Migrating F-Spot to Darktable

F-Spot was my favorite photo management program for the past years. In connection with GIMP as photo editor it was a good team. Again and again I came accross Windows users using Lightroom which seemed to make everything so easy. After some other photo editing session I reached the point where the limit was reached. I had to change something! But what? Switch to Windows? Nogo! After searching for alternative solutions I cam accross darktable. This piece of software seemed to be exactly what I was searching for. After some test it was clear: I need to move from F-Spot to Darktable.

The main problem: There is no import function for migrating the photo library from F-Spot to Darktable. At the moment I have like 20k photos in my database and all are well tagged. I would never throw that work away! After some searching I realized that there is no solution out there. I had to create a solution for myself.

I knew that F-Spot stores it’s information about images in an SQLite database. It should be no problem to extract those information. After a short chat at the #darktable channel in freenode IRC network I knew that darktable reads the *.xmp files during import of the images. Seems to be a straight forward solution: Write a script which reads the photos and tags from the F-Spot SQLite database and create an .xmp file for each image. Then import the images to Darktable. And be happy.

The plan was a good one. It worked like a charm. Don’t know if some others might trap into this situation but I decided to release the script. Here it is:

# encoding: utf-8
# Copyright (C) 2012 Lars Michelsen <lm@larsmichelsen.com>,
# This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
# modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
# as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2
# of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
# This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
# but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
# GNU General Public License for more details.
# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
# Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA  02111-1307,
# GNU General Public License: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.txt
# Report bugs to: lm@larsmichelsen.com
import os, sys, urllib2
fspot_db = '%s/.config/f-spot/photos.db' % os.getenv('HOME')
opt_verbose = '-v' in sys.argv or '--verbose' in sys.argv
opt_help    = '-h' in sys.argv or '--help' in sys.argv
def help():
 This script helps migrating your photo library from F-Spot to Darktable.
 It extracts assigned tags from the F-Spot SQLite database and creates
 .xmp files for each image with the tag information. The script cares
 about and preserves the tag hierarchy structure.
 The script must be executed as user which F-Spot DB should be migrated.
 The script will query the SQLite database of F-Spot and extract all tags
 and hierarchical tag information from the database for images which do
 exist on your harddrive and do not have an associated xmp file yet. It
 will write those information in a basic xmp file.
 This script has been developed to be executed only once for a photo
 library. The cleanest way is to execute it before you import your images
 into Darktable. This way you can ensure all the new tags are really loaded
 correctly into Darktable.
 During development I removed the images again and again from the Darktable
 database and also removed all *.xmp files in my photo folders to have a
 clean start. After cleaning up those things I ran fspot2darktable, then
 started Darktable and imported all the fotos.
 After executing the script you can import single images or the whole
 photo library to Darktable. You should see your tag definitions in
 Darktable now.
 The script has been developed with
   - F-Spot 0.8.2
   - Darktable 1.0
 Please report bugs to <lm@larsmichelsen.com>.
def err(s):
    sys.stderr.write('%s\n' % s)
def log(s):
    sys.stdout.write('%s\n' % s)
def verbose(s):
    if opt_verbose:
        sys.stdout.write('%s\n' % s)
if opt_help:
    import sqlite3
except Exception, e:
    err('Unable to import sqlite3 module (%s)' % e)
if not os.path.exists(fspot_db):
    err('The F-Spot database at %s does not exist.' % fspot_db)
conn = sqlite3.connect(fspot_db)
cur  = conn.cursor()
# Loop all images, get all tags for each image
cur.execute('SELECT id, base_uri, filename FROM photos')
num_files = 0
num_not_existing = 0
num_xmp_existing = 0
num_created = 0
for id, base_uri, filename in cur:
    num_files += 1
    # F-Spot URLs are url encoded. Decode them here. There seem to be
    # some encoding mixups possible. Damn. Try simple utf-8 then latin-1
    # vs utf-8. This works for me but might not for others... let me know
    # if you got a better way solving this
    path = urllib2.unquote(base_uri.replace('file://', ''))
        path = path.decode('utf8')
    except UnicodeEncodeError:
        path = path.encode('latin-1').decode('utf-8')
    path += '/' + filename
    xmp_path = path + '.xmp'
    if not os.path.exists(path):
        verbose('Skipping non existant image (%s)' % path)
        num_not_existing += 1
    if os.path.exists(xmp_path):
        verbose('Skipping because of existing XMP file (%s)' % path)
        num_xmp_existing += 1
    # Walks the tag categories upwards to find all the parent tags to
    # build a list of parent tags. This will be used later to build
    # hierarchical tags in the XMP files instead simple tags
    def parent_tags(category_id):
        cur = conn.cursor()
            'SELECT id, name, is_category, category_id '
            'FROM tags WHERE id=\'%d\'' % category_id
        tag_id, tag, is_category, category_id = cur.fetchone()
        parent_tags_list = []
        if category_id != 0:
            parent_tags_list += parent_tags(category_id)
        return parent_tags_list + [ tag ]
    hierarchical_tags = []
    simple_tags       = []
    cur2 = conn.cursor()
        'SELECT tag_id, name, is_category, category_id '
        'FROM tags, photo_tags WHERE photo_id=\'%d\' AND id=tag_id' % id)
    for tag_id, tag, is_category, category_id in cur2:
        if category_id:
            hierarchical_tags.append('|'.join(parent_tags(category_id) + [ tag ]))
    def xml_fmt(tags):
        return ''.join([ '      <rdf:li>%s</rdf:li>' % \
                        t.encode('utf-8') for t in tags ])
    # Now really create the xmp file
    file(xmp_path, 'w').write('''<?xpacket begin="<feff>" id="W5M0MpCehiHzreSzNTczkc9d"?>
<x:xmpmeta xmlns:x="adobe:ns:meta/" x:xmptk="XMP Core 4.4.0-Exiv2">
 <rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#">
  <rdf:Description rdf:about=""
<?xpacket end="w"?>''' % (xml_fmt(hierarchical_tags),
    num_created += 1
log('FINISHED! - Summary:')
log(' %-10s images in total' % num_files)
log(' %-10s images do not exist' % num_not_existing)
log(' %-10s images already have xmp files' % num_xmp_existing)
log(' %-10s created xmp files' % num_created)

Simply copy the script to your system, name it for example fspot2darktable, make it executable (chmod +x fspot2darktable) and execute it with ./fspot2darktable -h. The help output should give you enough information about how the script is working and what it is doing. To let the script do it’s work execute it without parameters like this: ./fspot2darktable.

Filed under: Open Source
Comments (6) Trackbacks (0)
  1. RafaelNo Gravatar
    22:34 on June 19th, 2012


    Thanks for the script. Will it import date information as well?

    I took a few pictures with the wrong timezone, so I manually “fixed” them in f-spot, but the files were not altered, rather f-spot stored this information on its own db.

  2. Progress PaddyNo Gravatar
    10:52 on July 13th, 2012

    Lars, that’s a clever implementation. I don’t have an F-Spot database, so I don’t need to run the script, but I am researching how to use Darktable. Thanks for sharing the script with the world.

  3. Pekka L.J. JalkanenNo Gravatar
    20:38 on August 13th, 2012

    This script will fail, if an image is tagged in multiple subcategories, because in the recursive parent_tags function the function name is reused as a variable name. See http://stackoverflow.com/quest.....t-callable for an explanation why this will fail.

    I’ve included a patch below that explains the changes that I had to do to get this working.

    (It was quite an experience as I’ve never before written a line of Python.)

    --- Desktop/f-spot-tags.py  2012-08-12 15:36:55.000000000 +0300
    +++ f-spot-tags.py  2012-08-13 21:21:20.000000000 +0300
    @@ -132,11 +132,11 @@
             tag_id, tag, is_category, category_id = cur.fetchone()

    • parent_tags = []
    • parent_tags_list = [] if category_id != 0:
    • parent_tags += parent_tags(category_id)
    •       parent_tags_list += parent_tags(category_id)
    •   return parent_tags + [ tag ]
    •   return parent_tags_list + [ tag ]

      hierarchical_tags = [] simple_tags = []

  4. LaMiNo Gravatar
    18:10 on August 22nd, 2012

    Thanks for the patch. I applied it to the original post.

  5. NiunNo Gravatar
    18:11 on July 3rd, 2013


    Thanks for your post, but I don’t get it : if you choose in f-spot to write tags in xmp file, is it different from your solution ? Or is this option a recent one in f-spot ? Last thing, is the import in darktable automatic once you managed to get xmp files ?

  6. Ulf MehligNo Gravatar
    16:04 on April 30th, 2014

    Hello Lars, thanks for providing fspot2darktable. I used it successfully but I noticed a minor glitch. After importing the image collection into darktable, tag names containing a comma were truncated at the first ocurrence of ‘,’ and tags with an ampersand disappeared completely. Maybe these characters need to be escaped or encoded — I didn’t dive any deeper into this problem but just replaced the respective tags in the original f-spot database. However, maybe somebody runs into the same problem …

    Cheers + thanks again for this useful script!

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