11 Replies Latest reply on Feb 16, 2012 2:55 PM by Stephen Huston

    Photographs as reference


      Dear FileMaker Forum


      If I store a photograph as a reference instead of storing the actual photograph file in filemaker, is it not possible to view the photograph in the record so that I can see it without having to click it for it to open the jpeg in a separate window?


      I have tried importing a number of photographs by adding the full file of the photo to my database however when I got to around 20 I found that the database became very slow with the circular 'wait' symbol appearing on my screen making me wait for filemaker to carry out a small task like scroll down the page.Is this a common problem with importing photographs in this way?


      If so can anyone suggest the best way to import photos to save space but still allow me to see the photograph in the record without haing to click it first



      I would realy appreciate some advice


      Danielle Thompson

        • 1. Re: Photographs as reference

          It sounds like you have inserted the photographs as files, rather than as pictures:


          • 2. Re: Photographs as reference
            Stephen Huston

            If you are inserting the picture (not as a reference only), the likely reason for slow screen rendering (which slows down scrolling and changing records), is that the image has not been optimized for use in the size of container field you are showing.


            You can insert a 10MB image into a 2x2inch field area, and it will be really slow to render. Or you can insert an optimized 100K version of that same image and it  appears instantly.


            Think of it as being like putting a 10MB image  on a webpage and then setting it to appear at 120x100pixels instead of resampling the image to that size before putting it into the webpage.


            Now think about the  user experiences for those two scenarios via a dialup connection -- something like 15 minutes vs 1 second!

            • 3. Re: Photographs as reference

              That's why it's so important to create a set of business rules for storing graphics. You need a predictible folder structure on a server volume and then from there store a reference to the graphic file in the container field. That makes it visible for everyone who are using the DB as long as they have access to the server.

              • 4. Re: Photographs as reference

                Thanks for the advice stephen.


                Could you explain the best way to go about doing this? The photos that i imported to test were 5.8 MB which explains the really slow rendering! How would i reduce the size of each photo? Once the size is reduced can you advise me on the best way to import the photos?


                I have been advised to select 'file--import records' then specify the folder containing the photos which are currently in a folder on my desktop.

                Then i select the 'picture and movie files' option with 'import only as a reference to each picture' option and select 'continue'.

                Then i match up the source fields with the target fields.

                The next step asks me to select the 'character set'- which for myself is mac, but a few of my colleagues who I hope to allow access via remote network sharing are on windows! How do u advise i go about this? If i select macintosh, will my colleagues not be abke to view the photos?


                Once this is decided i select import.


                Is this how you would advise i go about importing the photos?



                • 5. Re: Photographs as reference
                  Stephen Huston

                  Almost any photo-editing software will allow you to "resample" your images to s specific  width/height maximum at a specific screen resolution (100dpi is fine for screen use and quick-prints). Photoshop will even handle it in batch processing. The optimizing needs to be done before the import into FileMaker unless you find a fancy plugin that may handle some of it.


                  If you intend to import as a reference instead of as a file, the folder from which you import should be on the FileMaker Server in a directory where FM Server has full permissions. This is problematic for most users.


                  My own preference would be to do the import from optimized images, importing as Picture files, NOT as references only. The small images will then be part of the data, and will not depend on the folder structure on the server.


                  [You could even, ideally, create the  image field in a 1-to-related table separate from the main record table. Then it will be linked to the correct record but will not be part of the table data which must be cached whenever the record table is are accessed, only if the image field's table appears on the layout.]


                  I'm sure you could some other readers who would do it differently, including relying on plugins. (I don't use plugins because they almost all quit working for some time at the point of each version upgrade, and our business cannot afford any down time on our systems. No plugins was the first rule I was given by IT due to past plugin failures.) Some developers use plugins regularly and report problems rarely; it depends on the plugin, as they vary a lot in reliability across FM versions.


                  Your first decision is whether to setup the server directory/folder structure so photo references won't fail, or go with importing the image itself. Next is the choice of methods for optimizing the images; I prefer batch processing in PhotoShop. And last, but having a real impact on network speed, whether to offload the image field(s) to a related table so they don't have to cache from the server whenever the main record table is accessed. (If in the same table, they must cache even if not visible on the layout, probablay taking several times as long to load as the data-text of the records.)

                  • 6. Re: Photographs as reference

                    FWIW, SuperContainer (from 360Works) will automatically create thumbnails for you. But it may not work if you're not running Server.



                    • 7. Re: Photographs as reference

                      FMServer is not required for SuperContainer. Just need to have a machine to run the SuperContainer service and a directory.


                      I've used on several projects for storing photos, videos and documents and it has been great.

                      • 8. Re: Photographs as reference

                        on 2012-02-16 12:07 Stephen Huston wrote

                        Almost any photo-editing software will allow you to "resample" your images to s specific  width/height maximum at a specific screen resolution (100dpi is fine for screen use and quick-prints). Photoshop will even handle it in batch processing. The optimizing needs to be done before the import into FileMaker unless you find a fancy plugin that may handle some of it.


                        there are several approaches that do not require installation of commercial

                        software; if you're using Mac OS X, i suggest the command-line tool "sips",

                        possibly automated to "watch" a given folder, making a resampled copy of every

                        new image that is put into the folder; this is relatively simple command-line

                        work, but can also be done from the GUI with Automator and Folder Actions

                        • 9. Re: Photographs as reference

                          Oops. You're right; get so accustomed to running it in a server OS environment (which is what I meant), I forget about running it locally.


                          Thanks for the clarification.



                          • 10. Re: Photographs as reference

                            Actually, you don't need any 3rd party software for this. When you import a folder of images, one of the "fields" you will see in the import dialog is "Image Thumbnail'. Just map this to a container field.


                            Note that there are two separate issues here being discussed at once: one is reducing the size of your file by storing only references to the real files. The other is the speed of access to the referenced files. Your original problem of not seeing a  picture in the container field is yet another issue, not related to any of the two.

                            • 11. Re: Photographs as reference
                              Stephen Huston

                              A Caution re importing thumbnails


                              We have found that the "image thumbnail" from imports is not a predictable size for all imported images. Sometimes it simply fails to reduce the original.


                              Our worst experience was with PDFs, where FM11 (unlike earlier versions) completely fails to create a smaller thumbnail, storing the full high-rez PDF image, causing a database of PDF/images that was a few hundred MB after a few years of FM9/FM10, to swell to 10 GIGS when doing comparable imports in FM11 in less than a year with comparable number of imported records.


                              I haven't relied on the FM11 thumbnail import since discovering that gotcha! Might be worth testing with various image formats, but it has not been a priority for me because we must use PDFs in our business.


                              Test it well before counting on imported thumbnails to resample properly from your originals.