Imagine you want Lightroom to print contact sheets with the rating under each thumbnail, but you want them to be shown as stars. This can be handy when you're sending the contacts sheets to someone and want to point out which images you consider to be the best.

Perhaps unbelievably, Lightroom won't do it out of the box- you can only print the ratings as numbers. So a while ago a client got me to write a Bridge JavaScript which converts the ratings into asterisks and places them in the barely-used IPTC Subject Code. You select the thumbnails in LR, save their metadata, find the files in Bridge, run the script, return to Lightroom and then read in metadata. At the end of all this palaver, Print can then reference these “pseudo ratings” in the IPTC Subject Code field. It works, but it's hardly “it just works”, is it?

So plug-inPseudoRatings is a little plug-in for Lightroom 2 and 3 that eliminates this roundtrip to Bridge. The plugin comes with an explanatory PDF, a print template that uses the Subject Code, and a thoroughly mercenary link to my Amazon wish list.

While the plug-in does have its immediately-practical purpose, that's not the real reason for creating it. It may have taken me almost a year to get round to it, but finally when the neighbourhood's bubbling with a fifth of the UK's confirmed swine flu cases, it seems a good time to learn the horrid Lua programming language that's required for writing Lightroom plug-ins….