Saturday, February 26, 2011

Apple, I am incredibly frustrated.

I used to have an iPhoto plugin that published photos to Flickr. When I last updated iPhoto, I was initially happy to see that iPhoto seemed to have the same functionality built-in. I created an album that shared photos to Flickr and used it for a few months, dragging new photos in when I wanted them uploaded. Then I needed to move stuff to a new laptop so I went and archived years-old photos and deleted iPhoto albums I didn't need.

Two weeks later, I find missing photos in my Flickr photo stream, and broken links on Ravelry. Slowly I piece it together: when I cleaned out iPhoto on the old laptop, it silently deleted Flickr photos. Gone are the uploaded versions, titles, tags, descriptions I wrote, comments other people left, and counts of views. I can recover the photos themselves but I can't recover metadata. Most difficult to fix are broken links on other sites.

How could the designers have possibly thought it would be a good feature to silently delete published photos that have metadata of their own? Do the words "Share" and "Publish" not imply putting the photos out there? I tried this again and the words "Synch" and "delete" are not in the iPhoto UI -- the fact that I granted iPhoto permission to delete photos does not imply that deleting an album will delete them online. After all, deleting an album in iPhoto does not delete the photo in iPhoto, so the UI has trained me to think of albums as selections of photos, not containers of photos.

Apple, you had the chance to fix this. When I go looking for support for this, I see posts from obviously distressed and surprised users about thousands of photos deleted, and workarounds posted in response. Surely this allowed you to fix the problem within the last year? You could have issued an update to Flickr with the feature "Saves you from unknowingly destroying personal information online", but you did not. I rather expect this kind of behavior from you Apple, your pride in infallible UI design is well-known, but that does not stop me from being disappointed.

Flickr, I'm disappointed in you too. I know this is not your fault, but many postings in your forums have asked you to disable iPhoto's permission to delete. You could have done that or made mass-deletes "soft-deletes" or asked the flickr account holder to confirm the loss of metadata. You, too, had the chance to save users from losing image metadata.

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