Picturelife moves again
Almost every other week, I take a look at the market to see whether there’s a suitable replacement for Picturelife.
This morning, I was having a problem with Picturelife and so went to the Streamnation website, where I discovered that SN has shut down its service, and moved to a new project called Project Noah. Fortunately, Picturelife is part of that service, and so they’re apparently continuing the Picturelife product in the new service.
Given how long it has been since Picturelife was sold to Streamnation and discontinued development, it’s incredible that it’s still up and running – testament to the original team’s solid engineering and completeness of vision. There have been no new features or app updates on any platform since the sale 15 months ago, and yet the bugs and glitches that have crept in have been relatively minor.
However, it reaffirms the tenuousness of staying with a service where development has ceased.
The Transience of Clouds
It also reaffirms a fundamental nature of both clouds and cloud services – they do not persist, but drift and disperse. What may be a cool service today, will have either sold out and moved on by this time next year, or withered and died – even those backed by big brands.
Storing something that you’ll want to keep for more than a year – such as your family photos or documents – is still best left to a boring hard drive, with boring files stored in boring folders, and a boring naming convention. Anything else is a ticking timebomb, with your family’s most treasured and important possessions at risk.
Clinging on to Life
The painful thing is – Picturelife is so damn good!
It provides all the integration functions you would need – apps to upload, organisation features, editing features, and contextual displays such as geomaps – so you had the ease and accessibility of the cloud – but it kept your data exportable. With almost any other app out there, even if they do support exporting your photos, it will usually be without all the context that you’ve added over the years.
Picturelife was, and is, to an extent, open. You can create and share a URL with anyone without them having to sign up. You can download anything in its original form, anytime. You can use your own S3 storage rather than theirs, and ideally sync that back to your own hard drives with other tools, so you retain control and ownership of your photos. And the metadata and comments are open standard, and/or readable in Lightroom.
In a nutshell, it means you can access all your data and metadata, even if Picturelife disappeared one night – which evidently, it may do. And that, boring as it is, is what you want from a cloud service.