Photo Tags in Vista Media Center

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Matt Goyer is out with another Media Center post. This time talking about tags in Vista Media Center for photos. And this looks really really cool to me. Being able to organize your photos at the desktop level seems really smart.

The questions I have would be to what extent the tags on your photos in Vista are portable, (i.e. will the tags of your photos easily import in along with your photos to Zooomr, Flickr, Picasa, and the many other photo sharing sites out there).

It would also seem that being able to geotag your photos would also be desireable at the desktop level. If I had a super easy tool like the geotagging tool in Zooomr on my desktop this would seem also to provide some pretty cool ways to sort and organize my photos in Media Center.

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  1. Peter Near says:

    Thomas, from my testing it looks like the tags are portable but not sotred in any standard way (ie EXIF or IPTC). They appear to be stored as windows file properties.

    The photo organizer tool in Vista is quite good, and exposing metadata at the explorer level and MCE level will get many users into the practice of tagging photos (which I have been doing for awhile now with IPTC tags).

    I would encourage you to get Zoomr to import and manage these windows tags, I doubt if many others are going to do that any time soon but it will be a huge competitive advantage.

  2. Sean McLeod says:

    The tags are stored in XMP blocks which is a standard for metadata for image files created by Adobe to be more flexible than EXIF.

    See the following post and comment:


  3. Sean McLeod says:

    Thomas you previously complained about not being able to extract all your data (photos plus tag metadata) from Flickr.

    Now if you had performed all your tagging locally on your desktop before uploading your photos to Flickr and Flickr had used the embedded tags then there wouldn’t be an issue in terms of moving all your data from Flickr to another site.

    In addition you would be able to perform local queries using tags against all your photos as well and in effect you would always have a master copy locally and not potentially locked up in some photo sharing site.

    See the following post for some examples on the types of queries you can perform locally in Vista against your photos.


  4. Sean McLeod says:

    Thomas as Peter suggested it would be really useful if Zooomr would read the embedded tags that users enter locally using apps like Photo Gallery and other local apps.

    It would also be useful to have an export option from Zooomr that would write all the tags for the associated photo from the zooomr database to the photo file. This way if you do perform any tagging on the zooomr site you can still get access to those tags via an export option.

    Also does Zooomr (I haven’t played around with it’s tagging support yet) support hierarchical tags as shown in the Photo Gallery blog posting?

    And lastly you asked about desktop apps for easy geotagging. There are a bunch of such apps available. One of them is the WWMX Location Stamper:

    And lastly in terms of viewing geotagged images in Media Center you can check out the Media Center add-in that I wrote a while ago.


  5. Thomas Hawk says:

    Thanks for all the detailed info Sean and Peter. I definitely need to do more work at the local level to get my photos tagged locally even before uploading them to any photo sharing sites.

    A while back I decided that I would go through all of my photos and begin entering meta data in locally. Basically what I did for each photo was to go into the properties tab and begin putting tags in the keyword section. I thought that by doing this now I’d be saving myself this task later when Windows was better able to make use of this metadata for search, organization, etc.

    My problem was that after doing this for about two weeks I found that when I went back to check a photo that I’d previously entered key words on that the keywords were gone. For some reason Windows wasn’t saving the keywords to the properties file.

    So I gave up — thinking that if I couldn’t count on the data being reliably stored then I’d just be wasting my time entering it all in and organizing it.

    Vista would seem to make tagging photos so much easier. I love this. And I’m assuming it would be pretty easy to get Zooomr to import and manage the Microsoft tags.

    I chatted with Kristopher about it earlier today and he thinks it will be easy. Probably the best thing to do is to have someone from Microsoft talk to Kristopher about the specs etc. and I’m sure we’d want to get a tool like this built.

    As for import/export of photos and not just tags but all metadata, at Zooomr we are all for this. Kristopher has the API built at this point and he just needs to finish the documentation and we will have it out.

    We want to make it as easy as possible for users to move their bits around as possible.

    Not sure on the hierarchical tagging but I’ll ask. And I’ll check out the geotagging stuff as well. I’ll also check out those geotagging apps.

    We do plan on hopefully getting Zooomr more involved with Media Center in the future. I emailed Charlie a little while back on this. We’d love to build something where a Zooomr user could watch their photos and other Zooomr member photos on MCE.

  6. Sean McLeod says:


    I remember mention of Zooomr having a compatible API to Flickr. If so then this Media Center Flickr app should work with Zooomr after changing the relevant URL.

    In terms of accessing the tags if you’re running on Vista then there are a couple of simple APIs that allow you to enumerate the tags etc. and some sample code in the SDK that I’ve been playing around with.

    Although I guess on the server side you would just need to read the XMP spec or use an existing XMP library in order to extract the metadata after a photo is uploaded to Zooomr.

    I’m also working on a specialised taging tool that runs on a Vista client machine to make the addition of certain types of tags a more efficient process. I’ll let you know once I have something ready.