GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: Electronics & programming

Simple image management program


SiiMAN (Simple Image Manager) started life sometime in the mid 90s as a program called Picman, it's been added to bit by bit over all those years and by and large has been a good reliable program.

But it's been looking a little tired lately and after watching some friends using Lightroom and Bibble in mid 2011 I decided to give it a major facelift, both internal and external.

It's still written in VB6, I do like VB.NET but I have so much invested in this VB6 program that I just can't see myself ever migrating it to .NET despite a start I made a couple of years ago.

2021: It seems that it's too hard to develop VB6 apps on more recent operating systems. I would like to do more work on this but I'm not sure how practical that will be. I have been evaluating a VB6-like program/platform called PureBasic and that does look promising. But I could never replicate everything the current SiiMAN does, maybe I don't have to, or maybe it's worth dedicating an old computer to run the VB6 dev environment then just transfer the EXE file to my main computer. It runs just fine on that, just can't really develop there.

What is SiiMAN?

SiiMAN is an "image management program", it is only concerned with the management of visual assets (photographs). It is designed to make the cataloguing and retrieval of images as easy as is possible.

At present SiiMAN works well with a database of 20,000 photos and original files spread over nearly 1000 DVDs and two 1TB drives.

What is SiiMAN not?

SiiMAN has absolutely no image adjustment capability. You cannot crop, spot, darken, change contrast, scale or in any way change an image. As far as I'm concerned that's what programs like Photoshop are for.

SiiMAN does make it easy to find the original files and feed them to a graphics program, but it doesn't do any image manipulation at all.

SiiMAN is an photo management tool, not a photo manipulation tool.

SiiMAN filename impositions

SiiMAN insists on all photos being named with a 5-digit number. This is largely for historic reasons that I forget and I did think of removing the restriction some time ago, however I see no point.

After all what are the options? These days all digital images have a number anyway, the trouble with that is that these numbers roll over with many cameras so you have a picture called _BD1234.CR2 this year and in three years time you can get the same number pop up. The number may as well be allocated so it's guaranteed to be unique.

Another option is to label everything according to the subject, maybe something like


I know people do this (especially in film days) but what a bloody nightmare that must be, firstly what if the "wallaby" turns out to be a pademelon?

Secondly what if you don't know what animal it is?

Thirdly you have to think of all this before you can import each photo.

In these days of databases I see no point messing around with clever names when a quick search will retrieve images in any grouping you like.

Also, much of my web site runs off generated files of image lists. This is a lot easier with a known and fixed-length, filename format.


SiiMAN consists of four main workspaces, these being

  • Workbench — This is the main workspace used for searching, organising and general faffing around with images.
  • Light table — The light table does pretty much as the name implies, it allows you to move images around in an unstructured way to play with sequencing, grouping etc.
  • Catalogue — This workspace is the primary place to "catalogue" photos. It's here that ratings, keywords, categories, captions etc are added.
  • Slideshow — Photos can be fed from either the workbench or the light table to the slideshow for viewing.

These workspaces are covered in detail in the following sections.

Workbench →

Catalogue →

Light table →

Slideshow →