Here are some notes on what I've discovered after extensively playing with keywords imported from my original Lightroom library. That import introduced several types of errors that have taken me quite a while to clean up. Part of that was my own fault because I embedded those errors without realizing it at the time.
The problems occur when the metadata embedded in the image files and their sidecars get out of sync with the database ON1 maintains. When you make changes to the keywords they are immediately reflected in the database and get saved to the sidecars. If there are any embedded keywords in the image file (you cannot embed with RAW files except .dng) they are now out of sync. If you deleted a keyword or edited one the unchanged version remains in the embedded data and the program will eventually find it again and add it back into the keyword list unless you embed those changes.
ON1 & Adobe use different systems for how nested keywords are stored and identified. Adobe uses pipe characters ( | ) as separators while ON1 uses a left angle bracket ( < ). When I first imported my photos from Lightroom those pipe characters got appended to the ends of the hierarchical keywords which are stored in the metadata. Because I like to keep metadata embedded as well (should I decide to migrate away from ON1 or use another DAM in addition I don't want all the keywords stored only in ON1's database) after cleaning things up I wound up embedding those | characters. When ON1 displays the keywords in the Keyword List it does not show the pipe character. When you double-click a keyword which has been displayed without the pipe character the program cannot find the images it came from. This is because it is searching for "keyword1" when the data it is searching against is "keyword1|". Obviously that is not a match so no results are returned.
Another problem that happened from that 1st import from Lr was that some keywords got a space character prepended to them. Like the appended pipe character this prevents any searches from finding those keywords. " keyword1" ≠ "keyword1".
The trick is to find those images with the problematic keywords and get the database, sidecars, and embedded data synchronized. The way to do that is to create a Catalog for your entire pictures folder. Once that catalog has been built you can select the Pictures folder in the Browser and turn on the option to Show Sub-folder Contents so you can see ALL your photos at once. Do a Select All and you'll see that the keywords which return no search results will be highlighted to show they have been used. Any keyword which is completely unfilled and is not the top level of a hierarchy can be deleted as it is truly unused.
Now if you click the Pictures folder in the Catalogs panel then slide the mouse pointer to the left until it is just outside that panel but still inside the program's window, you can use the arrow keys to walk through the folder structure and expand them to show their sub-folders. As you do this watch those keyword highlights. I worked on one keyword at a time. Walking through my folder hierarchy as I described I could identify the individual folders containing the images with the problem keywords then arrowing through the images in that folder I could find those pictures containing the keywords the program could not find. I did not automatically expand every sub-folder. I only expanded those that showed a hit on the keyword I was working with at the time. Then I would walk down through the hierarchy until I found the individual folder(s) containing the images holding that keyword. No point in walking through my Arizona photos looking for a keyword for a location in Utah, right? ;)
In the Metadata > Keywords panel for the image you can edit the individual keywords and remove any prepended or appended characters that were added improperly. Use the Embed Metadata command to ensure those keywords are no longer in the files for the program to find the next time that folder gets its catalog info updated. Get used to using the hotkeys to expand and collapse the Metadata and Keyword List panels. (Command/Control-8 for Metadata panel & 9 for the Keywords List.) Things go much faster if you're not having to move the mouse pointer from one side of the screen to the other and back again to continue your search.
There is one exception to using the Embed Metadata command. There is a still a bug in how the program handles .dng files. If you use the Embed Metadata command on a .dng file you can watch the Metadata panels Keywords field as the program strips apart the nested keywords and adds them back to the root level with the pipe character appended once more. These are also the files that display a leading comma before the first keyword.
I've been through this process more times than I can count and I've refined my process for identifying the problems and cleaning them up. I'm one of the company's testers so I often completely remove all ON1 from my system and reinstall it from scratch as if it was the first time I've installed the program. This includes deleting the PerfectBrowseCache and and the program's data so the Catalogs also get recreated from scratch. I'm now to the point where the only problems I have with its DAM and keywording is with those .dng files that I cannot re-embed the corrected data to. I've reported all this to the company and I expect that this will get fixed in a future release. They have found and fixed all the other keyword problems I've been able to track down and identify the causes for.
One more note, if you double-click a keyword and get Search Results back, DO NOT MAKE ANY EDITS TO THAT KEYWORD! If you edit the keyword you searched for while viewing the Search Results that image will immediately be removed from the Browser's display and you will not be able to embed its metadata without tracking down again that individual file. It gets removed from the browser display because it no longer matches the search criteria once you've edited the keyword you searched for. If you don't track it down and get the data embedded that image will become a problem again once its parent folder gets its catalog info updated again.
What I did for these cases is to create a "keyword hold" Album. Perform the search, Select All and drag them to the album. Select the album and you are now viewing the same set of images but the keyword search is no longer in force so you can edit the keywords as needed without them disappearing from view as you do so. Once you've made your edits, Embed Metadata, and Remove From Album for that image. After you finish each search's edits make sure to empty the album so it will be ready for the next search.
With this procedure every new release of the program and its attendant rebuilding of the catalogs has resulted in fewer and fewer problems for me until I got to where I am today and the only files I have problems with now are the .dngs with hierarchical keywords. I can live with that now that I can (relatively) easily find and fix them until the engineers get the .dng bug solved.
One other issue I ran across is some times the program cannot write to a file to embed its metadata. The program may or may not report the problem. If you have an image file selected, individually or as part of a group selection, the Embed Metadata command will not be available. I don't know why. Sometimes I've been able to fix the problem by moving that image to a new folder and the command will become available again. Other times that will not work so I use Adobe Bridge (it's free) and work with the metadata there.
If you decide to follow my process, good luck, and ask if you have any questions. It's worth the effort if you want to stay with ON1 and make use of its DAM capabilities.
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