Presenting jAlbum 23

jAlbum 23 is here, listing a whopping 17 improvements and 15 bug fixes. As always you'll find the full list in our release notes. Here I'll try to give you an overview of the most notable improvements.

Performance

Don't you just hate it when software grows larger and slower over time? We do. Every now and then we therefore revisit the code to see whether it can be made more performant. It's mainly about two things: Doing less (repetitive) work, and doing more work at the same time. People aren't good at this, but computers should, especially if they have multi-core CPUs. You'll find that jAlbum 23 responds faster when opening projects and navigating folders due to better use of multiple CPU cores. We estimate around 30-50% improvement on a 4 core CPU (MacBook Pro 2015). The album making process has also been revisited to eliminate "warm up" costs when doing repetitive album builds: We now keep the script engine between album builds and also keep cached compiled copies of all scripts. We've also gained around 20% better album making performance due to better parallelism (updating a huge "Tiger" skin project). Finally, image filter processing is now also done in parallel to achieve better performance.

Improved image ordering

One guiding principle in user interface design is to not surprise the user. Here I have to admit that we've failed when it comes to image ordering, especially in relation to drag and drop. jAlbum hasn't always positioned newly dropped items exactly where you dropped them, and after a screen refresh, they might have been reordered to match the folder's sort order, but was this expected? Sometimes jAlbum will change the sort order, but was this expected? jAlbum 23 tries to behave in a more predicable manner and give you more control at the same time.

Before explaining further, let me just quickly explain how image ordering in jAlbum works: Historically, jAlbum provided one type of sort order for the whole album (by camera date, alphabetically etc). This is controlled under Settings->Pages and is referred to as "jAlbum ordering". Later, we added folder specific ordering. This ordering can either be in accordance to the global "jAlbum ordering" or something else, like "Camera date ordering". There's also "Custom ordering" which simply means "You decide by drag and drop". Folder specific ordering is controlled under View->Order by.

 So what's new? Apart from fixing bugs, jAlbum now introduces two methods of dropping new files onto a folder. The first method, the "specific drop" positions the newly dropped files exactly where the caret so indicates. This also switches the sort order to "Custom ordering" in order to respect your choice. The switch will be hinted with an animated text so you shouldn't be surprised that the sort order changed. The second way of dropping positions the newly dropped files in accordance with the folder's current sort order. You'll get this behavior if you either drop files onto a folder (either in the folder tree or in the Explorer area) OR if you drop files into the margin area of the Explorer view. This mode is indicated by a "drop rectangle" appearing over the Explorer area instead of a caret. This is actually better explained by this short video. View it!

Click to view video

Specific location drop vs folder order drop

Last used tool

Among the new features of v23 I'd like to highlight the "Last used" tool. This little efficiency enhancer remembers the tool you last executed and binds it to the CTRL/CMD+L keyboard shortcut or Tools->Last tool menu. If you find yourself repeatedly executing a certain tool over a range of images, say straightening several images or adjusting the camera date of several images, then this is a time saver!

 

Bug fixes

Fixing bugs is as (if not more) important as introducing new features. v23 has over 15 fixes. The most notable one being support for Mac OS "Big Sur". I'm also particularly happy that we spotted an ancient bug that caused occasional script errors during album making, typically triggered by instantly making an album after switching skin, which happens if you keep jAlbum's preview window open while switching skin.

 

I hope you're eager to install jAlbum 23. We've arranged 30 new trial days to everyone so you have a good chance to evaluate it. Also remember that this is a free update to anyone who is on a current support & update plan (See Help->About). Download jAlbum 23 today!

 

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