The current approach is that, if you don’t use the default directories in the home folder, more or less tracker controls which files will show up in applications like Music, Photos and Videos. But honestly, this makes it very difficult for users to use other directories.
I use a separate drive for all my files, so in order to make them show up, I had to edit the hidden user-dirs.dirs file, tell tracker in the system settings to index those folders and then do a reboot.
I do understand that this approach makes using the applications very easy for people who use the default directories. But there are other downsides to this too:
If you change the default user directories, Photos will show every picture in all the folders that you tell tracker to index. I have many image files in my documents folder that are mainly icons. These will show up in Photos, but they aren’t meant for viewing.
You can’t really use external drives if you don’t have them plugged in all the time, because you have to set them up as your home folder.
So all in all, I think the ‘Import from folder’ approach that for example Shotwell uses is better, although it adds an additional step until you can view the photos. But maybe a GUI option to change the directory applications like Photos look at for content would be the best of both worlds.
Different topic: Shotwell and Photos have a pretty similar purpose. Photos feels a bit more integrated in Gnome than Shotwell, mainly because of the header bar, but is lacking a bit of functionality compared to Shotwell. So the question is, do we really need two different applications for the same thing if we don’t have that many developers already and both applications are missing some features (for example excluding screenshots)? If Shotwell would get an UI update with a header bar instead of the menu bar and a reduction of space between the individual photos, it would basically look like Photos, but have more functionality.
Also, the thumbnail generation in Shotwell is way faster than in Photos. If I import my picture folder in Shotwell, I’m done in a few seconds. Photos takes minutes, uses way more memory and feels quite sluggish.
I actually think it’s a problem with the gdk-pixbuf-thumbnailer as mentioned here, because applications like Nautilus and Videos are affected by this as well.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.