June 30, 2011
We haven’t yet made a blog post about a single bug, but this one is big enough for us to let people know about.
Quick and Dirty Overview
We have identified a very strange bug that initially only affected a very small number of users (less than 2%) but now seems to be occurring more frequently. We are publishing this urgent notice to let our customers know about the problem, a temporary workaround, and what we’re doing to fix it.
Sometimes when you open Photosmith, pictures that you’ve already moved into a collection or tagged are gone. And if you restart again, then the photo will show up again, but lost the work you’ve already done.
There’s an issue with the detection of images that exist on your iPad – Photosmith detects the images is gone, so it removes it (and the metadata). The underlying image itself is never lost from the iPad – only the metadata that Photosmith has for it.
We are making some changes to the core engine to Photosmith to work around the issue, and are working to get the update out as fast as possible. With the new update, if you delete a picture (or Photo Library misreports it) and it’s later re-added, your data will be restored as well. This won’t prevent Photo Library from occasionally “losing” images but at least now your data won’t be lost too.
There are some… <ahem> “inconsistencies” in the Apple Photo library and how it reports pictures to the apps when requested. It’s this process that we use to check to see if there are any new or deleted photos since the last time the app was launched. If the photo isn’t reported anymore, then Photosmith removes it from it’s own catalog (also removing the data associated with it).
In the 1.05 update, we introduced a new way to detect the new and deleted images much more accurately, which allowed fast-app switching and prevented already deleted photos from hanging around in Photosmith. But… the Photo library still reports to us that it doesn’t have some images when it actually does. Thus, sometimes images are removed in Photosmith when they shouldn’t be. To further complicate matters, in certain cases, the images can be reported again in the future, but with a different internal ID, so Photosmith thinks they’re completely new images, again causing collection information and metadata to be lost. For users with hundreds or thousands of images, this is a serious problem.
So… we’re working as fast as possible on a fix. Because the issue is compounded between the bug in the Photo Library and the internal ID problem, we’re hitting several things at once. We want to get this out ASAP but it affects the core operations within Photosmith so we need to make sure things are tested extremely well before releasing.
In addition, we’re addressing some other issues – namely, when an image disappears and then later reappears, the collection and metadata will be maintained for that image. Also, if there’s a specific image causing a crash for some reason, we’re adding logic to try to skip that image upon the next app restart.
We’ve seen this happen to about 1.2% of our users (based on support emails received). But… when you’ve loaded 2,000 images, only to lose the data you’ve worked hard to add to them, it’s a big deal.
We’d really, really like to be working on new features instead of things like this; unfortunately, we need to focus on the Photo Library’s shortcomings. So… we’ve split into two development paths – I’ll write a separate blog post about that tomorrow.
Some users have reported that if they leave at least 5 minutes + 1 minute for each new image imported between importing and opening Photosmith, it doesn’t happen any more. However, about 1/4 of those users have reported that even leaving 30 minutes didn’t help at all. We advise against using the app for assigning metadata to a large number of images between syncs.