Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Where Are the Third-Party iPhoto Book Themes? Plus Today's Tunes

iPhoto 5 brings a lot of great new features, and among the best relate to photo books. The new book-design themes in iPhoto 5 are much lovelier than the themes that earlier iPhoto versions provided.

And yet I want more. I want a book theme for Halloween. I want one for Christmas. I want one for my Goth friends. Actually, I don't have any Goth friends. But if I did, I'd want a book with barbed wire patterns running down its margins and distressed type in its captions.

All of this is possible in iPhoto 5. Apple designed iPhoto 5's book themes to be discoverable and extensible—that's Sillycon Valley speak for, well, discoverable and extensible: the ability to add new themes.

In the new edition of my book, I've included instructions on how to hack iPhoto 5's existing book themes to do cool things: change the arrangement of photos on a page, change the colors and background graphics used by themes, and much more. It isn't a job for the faint of mouse, yet any experienced Mac user who's tinkered around with ResEdit and similar utilities can figure out what to do.

Which brings me to the point, such as it is, of this post: it would be fairly easy for a third-party developer to design and sell libraries of book-design themes that you could add into iPhoto 5. Besides greatly expanding our design options, this opens the door to the kinds of themes that Apple, as a big honkin' corporation, can't do: ones for religious holidays, for example. Or ones for Goths.

Apple opened up iDVD's design themes a couple of versions ago, and as a result, there are some absolutely beautiful third-party themes from companies such as iDVDThemePAK. So now, designers, it's time to do the same thing for books. I'd buy them—how about you?

Today's Tunes
In yesterday's installment of Today's Tunes (a new, semi-regular feature where I spotlight some music from my iTunes library), I sung the praises of Robert Farnon, an easy listening composer.

Today, let's slip into something more electronic: the ultra-hip grooves of Berlin-based Jazzanova. Call it electronica, dance, downtempo, nujazz, whatever. I just call it music. Their best work is the album In Between.

The best tracks? Start with No Use—great rhythms, rich chord changes, and beautifully arranged vocals (sung by Berlin beauty Clara Hill) that will make you moan.

From there, check out Takes You Back, another great vocal track, this one from Ursula Rucker. Then check out Wasted Time, the soulful ballad that wraps up the album.

I like just about everything this band does, but I never get tired of these tracks.

Jazzanova is part of an independent, Berlin-based collective of electronica/downtempo/nujazz/whatever musicians. I'll spotlight another of my favorites tomorrow.