The Annotate Expert software by Nikonians should be able to help me with annotating (commenting/keyword) certain areas of an image, may it be a raw image or a jpeg, and then to share these comments with others.
|FIG 1 - it is easy to add annotations to areas - just click & drag, then type.|
To annotate an image basically means to describe a certain area of the image, the comment is "coordinate-bound". This software allows you to add a large set of comments to one image and to search for these comments later on. It further allows you to connect the comments with keywords, factually making the comments IPTC keywords in their own right. For example: You mark a certain person on an image and then you enter the annotation (the comment) related to this marked area as "Anita Corsa". Now this area is connected with the keyword "Anita Corsa". Note how this is different to a general keyword-tagging approach: Normally, the keyword is related to the whole image and of course this can also be done in Annotate Expert, but here we are now keyword-tagging a specific area of an image.
Why keyword-tag just a specific area of an image?
I can come up with a variety of reasons why this can be useful, e.g. on group photo's where each person is marked and keyword-tagged. Or in architecture, where various rooms or furniture is commented on. Another area could be in engineering where constructions or machinery is audited and items are marked and commented/tagged.
I am sure there are many other use-cases for annotations, keywording certain areas of a photo or drawing and this tool itself is just that, a tool. I am curious to hear about other users experience with the tool and what they are using it for, please use the comment feature at the bottom of this page or send me an email and let me know how you are using the software.
Exporting, the cloud and all that
After you have annotated your image, you can export the image and share it with others. An exported image can be rendered (made into) JPG and have the annotations drawn visually on it, using an automatic layout feature in the software where you can select between various types of layouts, such as drawn boxes with comments inside them or annotations outside of the image having arrows pointing at the annotated area.
Well, actually you do not need to export the image as a rendered JPG to make annotations useful or v isible to others. If the other party is also using the Annotate Expert software, there is no need for exporting at all, you can simply share the annotated image (send it via email, upload somewhere...) If on the other hand the others you want to share the image with have no access to Annotate Expert, then you can export the image as a JPG.
What, no Mac version?
Well as a Mac user I really do not like running a virtual machine on my computer just to have an application available. In this case though I am doing it, running VMWare Fusion and in that Windows system I run Annotate Expert on my MacBook Pro.
The reason I am running something Windows on my Mac is that the current version of Annotate Expert (1.30.1) is a MS Windows only .NET application written in C# - This means you must have at least Microsoft Windows XP and the .NET 2.0 framework installed. If you do not have .NET 2.0 installed, the application will automatically direct you and install it before it can run. A large majority of all Windows PC's will have that installed already though so it should typically not be an issue at all. A Macintosh version of Annotate Expert is planned, but no release date has yet been made.
Starting the application
The application asks for credentials the first time it is installed, such as your full name and Nikonians Username - these are voluntary to enter and you can leave the fields empty. If you fill them out they will be used whenever you are exporting an image and will be included on the image.
No side car - all meta data is kept in the image
What is specifically interesting with Annotate Expert, is that it stores the annotations directly into the image itself and not in a separate (e.g. "side car") file. The comments are then not lost when you send the image to someone else and forget to include a side-car file. The standard used for storing the annotations in the image is called XMP and I mentioned a bit more how this works in an earlier blog.
Pricing and trial version
The software can be run in a trial mode for 30 days without functional limitation. After the 30 days, you can either buy the full license, which costs $79 USD (54 EUR) or you can continue to use it in a limited mode, called "Community Edition". The main limitations in the Community Edition is that the raw file, TIFF and PDF support is turned off and there is no Lightroom plugin and no tethered shooting support. If you are only annotating JPG files, you will probably find that the free community edition suffice.
I will dig in more into the features of the product in the coming months - until then I suggest you have a look at the online help/user guide and FAQ section of Annotate. Feel also free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.