Recently (early June, 2010), I finally got the nerve to upgrade from Apple’s Aperture 2 to Aperture 3. Even though I waited for Apple to address the inevitable user issues that crop up on initial releases, I was still a bit nervous about the install of 3.0.3. After all, I’m just a guy, isolated here in the wilds of North Carolina, with no Apple store in sight, and I’m running on an aging MacBook Pro — a beefed up aging MacBook Pro, mind you, but an MBP nonetheless.
Any time we do research on something like this, it gets a little nerve-wracking. No one who relies on their rig for their livelihood should steadfastly believe, “It Just Works”, no matter how much we’d like to do so. Why can’t we just install? Who has the time to find out how the release is perceived in the wild? You do.
Reviews and reports on a new release tend to fall into two different — and often wildly disparate — camps, it seems to me.
One camp has the “professional” or well-known writers. These are the people who always seem to be on the leading edge of new releases and equipment. They have a long list of friends and toys, and, no doubt, an office full of fantastic gear that would support just about anything. There are hundreds of these people out there, and most tend to give reliable information. Their opinion certainly shouldn’t be discounted, and I thank them very much for all they’ve done.
The other great sources of information are user forums and support boards, most notably Apple’s own support forums. On this, I’m of a split mind: These boards have saved my bacon on any number of occasions, but… this is where you will hear every horror story about a new release, and it can scare the f-f-f-fire out of you. To compile a list of every little nit and major catastrophe that has befallen a user is to come to the conclusion that the release is a piece of trash. Some phrase it far less mildly.
The support forums and other bulletin boards are sort of like watching the evening news: How often do we hear about the good deeds done on a given day, given a mindset where the credo is, “If it bleeds, it leads.” It’s understandable. People come to the boards to solve a major problem, not to crow about how smoothly everything went, although there are a few of those.
I’m one of them. With a caveat…
Everything went very smoothly on my upgrade and afterward, but I spent a lot of time getting ready for it. Perhaps it was only the time that I spent that helped with the success of the project. We’ll never know for sure.
For any major release of software, and particularly when one can’t afford to be down and out for any length of time, it pays to carefully clear the way for the installation, and to have a fallback plan. Please don’t assume that you can just drop in the CD and let ‘er rip, even though the temptation to play with new toys runs very high. (I know, I know…) Aperture is a beast. Your library of images is huge. If you’re a pro, you NEED this to go well, and a quick read of the Apple support boards will show that, for a number of people, things did not go well at all.
Enough with the rhetoric. We’re all busy. Here’s what I did:
1] First, brush up your A2 library. Clear out your culls. Get rid of anything you don’t need, including old projects, books, light tables, and albums that are no longer necessary or wanted. If you have the time, run through some albums and clear out stuff that you now realize you’ll likely never come back to. (Just don’t go too crazy. We don’t want any regrets later.) This is all well worth the time, as your tank will be just that bit cleaner.
Note: After doing this, you may want to Vault your library.
2] Close Aperture 2 and restart it using the Command-Option start. Keep holding those keys down until you get the splash screen, or it won’t work. From the next dialog, you can choose to either Repair or Rebuild your library. At a minimum, Repair to fix up permissions. To get a bit more retentive, you could Rebuild. This should ensure that your library has full integrity, which is surely important to the upgrade process.
3] CHECK YOUR LIBRARY after the Repair or Rebuild. Ya never know.
4] When done, Vault the library. In my case, I created two separate Vaults on two external drives, but I do that as part of my usual workflow anyway.
5] Some people have recommended doing a Restore of your library from a Vault to ensure that there are no problems. I didn’t do this, and I probably should have. I guess I just had faith in this area, since by all indications there were no problems with the library.
6] Avoid the temptation to do anything else with A2 while you make a clone of your hard drive. I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner. It does a fantastic job of making a copy of your drive on an external disk partition, bootable to OS X just as you left it. Priceless.
7] Good to go? Install Aperture 3. It doesn’t take long.
8] Start Aperture 3. Around this point, Aperture will look for existing libraries, giving you the option of firing those up. Don’t do it. I would recommend creating a new library on the disk of your choice, for two reasons. First, I like to start “clean” whenever I can, rather than having Aperture convert a library in place (you did know it has to convert your entire library, right?) and second, this give you the opportunity to…
9] Turn off Faces and turn off Places. You can always run those later. Faces, especially, is where many people have had their computer pretty much lock up on them for hours on end. Places? For me, I have to wait for my next birthday and the GPS unit.
10] Okay, A3 is up. You have a new library container started. Faces & Places are turned off. You could methodically import projects on a one-by-one basis, but life isn’t for the meek: I imported my entire A2 library into A3 en masse. I figured that with all those backup copies and clones, I might as well.
Hours — many hours — later, the process was complete. It might have taken longer because my library is on a 2TB FW800 external rather than the hard drive. I just set the MacBook Pro on the table, turned a small fan on it, and let it do its thing. I imported/converted almost 17,000 images (about half RAW, half JPG) into the new library. Be sure to click on the Processing indicator to get more specific information about what’s going on.
Sure, it took a while, but it got done. Afterward, since I was on a bit of a roll, I turned on Faces and let it run overnight. Honestly, I don’t know how long that took, but it was ready by the time I woke up. (Not that it works all that well, mind you. As I ‘confirmed faces’ against a known ‘Rob’ photo, I was amazed at how many other faces were assigned to my name. The nerve…)
Now this may sound like a lot of work, but I slept well at night knowing that I had a good backup plan. And yes, it was a pain and took a couple of days to get everything set up, but I can now proudly say:
“I installed Aperture 3 on a MacBook Pro, and I have not had a single problem.”