How we got to the new Nextcloud Photos

Today we introduce a blog post by team member Nimisha, a designer at Nextcloud.

Nimisha has been working with Nextcloud for almost 2 years now, starting off as a contributor and then joining the company soon after.

She joins us today to talk about the journey that led to the new Nextcloud Photos we all know and love!

“In my journey at Nextcloud, there were many projects I enjoyed being a part of, but one of my favourites has to be the Photos revamp.”

Nimisha Vijay

Even before this release, the Photos app was just a place for viewing photos on your instance. It’s safe to say the Photos app was well-loved by the community, with so many of you using it to keep your memories safe, secure and within your reach.

The most recent release of Nextcloud brought with it the biggest overhaul for the humble Photos app, including a photo editor, collaborative albums, and even face and object recognition!

The journey to Photos 2.0

There has always been a tremendous amount of activity around the Photos app in the community. The forums were always abuzz with ideas for new features that could be implemented and old features that weren’t so useful anymore. So as we were swept up in the flurry of brainstorming on how to make this the biggest Nextcloud update ever, was what we turned to!

The initial vision for Photos from Frank was a base. This issue from 2019 holds the original idea for what Photos could be. Then we searched the forum and issue tracker for the most requested features of Photos.

The Github issue with the initial Photos roadmap by Frank

Collaborative albums

Collaborative albums was a big one. Many people mentioned that this was the one thing that was keeping them from switching over to Nextcloud completely. There were multiple, well-thought out designs for how albums could work, as well as some who just thought albums already existed, so it was an obvious contender for a new feature.

Community member jsvaliente talks about using Nextcloud Photos for albums
A Github issue regarding albums by community member Mikescops

Face and object recognition

Face and object recognition was super popular among requests. Although in 2019 it seemed like an advanced futuristic feature, with Marcel’s Recognize app, the dilemma seemed to have been solved where choosing between privacy and the convenience of machine-based categorization became obsolete — why not have both! Read more about face recognition and the Recognize app here.

Issues that were low on the priority list jumped up into focus. A dynamic grid view, where the photo grid doesn’t contain a fixed number of columns for each row, was a feature request that was exactly in alignment with the idea of the Photos refresh.

Recognize app by Marcel Klehr on the Nextcloud app store

Photo editing

We also examined the main competitor to the existing Photos app – Google Photos – to see if there were any essential features that would bridge the gap. One interesting feature was the ability to edit photos. While a full-blown photo editor was not a widely requested feature, many people did mention the process of cropping and rotating pictures to be a cumbersome one (see here). Upon further investigation of the implementation of this functionality, we found that it was actually quite easy to have a fully-fledged editor using the open source library called Filerobot Image Editor, and so it went onto the final feature list!

Community member weingeist starts a discussion on their ideas for Nextcloud Photos

All these improvements were possible because of you, the community. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the discussions towards making Photos, and everyone who participated in building, testing and giving feedback on the new Photos app as well.

Be part of the next improvement!

Want to get more involved? Check out our issue tracker on Github or start a new discussion on this forum! We are always excited about listening to your ideas!

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