Over the past few months, I've made a complete switch to using Aperture as my primary photo-organization and processing platform. On the road, I use a Macbook Pro (loaded with RAM), and Aperture runs at a manageable speed, allowing me to organize, compare, and process images with an efficiency I had been previously unable to achieve. When I'm traveling, I love Aperture. But at home, Aperture just does not work. Here, I run the program on a fully-loaded Mac Pro with striped disks, -- and still, Aperture runs so slowly that it is nearly impossible for me to get anything done. So what's the difference between the two libraries? My Macbook Pro's Aperture library doesn't have many images in it. Typically, it only contains a few thousand at a time; I use it solely as a travel platform, populating and manipulating a few projects until I get home, at which time I export and import them into my main library, which lives on the (much) faster Mac Pro. My main image library (just for travel) has over 50,000 images in it, most of which are RAW files from assorted SLRs producing images ranging from 6 to 16.7 megapixels apiece.
With over 50,000 images in the library, I routinely have to wait 15 seconds to create a new folder, 45 seconds for a right-click menu to show up, 120 seconds when I try to remove some images, etc. I just "picked" an image in a 2-image stack, and it took 30 seconds. Performance is terrible. Most of the time, the processors are not being taxed when I do things like right-click or navigate around, which leads me to believe that the fault is in the SQL Lite database, which doesn't support simultaneous writes. And don't even think about trying to do anything simultaneously when Aperture is trying to build previews.
At the moment, I'm trying to find and select 6 high-resolution images for delivery to a book editor. It's been 10 minutes, and I'm about ready to use file-name searches in the file system to do the job instead (my images are referenced, so I can still do this).
<-- To commemorate my recent experiences with Aperture, I made this bastardized animated .gif that encapsulates the Aperture experience when dealing with large libraries. Apple, your Aperture design team needs to be simultaneously congratulated for innovation and smacked across the face for such poor decisions.
Out of desperation, I'm going to give rebuilding the index a try.
*UPDATE* I rebuilt the Aperture index, and life is much better. Aperture is responding fairly well to complex operations like right-clicking on an image. More later. For now, check out Apple's new product. :)