that it is a universal format that is exportable and importable on very old legacy devices … but this advantage is fairly meaningless if what is being stored is picture-editing instructions that only have any meaning within Aperture. Are you going to query and filter out picture transformations for export? To where? Nowhere. You will export the state of the picture itself, not individual functions. I’m sure the only reason for the use of SQL is because it is very fast and standard on UNIX and therefore simplifies the development time for the app. Otherwise, any other incremental file format would have served just as well.

    This will not save any space over Photoshop files. There is no getting around Layers with independent information having to be stored independently. SQL is not a magic data-thinning wand.

    Aperture may be a great piece of software, but if so, it has zero to do with SQL.


  7. Aperture and Photoshop are indeed very different programs with very different capabilities. Even if Aperture had most of Photoshop’s tools, which it most definitely does not, the absence of LAYERS alone would make Aperture useless to web designers and graphic designers, who have been relying on Photoshop for years and (Adobe’s mind-boggling Windoze bias notwithstanding) will continue to do so until a worthy competitor appears, which so far has never happened.

    Aperture sounds wonderful, but Photoshop is absolutely irreplaceable.

  8. “Dave,
    Please provide us with a clue. I would love to be educated. Please compare and contrast Aperture and Photoshop.”

    The last few posters after mine have added enlightenment to the thread. To add to that. From what is seen on the Apple site so far, Aperture appears to note your changes on top of a RAW file but not apply the changes until the RAW file is output. This is why the files are so small. It looks like the app moves as few actual bits as possible. They’re deferred instructions. It is not like Photoshop where you could start from a blank page and paint. It’s not even clear whether you can combine two images. If you can’t do that, we’re not talking about Photoshop. Anyone from Apple who knows more about this is free to correct me.

    As far as what Aperture competes with. 90% of Aperture’s top marketed features are about inspecting, ranking, and organizing RAW files and tuning the RAW conversion to other formats or output. Photoshop doesn’t do those things, but Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw do. (OK, you can say those come with Photoshop, but they are separate.) Ranking, assigning, searching on metadata, and order printed products from an online service? You can already do all of that in Bridge. Nondestructive adjustments and sharpening applied to RAW? You can do that in Camera Raw. 90% of what Apple is marketing is already being done by photographers with existing products like Bridge, Camera Raw, Photo Mechanic, Capture One…but not Photoshop.

    The difference is that Aperture looks like it’s going to be far more fun and easier and faster to do those things. That is what we want to go “wow” about. Photoshop is not really affected by this. The real deal is that in one fell swoop, Aperture makes all other RAW converters and image organizers look ten years older and awfully clunky. The only question left is whether it actually makes good output. But Photoshop gets to stand on the side and watch.

  9. Actually, Dogger manages to be both right and wrong in the same post.

    Aperture is – to all intents and purposes – the 21st century resurrection of Live Picture.

    Without being able to play with Aperture at the moment, I would imagine that metadata is being stored within a run-time only version of MySQL or another high-performance database, with file pointers effectively pointing to the base image on disk, rather than compromising performance by storing a 12MB+ image file as a BLOB within the data structure. I would further imagine that each set of parameters that define a “version” of an image is held as an independent row using an XML “blob”.

    I fully recommend that people wander around the Aperture micro-site, especially the Quick Tours, because Apple’s next pro Photography product become pretty obvious when you do: it may have to wait for a while – possibly until Photokina 2006 – but I would expect an Aperture Server to appear within 12 months, thus creating the possibility of a multi-user picture desk/asset management environment for professional photographers, especially for picture agencies and press.

    From there, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump before they implement an interface that allows asset owners to flag which versions can be “published” complete with maximum size, resolution, output format and cost and another web services interface for “customers” to order prints (either tangible or digital) and put them in a “shopping basket”.

    With the best will in the world, if Adobe don’t like this development, they’ll only have themselves to blame: with no implementation of Graphics Server for Mac OS X, they have effectively left the door wide open for Apple to define a product under their own terms.

  10. Dave,
    Thanks for the clue.

    Let’s take this a few degrees to the right. Given your statement

    “Aperture makes all other RAW converters and image organizers look ten years older and awfully clunky”

    how much work would it be for Apple to add to Aperture the functions found in Photoshop but with the same apparent elegance? Do the editing/organizing functions even belong in the same application?

  11. Personally, I’d doubt they’d do that in the same application. Now, perhaps a little further down the line, when and if Aperture gains a legitimate following, perhaps a separate app dedicated to specifically to the post-processing needs of the professional photographer might have its place. Call it “Darkroom”?

  12. Looking…>

    At this time, why bother?

    Aperture can open images in an external editor (e.g. Photoshop) and then save the resulting file (so long as its flattened) within the same Aperture project as an image version.

    This is why Aperture will grow to become a multi-user workflow manager/picture desk/DAM solution, whilst allowing creative Photoshop jockeys to do their best in an application that is a) mature, b) has a lot of external developer support (although the plug-in architecture could be implemented in an Apple-developed Photoshop competitor and c) fully integrated into Creative Studio.

    Creating a Photoshop Killer™ is probably best left on the back-burner, unless Adobe start throwing their toys out of the pram regarding Aperture (and probably Aperture Server).

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