First, congratulations on the release of Luminar 3! I'm certain the development staff expended considerable effort on bringing out the release. Of course, Luminar 3 for Windows appears to be an "alpha" version of the software, not even beta, and hardly a release candidate. This is a failure on the part of Luminar management, and not the developers and support staff. Please be sure that Skylum management and staff understand that management is responsible for what will surely be a very dark spot on Skylum's reputation. Management should never have promised something that could not and would not be ready in time.
These things said, Luminar 3 for Windows is currently untrustworthy, and unusable. Here is my personal list of the program's defects (bugs, oversights, complaints - whatever), limited by the fact that the program is unusable for more than short periods of time:
I. Problems with and problematic photo catalog
a. Program creates entire monolithic catalog on first run immediately after installation. Upon restart:
1. Program displays message saying it cannot properly initialize the catalog it created. It does not shut down. It does not either automatically, nor offer, to rebuild the catalog. It does not offer any exit mechanism.
2. Program hangs, leaving its startup display and a spinning blue icon.
3. Program still displays as background task, using memory, sometimes using a bit of CPU, and sometimes chattering on the internet. There is no reason fir it to be chattering on the internet.
4. The solution to this problem, per Skylum Support's "Luminar for Windows" section, is apparently to delete the monolithic catalog from the system's user's "My Pictures" directory. Indeed, this allows Luminar to start once more. But Luminar makes no effort to rebuild that monolithic catalog. Apparently, said monolithic catalog is unnecessary. In which case, why is it being built at all?
b. Program oddly wants to put catalog into the "\user\user_name\my pictures" directory on the system drive. This is not a proper directory for said photo catalog. I would never put anything at all into that directory. Any monolithic catalog should be placed either into the Luminar program directory, or somewhat better, in Luminar's "application data" directory. But see next point.
c. A single monolithic catalog is inappropriate. Catalogs (plural) should more properly be located with the data represented. For example, I keep many of my photo files (630Mb at present) on drive H:, in my "photos" directory, and organized as I see fit in various project related subdirectories. But I do =not= keep all of my photos on that drive, under that directory. Many photos are kept on other drives, in other directories. More photos are kept on removable drives, and the drive letters of removable drives often change. At this point, I am far from convinced that Luminar 3 can handle this situation.
d. As it is not presently trustworthy, and since not every user will want it, there must be a way to completely disable this photo cataloging capability.
e. There is presently no meaningful documentation on catalog processing, but see below.
e. No - I'm not going to send Skylum a copy of the catalog of all of my photos. That's a completely unreasonable request.
II. Program did not ask for registration information on first run. That really should be the first order of business, taken care of before any catalogs might be built.
III. "Something bad happened while processing image "xyz.jpg" - Try to recover it back to normal?" - This is a yes or no question, but Luminar 3 does not offer a yes or no solution. Instead, it offers four choices, none of which clearly suggest they have anything to do with recovering the photo: "Undo last step", "Clear Image history", "Move to trash", "Close Luminar 3." I certainly don't want to move the photo to trash, simply because Luminar 3 chokes on it. If that option is selected, what exactly happens?
IV. Program often simply exits. No "unrecoverable error" message. Nothing from the operating system. One moment, one is editing a photo, and the next, the application has completely disappeared with no explanation. Is there no exception handling in the application?
V. A trashcan appears below photos to the right side, with an "x" in it. What exactly happens when that is selected? If it deletes a photo, from whence is it deleted? Why is there no confirmation dialog box offered before the program takes action? When I go to trash and tell Luminar to put the photo back, why is the photo not put back anywhere on the screen? Where did the photo go?
VI. Dropdown processing:
1. With Windows applications, options generally listed under the "File" dropdown include "Open," "Close," and "Save" ( that is, "Export"). Skylum has now deliberately =removed= the "export" capability from the "File" dropdown (it was there in Luminar 2018), moving it to some sort of special control on the far right side. Nor is there an "Open" capability in that dropdown. Only an "Open Images for Quick Edit" option, whatever fine print that might involve. No "Save" or "Save As" options (but of course, "Save" in Luminar 2018 did nothing to save a photo... Only to save a file describing edits a user had made with Luminar. There is no way to actually =save= a photo with Luminar. Only "export." ). Nor is there a "Close" capability. I can see no good reason for not conforming to the standard sorts of options offered in Windows "File" dropdowns, unless it is to "think different" as Mr. Jobs recommended. Of course, "thinking differently" does not equate to "thinking better."
2. But there =is= a "Catalog" option under "Files" now. Why there, and not under some new dropdown somewhere? Apparently, one can create a "new" catalog. Or "Open" an existing catalog. Where in the user's guide are these options discussed? After the drama of Luminar 3's efforts to create some sort of master catalog, and with documentation on that "feature" quite lacking, how do I trust that part of the program in any way? When I "open" an existing catalog, or create a new one, how does that catalog then interact with the "master" catalog created at runtime (but deleted from my own system)? More broadly, how do any two catalogs interact with one another? Not at all? Does the newly opened catalog somehow replace that "master" catalog? If so, why bother to create that "master" catalog at all? When I have an active catalog describing say, photos on my drive H:, and I then open another photo from say, removable drive S:, is that drive S: photo somehow added to the catalog on drive H:? Where in the documentation are these things discussed? But again, see below.
VII. The "Layers" dropdown has been removed. In what way does this improve functionality? Would it not have been better to improve on the content of the "Layers" dropdown, thereby making the application more usable? But maybe that Layers dropdown hasn't been removed at all. Given the current state of the software, maybe it's still there, and the application simply isn't showing it. (That's how much confidence this software release inspires.)
VIII. The "Help" (documentation) function has no real "table of contents" beyond "Chapter 1," "Chapter 2," "Chapter 3," etc. , which are meaningless, nor is a search mechanism provided. "Context driven help," in which a help system is opened and the user is brought to the specific subject about which help is needed, certainly isn't on offer.
Which chapter offers a concise and complete explanation of what Luminar's new "catalog" capability is all about? I see something about "Loading Images" in chapter 8. Would that represent some small part of the cataloging process? I see something about "Organizing Images" in chapter 11. Is that another part of the cataloging process? The part that tells me I have to change from how I currently organize my photos? But then chapter 12 talks about "Using Albums to Organize Images." Meanwhile, chapter 11 talks about "Deleting files from folders," which, by the way, deletes the files from one's hard drive as well. Oh! And there's a discussing of what happens in Luminar's new trashcan feature. What a lucky thing for me to have stumbled across in this unsearchable user's guide! Because simply stumbling across the chapter 11 subject of "Deleting Files from Folders" really doesn't suggest to me that there will be a discussion of Luminar's trashcan.
All of which is to say that the user's guide is quite unfriendly. It should be reorganized to include a clear section describing all the features and drama and dangers entailed in the cataloging system, at least, with clear labels indicating chapter contents, not just "Chapter 1," "Chapter 2," and etc. It should be searchable as well.
Is a PDF version of any documentation available? Because even PDF files can be searched for terms.
IX. Hovering over the odd little "Up Arrow" in the menu bar doesn't tell one anything. Clicking on it, however, reveals that it's a one way street out of the set of photos one has displayed for quick edit. If there is a way to go back into the "quick view" for the set of photos previously displayed, it's far from obvious.
X. Why are all the keyboard shortcuts available on the Mac version of the program not available on the Windows version? This should hardly be a difficult thing to accomplish, nor really all that time consuming. It should entail little more than a separate module(s) invoked to interpret keyboard inputs for both Windows and Mac which would return an indication of the action to be taken. Or perhaps the original developers littered Mac specific keyboard processing throughout the application's code? It wouldn't be the first time I've seen developers do such. Not to worry... Wherever there is (Mac specific) keyboard input processing, replace all that with a call to a new module, passing the keyboard input to a function or object or whatever therein. That new module can then examine the input, generate some code or token in the process representing a function request for either Mac or Windows, and then return to the caller so that the necessary processing for that input can be performed. Or, feel free to come up with some other mechanism. But either way, this is hardly rocket science. However tedious, THIS IS SIMPLE STUFF. I know because I've had to deal with it in the past. Let me know if you want to farm that job out to me...
XI. Regarding the "fix" for photo preview not working in the absence of an Internet connection, why, exactly, is an Internet connection expected? What, if any, data is being passed back to Skylum? I did not give Skylum permission to collect any data from my system. How do I disable Luminar communication with Skylum? Firewall only, or has Skylum provided some mechanism to prevent Luminar communication with Skylum?
XII. Why can not the "Free Transform" function support changes in perspective (widening/narrowing the top and bottom of images)?
XIII. Is there a selection of alternate brushes available anywhere? Because the one built-in paintbrush that I've seen is pretty fuzzy and imprecise, and does not inspire confidence when working with masks and layers.
I think that's enough at this time. Remember - the comments are intended to be constructive. I look forward to a time when Luminar 3 performs as it should, and includes complete documentation.
I assume the developers are presently burning the midnight oil. I hope they get overtime pay. The same for Skylum's customer support representatives. They've always done quite a good job, in my opinion. They must find it extremely taxing, perhaps even painful, to deal with so many upset customers.
For now, I will continue using Luminar 2018, as the current version of Luminar 3 adds nothing I need or can trust. I will check back from time to time, however.
Take from this message what you will. The best of luck to you all.
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