Reporting on interaction with Apple. As I mentioned, I reported the problem to Apple. I was contacted on 11/3 by a gentleman at Apple asking for more details and a small sample. I described the problem and sent in two photos: in one the faces were offset. In the other, adding a name did not stick (when you went back to the photo the name was not there). I only submitted two photos due to file size limits.
My last comment was: "I really just need to know if this is repairable or I just need to give it up."
Apple's reply on Nov 4: "Thank you for the details. I will pass this to engineering. If we feel we can recover it, I'll let you know."
That reply was significantly less of a commitment than I had hoped for. So iPhoto's database got contaminated, I ebuilt it in Aperture, and now Aperture is contaminated. I decided to rethink my logic that brought me to these two products in the first place. I purchased my first personal computer in 1978 and have never been without one since. When I moved to Apple, it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders: I don't have to be a system engineer to make all the stuff work together. That was true until recently. Now, I see the same kind of problems that occurred in the Windows world popping up in Apple country: specifically, it's up to me to figure out workarounds to software bugs. I really don't want to have to do that.
I did some research on alternatives to iPhoto and Aperture and believe I have found the critical flaw: Apple stores all the information about my photos in a database that it manages--and that database is proprietary and cannot be repaired with the tools provided to repair it. I was also shocked to find in one article that the author could find no professional photographers that use either product!
Looking for value, I looked at Picasa. While I have a prejudice against Google for their recent actions relative to Apple (namely Android), they use a different logic: store all information in the photo itself, then extract from the photos to make up the display. This approach has one big upside: NO DATABASE! While Picasa does store faces in a .plist, you can also have them added to the photo. The cure for a contaminated faces database in Picasa is to delete the database and have Picasa recreate it by reading the photo data.
My research indicates there is no standard for storing name data in a photo. That means Picasa has it's way (which it understands), but there is no guarantee that anyone else can make sense of the data. Not too excited about that, but found an app on the app store called Photo Meta Edit. It shows all the data stored with the photo, and allows you to directly edit it. I kinda like that. Here's how a face is stored. It is in the XMP section in 3 sub-sections. Here are the entries:
mwg-rs:Name Bernice McCoy
I think the program was $3-4.
So, I'm thinking about migrating from Aperture to Picasa. I'd do that by exporting each event into a new physical folder, exporting the current version (which is edited). Maybe keep Aperture as a storage spot for the originals. Picasa interface is kinda intuitive. I like it shows all the photos with location info, and the date when the photo is selected.
I'd like your experiences and recommendations.
Thanks Dan for reporting your experience.
I have the same issue with Aperture since upgrading to 3.5. I had this issue before with an older version of iPhoto, but at that time I decided to switch to Aperture, mainly for the more powerful editing capabilities that Aperture id offering. And I was glad to find out that with Aperture I wasn't having that annoying Faces bug. But now (eventually?) it's back! I was about to contact Apple support, but your report is a little bit discouraging, however I think I'll submit the same question.
I moved to Apple in 2007 and I had the same feeling ... "like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders". I still think that Apple, Mac and the overall OS X experience are better than Windows and switching is worth. But disappointments are not completely gone.
I tried Picasa some years ago - it must be different and better today - however I don't feel like... partly because of the same Google prejudice.
I would say that an alternative to Aperture is Adobe Lightroom. More expensive than Aperture, but it might be more reliable, even if I don't think it has a Faces feature. Which, actually, to me, is something I can live without. The thing I'm afraid has really no alternatives is the Aperture integration with iPhoto. The main reason behind my first-iPhoto and subsequent-Aperture choice.
I'll let you know should I have any significant update on this bug.
I have to admit, I'm blown away by Picasa. I did not realize I had "worked around" the fear that Aperture would screw up the database by having multiple Aperture libraries. I had about 6000 photos in my "managed" library, which meant every individual had been identified, every date was correct, and every photo was geotagged. I had several other libraries that recorded major efforts: like scanning my parents photos, scanning my in-laws slides and the like. In Picasa, they are all viewable in the library, albeit in different folders. I was kinda surprised to find I have more than 26,000 photos. I bought the program Gemini (MacPaw) to find duplicates and was stunned to find there were exactly 6.
I actually prefer the Picasa interface in three aspects. First, if you are looking at the thumbnails (like 20-30 on one screen), each thumbnail has a pointer on it if it is geotagged. There is a similar view in Aperture, but you have to select it. Second, if you double-click and enlarge the photo to working size, there is quite a bit of the exif data shown at the bottom of the screen, as well as where that particular photo is in the folder (example: 42 of 87). The faces approach (called People in Picasa) seems to be predicting accurately much more of the time then Aperture, but the interface is much better. Instead of showing all the squares around all the faces, with all the labels below, there is a pane on the right that shows the faces. When you hover over one of the assignments on the right-hand pane, the square appears on the photo. You can essentially do all the same stuff as Aperture.
I have not put any effort into photoediting with Picasa, as I am still adding the faces (1/3 done!). I suspect a different photoeditor will be needed to get the same capabilities as Aperture had. Likely will be Pixelmator.
Anyway, just a progress report.
Problem with faces being mis positioned on the pictures or not showing up at all, or disappearing appears to be to be directly linked to wheter the pictures is cropped or not. For each picture I was having problems with, they were cropped; when uncropped, the names reappeared and/or appeared in the correct location. Definately a bug for Apple to address ASAP.
I have been in contact with Apple Care support yesterday. I really appreciated the commitment of the Apple professional in understanding the issue. The conclusion is that is most likely a software bug that will be reported to the development team and hopefully solved in a future product upgrade.
I confrim all the suggestion made so far in this discussion: face tag mispositioning is affecting cropped images. Is affecting photos with portrait orientation (vertical) also. It looks like that after the tag operation, when the photo is visualized again in the Browser section, the face tag is positioned as the photo has ladscape orientation (horizontal) and is not cropped.
I found out also that Faces tags are visualized correctly in the Faces section. So it looks like the tag is position is saved correctly for all photos (but not visualized correctly in the Browser).
I have tried out also the latest Picasa. Not much different from a previous version I tried a few years ago. Great browsing capabilities, very weak editing possibilities. Since photo-editing is the main use i do of this software, I guess I will stay with Aperture: Faces to me is a nice to have feature, and the reported issue is something I can live with.