SmugMug, are you listening?

I’m disappointed with SmugMug over their continued lack of support for proper export and maintenance of photographs directly from Lightroom. Back in July, I wrote about the Flickr Publish Service in Lightroom, and wondered when SmugMug would introduce their own.

What I was really looking for (and I said this in the post) was a way for the publish service to identify what I’ve already uploaded and allow me to re-publish those photos where I’ve made changes to the metadata or to the processing. The official Flickr Publish Service didn’t offer that option.

A few of my readers (Gary, Chris, Russell, thanks!) pointed me to Jeffrey Friedl’s excellent plugins for Lightroom, and I’ve been using them ever since. As a matter of fact, I’ve switched over to them completely. I use them for all four web services where I currently publish photos (SmugMug, Flickr, Facebook and PicasaWeb). I don’t know what I’d do without them. Wait, I do know — I know for sure I’d be doing a LOT more work and spending a LOT more time uploading and maintaining my online collections.

With Jeffrey’s LR plugins, I was able to identify about 90% of the photos already uploaded to SmugMug, and about 75% of the photos already uploaded to Flickr. In the case of Flickr, I then did manual updates and re-identifies so I could get it to know 95% of the photos already uploaded. This means Lightroom now allows me to quickly identify, update and replace almost any photos I’ve got at SmugMug, Flickr, Facebook and PicasaWeb. This is huge.

There is a catch, though, and it’s a BIG one. I keep running into the same “Wrong Format ()” error with SmugMug, which means I still haven’t been able to straighten out the photos I’ve uploaded to them. Here are a couple of screenshots of the error messages I get. It starts with a “TimedOut” error, then I get the “Wrong Format ()” error, then the upload process aborts.

I get these errors almost every time I try to re-publish an updated photo, but I don’t get them as often when I try to upload new photos. To give you an idea of how bad things are, I’ve currently got 109 photos to update in one of my galleries at SmugMug, and last night, I had about 167 photos. I’ve had to restart the re-publish process about 30-40 times since last night. You do the math, but I think it works out to 1-2 photos per error. This sucks. I should be able to just click the Publish button and walk away, knowing all of my changes will propagate correctly.

I’ve contacted Jeffrey, and I’ve contacted SmugMug. I’ve had extensive email conversations with each. SmugMug alternates in their replies. They’ve said the following to me:

  • It’s a fault with the plugin
  • It’s something on their end but they’re working on it
  • There’s nothing they can do about it
  • I should use something else to upload photos
  • They blamed my setup, which we ruled out after some internet connectivity tests

Jeffrey says there’s nothing he can do about it, and I believe him more than I believe SmugMug. Want to know why? Because his other plugins work just fine. I’m able to re-publish updated photos to Flickr and Facebook and PicasaWeb without any problems. Only SmugMug somehow can’t handle my uploads.

I’ve tried reloading the plugin, installing it anew, removing and re-adding the publish service, upgrading the plugin, but nothing. I still get the same errors.

My question for the smug folks at SmugMug is this: how is it possible that Facebook and Flickr and PicasaWeb have worked out the re-publish issues, but you haven’t? What’s taking you so long? Why can’t you work out the same problem on your end?

I was hoping that with the release of Lightroom 3.2, and the release of the official SmugMug Publish Service for LR (hat tip to David Parry for the advance notice), that SmugMug would work out the kinks in their API, but it looks like they still haven’t done it. I tried their plugin, but of course they took the easy route, like Flickr, and haven’t introduced any functionality that would identify photos already uploaded to their service. Only Jeffrey Friedl’s plugins offer this feature.

This leaves me terribly disappointed. As a SmugMug Pro, I don’t want to bother with error messages. I don’t want to bother with posts like this. I’d rather post photographs and update my SmugMug galleries in peace, but I can’t.

If you’re having the same problems with SmugMug, please, write to them, and ask them when they’re going to get their act together. This problem’s existed for several months. How much more time will it take until they deal with it?


8 thoughts on “SmugMug, are you listening?

  1. Pingback: This is why I’m going to cancel my SmugMug account | Raoul Pop

  2. David Parry says:

    G’day Raoul,

    Please ping me via email, I have a new version that I would like you to test that may resolve the timeout issue when republishing.




    • Aha, so David, the fellow who tipped me off that the SmugMug LR plugin was upcoming, is the developer for it? 🙂

      Thanks for the update, Andy! At any rate, as I understand it from Jeffrey Friedl, the wrong format error happens regardless of which of the two plugins one uses. It seems to be a problem with your upload servers.

      I’ll be looking forward to the new version of the LR plugin, but until then, I’d be thrilled if the SmugMug engineers could iron out the upload problems.


    • Andy, just to let you know how bad things are on my side, for the last 30 or so photos I’ve had to re-publish, I’ve gotten wrong format errors on each of them, and on some, two or three wrong format errors. This means I’ve clicked on the Publish button at least 50 times. It’s absolutely ridiculous. While the problem doesn’t seem that critical on your end, because only some people are experiencing it, it’s horrible on my end. It’s been crippling my SmugMug publishing. Please do something about this, soon!


  3. I’m surprised actually as I’m not seeing the same errors here with my version of Lightroom (LR3.2 on 64bit Version of Windows 7). I have republished many photos to SM via Jeffrey Friedl’s plugin and seen no errors? Saying that I too have every confidence in Jeffrey’s plugins as I’ve been using them from very early versions and found very little wrong with them. I did try the SmugMug publish service in 3.2 but as you say that isn’t as comprehensive as Jeffrey’s plugin, plus it seems to cause issues with my keywords when published to SmugMug, so I have deleted it and remain using Jeffreys version and will continue to do so.


    • Lucky you. I dread clicking on the Publish button because I know I’m going to get an error, almost every single time.


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