Cheap scanners and digital cameras – not to mention a world of pictures on the Web – make it easy to amass a huge library of images.
If a glut of images is swamping you, eRoket.com’s FotoStation 4.0, an image-cataloguing and management application with speedy performance, may be worth a look. Unfortunately, the program’s weak search-function and rough interface might make you think twice.
FotoStation’s interface consists of a large window for displaying images and a smaller window containing folders for organizing those images. Folders are either aliases or albums – clicking on an alias displays the contents of a folder as thumbnails, while albums are more like traditional catalogues that organize images by category. However, albums can’t be accessed with a single click in the folder window, and can’t be added to by drag-&-dropping.
An images thumbnail can be double-clicked to view it at full-screen size, or the image’s creator application can be launched from a menu. Some images can also be tagged with standard IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) information, and the same text can be applied to a number of images. Unfortunately, not all images can be tagged.
Cataloguing in FotoStation is fast. The program took only three seconds to catalogue a folder of 24 graphics files. Unfortunately, FotoStation catalogues everything in a folder – even files that aren’t images. While filters can be defined to exclude certain file types, it’s a hassle. And although FotoStation recognizes QuickTime movies, it can’t play them.
Interface problems plague FotoStation. Default buttons don’t always work, and the menu display is sometimes buggy. There’s one inexcusable feature – if an image’s alias is deleted, FotoStation deletes that image from the hard drive with no warning.
If a database is only as useful as its search functions, FotoStation is in trouble. Its shockingly simple Find command offers only two criteria and one condition, either AND or OR. It can’t search for a particular file type, can’t use wild-card characters, and the program’s conditionals don’t allow complex searches. Still, at least these limited searches are speedy.
FotoStation includes basic image-editing tools and can create slide shows and simple Web pages. These features are nice, but eRoket.com should concentrate on improving the cataloguing tools.
FotoStation 4.0’s overall design works, but the program’s rough interface and pathetic search tool make it frustrating to use. If your image-management needs don’t include powerful searches, however, FotoStation might be a good tonic for that media glut.