Why I’m Migrating from Flickr to Picasa Web Albums

I’ve been using flickr for over three years now. In general I’ve been content with the service. It’s not perfect but it has been serviceable and reliable. They’ve added new features. I’ve got over 11,000 photos there. Moving that many photos is a fair amount of work and I’ve certainly been a victim of entropy. I didn’t much want to think about doing it.

But, there have been nagging gripes.

My earliest is that flickr is oriented to the photo, but I tend to work and think in terms of photo sets or albums. Flickr does provide sets but doesn’t provide any way to get an RSS feed of sets. Getting that feed would allow me to automatically create a post here whenever I uploaded a new set of photos. To get around that I wrote a module that used flickr’s API to work around that. However, that code was somewhat brittle and probably would have needed major updates whenever I did a major version update on the website software.

Flickr recently added name tagging but without any automatic face recognition. The UI to work with it was tedious at best, particularly if I wanted to go back and tag all the old photos.

While flickr was among the first to offer geotagging there was no way to get an overview map for the entire set if the set was large.

Flickr’s organizer, while generally pretty slick, had problems when dealing with the nearly 200 sets that I had. Those problems made dealing with collections (groups of sets) awkward.

So, when I decided to move the website from an old version of drupal to a new version of wordpress, this meant that my flickrsync module would no longer be available unless I wanted to port it to wordpress. While that might be an interesting exercise, it was never a perfect solution and had its own scalability issues. Instead, I decided that this was the time to consider other photo hosting solutions.

I decided on Picasa Web Albums for a few reasons:

Foremost, PWA provided an RSS feed of albums and better yet would sort that feed by the “date taken time” rather than the upload time. This kept things in the proper order for what I wanted.

The name tagging interface was better than flickr’s (particularly when the Picasa desktop app was used to do the tagging).

There were some downsides:

Picasa Web Albums isn’t as full featured as flickr. I did give up some functionality but mostly functionality I rarely if ever used. I’m also giving up all the comments and history the photos had on flickr. Also, while flickr provided unlimited storage space, PWA doesn’t.

It’s going to take a while to move things over, especially since I am adding name tags and cleaning up the textual tags, but I’ve got until April until my flickr account needs renewing so hopefully I can get it all done by then. And who knows, perhaps by then flickr will address my major issue (rss for sets) though it seems unlikely because they haven’t yet despite three years of many people asking for it.


  1. I’m amazed at the lack of information on doing an easy migration from Flickr to Picasa… most of the discussion is from 2007.
    With the new cheaper Picasa rates, I’m making the move to… I just want a cleaner integration with Picasa’s PC software.
    So are you simply downloading all of your Flickr photos (and by what method?)?
    Then, going photo by photo to tag and somehow turn all of your “sets” into picasa “albums”?
    At the moment, I’m using Migratr, but not sure how well it is going to work… it will be a long time before I see the results because it is chugging along quite slowly as it downloads.

  2. My migration is on hold because of a Picasa Web Albums bug where I can’t create name tags. Until Google resolves that (and it’s been going on for a couple of months now) I won’t be moving anything.

    In my case, I have local copies of my images and I’m using the Picasa desktop app to do the name tagging and uploading. Because of that my migration will be fairly tedious.

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