FotoStation 4.0

SAN FRANCISCO (03/28/2000) - Cheap scanners and digital cameras, not to mention a world of pictures on the Web, make it easy to amass a huge library of images.

If a glut of images is swamping you, eRoket.com's FotoWare AS FotoStation 4.0, an image-cataloging and -management application with a small footprint and speedy performance, may be worth a look. Unfortunately, the program's weak search function and rough interface might make you think twice.

FotoStation's interface consists of a large window for displaying images and a pane containing folders for organizing those images. Folders are either aliases or albums: clicking on an alias displays the contents of a folder as thumbnails, while albums are more like traditional catalogs that let you organize images by category. Although you can't access albums with a single click in the folder pane and you can't add to an album by dragging and dropping, it's a nice approach to media management.

You can either double-click on a thumbnail to view it at full-screen size or launch the image's creator application from a menu. You're also able to tag some images with standard IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) information, and you have access to tools for applying the same text to a number of images. Unfortunately, not all images can be tagged.

Cataloging in FotoStation is fast. The program took only three seconds to catalog a folder of two dozen graphics files. Unfortunately, FotoStation catalogs everything in a folder-even files that aren't images. While you can define filters to exclude certain file types, it's a hassle. And although FotoStation recognizes QuickTime movies, it can't play them.

Interface problems plague FotoStation. Default buttons don't always work, and the menu display is sometimes buggy. One inexcusable feature: if you delete an image from an alias, FotoStation deletes that image from your hard drive with no warning.

If a database is only as useful as its search functions, FotoStation is in trouble. Its shockingly simple Find command lets you use only two criteria and one condition, either AND or OR. You can't search for a particular file type, you can't use wild-card characters, and the program's conditionals don't allow complex searches. Still, these limited searches are speedy.

FotoStation includes basic image-editing tools and can create slide shows and simple Web pages. These features are nice, but eRoket.com should concentrate on improving the cataloging tools.

Macworld's Buying Advice

FotoStation 4.0's overall design works, but the program's rough interface and pathetic search tool make it frustrating to use. If your image-management needs don't include powerful searches, however, FotoStation might be a good tonic for your media glut.

RATING: 3.0 mice

PROS: Speedy; small footprint.

CONS: Rough interface; weak search func-tion.

COMPANY: eRoket.com (949/454-8469, http://www.eroket.com).

LIST PRICE: $145.

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