I find the filmroll concept a little tedious.

I am pretty new to darktable but so far I find the filmroll concept a little tedious to handle. I like the way Digikam handles things. It shows the folders as they are on disk and it’s really easy to move and synchronize things. In darktable I am never sure where my pictures are on disk and if it shows all the images that are on disk. Again, maybe I will get used to it but so far it’s a little confusing and it seems unnecessarily cumbersome.

I wish there was a mode where darktable just showed the folder hierarchy on disk.


Hi and welcome. Since you’re pretty new to darktable, you should spend some time with the documentation. Film roll is just one way to sort your library; there are many others. You can read about them here: https://www.darktable.org/usermanual/en/module-reference/utility-modules/shared/collect-images/

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I just found out (with Darktable 3.5+) that you can define a folder display under collection filter panel and it sticks between restart. (as far I remember keeping this filter setting (folder, filmroll…) wasn’t the case with DT 3.4, but I’m not 100% sure).

Darktable is not a photo oriented file browser, as digikam is. But is a library oriented software, which needs to be manually feeded by photos you want to keep and work on, as Lightroom or Luminar are.

With Digikam, you think of file first, that you want to manage and edit eventually.
With Darktable, you think of photo first, not file. You don’t care were the files are, you import in the library only what you want and work on the photos, not the files. File management is not meant to be part of Darktable.

In fact, Darktable manages only one huge library of all photos you import. Then, you can “group” these photos under different categories. One category is the folder they are in. This folder happen to be called filmroll in Darktable. But that’s only one way to see that.

I like better the folder view (in collection filtre panel), because I have multiple folders with the same name. The filmroll view confuses me a lot.

I also wish these folders stay open and I could resize the panel to a taller size too ^^ But that’s another topic

You can resize a lot of utility modules (including collect) by holding Ctrl and scrolling over the module.

It work with 3.4, but it seems it doesn’t do anymore with 3.5. I still see a numbering notification when I swipe up or right at the centre of the window, but the collection filtre panel doesn’t resize. Certainly because the list is smaller than the minimum size allowed, when all folder are closed.

Looks like some maximum size limitation has been introduced in 3.5. I’d suggest raising an issue.

That’s good to know. It makes the filmroll list way more usable.

I understand the concept of having one library that’s managed by the software. But in the end folders are the main persistent concept we have on computers especially if you have to think about things like backups and also moving a library to a new device. darktable is already pretty good because it stores adjustments in XMP files next to the image file which makes it much easier to move things around.

I hope I’ll get used to darktable but so far my dream would be to have the develop abilities of darktable with the file management of digikam.

It appears that the Ctrl+scroll behaviour limits the actual size of the module to match the current content (it will be larger when you load more content into the module). I’ve raised a PR to put this back – imo it’s better to have immediate visual feedback when changing settings like this.

In my case, the filmroll concept doesn’t match my workflow or my mental model at all. I was very frustrated, until I discovered that there are other ways to manage your picture library. As others have said, experiment with the different organization tools; it’s likely you’ll find one that makes sense to you, and then you can just ignore filmrolls.

I understand your point of view. I’ve been there too at the beginning and it was difficult to get my head around that. And I started wiht Lightroom.

However, I built my workflow around this and organizing my files, making backup of the photo but also the (lightroom) library have been set up and improved. I must also add that Lightroom has a better (for me) file management in the interface than Darktable has. you have your panel of directories where you have you photos. Also, you have a virtual folders panel where you can create simple or smart folders to arrange what you want in them.
This has helped me a lot. Now Darktable has to improve its lighttable for me for better management. And I guess this is what you are struggling with (and me too)

darktable doesn’t really manage files, apart from being able to delete them. Perhaps that is your hangup?

But it does manage files even if maybe it doesn’t want to. You can delete files and darktable needs to know where files are. It’s a mix.

One very helpful thing would be there was a folder view that showed where all the files are. And maybe a feature to synchronize filmrolls with their corresponding folders so new or deleted files would be recognized.

It seems that all raw development software suffers from this. Lightroom handles it the best but is still weird , Capture One is weirder, so is darktable. Best would be digikam with darktable to process files.

Let me reiterate again: please read the manual. There is a folder view.

We don’t write docs because we love writing docs. We write them so we don’t have to answer every basic question person-to-person.

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Indeed, darktable is not oriented towards file management, but still, it allows to do more than deleting files. Currenty, with dt you can:

  • copy, move and trash files.
  • navigate by folders
  • find a lost (moved) folder

So basically, the only basic file management features missing are:

  • renaming files and directories (some lua scripts allow to do perform some file renaming)
  • copying a directory (currently, you can move all files from a directory to another directory - newly created or already existing -, which will give more or less the same result)
  • … and maybe a more integrated/coherent way of doing all these file/directory operations…

I totally love dt and my wish is that some day, there will be some willingness and interest to improve things with respect to file management (I’m aware of the fact that it has been a “no go” for a number of years, so I’m not holding my breath!)

Just note that almost everything you need is in your xmp files. I use folder display and actually I don’t use the database at all. I load DT with the memory option to use a virtual library each session…so it’s not necessary as you mentioned above. How ever others will need it based on their work flow perhaps…You can also use presets and auto presets to establish quick starting conditions or views

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I understand what you are saying and don’t want to come across as complain too much. I just wanted to point out that for a newbie it’s hard to navigate the workflow and a lot of options aren’t very clear. And yes, I have read the docs but they don’t elaborate much on how things work in detail.

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Can you elaborate a little on this? This sounds like it would suit me better. Do you still have to add folders in this mode manually or how does this work?

You wanted a folder view and the link I posted in the first response covers the folder view and several other useful views.

Please let us know what you don’t think is clear.