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Lightroom SDK: Better ties with microstocks?

The software development kit for Adobe's Lightroom is limited in scope, but it could still help stock photographers and Flickr users.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is taking its first look at the world beyond its own photo-editing boundaries, and stock-art photographers are among those who stand to benefit.

A view of the Flickr export tool in the Lightroom developer kit. Adobe

Adobe's software development kit for its Lightroom software, released Thursday evening along with the Lightroom 1.3 update, is only a preview edition with limited abilities, but already one potential use for the software is evident: easier photo uploads to "microstock" photo-sale sites.

The SDK preview involves only image export from Lightroom, but it includes several features for interacting with Web or FTP sites on the Internet.

Uploading photos can be a big hassle for photographers who sell their work via the gaggle of microstock sites such as Dreamstime, iStockphoto, and Fotolia that have cropped up on the Internet. Some microstock photographers shoot exclusively for one site or another, lured by higher payments, while others sell photos at multiple sites. Either way, exporting directly from Lightroom could ease export difficulties.

Of course, it might not be the thing for everyone, including those who want to do further processing for noise reduction and sharpening in Photoshop, for example. But it's a step in the right direction.

Likely to be of nearer-term use is a sample plug-in distributed with the kit that permits uploading photos to Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing site. It lets users set a variety of options, including privacy and tags, but doesn't let users deal with Flickr sets used for grouping photos together.

"I'd love to say that we support full-on synchronizing with Flickr sets...but that's not really possible in (Lightroom) 1.3," Lightroom engineer Eric Scouten said on Adobe's Lightroom forum. "I'm a Flickr user myself. I understand the desire and hope to see it happen in a future release."

Those who want to get started writing plug-ins should bone up on the Lua programming language that Adobe selected for plug-ins. And they should refrain from ambitions to reproduce the rich world of Photoshop plug-ins: Adobe expects at least for now to confine plug-ins to "workflow" tasks such as exporting rather than image-editing tasks.

Update: I found a couple extra tidbits on the Lightroom 1.3 update beyond the SDK from Tom Hogarty, the Adobe executive in charge of the software. For one thing, he still recommends against using the Time Machine feature in Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system with Lightroom. For another, he said there are other reasons to upgrade besides the SDK, new camera support, and some Leopard compatibility fixes. "In addition to fixing the auto-write XMP performance issue there are several other architectural changes under the hood that should make your experience with Lightroom smoother," Hogarty said on his blog.