I would like to use a software such as Mosaic to view my photos on my iPad. However, I would prefer not to buy Lightroom, as I (currently) have no use for the RAW editing. So, can Lightroom catalogs be created with any other program? Or are there alternative setups to create a catalog of photos with metadata to be synced with iOS?


2 Answers 2


Lightroom's catalogs are SQlite databases, so it should be possible to create them in other programs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Bearing in mind that Adobe would probably unleash its legal department on anyone who did this in a publicly available program. The database itself is fairly simple. \$\endgroup\$
    – user4894
    Jul 21, 2014 at 19:47

Lightroom uses, or can use and generate, XMP Sidecar files there are a number of free &/or open source applications that can do the same:

  • ExifTool by Phil Harvey, open source Perl module or command line. Can read/write XMP, supports custom XMP schema (platform independent)
  • Exiv2 - Open Source C++ library and command line utility to manage image metadata, including some XMP properties.
  • darktable - RAW developer, can read/write XMP in supported file formats (Linux, Mac OS X)
  • digiKam - open source (GPL) image tagger and organiser (Linux, Mac OS X, MS Windows)
  • F-Spot - Linux/GNOME photo manager and editor
  • Geeqie - Lightweight Gtk+ based image manager (formerly GQView)
  • GIMP - GNU Image Manipulation Program
  • Gwenview - Linux/KDE photo manager and editor
  • Photini - Python and exiv2 based metadata editor
  • Shotwell - Linux/GNOME photo manager, can read/write Exif, IPTC and XMP metadata
  • CC PDF Converter - A free open source (GPL) program to convert documents to PDF with embedded Creative-Commons license (MS Windows).
  • Alfresco - open source CMS, DAM component can read/write XMP (MS Windows, Linux)
  • Notre-DAM - Open source DAM solution, relies heavily on XMP capabilities
  • ResourceSpace - Open source DAM concentrating on metadata; can be extended with exiftool to read/write many XMP properties
  • Razuna - Open source DAM solution, can read/write XMP in supported file formats (platform independent, Java)
  • Zenphoto - open source multimedia CMS, maps XMP attributes to image fields and allows XMP based filtering (PHP based).

The base XMP toolkit is available in various languages including python so rolling your own should be quite practical.

I did find a really good page on the support for and pitfalls of using XMP on iPad here if it is of any use to you!

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Being able to create XMP files isn't the same thing as building a Lightroom catalog. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19, 2014 at 19:45

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