What is metadata?

Metadata is simply additional information about your media. Some metadata is automatically included when you take a picture such as camera model and date taken but other information can be added later like tags and ratings.

I still don’t get it…

Here is an example that might clarify this for you. If you listen to music, you have seen the benefits of metadata. Lets say you have thousands of songs on your computer. You wouldn’t put all your MP3s in one folder structure labeled by artist and one labeled by album. That would fill up your hard drive very quickly! So, what do you do? Well, you use music management software such as iTunes to organize your music. It finds all the metadata embedded in each file and then organizes the same music files by artist, album, genre, etc. There is no need to duplicate the actual files to see your music collection differently. You can even create playlists or smart playlists (think albums and smart albums) to further organize your music.

OK, so where does F-Stop come in?

Glad you asked. This can be broken down into three main section: Reading, Modifying and Writing.

Reading Metadata

The first time you open F-Stop, it starts scanning/reading your supported media in the included folders. This initial scan of your media can take a while depending on how much media you have and device speed. Remember, F-Stop isn’t just creating thumbnails but reading all the information in the files. After the initial scan, browsing your media is extremely fast.
Currently, F-Stop can only read embedded metadata (metadata stored inside the file) for JPG images. For other formats, we can read tags and ratings that are stored in XMP sidecar files. A sidecar file is basically just a text file (XML to be specific) that contains the metadata. F-stop only supports tags and ratings for XMP sidecar files. The sidecar file has the same name as the media file it describes except it uses the extension “XMP”. It is important that this file is in the same directory as the media file or the information will not be read. Additionally, F-Stop always moves the sidecar with the corresponding media file but external apps may not understand this relationship.
F-Stop supports the metadata standards EXIF, IPTC, and XMP. That may sound very technical but put simply, we can read all the standards used today. You can view all the metadata from the thumbnail view or the image viewer by selecting “Details” from the drop down menu. For thumbnail view, you do need to long-press on the thumbnail before selecting “Details”.

Modifying Metadata

F-Stop allows you to modify the tags and ratings for your media. Details on how to modify tags and ratings can be found in the tutorial. After you modify a tag or rating, F-Stop will show the “Not updated” status icon on the thumbnail if you chose to not automatically write metadata to disk.

Writing Metadata

In version 2.0.0 we introduced the paid feature of writing tags and ratings to disk. Just like reading metadata, F-Stop can only write embedded metadata (metadata stored inside the file) for JPG images. For other formats (including JPG), F-Stop can write tags and ratings into XMP sidecar files. Nearly all the major digital asset management (DAM) tools (Google Picasa, Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, Windows Live Photo Gallery, etc.) can read the embedded metadata but there is limited support for XMP sidecars even though it is a standard. The benefit of the sidecar files is that creating them basically backs up all the metadata F-Stop creates so it can be easily transferred between devices and F-Stop will be able to include your organization.

Managing Metadata

F-Stop provides convenient ways to manage saved and unsaved metadata. F-Stop provides an option in the navigation drawer that displays all your unsaved media files under the title “Update Metadata”. From this section, you can select any or all the files you want to manage and select “Save metadata” to save changes to the disk or “Update metadata from disk” to read the metadata on the disk and discard any unsaved changes.

Update Metadata in Navigation Drawer

Long-press on thumbnail and update metadata

F-Stop also overlays a status icon on your media that has unsaved changes. These status icons are visible in any thumbnail view as long as the overlay icon feature is turned on. The same Save and Update actions can be performed on these files as well.

Update Metadata Status Icon

Related Settings

The settings related to metadata are located at Settings > Main

Metadata Settings

Setting Description
Autosave Selecting this option automatically saves tags and ratings according to your preferences. This will cause tagging and rating to be a little slower since it has to perform a write to the file as well. (Default: Unchecked)
Sidecars for non-JPG Enabling this option saves tags and ratings to a sidecar file for all supported media files that aren't JPGs. Unchecking this option will disable the option to "Always use sidecars". (Default: Checked)
Always use sidecars Checking this setting will always save sidecar files for all supported media. This includes JPG files too. (Default: Unchecked)