Saturday, October 3, 2009

ACDSee Pro 3 - No!

I've been using ACDSee Pro for quite a few years to manage my photos because it's fast, easy to use, and helpful. However, even as I've remained a fan of this software for years, I've also always thought in the back of my head that it just wasn't as good as it could be in the areas of functionality, organization, features, workflow, etc.

I stuck with ACDSee Pro through various upgrades primarily because Adobe Bridge CS4 is such a dog on my older machine. It's so slow that I just can't use it on a regular basis for photo management. I return to Bridge periodically only because it has implemented keywording in a great way. So I keyword each new month of photos that I take, and then don't return to Bridge again until the next month.

So....Out comes the new version of ACDSee, which is Pro 3. This version of the software seemed to correct almost every complaint I ever had about it, but after using it for a few days I discovered that the 'Process' mode workflow is so deeply flawed that it's almost unbelievable. Seeing how this mode functions (even when editing simple JPEGs) , I would have to say that people need to take a careful look at this software before deciding if its workflow scheme would suit your needs. It's a great photo browser, but in my opinion, the editing capabilities have been ruined due to the workflow it forces you into.

The new interface is constructed around modes named Manage, View, Process, and Publish. These modes structure you into an organized workflow when you want to manage and edit images. Much the same way Lightroom does...

But more importantly than the new structure of the application is the vast suite of editing tools that it now contains that are all-encompassing, easy to use, more efficiently organized, etc.

The problem with all of this is the Process mode. This is the area of the software that you enter when you're ready to edit a photo. Process mode is broken into two halves; Develop and Edit. Each of these two subsections has a logically grouped set of editing capabilities within it. So far, so good. The major problem is that if you make some edits in the Develop mode, and then move to Edit mode to continue with the next set of tools, you can't go back to Develop mode again to tweak what you originally did there without losing everything you did in Edit mode. This is so unbelievably silly that I triple-checked to ensure I was seeing this right. This is indeed the way it works. Terrible!

The other problem with Pro 3 is its implementation of keywording. You can keyword photos, but the interface to do it is cumbersome and outdated. It's a sadly overlooked part of this software and has been since the first version. All ACDSee has to do is implement templated keywording like Bridge has and this would be a huge improvement. It's a shame that they still can't get this aspect of their software right.

Maybe I can overlook the outdated implementation of keywording, but the Process mode is so fundamentally wrong (especially for JPEGs) that it immediately turned me off to this software.

Try the free demo version of Pro 3 to see what you think.

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