Bibble 5 Pro - Bibble Labs
Bibble Pro is an asset management and image processing software. It has a relatively small feature set and most of what is there is quite well implemented. The interface is very intuitive with a sleek and uncluttered look. The retail price for Bibble Pro 5 is $199 USD and it available for Windows, Max OS X and Linux.
Bibble 5 Pro makes the DAM part of the software completely optional which leaves some good image processing capabilities including noise-reduction by Noise Ninja and lens correction. The full power of Noise Ninja requires an additonal license though.
The user interface is elegant. Resizable panels surround a central area which is used to show images and thumbnails. It shows very little clutter with virtually no overlap except for the occasional dialog box.
The catalog browser is shown as a standard hierarchical tree view. Selecting any folder shows images below it as long as the recursive folder display option is enabled. This makes it possible to apply settings and keywords to a tree rather than a single-level folder, something that is not always possible. Considering how much it needs to fetch each time a folder is selected, thumbnails appear very rapidly. Several display options and layouts exist, with keyboard shortcuts for most of them.
The metadata browser has 6 categories: Label, Info, IPTC, Keywords, Rating and Tag. Each can be expanded just like a file-system folder. Selecting one of the shows all images that match. An option allow to restrict this to a catalog branch. Info is selection based on EXIF data. The list of supported fields is limited though so while we can search based on aperture, we cannot search based on resolution or orientation among other things. A working photographer would find those two to be much more relevant for typical searches than the former. For complex queries, the refinement interface is the cleanest to date. It indicates clearly what is being shown and allows to easily refine further.
Keywording is extremely easy, select any number of images and type in the desired comma-separate keywords. Bibble returns the control immediately after pressing enter, working in the background to actually perform the keyword changes. To remove a keyword, just delete it from the keyword list. As mentioned earlier, Bibble can do this to an entire directory branch, so even though it could take a very long time to apply changes to thousands of files, it is possible to continue with the application. In addition to keywords, Bibble can add start ratings, a color label and a tag to each image. A filter toolbar allows to restrict which images appear by rating, label or tag.
Being non-destructive and database driven, like all modern DAM software should be, Bibble supports the read-only and off-line media. One can search, view thumbnails and even edit metadata for all such files.
Since DAM is an optional part of the application. There is a file-system browser too. It presents a tree view with folders as nodes. When a folder is selected, Bibble 5 Pro displays thumbnails from the images in that folder and not the ones below it. Here t it is easy to notice the advantage of using a database to store thumbnails compared to having to read them directly from the images. Still, this application does this exceptionally fast.
Importing is done through a simple but powerful interface. A root folder is first chosen and then the actual import dialog appears. Once must select one of four actions: Move, Copy, Refer to original location and the advanced refer to original location option.
The simplest and recommended import is to refer to original locations. Choosing this one greys-out most of the dialog. At this point one can specify a Jobname which is preset image processing. One can also specify keywords to add on import. These will be applied uniformly to all imported images. The advanced version of this allows to create a different virtual folder structure in the catalog. In this case, the catalog tree view will not reflect the file-system structure but another one, specified using a template pattern. The default example is to have the virtual folder hierarchy follow a date structure.
The Copy and Move import work similarly to each other, only the former also keeps the files in their original location. Both these import actions can reorganize the folder structure and rename files. The renaming is described by a template. Like with all other import actions, one can specify a jobname and keywords here too.
After importing the catalog is mostly immutable. One cannot remove folders or images from the catalog without removing or at least moving them on disk. A feature to at least hide or remove images from the catalog is unfortunately missing.
Bibble Pro 5 claims to be 10 to 88X faster its competitors. It appears close to the truth. Importing 18000 images took 2.5 hours. Searching and switching between images is instant, rarely taking more than ½s for digital camera images. Non-EXIF query complete under 2s. EXIF queries take very long though. Finding images taken with a specific focal length for example takes about 2½ minutes. Other than the EXIF query performance, Bibble showed to be the fastest DAM software tested.
The data set showed two problems with Bibble Pro. The first one is that it handles EXIF data rather strangely. Data is not properly grouped together and sometimes it is simply wrong. The serious issue is that it ignores files and those files just do not appear in the catalog. This is truly a show stopper as DAM software is useless if it cannot catalog all images. This has been reported to Bibble Labs but we got no response so far.
The total performance and intuitiveness of Bibble Pro puts it among the most enjoyable DAM software to use and we can easily forgive its lack of sophisticated cataloging features for that. Sadly, the fact that it simply ignores certain images is unacceptable and it cannot earn a recommendation here.
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