Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Thumbs up to Migratr (and free and open goodness)

[Update: Migratr downloads all your files to the desktop, with your metadata in an XML file, so it's a great way to backup your content if you're feeling a bit nervous about the sustainability of the online services you use. If it's saved your bacon, consider making a donation.]

This is just a quick post to recommend a nice piece of software: "Migratr is a desktop application which moves photos between popular photo sharing services. Migratr will also migrate your metadata, including the titles, tags, descriptions and album organization."

I was using it to migrate stuff from random Flickr accounts people had created at work in bursts of enthusiasm to our main Museum of London Flickr account, but it also works for 23HQ, Picasa, SmugMug and several other photo sites.

The only hassles were that it concatenated the tags (e.g. "Museum of London" became "museumoflondon") and didn't get the set descriptions, but overall it's a nifty utility - and it's free (though you can make a donation). [Update: Alex, the developer, has pointed out that the API sends the tags space delimited, so his app can't tell the different.]

And as the developer says, the availability of free libraries (and the joys of APIs) cut down development time and made the whole thing much more possible. He quotes Newton's, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" and I think that's beautifully apt.


  1. Nice find, Mia. One of those things that should help to encourage the take-up of anything that it helps to migrate out of, because it shows people that there's an exit strategy. Anything holding your stuff has to make it easy to let you take it away, or else people won't trust it with things for the long term. The DataPortability initiative will, hopefully, have a similar effect for social networking sites.

  2. It's funny, because of everything I said at a panel on Web 2.0 earlier this year, the thing that got the biggest response was "have an exit strategy".

    I'm not sure it ever really was one, but "make it so difficult to migrate data that people have to stay with you" certainly isn't a viable model anymore. And while some content might be ephemeral, photos (or business data) certainly aren't.

    But it's interesting the Migratr (and possibly also the Data Portability initiative) only migrate *between* services, you can't download and archive yourself.

  3. Thanks for the kind words! Sorry about it squishing multiple words into one for tags- Unfortunately the API sends them space-delimited, so there's no way for migratr to tell the difference.

    Also, Migratr downloads all your photos to your hard drive before uploading elsewhere- so you DO get to download and archive the photos. All the metadata gets stashed in an XML file. Actually, a lot of my users initially download it as a quick migrating utility, but later they keep it as a handy way to back stuff up (not very many downloaders bother to save metadata, for some reason).

    You're right about that "exit strategy" thing, too. I actually just got a request from a small photo startup to add Migratr support, because a lot of people had shown interest in the forums, but weren't ready to trust all their data to an unknown, unestablished startup. They actually understood that having an exit option made it a lot easier for people to give them a shot. A refreshing change from bigger companies that have actually blocked me (I think their business model revolves around inertia).

    Anyway, thanks again for the kind words!
    Migratr dev

  4. Hey Alex!

    You're right, I've noticed that concatenation before.

    I knew I should have checked to see if the downloaded files were still on my desktop! It's a shame there's no Mac version or I'd use it to backup at home.

    Thanks for the real example of the benefits of providing for an 'exit strategy'.

    cheers, Mia