Sunday, August 5, 2012

Free. The World's Greatest Cloud Based Solution

OK, two obvious issues:
1-This is not a typical article that I would write. It is more simply me using my blog as a tool trying to source a solution I have not been able to find (after considerable searching).
2 - The title is misleading but hopefully catchy and therefore gets more reads which in turn should lead to a quicker result. It should read; "I have an idea for a cloud solution that is yours free to develop".

I have had this idea for a while and I have not found a solution. I know I am not the only one as the is a question on Quora about the issue. So without further ado here is my idea:


Photos Online
(Think Picassa + Windows + Cloud)

The Concept: 
In simple terms think Picassa sitting over your Windows file structure all in the cloud. The idea is for users to be able to keep all their photos and video on a cloud solution. The photos and videos should be able to be categorised and tagged. Users need to be able to have easy access to all their photos, hence batch upload and downloads are required. Finally if a user chooses to upload all their photos to the cloud service the fie structure (file categorisation) should remain intact and likewise remain so for the download. Here is an example of my file structure - image

Does anything like this exist at the moment?
No. At present you can store your photos on Picassa, Flickr, Windows Live Photo Gallery in a cloud service. Or you can add photos to Facebook, Instragram, Google + etc. However you cannot batch upload AND download all your photos. Cloud services like Dropbox offer the ability to batch upload and download but they do not have the ability to categorise and tag images etc. Also, and this is critical to the concept, you cannot download and upload an entire file structure. For example if you have saved all your photos in separate identifiable folders you may want to download the file structure with contents to make an external back-up.

Why is the file structure so important?
Like many people out there I have hundreds of photos saved on a hard drive in various files and folders. A number of these photos are from old scanned negatives or scanned photos i.e. old family albums. As these photos are from scans they are not embedded with the date of the photo etc. As such the way I have categorised my photos is important and meaningful to me. The last thing I would want is to upload all my photos to a cloud based provider and at some later stage discover when I downloaded them they were no longer categorised as originally set out.

There are a number examples provides in the Quora question but none provide the total solution. www.thislife.com seems to be the closest.

Key Requirements:
1. The ability to batch upload and download photos and video in their file / folder structure to a cloud service
2. Secure sign-on with strong privacy rules
3. Ability to  organise and categorise photos and video i.e.
a. Tags
b. Hierarchy
c. Dates etc
4. The ability to share specific photos / folders with external users
5. Potential ability to customise key parts of a user’s area. i.e. A professional photographer may want to create a branded page and give access to clients to review photos.

The reason that I am putting this idea up on the web is;
1 - there may already be a solution. PLEASE do not email me with a half baked solutions. If it does not tick all the boxes above then, as I suspect, the solution does not yet exist.
2 - I use open source programs and I am always blown away by the generosity of those who put the time and effort into creating software to give it away. As such I would love this to be developed in an open source environment.
3 - If someone does decide to build the solution for commercial purposes. it would be great, if like Drop Box, Sky Drive etc that an intial amount of Gb of storage were available for free.

So that is it. If it exists let me know please. If it does not exist, for good reason, please let me other readers know why by using the comments section below.

If it does not exist and you decide to build it, I wish you the all the best. By me a beer when your solution has  made you your fortune :)

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