Aperture: Large Library Management - please help!

Started Apr 21, 2009 | Discussions thread
Najinsky Veteran Member • Posts: 5,739
Re: Aperture: Some thoughts

Hi Tim,

You are jumbling up a number of different elements, which given your userID I guess is to be expected

Rather than try to string everything together logically, I'll just jot down some thoughts on the different elements of your puzzle.

Aperture Library - managed V referenced.

This matters not at all, to anything except:

a) How many images fit on one volume.
b) Whether images get included in backups to vaults.

If your images are all managed, then they all reside on the same volume. You are therefore constrained by the size of the volume.

If your images are referenced, then you can spread them around more volumes, and are not constrained by the size of a single volume.

However, you could equally combine multiple disks into a single volume and thereby achieve the equivalent capacity as using them as multiple volumes.

So, unless the physical number of disks you can access is restricted either physically or by bandwidth (eg: laptop/iMac), there is little to gain from referencing specifically for this purpose.

Referencing is useful, if you want to store images off-line, which may be something you choose to explore in 3 years if you question the usefulness of having several hundred thousand active images. I tend to store off-line my 1 star images and older 2 star images.

If you are using vault for back-up then there is a clear advantage for creating a larger volume from your disks.

Aperture Library Size - Performance.

If you move your images out of the library through referencing, to reduce the library size, this will not (directly) affect performance. Only the master image is moved from the library. The previews, thumbnails, meta-data, database, etc all still reside in the library bundle. So while the bundle size is smaller, your true library still "contains" 50,000 images or whatever. And this is what gives the performance overhead, not the size of the bundle (which is really just a folder).

Referenced images can impact performance. If the volume the images reside on is faster/slower than the volume the library bundle resides on, access to the image data will be faster/slower.

Aperture - Multiple Libraries

This is a tricky one. A library is the top-level container for everything. If you want multiple libraries you need an additional container that describes which libraries you have open, and this becomes your new top level container.

Each library has it's own keywords, top level albums and smart lists, book layouts, export pre-sets, and so on.

So would you want a smart album in your new top level container, that could show images from either library? Based on which libraries keywords? Both independently (Lib1.People.Jake + Lib2.People.Jake) or merged (People.Jake). Either way, your new top level container is starting to have its own contents (smart albums, keywords, etc) and is starting to look a lot like a library, eg a container for everything.

You need a container for everything and I think a Library fits that role quite well. Which means only one active.

I think an alternative way to split things up might be referenced projects. Where an entire project could be on a different volume, but still be considered as part of the library.

The difference would be that the project could not be opened when the referenced volume is off-line because there would be no previews or file based meta-data (only database based meta-data). This would be in addition to referenced images, not instead of, because they could serve very different purposes.


Disk (or rather storage) sizes will continue to grow, and arrays (volumes) can be built as large as you like within addressing limits.

Addressing limits will increase dramatically with 64 bit addressing and beyond.

Increases in computer speeds, memory, OS versions and software upgrades should deal with performance issues as the databases grow larger. Iphoto 06 addressed this issue pre-Aperture where the databases were getting too big for iPhoto. I'm sure this will be addressed in Aperture/Core Data at some point too.

Plan your workflow around your needs today and tomorrow, not around issues that may not happen tomorrow?

PS: Great concert shots on your site.


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