The Catalog Explorer:  A Quick Start

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Use the Catalog Explorer to browse through the content of your database. As you import images into your catalog, these will become part of the database and IDimager will maintain references to them and also maintain data about your images. The Catalog Explorer then allows you to quickly browse through the images in many different ways and offers features to quickly find back the images you need. That is basically what cataloging images is about. This makes the Catalog Explorer the most important feature of the application and you will notice that once you add more images to the catalog this Explorer becomes more important for you.


That Catalog Explorer supports two modes:


- Browse mode

- Assignment mode.


The browse mode is intended to browse through your catalog. By selecting any entry in the Explorer, IDimager will find the images that belong to that entry. When you open the Catalog Explorer (by clicking the spider web icon in the left Explorer Bar) you'll see that the tree is organized in branches. The branches are the top entries in the Catalog Explorer.


The assignment mode will be discussed further in this document but for now it is important to know that in assignment mode, you will be able to assign catalog labels to your selected images.


Each branch allows you to explore the catalog database from different perspectives.


Catalog Labels

This branch contains the hierarchical list of catalog labels (tags) that you can assign to your images.


IDimager offers features to create and organize labels in a hierarchical structure, including the ability to group labels into categories or other label groups. A category is a top level organizing group and a label group is a “normal” tag that is divided into several other “normal” tags.


By assigning labels to your images you automatically create a virtual photo structure which is independent of any other (storage) structure.


By tagging your images with catalog labels, you can select a label in the Catalog Explorer, and all images for the selected label will be presented to you as a collection. If one image has multiple labels assigned to it, then that image will appear in the collection for each of these labels.


For example; a photo containing an image of your son Anthony and daughter Paris that was shot during your holiday in Australia can get labels “Anthony”, “Paris”, “Holiday” and “Australia”. Then when browsing through the catalog labels "Anthony" you see this image, but it is also contained in the collection that opens when selecting "Australia", etc. Note that the photo itself is stored only once on the hard drive (e.g. in the folder “Holiday to Australia 2009”, although the actual location on the hard drive does not matter).



This contains a list of your portfolios.


IDimager allows you to organize images into structures called Portfolios. Typically, you'll create portfolios for sets of photos that you want to keep together. For example, you might create a portfolio for all your website images and/or a portfolio to contain the selected photos for a particular shoot.


Each portfolio can be divided into galleries. Create galleries to make a more detailed grouping inside a portfolio. For example, in a portfolio named “Customer Projects” you could create galleries for each month+year: December 2009 or January 2010, or in your portfolio “Website” you could create a gallery for every main subject on your site; e.g. a gallery "Models", a gallery "Nature" and a gallery for "Architecture".


Each gallery can be further split into collections. Collections are the place holders for your photos. For example; Portfolio “Website” and Gallery “Models” gets collections "Dane", “Wendy”, “Paris” and “Anna”. Each of these collections contains the photos.


In general, a collection is a group of images. Images that are added to a single portfolio collection can be physically stored in different folders on the hard drive. You can consider collections as “Logical Folders” or “Virtual Folders”, meaning that they act like folders, but are not limited by the structure of the file system. This makes it easy to collect all your best images of model “Wendy”, even if they are spread around the hard drive. There is no need to replace the images on the hard drive, and you can even add the same image to several collections.


Stored Groups

Once you start working with IDimager, you'll see that you can easily build search queries that allow you to combine almost any entry in the Catalog Explorer., e.g. all images with a certain rating and a certain catalog label in a certain period. Such a query can then be stored as a single group referred to as a "stored group". The branch "Stored Groups" allows you to browse through these groups.



With IDimager you can rate your images on a scale from 0 to 5, and the Catalog Explorer allows you to browse through these ratings. In this way you can easily browse through all images that have a particular rating, e.g. a 4 star rating.


Color Labels

With IDimager you can optionally assign one of five different color labels to each of your images. These color labels are for you to define and will typically allow you to differentiate image groups. For example, you could define the color label red as "bad images" and the color label blue as "ready for printing", etc. The most important thing, though, is to be consistent in what logic you use to assign color labels to images. Once assigned, the Catalog Explorer allows you to easily browse the images assigned to each of these color labels.



[IDimager Pro Only] As you import images to your catalog the catalog also maintains your metadata (data and properties specific to your images, for example a photo headline or the lens aperture value (F-stop) when the image was recorded). This metadata can then be browsed by opening this branch. In this way you'll be able to quickly find all images with a specific F-stop or all images with a certain ISO value.


Version Place Holders

[IDimager Pro Only] As you start working with versioning, you'll see that IDimager allows you to define version place holders. These are slots in the version set which allow you to quickly access versions with particular properties. For instance when you'd like to identify the version to be used for printing, then you can assign that version to the "print placeholder". In the Catalog Explorer you'll be able to quickly browse through all your placeholders and view all print versions.  By default, IDimager defines version placeholders for album display, web display, slide show display, e-mail and printing. As you'll learn further in this manual, these placeholders are customizable.


File Types

Every image will be of a specific file type. Generally the file type is determined by the file's extension. A typical file type will be "JPG" or "CR2" or "NEF" or "DNG". This branch allows you to browse through all your images of a certain file type, e.g. all JPG images or all DNG images.


Catalog Folders

As images are imported to your catalog, IDimager will record in its catalog database where these images are physically located on the file system. This allows you to browse through the folder structure of a certain CD/DVD, even if that CD/DVD is not inserted in the drive, or to browse images stored on a disconnected hard drive.  (Alternatively, you can also browse through the file system for online drives with the Media Browser)


Catalog States

[IDimager Pro Only] IDimager pertains several states of your images as they are imported to the database. This branch contains entries to display all images that are catalog labeled, bookmarked, rated, GEO tagged, etc. Catalog States allows you to quickly get a helicopter view of the organizing state of your images in the catalog and is a real time saver.



[IDimager Pro Only] The timeline offers a tree that allows you to browse your images by the date the photo was taken (generally this is the Exif original photo date recorded by the camera).  The tree is structured on Year->Month->Day. So, for example, clicking on a particular day will display all images taken on that day.



The Catalog Explorer is storage independent, meaning that it won't force you into a dedicated storage structure on your hard drive. If you already use an organized folder structure, then can just leave all the images where they are and catalog from there.


By expanding a branch in the Catalog Explorer, the tree will expand and display what is beneath it. The content will depend on the branch that you open. The most important branch to start with is the Catalog Labels branch.


What are Catalog Labels?


A catalog label can be used to describe a unique property about an image, such as the person appearing in the image, the location of where the photo was taken, the style of the photo taken (portrait, landscape, action), etc.  Each label name is simply a short hand description for a property, so for example, a a person appearing in an image will be represented by assigning to the image a label whose name is name of the person. These label names are what IDimager refers to as “catalog labels”, and you can consider them as tag labels that you stick on your images.


How to choose your Catalog Labels?


Choosing your catalog labels is very important, as it basically determine how accessible your catalog will be for *you*. Here are some hints for getting you started.


Use the Top Categories. IDimager is initially configured with predefined categories based on the W6 questions: Who does What, When, Where, With what and Why. If you are new to cataloging, it is recommended that you start by adding new labels to these top level containers.


Start small. Dont try to catalog the entire world, but instead try to come up with a few initial terms that you find are typical for your kind of work. For example, if you are a snapshot photographer, then you may want to create labels with the names of your family members.  On the other hand if you are a architectural photographer, you may create labels for types of objects, and if you are a bird photographer, then chances are high that youd want catalog labels for several types of birds that you shoot. Begin with a small catalog structure and expand  as you find you need new/more catalog labels.


Feel free to make changes. Dont be afraid to make mistakes in your catalog labels. With IDimager it is very easy to add, remove or edit labels, as well as merge labels into other branches.


Organize hierarchically. Once you have determined your first level of catalog labels you can consider which of these labels need to be divided into sub-labels. Only divide labels into sub labels if you think that adds value/detail to your catalog. As you start dividing your catalog labels into sub-labels and maybe these sub labels also into sub labels, you are in fact creating a hierarchical structure of catalog labels. This hierarchy structure eventually will form the base organization structure for your images.


Workgroups:  if you work in a workgroup, try to achieve consensus in the group about how the catalog labels will be organized.


How to create the Catalog Labels


In IDimager the hierarchical structure is displayed in the Catalog Explorer branch “Catalog Labels”. To access the Catalog Explorer if it is hidden, click on the “spider web” icon inside the far-left Explorer bar. Then within the Catalog Explorer, double click on the Catalog Labels branch to open it.


For your convenience, IDimager predefines a number of top categories that serve as catalog label containers. The top categories can be renamed or deleted, and you can also create any new top category that you may need.




To create your first catalog label you must first decide which of the categories is the best match for the catalog label youd like to create. Left click on that top category and press the [Insert] key on your keyboard (alternatively, right click on the top category to get a context menu, and then select "New Item"). This will open the details dialog where you can enter the name of the catalog label.


Lets not get too confused yet with what the other input fields in this dialog are. For now, just enter the catalog labels name and save the label by clicking the <OK> button. Voila… you have created your first catalog label! To create additional catalog labels, repeat this procedure (select category -> press [Insert] -> Name the label -> Click <OK>).


For example, suppose we wish to create a new catalog label  "Beach" under the top category "Places". Select "Places", press [Insert].




Once the "Beach" label is created it will be displayed in its category.




A sub label under a catalog label is created in a very similar way. Simply select the catalog label and press [Insert] to create a new label. The new label (the "child label") will be placed under the selected catalog label (the "parent label").


Notice the number at the right of the "Beach" label. This number displays the number of assigned images for that catalog label. In our case that is zero because this is a new catalog label. So now we are ready to assign this catalog label to images.


Import your images


The chapter "Reading images to the Catalog" explains in more detail how you can import images to the catalog. For now we'll just do a quick import.


First click the Import button in the main toolbar.



Then point to a folder that contains some images. For now we'll just import the sample pictures that are deployed with IDImager. You can find these images in the sub folder "Sample Images" from the IDimager installation folder.




Leave the other settings as default and click the button <OK>



As you start the import process, you can follow its progress in the Process Activity Panel. You can access this panel by clicking on the blinking counter icon in the lower right corner of the Collection Viewer (below the thumbnail area).





The Import process runs in the background and you can continue to work in IDimager while the process is running. As your images are being imported, IDimager will:


1. Create database entries for each image found in the specified folder

2. Import the existing metadata from the image (Exif/IPTC/XMP) and store them in the database

3. Create metadata search entries in the database

4. Create thumbnails, and optionally previews, for the images and store them in the database

5. If there are pre-existing keywords in the metadata of the images then those are converted to catalog labels




The keywords in the images are now translated to catalog labels.



Catalog labels are not exactly the same as metadata keywords. IDimager separated these two because metadata keywords are simple flat lists (no hierarchy), meaning you'd be quite limited in organizing keywords and keywording capabilities. Catalog labels are more flexible and the good part is that IDimager can keep catalog labels and metadata keywords in sync. I highly recommend that you use catalog labels for keywording and don't use direct keyword editing in the image details which you may be used to from other image management applications.

By assigning catalog labels to your images you are in fact adding keywords, but while a keywords is only a "string" without additional intelligence, catalog labels are more. For instance you can tell IDimager to keep a catalog label private and in that case the catalog is *not* written to the keywords while you have it available in your catalog. This way you will be able to search on it while at the same time you are guaranteed that this info is not sent out to your customers. Another feature in IDimager allows you to "map" a keyword to an image detail field. For instance you have a catalog label called "San Francisco" then you are able to map this catalog label to the City field on the Image Content tab of the Image Details ([Alt]+[Enter]). Another extra is that for each catalog label you can tell IDimager that when you assign a label that it should also assign all the parent catalog labels. For instance; you have a label hierarchy "Places -> USA -> California -> San Francisco". Then when you assign the label "San Francisco", IDimager will automatically assign "California" and "USA"... and if these parents are also mapped to fields these will also be filled on syncing the image. One more thing; you can also assign a GEO location to a catalog label. Then when you sync the image, IDimager will automatically GEO tag the image. For instance; you have a catalog label "Statue of Liberty". This is a "fixed place" and so you could add a GEO location to it. Then as you assign the label your images is also GEO tagged.





If you want to see all images that are assigned to a label and all of its child labels, then you can click the orange dot icon in the counts area located at the right of the top category or label name.


Assigning catalog labels


Now that we have some catalog labels created in the catalog, you can assign these labels to your images. To do so, first click on a catalog label in the Catalog Explorer or on a folder name in the Media Browser. This will display the thumbnails for that collection inside the Collection Viewer, which is part of the main application window.


As the thumbnails are displayed, select one or more thumbs and press [Alt]+[F6] to switch the Catalog Explorer to assignment mode. For this example, we open the Media Browser and then navigate to the sample images as provided with IDimager. Select the images that relate to the beach and then press [Alt]+[F6] to open the Catalog Explorer in assignment mode.




Notice that the Catalog Explorer is opened in assignment mode. You can recognize when the Catalog Explorer is in assignment mode by the "Catalog Assignments" caption title bar and the highlighted assignment mode button, and also because the Catalog Explorer displays an orange bar above the catalog branches with the number of selected images.


In assignment mode, each label gets an additional "assignment box" in from of the label's name. Click on this assignment box to assign the catalog label "Beach" to the selected images.




Notice that the assignment box is now "checked" and the number of assigned images (the right number) displays 3.


Basically that's it: select the image, press [Alt]+[F6], lookup the label, and assign the label


There are other ways to assign images to a catalog label. For example, you could use drag and drop to drag the selected images to the catalog label. Then when dropped, the dropped images are instantly assigned to the targeted catalog label. Alternatively, you can use the quick assign icon on each thumbnail (= [Ctrl]+[F6]) to bring up a pop-up menu of labels. And last but not least, use the Label Assignment Panel by pressing [F6].


For the most part, the Catalog Explorer behaves similarly whether or not it is in assignment mode.  For example, you can still create new catalog labels in assignment by selecting the category or catalog label and press [Insert].


Further Information


The Catalog Explorer is a very powerful tool for managing your images. You can find more information about the Catalog Explorer and cataloging techniques in the chapter “Cataloging and Versioning”.