2010-12-18 Flickr to Picasa

I just read Yahoo Just Killed… Consumer Confidence In Them and I have to agree. I am a Delicious user, and the first thing I thought upon reading the news was “I should bite the bullet and migrate all my Flickr pictures to Picasa!” I have not done that yet because I didn’t want to keep everything I do online in Google’s multitentacular embrace. Oh well…

I started looking for a non-Windows Flickr backup tool. Right now I’m using FlickrEdit which is a Java Webstart application, so if you have a decent Java installation, you should be able to start it from its webpage. It is currently downloading 1800+ images “in sets” from Flickr. Strangely enough it can only backup “selected” images, so you need to preview all your images before you back them up. That’s a lot of images… I’ll keep you posted. I’m not sure this is quite working as expected. :(

I also installed GoogleCL, a command line tool for Google applications. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow me to add bookmarks to Google Bookmarks. That requires the Google Toolbar. 👎

Now I’m waiting for the Flickr backup to finish. Let’s see whether I can use the Gooogle command line tool to recreate my Flickr sets as Google Picasa albums using the command line… Or just use the Picasa application? We’ll see when we get there. ;)

Update: I had to restart the FlickrEdit backup process a few times, but currently have 1850 images in my folder taking up about 4,6G of space.

I also tried FlickrGettr which didn’t quite work. I contacted the author and he confirmed that no longer maintained it.

I also installed Migratr on a Windows machine via remote desktop. It seemed like the ideal solution. I started downloading all my Flickr images. After a while it stopped importing images and I found a file called errors.log which said:

The remote server returned an error: (504) Gateway Timeout.
   at System.Net.WebClient.DownloadFile(Uri address, String fileName)
   at System.Net.WebClient.DownloadFile(String address, String fileName)
   at Migratr.PhotoServices.FlickrBasedPhotoService.importFromSource(String filePath)

Hm. I guess I’d have to try downloading the images a few times. This is no good, since it will try to upload the images it got before letting you quit. And it crashed while uploading the images to Picasa Web.

In the mean time, I tried PhotoGrabbr… It took forever to down the pictures. Perhaps that’s why it’s not getting a timeout error? In the end PhotoGrabbr downloaded 2104 images but took only 3,7G of space. I wonder what that means. When I look at the images downloaded by FlickrEdit I notice that some pictures have been downloaded up to three times! And I still get less files than using PhotoGrabbr.

Thus, PhotoGrabbr did the job of getting all the images. It also built an XML file containing an entry for ever picture, its title, its description, its tags, and its location (which is always empty for my images). :)

I currently have two problems, however:

  1. The XML file doesn’t provide a unique identifier for the Photos. I now have two files called 02030_Weisstannental.jpg and 02031_Weisstannental.jpg, and two entries for a Photo with title “Weisstannental”, and no way to match them up. This makes no sense.
  2. There appears to be no information concerning the sets and albums the image belonged to.

I restarted the entire process, picked a different download directory, and instead of clicking the “Download All Photos” button I marked all the sets and clicked on the “Download” button. That should help be reconstruct the sets. I also deselected the following options:

  1. Use the photo’s title as the filename
  2. Skip downloading photos with duplicate filenames
  3. Prepend sequential number to filename

Maybe I messed things up the first time around!

I downloaded all the photos with the settings I mentioned above, got the original Flickr filenames such as 333137065_9520df0f41_o.jpg, and a XML file containing the Photosets – but once again the Photo element itself contained no link to the filename, or the URL. It just contains title, description, tags, and location. It appears to be impossible to link the metadata with a file!

There are only two situations in which this will work:

  1. you never gave a custom title to your Flickr uploads such that the title tag is the unique filename the photo got from your camera in which case you should check the option “Use the photo’s title as the filename”
  2. by sheer luck all your titles are unique in which case you should check the option “Use the photo’s title as the filename”

Otherwise you’re toast.

I’m thinking about writing my own script using Perl’s Flickr::API and Net::Google::PicasaWeb.

Whoa, installing these two modules via CPAN pulled in a shit-load of modules!

Spending a few hours trying to get a Flickr login, I think I’m ready to put this to rest until Flickr does in fact shut down. :(

I call flickr.auth.getFrob and use the frob to call flickr.auth.getToken. This fails with the message Invalid frob. Maybe it’s time to authorize my application? I visit the URL given by $api->request_auth_url('read') and am redirected to a web page that says Oops! Flickr can’t find a valid callback URL. If I face it by appending &callback= I get the message Oops! The API key or signature is invalid. which makes sense, I guess. The problem is that the first URL doesn’t have a callback URL (and I don’t need one).


Apparently GoogleCL has similar problems accessing Picasa. I keep getting errors and requests for tokens and other crap. This sucks. 👎



Keep me apprised. I am still on Flickr, but fortunately I have most, if not all, of my pictures on my hard drive. I, too, am afraid of submitting completely to our Google overlords. But at this point it seems inevitable...

Adrian 2010-12-18 23:40 UTC

Right now it seems that PhotoGrabbr was the only one to actually download all the images and the metadata belonging to them. The information regarding the sets was lost in the process, however. That’s not good.

AlexSchroeder 2010-12-19 08:59 UTC

Ehe, that doesn’t sound like a rational decision. Do you really think google will never close any service it provides?

– PierreGaston 2010-12-20 08:43 UTC

Hehe, of course not. I dislike services that lock you and your data in. But even if they do not – like Flickr and Google – it takes tools and technology to actually move them around. This lack of tools has been nagging at the back of my mind for a while, now. I just needed an excuse to spend a nerdy day investigating my options.

As far as rational decisions go, it was certainly a very bad decision to spend a Sunday in front of the monitor instead of going out! :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-12-20 09:15 UTC

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