Eddie Hargreaves writes a piece in the Apple Blog titled “Why I will (probably) not renew my .Mac account” that details changes made in iLife ’06 that screw up the way longtime .Mac users interact with the online .Mac service, particularly for photo albums.
I’ve been using .Mac for our family photo site for almost three years now, because it’s easy to publish photos from iPhoto and the software has taken care of linking the albums together, building the index, etc. But now it’s gotten harder, and the new iPhoto ’06 doesn’t even know about the albums that already exist on .Mac as it sends you to the separate iWeb app to create a web page that it stuffs into an entirely new directory on .Mac.
Guess I’ll have to look at moving my photo stuff to Flickr. What a pain.
And it makes me really glad I haven’t yet upgraded the family room iMac to iLife ’06.
But why now? If I’ve managed to rationalize the purchase in years past, what makes this year different? In a word: iWeb. You might think that the addition of iWeb to Apple’s iLife suite would be a reason for me to continue my .Mac membership. But instead it’s making me want to drop it.
Prior to iWeb, there was HomePage, Apple’s simple, online web page creation tool. The pages you could create with it were limited in their variety, but it was simple and easy to use. I could select a group of photos in iPhoto, hit the HomePage button and it would automatically create a new web page with those photos in the order I had made and with the captions I wrote. It would also link that page to all the others on HomePage and create a thumbnail link on the main menu page.
The benefit to me is that it’s easy to use and simple to keep updating. The benefit to Apple is that because it uses their proprietary software, it locks me into their system. And if I don’t renew my .Mac membership, my online storage disappears and all my online photo albums go away.
So imagine my surprise when I tried to easily accomplish this same task after installing iLife ‘06. The HomePage button has been removed from iPhoto and replaced with the iWeb button. I gamely give it a try, but the first test has failed: it’s not as easy as using the HomePage function. After publishing the page, I realized that it doesn’t link to my previously existing .Mac pages nor does it link from my previously existing main menu. In fact, it’s not even under the previously existing domain. It’s under the longer, more unnecessary web.mac.com/username/iWeb/Site/ instead of homepage.mac.com/username/
It is still possible to use HomePage on the .Mac site, and create photo albums, but it’s no longer a one-click operation. It involves exporting the photos from iPhoto to a new folder on the Finder, uploading them via the iDisk, creating a new page on .Mac, re-ordering them and re-captioning them. If I wanted to go through all of that, I could use any of a number of online photo-hosting services. And it wouldn’t cost me $99 per year.