Apple’s revolutionary Aperture: will all Mac applications work like this someday?

On Wednesday, October 19, 2005, Apple Computer introduced Aperture, the first all-in-one post production tool that provides everything photographers need after the shoot. Aperture offers an advanced and incredibly fast RAW workflow that makes working with a camera’s RAW images as easy as JPEG. Built from the ground up for pros, Aperture features powerful compare and select tools, nondestructive image processing, color managed printing and custom web and book publishing.

“Aperture’s saving mechanism is different: it doesn’t, or at least not in the normal sense that we’re used to. Instead, whenever an edit is applied to an image, Aperture will note that editt in its database. The more edits you make, the more records are added to the database, where each record is an edit. If you need to modify or remove a previous edit, you track it down in the database, and either amend the record (thus amending the edit) or delete it (thus eliminating the edit). And all edits remain whether or not you consciously save them. In fact, Aperture does away with the common ‘Save’ command because the edits are already saved in the database! A “Save” command would be redundant,” Yuhui writes for Yuhui’s World of Wonder.

“This is A Good Thing™ because it does away with the ‘Oh drats’ situation. Imagine if you’re typing in, oh, OpenOffice and realise too late that you changed your client’s name when you shouldn’t have. And horrors! You don’t know how it’s actually spelled! You can’t call the client, because that would be embarrassing,” Yuhui writes. “If OpenOffice had an Aperture-like method of saving documents, you would be able to search through the database of changes, find the record that says ‘You renamed the client’s name to something idiotic’ and delete it. Boom! Your client’s name is back to what it was, and the rest of your document is as before.”

“And that is revolutionary. Yes, there is the ‘Undo’ function in most programs, but these destroy the changes that you ‘step back’ through. For example, if your mistake happened at change #10, you’ll have to undo the last 10 changes, then reapply the nine changes that come after #10. What happens if you forget what changes you made those nine times? Good luck,” Yuhui writes.

Yuhui writes, “Unfortunately, I don’t see something like this becoming more mainstream. Sad to say, a lot of mainstream programs are stuck in an innovation rut. But I hope that Apple will be able to extend this database-saving mechanism to the rest of its programs. Once other developers see how cool it is, then perhaps they’ll also implement it. And then the revolution will be complete.”

Full article here.

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

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s iPhoto, which preceded Aperture, also has no “Save” command. iPhoto automatically saves changes to a photo, album, slideshow, or book as you work, so there’s no Save command. In a much more limited manner than Aperture, with iPhoto, if you don’t like the changes you’ve made to a photo, you can undo your most recent change by choosing Undo from the Edit menu. You can also revert to a photo’s original version by choosing “Revert to Original” from the Photos menu.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple’s Aperture more revolutionary than you might think – October 21, 2005
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. Apple has always been so innovative in so many things it does, be it hardware or software, seem like one of the very few really innovative companies these days that actually innovate…, only if other companies are also using their head eh, actually they are but sadly to knock off… hm,

  2. A save command in iPhoto would be welcome, editing on iPhoto books is only saved when quitting. I can’t tell you how often I finished five or six pages before iPhoto crashed and reopened it to find the edits completely gone. A save command would be a welcome addition as far as I’m concerned.

  3. This could be very interesting. Even for collaborative word documents, instead of having to keep multiple copies of successive edits, you could store everything in one file, with bookmarks in place to signify major milestones.

    Even for an amateur photographer like myself, some of the features of Aperture would be great. The printing and organizational aspects are very cool. Way better than iPhoto

  4. I think the limitation with iPhoto is that it makes multiple copies of edited images, whereas Apertures simply keeps track of the changes.

    Go to the iPhoto directory in Pictures and located a picture you’ve imported. Let’s say it’s called “mypicture.jpg.” Then, in iPhoto, crop the picture and turn it sepia. You’ll notice that iPhoto then “saves” these changes and movies “mypicture.jpg” into a new folder called “Originals” while a new file of cropped sepia edit replaces “mypicture” at that directory level.

    So, if you have one source image and 5 different version, in iPhoto you have a total of 6 different image files.

    Not so in Aperture.

    It’s in no way comparable to iPhoto and Aperture is infinitely more scalable without gobbling up disk space like iPhoto does. iPhoto is actually a traditional way of doing versioning, by creating separate files to represent each version. Aperture goes way beyond this.

  5. FileMaker User,

    Just because both apps lack a “Save” function doesn’t mean they are the same thing. I think the point is not that the databases are new, but that Aperture turns the whole notion of source images and versioning on its head by seemlessly integrating the power of a relational database. . Yo

    I think we saw some of these technologies in Motion and Final Cut Pro with the real-time previews, but Aperture seems to take things to a new level by eliminating the need for saves and even the idea of previews at all. All changes and effects are generated on-the-fly dynamically.

    Think of a photorealistic scene in Doom 3. You have a base collection of texture and lighting maps and Doom’s rendering engine builds that scene on-the-fly. You can then go in and edit a couple of parameters in a text file and totally change the look of that scene: lower the light, add fog, increase the reflectivity of the surfaces and Doom’s engine will build that new scene just as easily as the original by reading a few paramenter settings. You don’t need to create another full copy of Doom to create a different looks for the scene.

    Now add a rewind button that you can scrub through instead of having save points.

    The analogy isn’t perfect because a game like Doom is time-based, whereas you can remove edit #3 and edit #8 in Aperture and the integrity of that version will be fine (although it will obviously look different).

    In short, Aperture’s approach to workflows does look quite revolutionary. A few years from now, everyone will be wondering why anyone had to do things the old way.

  6. How is all this different from waht Photoshop already does? Seems like the writer has never used any other pro graphics app.

    It is totally different.

    In Photoshop, let’s say you start with a 10 MB image. You save this as “original.psd.”

    Now you want to create a black and white version of image for a newspaper print ad. So you open up “original.psd”, create a layer and desaturate it appropriately. You don’t want to alter the original image and you also want to keep the black and white image in a “newspaper ad” folder, so you create a NEW file called “bw_version.psd.”

    Now you want to create a full-color version with a bunch of different effects that involves multiple layers. You have a layer to control levels, another layer to control hue, another layer to control contrast. Then you add a mask layer. You now want to apply a blur. Oops! You have to copy the image layer, apply the blur, and wham, before you know it, the file size balloons from 10 MB to 300 MB [and] save yet another new file called “print_version_1.psd”

    Do this several more times, and you end up with multiple files that are eating up gigabytes of disk space. Just opening a file takes a long time. And any time you want to create a new version, it involves adding more layers, manually turning off the ones you don’t want to see, and then saving yet another file.

    Aperture eliminates this.

    Again, it’s not a Photoshop competitor because Aperture is not a pixel editor. But if you’ve used Photoshop, you would clearly see that Photoshop is completely lacking in terms of file size, version control, and image management. Photoshop can manipulate images like no other, but it doesn’t even begin to address workflow issues. That’s the difference.

  7. Ummm, Windows has desktop search, too, via things like Google Desktop and MSN software add-ons. But that don’t make it Spotlight. You could also say that Windows does windows, too, but that doesn’t make it a Mac.

    The fact that FileMaker doesn’t have a Save command is not the point. The point is that Aperture leverages the power of relational databases in a way that appears to be quite unique. I’m pretty sure the nondestructive image editing feature and versioning via Stacks is a first because it is only made possible by combining a relational database with CoreImage functionality.

  8. iPhoto does have a Save command, but it’s just not called Save.

    When you edit a photo in iPhoto, thumbnails go on top of the window while the photo that’s being edited fills the main window. When you’re done, you click the Done button. That’s when the save occurs.

    I love it <not> when people only look for the obvious, then conclude that what they are looking for just doesn’t exist at all.

    And yes, there are times when I’ve made 10 changes and to amend one change, say at edit#3, I have to undo 7 edits to get there, then redo the edits I wanted to keep.

    So, yes, I’m looking forward to being implemented in iPhoto… and maybe all of Apple’s apps. I thinks it’s a wonderful idea.

  9. sounds good, bring it on. it will kick adobe in the butt, since workflow is so important within their apps and we’re all conditioned to a certain amount of layer-spawning/save-as drugery. recent patents made by apple point to very innovative ways they are looking at relational databases for the basic desktop workspace/UI too.

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