I’ve been on Flickr since October 2005, and I’ve typically used my Flickr account as a way to showcase: a) what I consider some of my best efforts, b) specific photography projects — like Little Light Left, Inception: architectural visions, and 1:60 — and c) geeky photo albums to document something in particular, like IBM WorkPad, The return of the 5.25″, Carry on or Cameras. Over the course of these past ten years (!) I’ve used Flickr constantly but I’ve never ‘mass-uploaded’ entire batches of photos and I tend to not follow other Flickr members who do so. I prefer selection. Since the start, I’ve also tried to be meticulous, and that’s why for me uploading two or three photos isn’t a casual or a quick 1-click task. It takes some time, as I want to enter tags, a proper title (and sometimes description), and the photos have to be filed in one of more albums and uploaded to the relevant groups I’m subscribed to.
I’ve always found the uploading experience to be lacking, no matter the tool, whether it was the Flickr’s Web interface or third-party applications. One exception was possibly 1001, a nice application by Adriaan Tijsseling, but development has ceased a while ago. In recent years I’ve come to rely on the first-party client Flickr Uploadr, which, while not having a particularly attractive UI, has been doing the job.
As you can see, it’s easy to add one or more photos, enter the necessary information, and upload. A couple of things I would have added, functionally, were auto-completing tags based on the tags you had already entered in the past, and the possibility to upload the photos to the Flickr groups you’re subscribed to.
As I said, not a fancy application, but useful and quite compatible with my kind of workflow.
Meanwhile, the Upload page of Flickr’s Web interface has got better since the latest site redesign has sedimented. I’ve been using it more frequently in the past months — it’s reliable, it offers tag auto-completion, it lets me upload to groups, and it’s generally what the Flickr Uploadr app should be.
The new beta Uploadr
A few days ago, exactly by visiting the Flickr Upload page on the Web, I noticed the suggestion to download the new Flickr Uploadr app. Since the previous version (judging by the file info pane in the Finder) was last updated in 2009, I downloaded the new one eagerly, expecting the kind of improvements displayed on the Web interface. I installed the app in the Applications folder (as the disk image itself suggests when you open it) and that meant of course overwriting the old version. And when I launched the new Uploadr, I almost immediately regretted installing it.
First bad sign: “Upload automatically”. I said to myself, Of course I imagine I’ll still be able to select the photos I want to upload, and do whatever the old version let me do.
…And this second screen gave me hope: “On the next screens, you can choose what to upload.”
But apparently, my choices are limited to folders of photos:
No, I don’t want the Uploadr to automatically upload photos I may add to these places. I usually save screenshots on the Desktop, and I take a lot of screenshots, so no, unchecked. Same for the other folders: I can’t have this app upload whatever I put there. I still hope that the next screen…
“Upload my iPhoto library,” really? Everything? No fine-grained options? But I don’t use iPhoto anyway, so I uncheck the option and still hope that the next screen will take me to an interface where I can select the photos I want to upload.
Tough luck. There’s nothing here. Everything is supposed to be automatic. The new Flickr Uploadr has become a mass uploader. But I decide to play along, for the sake of experimentation, and create a Flickr Up test folder. I want to see if everything is really automatic, or if I still have the possibility to perform edits and add information to the photos I place in the folder.
But no, the photo is uploaded right away. No information is added to the photo, and once I visit my Flickr page, the Photo Title field is auto-filled like this (surely a bug):
Even worse, the Uploadr has automatically created a Flickr Up test album with the title of the folder I created for this test.
Sticking with the old version
Perhaps I’m not a typical Flickr user or I don’t belong to the current target audience, but my first impression of this experience is, How can people be okay with this type of automation? Uploading from the iOS app isn’t the greatest experience either, but at least it’s more thoughtful — you have the opportunity to give a title to your photo, do some basic editing, share it, geotag it and file it into one or more albums. In the new Flickr Uploadr the only level of control you have is selecting source folders of photos, and that’s it. This new version of the Mac client is significantly dumbed down, in my opinion, and it seems to be aimed at people who either love to flood their photostreams with dozens of photos at once or use their Flickr account essentially as a backup and don’t really care about showing their photos in a meaningful way.
I have recovered the old Flickr Uploadr from a previous Time Machine backup and will keep using it until it works. If you’ve been using it the way that I do and have a similar upload workflow as mine, I suggest you avoid ‘upgrading’ to the new Uploadr and wait — maybe new features and more fine-grained options will be added in the future. I believe you can even keep the two versions together in the Applications folder — to write this article and take screenshots I kept the two apps by renaming the older version Flickr Uploadr 2009.app — so you can experiment and maybe have the best of both worlds, so to speak. As for me, I have already deleted the new version.