Adobe Lightroom Woes!

OK, the Adobe people urgently need to fix their buggy software. As much as I am a fan of Lightroom, as much I am a fan of usable software. And Lightroom 1.1 is currently not such a software. While Adobe fixed a lot of bugs with their 1.1 release, a number of critical bugs seem to have remained.

1. Photos fail to export

Today I wanted to export 764 photos from a wedding – urgent stuff to me because the couple was waiting for the DVD. The export process took quite long (2 hours and 10 minutes), but I was doing other exports (resizes of the images) at the same time. To my horror I found that Lightroom stopped exporting after 329 images. It just showed an error message “435 photos failed to export” without any further explanation at the end of the whole process, i.e. after 764 images.

Huh? They can’t be serious about this one. This is critical. I think that IF an image fails to export, they should (a) mention the reason for the failure, and (b) offer to abort the process immediately, maybe with a button offering to “ignore this error for this export”. It is not acceptable to show a progress bar as if nothing had happened, and then tell the truth about the problem to the user at the very end. No, this does not work.

By the way, restarting the computer and re-starting a single export process for the “Error Images” has apparently solved the problem. If the problem was caused by the three exports running at the same time, I suggest that Adobe removes this feature until the software is solid enough to handle multiple export processes at the same time.

2. Database corrupted?

Whenever LR reminds me to backup the database, I usually click “Backup” and wait the few seconds until it has finished. The last successful backup was done on 13/08. Now, the last few days I clicked the backup message away, as I was a bit under pressure. However, LR kept reminding and asking me upon startup. And when I finally wanted to do the backup I clicked “Backup” (with the default “check integrity” checkbox checked), all I got was the error message:

“Lightroom was unable to back up Lightroom Catalog.lrcat. The catalog file you attempted to back up is corrupt and cannot be used by Lightroom.”

To me, frankly, this sounds ultimately scary, resulting in nightmares of all my work being lost. However, Lightroom appears to be working fine, once I press OK > Continue. All the images seem to be there, including the most important recent images!

3. Undo

The Undo function is still not fully working correctly. This is more than just an annoyance because it leaves you with unpredictable results. You better use “Undo” as the last retreat, because you never know how many steps are actually undone by the software. I’d say in 90% of the cases the feature works as intended (i.e. just the last step is undone), however in 10% of the cases any number of steps were undone, including those changes other images you have done before the current image. Not acceptable.

4. The Tab Key

The Tab key is still not working like it should in Development. I can jump from “Temp” to “Tint” to “Exposure” to “Recovery” back and furth without problems, using the Tab key. However, from “Clarity” it does not jump to “Vibrance”? And from “Vibrance” it does not jump to “Saturation”! In fact, the cursor does jump somewhere (it does not stay at the current text entry field). Same with Noise Reduction. I can not jump from “Luminance” to “Color”! Instead Lightroom jumps from “Luminance” directly to “Sharpness Amount” (skipping “Color”). Stupid.

5. Grabbing the focus

And then, why the heck is Lightroom grabbing the application focus while exporting images? I open the Windows Explorer to see which files have exported to the disk already, but Lightroom keeps pushing itself to the foreground, blocking the view on the Explorer window. This silly bug can be bypassed by actively putting Lightroom to the background, but I think a software should not grab the focus when another application has been launched by the user. I admit that this is more an annoyance than the bugs mentioned before. (Apparently, Lightroom does not always do this, so I am wondering what the heck is going on with my installation?)

So, while Adobe seems to be on a good way, it still has a lot of work to do. I am waiting for Lightroom 1.2. It took about four months from 1.0 to 1.1. So 1.2 might be out by end of October. Let’s hope they get their act together this time.

Update: Adobe engineer Dan Tull has left a comment to this post, explaining that they had a drop (an intermediate software release) that fixed additional bugs. And he offers his help to fix the database problem. Now, that’s what I call customer service.

Update II: Lightroom 1.2 is available. Read my review.

4 Responses to “Adobe Lightroom Woes!”

  1. Dan Tull says:

    Hi Mark, I happened across this due to my Google blog search RSS feed for Lightroom posts. Item 2 means that there is some minor damage to the catalog file. I’ve worked out a recipe for repairing such files, if you’d like me to fix yours I could take a few minutes and do so.

    Item 5 was actually fixed in the latest LR drop (it’s the one posted after the English only 1.1, which also has French and German). One of the engineers and I tracked it down and got it fixed just a little too late for it to be included in the initial 1.1 release, but I think if you download it again now you’ll get the version in which it was fixed.

    Drop me a line at the e-mail address included in my post and I’ll see if I can lend a hand with your catalog.

    Also, in general, thanks for the feedback. I’ll try to remember to check on the other observations you’ve got here and see if they are known bugs or if we need a bit more information to track them down.

    Dan Tull
    Lightroom QE, Adobe Systems

  2. Garth Davis says:


    Thanks for confirming I’m not crazy, I hit the ‘undo’ bug exactly as described above twice today. I’m going to begin restarting LR 1.1 frequently, I’m thinking that will clear the undo history.

    Can the LR ‘drop’s be downloaded anywhere, or are they only for Adobe engineers?



  3. jay says:

    I get that undo bug EXACTLY as how you described! I press it once and it undo’s several changes I made to different photos. This is not just annoying but disrupts the work flow.

    What pisses me off the most though is that when I choose a certain present for one photo it suddenly adds it to the PREVIOUS or NEXT photo on my slide. This is mission critical as sometimes this may go unnoticed until you are finished publishing it.

  4. AJ says:

    I am trying the LightRoom 2.0 beta, and am having the Undo bug here as well! I hope I don’t hit any of the other bugs you’ve mentioned. Lightroom is pretty sweet, but buggy is buggy and not worth the effort at a certain point.

    FYI, my work around for the undo bug is to just RE-do (ctrl-Y) when it screws up. Seems to at least re-do all the changes it un-did.