People have been bitching lately about how Apple's Aperture is crap and how they should have never bought it.

Now, these people definitely have a couple of good points. For instance, Apple's engineers apparently didn't think that being able to set curves was a necessity. I can tell you that it is. The levels tool (while more advanced than Photoshop's) just doesn't cut it. Also, its noise reduction is sort of weak and the sharpening needs more detailed control.

A lot of people have also complained about how 'Aperture has a crappy raw importer'. This is where they're just plain wrong: Aperture doesn't have a raw (not an acro, no caps) importer. It uses a system library called ImageIO to do all the work of making the raw file into something aperture can use. ImageIO's engine is by no means perfect. Reportedly, Apple is working that for OSX 10.4.4. I do hope they get it up to par because it doesn't compare to my current favorite raw converter (Capture One). In other words: yes, it can be sub-par (it seems to depend heavily on the camera), but please don't attribute it to Aperture, because it's a flaw in the OSX libraries.

Next complaint: the Library. Again, some valid points. Not being able to use multiple drives is going to be a pain in the ass pretty quickly for professional photographers. But another often-heard complaint about it is how it's a 'proprietary format'. Those people need to get a clue about how Mac OS works. Since Mac OS 9, it has supported a concept called 'Bundles'. Essentially just a folder with a bit flipped so that the finder will show it as a file. Meant to lessen file system clutter. Bundles weren't used much in OS9, but they're very common in OSX. Every (non-carbon) application you can find is actually a folder. Just like the Aperture Library. Control-click on it, select 'Show package contents', and you can browse it like any other.

My biggest gripe about the complaints is that damn near all of them fail to see that Aperture, in it's version 1.0, has some very good ideas that aren't available in any other application. Stacking is brilliant. So is the loupe. Granted, some other applications have something similar for the image you're working on, but none will let the loupe work on the thumbnail in your file browser, except aperture. Full screen mode isn't just a slide show like most other applications. It's entirely possible to switch to full-screen mode and do all of your edits. Versioning is a concept previously unheard of in this type of application, yet apps working with raw files can be very easily architected to have such a feature, because the non-destructive editing is always required when working with raw files. And what other raw converter will allow you to make a book of your photos and have it professionally printed, without having to learn how to use applications like Quark XPress or Adobe Indesign?

All in all, people are forgetting the most important thing about Aperture: it's only the first version. It hasn't been (ab)used by the general public yet. I'm entirely sure most, if not all, of the common complaints will be fixed in the next version. I've heard say that Apple is already working on fixing the single-volume-library thing. Unfortunately, Aperture is too slow on my Mac mini, without support for CoreImage. But I do like how it works a lot, and I see a great future for it.