The Joy of Removing Features.

Alex Tweedly alex at
Mon Aug 1 16:39:04 EDT 2016

Part 1 of a 4-part series on developing simple apps for photo management 
and viewing.

A few months ago I realized I was coming to the end of my current 
Livecode project / interest, and it was time to find a new personal 
project for my Livecode time. I am a hobbyist developer using Livecode - 
most days I have an hour or less to spend on Livecode; some days (good 
days) that time is fully used up with reading, thinking about and being 
inspired by the discussions on the use-livecode mailing list, while on 
other days I do actually get a little bit of time to spend indulging my 
interest in writing code / scripts / apps.

I decided I would build myself a little tool to help manage and view 
photos (photography being my other time-consuming hobby :-).

Over the last few years, I've used a  variety of programs to manage and 
view photos :

On Windows, I used to use, and my other family members still use 
Google's Picasa - it's OK, but a bit slow (esp. with larger photo 
collections). (I have around 30,000 photos, my daughter has around 
50,000 ....)

For me, iPhoto (Macbook Pro) was good for a while, but as the number of 
photos increased on my laptop, it got slower, and slower ... and  
s.l.o.w.e.r and ....

I know I'm not the only one who's had that problem with iPhoto, and I 
see from reviews that improved performance was one of the major targets, 
and apparently successes, for "Photos for Mac". However, I had already 
bought myself a copy of Adobe's Lightroom5, which is a more capable 
application.  However, even with Lightroom I find speed a problem. Speed 
is fine, even great, once it's in use - but the start-up time and 
close-down times are very poor. From a cold start it takes about 1-1/2 
minutes for LR to get ready to use. So if I'm entering a "Lightroom 
session", that's fine - 1 minute out of a couple of hours is negligible.

But if I just want to quickly view - or show someone else - the photos I 
took one day, or those that someone else emailed to me - that 1-1/2 
minutes is far too long. I decided to build something for myself; and 
for a couple of months I enjoyed building it, but eventually I realized 
that I was suffering from "creeping featurism", or more accurately 
"galloping featurism" :-)

Every time I turned round, I thought of another thing that would be 
"nice to add", and I added it. And if I had stayed on that path, I would 
have built myself a very second-rate version of Lightroom or iPhoto, 
bloated and slow to start.

So I've spent the last week removing features, and it's the most fun 
I've had programming in a long time :-)

I realized I could do without :

  - categories, tags, collections, ...

  - menus

  - buttons (with one exception - a help button)

Everything is controlled the old-fashioned way - using keys;

-> and <- to change photo,

"F" to switch in/out of full screen,

"D" to specify a new directory of photos,

and "Q" to quit.

The app is tiny, and a cold start takes about 10 seconds.

Once I'm sure I've properly tested it on all platforms, I'll put it up 
on revOnline, and anyone else whose needs are too simple to be satisfied 
by Google or Adobe or Apple can enjoy the speed and simplicity of it.

Coming soon - but not very soon, I only have an hour a day  :: Part 2 - 
how to clean up photos from your overloaded Macbook.

-- Alex.

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