Sunday, December 20, 2009

At Last

I have become a massive fan of PortableApps, which is a Open Source, Open Platform, that allows you to run applications from a USB key without having to install them on the computer, alter registry, clutter your screen with icon, slow down start up and consume disk space. I have found having both my favourites and also some only occasionally used photo utilities on a USB key in my camera bag particularly useful.

The one program I really missed was Picasa which has become my favoured photo manager. So I was excited to see a way to use Picasa with/within PortableApps, discussed in the PortableApps Forum

Picasa within PortableApps

Ok to be honest this is a bit complex. What is available now is not a distribution of Picasa for PortableApps, but a Launcher Utility that will transfer an installed copy of Picasa from your PC to a USB key. Once there it can be used from the USB Key on any computer. The problem lies in the licensing of the Picasa distribution.

Before you start you must download and install Picasa from the google site, its free, and will be a good idea to make sure you check for any updates. Then run the Picasa Loader from the PortableApps menu. This first time you run it, you will be prompted by a special wizard that transfer Picasa and installs it to your USB device.

A really big limitation of this version of the launcher, is that photo folder paths and settings aren’t kept when moving from machine to machine. I’m sure that will be addressed in future release. However don’t despair, now you have the warm feeling of being able to view & manage your photos in the same way as you travel. If you use Picasa regularly all this is worth the effort. Just remember to copy any photos you are working on somewhere safe, like the USBkey. At 34mb it does consume a fair bit of USB key capacity.

XnView Portable

At the same time I found Picassa portable loader I also noticed that XNView has become a standard portable application. Having heard some good things about the XNView freeware version  I decide to try it, and perhaps compare it to Picasa. Ok It is not Picasa, or even a close substitute but it is a damn fine program, way better than Cornice Portable which I had been using as my photo view/manger on the key previously. It reminds me a lot of the program ThumbsPlus. It can read and write hundreds of graphic formats include most RAW formats and specifically DNG. It can carryout all the basic editing and enhancing tasks, has very clean interface, does the viewing and managing of photos simply and easily. A tiny complaint is the thumbnails are a bit smaller than I would like. So my conclusion is that as a photo manager on a USB drive in your camera bag it is ideal. Importantly it will be less hassle to set up than Picasa, and installs to only 18mb.


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