Library File/Folder

Good Morning

I have just stumbled across Aspect via Youtube and I am very interested in the approach you have taken which I find refreshing. As I am strongly considering leaving LR/PS in favour of Affinity Photo 2 and “a DAM” I am now looking at Aspect in that context.

My first step has been to sign up for a Beta tester licence and may well upgrade to the early adopter style licence if my initial investigations prove reasonably positive. From there I am going to “scan” just a small number of folders to get a feel for the software capabilities before gradually adding more folders/drives. This would be a slow process as I have 110K images, which I’m sure will not be a problem, which will inevitably take time to scan into the library.

Can I clarify please something about the library. I assume the term “library” refers to a database/catalogue file and associated files? In the documentation it states that this must be on the same drive as the image folder location. Is this the case as that would seem to create problems where images are across multiple drives, as mine are.

Looking forward to exploring this DAM with a serious intent to migrate away from Lightroom.



Hello Martin

our concept for spanning multiple drives is based on the synchronization feature. The idea is that you have one instance of the library on each drive and either use the corresponding synchronization rules to control what is stored where (e.g. drive one stores all pictures up to 2000/12/31, drive two from 2001/1/1 to 2016/12/31 and drive three anything starting from 2017/1/1), or manage that manually by marking the appropriate events as “keep available locally”.

What this enables is that, particularly when using external drives, each drive has the full catalog and can be used in isolation. So for example you could grab your laptop and the drive you need for a client, perform some sort of selection/editing on the go, and then later put it back to the workstation to have it synchronize the catalog with the other drives.

Now unfortunately we still have a lot of work to do with regards to the documentation and tutorials and this is currently hard to find out just by chance. In addition to planning tutorials, we are also still thinking about how we can integrate this into the library creation workflow to make it a first class supported use case.

If you want to try it out, I would still strongly recommend to start experimenting with a copy of the photos, or at least with a regular full backup present. Everything is reasonably stable right now, but we still have at least one unresolved case where the synchronization process runs into an issue when working on the same photos on multiple library instances concurrently.

The basic process goes like this:

  1. Create a new library on the “primary” hard drive, choosing a scanned folder as appropriate
  2. Open the “synchronization” panel (the rightmost tab in the right sidebar) and click the three dots next to the first (and only so far) entry
  3. Choose the appropriate synchronization rule for the drive
    • Date range based: choose “RESTRICT TO DATE RANGE” and set the appropriate range
    • Managed manually: choose “LIMIT TOTAL SIZE” and leave the size set to zero
  4. Close the dialog, click the (+) icon at the top of the synchronization panel and choose “External hard drive or NAS”
  5. Now pick/create a folder on the second drive where the catalog and any newly added files or events will go
  6. Choose the synchronization settings analogous to step 3 and click “Start synchronization”
  7. After the new library instance has been created, you can open it from the “Library” menu and then go to “Library” → “Scanned folders” in the application settings to choose any scanned folder(s) on the new drive

Of course, steps 4 to 7 can be repeated for any number of drives.

Out of interest, since we have come across a lot of different approaches already, do you have a fixed scheme for distributing your photos over different drives? Some schemes (such as keeping RAW files on a separate drive) are difficult to support due to our general approach of handling related images, but for others we might for example be able to add a specialized synchronization rule, of which we have a few planned already.

Managed manually: choose “LIMIT TOTAL SIZE” and leave the size set to zero

I just noticed that this setting actually doesn’t work as expected when left to zero. For now the workaround is to use “LIMIT MAXIMUM AGE” and set it to the minimum setting. I’ll fix this for the next update.

Hi Soenke

Many thanks for the excellent response.

I now have a much improved/corrected understanding of the overall library concept. Like so much of what I am learning about Aspect it is refreshingly original and well considered and offers some excellent options out in the real world.

Looking at your comments I think I will invest in an external SSD of sufficient size to accommodate last years work along with this years and set up a test library to enable me to build up some understanding of how I can devise a workflow with Affinity Photo, which is what I will use if I do migrate away from Adobe, as well as how I might move all files since 2009 into Aspect. I will need to build a suitable management system for all my old work which will have to be done manually so this is going to be a substantial task in and of itself. However, I must not prejudge so setting up an isolated test library is the priority to learn about collections and events.

To answer your question regarding how I manage my files it is fairly straightforward. Namely
> mm - Mon
> dd
All versions of any image (RAW, Tiff/psd/Psb, JPG etc) are kept in the original folder and stacked using LRs stack function along with use of the “copy name” field in LRs metadata to describe each version.

Files are spread over two internal drives with newer work on an SSD and older on a larger HDD . When space starts to run out on the SSD a years worth is moved to the HDD. In an ideal world it would be on one internal drive (SSD) but finances suggest the cheaper approach I describe.

I use LR hierarchical collections and smart collections extensively and can see that this seems to match the approach within Aspect reasonably well. Keywords are used but mostly to drive smart collections

I’m sure that, within Aspect, I can emulate this approach and improve on it but again I should not prejudge before gaining greater knowledge of the software.

Thanks again.


As a quick follow-up, yesterday we have released preview 28, which includes some important fixes and, in particular, a new “MANUAL” mode. I’ve also written up a slightly more elaborate HOWTO about this, which we’ll try to keep up to date as this kind of use case gets better integrated into the UI over time.