What happened to TPE for Desktop?!


At the time of writing, nothing. But less than 48 hours from now, TPE for Desktop (the original Adobe AIR version) will stop working.

I imagine that’s why you’re now reading this page. Here’s the short version of the story and what to do next.

TPE for Desktop was built using Adobe AIR which is a variant of Flash. The maps functionality was provided by Google Maps for Flash API. Back in 2011, Google announced that it was deprecating the Flash API and that it would be turned off altogether after 3 years. That time has now come (2 Sep 2014).

The consequence of this is that the maps in TPE for Desktop will no longer work after 2 Sep 2014. Furthermore, for versions 1.1.1 and below, the user interface will be ‘frozen’ as the app waits for Google Maps to initialize (and, of course, it no longer will.)

Back in July, we announced that TPE would be changing, and made a brand new web app version available. We published two posts on prominent photography web-sites (on Digital Photography School and Light Stalking) announcing the change, and posted updates on our various social media page.

We also released an update for TPE for Desktop to v1.1.2 that included prominent announcements of the deprecation date and details on what to use instead.

That aside, there are still going to be quite a few users taken by surprise by the change. We’re sorry if you didn’t see any of the advance notices, but we hope that you’ll find moving to the new web a straightforward change.

What to do

Here’s what you need to do:

  • If you don’t care about your saved locations in the old TPE for Desktop, you can move straightaway to the web web app. Read about the pre-requisites here (basically, just a modern web browser), and jump right in: TPE for Desktop (Web App)
  • If you’ve already updated to v1.1.2 of the old TPE for Desktop, and you have saved locations you’d like to move to the new web app, you will need to export them first, then import into web app. Full instructions are here: Part 6: Moving from legacy TPE for Desktop to the Web App
  • If you’re still running 1.1.1 or earlier, and have saved locations you’d like to retain, then life is little more complicated after 2 Sep 2014. You will need to uninstall the old version, download and install 1.1.2, export locations, then import to the web app. Again, full details are here: Part 6: Moving from legacy TPE for Desktop to the Web App

Getting started with the new web app

The best way to get up to speed quickly with the new web app is to download the Quick Start Guide – a free, 2-page PDF that gives a concise overview of all the key functionality. You can download it here:

A 3-page PDF quick start guide to using the TPE for Desktop web app.
File size 355.77kB | Last modified Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 17:25 | Download count 124697

If you’d like to understand the application in more depth, we have a series of five step-by-step tutorials that will guide you through it available here:


Getting help

Everything you’ve learned about how to use TPE from the old desktop app is still relevant: the same principles apply, and you’ll see much that is familiar with the new web app user interface.

However, if you have any questions, or run into any problems with the new version, drop us a line by email: Support

New Features

Once you get started with the new web app, we hope you’ll enjoy exploring some of its new features. These include:

  • Google Street View available from within the app
  • 45° map imagery available at higher zoom levels in satellite map mode
  • 6° shadow circle and ‘golden hour’ indication: hold down the shift key and try dragging the time slider back and forth around sunrise or sunset times
  • ShotHotspot.com: a direct link from within the app to ShotHotspot.com, to allow you easily to explore locations in more depth
  • Share/save links to your favourite shots: just copy the URL from your browser’s address bar. For example, here’s a sunrise shot plan from Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming: http://ephemer.is/1wU2G58

We hope you enjoy the new web app: do let us know your feedback.

Why did you…?

Finally, here are answers to a few of the questions that have come up over the past couple of months:

  • …not just find a different mapping provider and keep the Adobe AIR app going? A: Adobe AIR is no longer a good choice for a modern desktop application. Most of the efforts in recent years have gone towards trying to support mobile app development rather than desktop applications; furthermore, Adobe stopped development of Flex (aka Flash Builder) that was the toolkit used to build TPE
  • …write a web app instead of a new desktop app? A: a browser-based web app is the best way to provide cross-platform support today. A new desktop app would likely have required development of separate versions for Windows and Mac, which we simply didn’t have the time or resources to do
  • …require a modern browser? Why is my older browser not supported? A: we have built the application using modern web development technologies which do not support older browsers. These provide significant productivity enhancements for developers which result in more features being delivered to end users. There are few barriers nowadays to running a current version of a web browser (most will auto-update themselves if permitted), and so we feel this is the right trade-off
  • …change the user interface? A: the old user interface had some distinct limitations which we have tried to overcome with the new version. For example, the multi-day view was not well-equipped to show additional information such as for celestial bodies other than the sun and moon (something we’d like to add in the future). Additionally, we are looking to adopt a similar UI style across both the web app and mobile apps over time. The “right-hand sidebar” style does not work at all in portrait mode on phones and tablets.

Kiribati 2 September 2014