How we got to the new Nextcloud Photos!

How we got to the new Nextcloud Photos

Hello! I’m Nimisha, a designer at Nextcloud. I’ve been working with Nextcloud for almost 2 years now, starting off as a contributor and then joining the company soon after.

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.

Let’s take a look at the journey that led to the new Nextcloud Photos we all know and love today!

Even before this release, the Photos app was just a place for viewing photos on your instance. 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!

Read on to find out how your forum posts and Github issues helped inspire the biggest makeover for Nextcloud Photos!

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, your forum posts were 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.

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.

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!

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.

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 Filerobot Image Editor, and so it went onto the final feature list!

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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