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Accessing Your Assets

Find the right solution for organizing and archiving digital image assets.

Numerous icons pepper desktops, file folders, and storage drives and eventually overwhelm the mind's ability to remember just where a particular file may reside. Digital asset management (DAM) systems are a one-stop shop for appropriately naming, organizing, storing, and (thankfully) finding those much needed digital files. For large clients who want print providers to keep jobs on-file for on-demand service, or small companies who have just one key high-resolution image used on every graphic, it's the print provider that can ensure an image's safety and quick recovery. That’s a service that will retain large and small clients alike.

It has become increasingly necessary that a shop be able to keep individual photographs and completed graphics on-file and make these files appropriately findable. The following sampling of DAM resources reveals systems that range from those simple enough for a computer novice to more advanced systems incorporating workflow solutions-such as remote proofing for clients. And most systems will seamlessly integrate with the creative design programs already used by both print shops and clients.

Essentially, it’s a digital asset-management system that will organize an array of files and prevent graphics losses and customer catastrophes.


ACD Systems' ACDSee 10 photo-management software allows users to organize photo archives, assign photos to multiple categories without duplication, and search with single or multiple keywords. Pictures are instantly viewable by scrolling over thumbnails and can be compared side-by-side. Files can be unzipped and organized without leaving ACDSee, as well. The Sync tool synchronizes image folders with an external hard drive or networked drive. The company reports that ACDSee 10 can now manage more than 100 file formats, including raw files.


Adobe Bridge CS3-a earlier version of which is found in Adobe CS2 standalone products including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Creative Suite editions-allows for organization, browsing, locating, and previewing photo assets. The CS3 version touts a faster performance, customizable workspaces, nondestructive batch editing of TIFF, JPEG, and raw files, as well as playback of SWF and FLV files. Through Bridge, users have centralized access to project files, applications and settings, plus XMP metadata tagging and searching. Adobe Bridge CS3 also allows direct access to services such as Adobe Stock Photos, Adobe Version Cue CS3 for workgroup file management, Adobe Device Central CS3 for previewing and testing mobile content, and Adobe Acrobat Connect for Web conferencing.

Artesia Digital Media Group

Artesia DAM is compatible with a Mac or PC and numerous photo editing and design programs. Features of Artesia DAM include: Ingest for browser-based or automated uploading of large-content files; Index to automatically store file information; Secure to ensure files are safely stored; Collaborate for sharing information across the Web; and Search from Open Text for allowing keyword and natural language asset searches based on content, metadata, and taxonomies. Artesia DAM also allows photo editing, content linking, asset format conversion, and file distribution through a browser or to other servers. Optional Artesia DAM features include a Web toolkit, XMP/PTC adapter, PowerPoint adapter, Telestream Flip Factory adapter, and Virage Logging Adapter.


BrighTec's Media Beacon system stores all asset information with thumbnail views, extended views, and metadata in XML format, and it maintains the original file on the server. Groups of assets can also be catalogued into PDFs, which can be maintained on a server and viewed online. The open-architecture-, hierarchical-storage-based system can index more than 100 file types and also allows image files and their metadata to be exported. Nearly all Media Beacon administrative tasks can be run via the Internet.


Canto's Cumulus 7.5 supports Microsoft Vista, Microsoft Office 2007, and InDesign CS3 as well as 50 new digital raw formats. Assets can be dragged and dropped into the Cumulus Collection Basket for organization and indexing, and the Categories feature now offers more viewing and hiding options plus a refresh button to keep the page current. Other features include Metadata field formulas to determine the field's value, a PDF page merger, updated PowerPoint handling, and a Scheduler to update assets and find missing assets. Files can now be catalogued directly from Windows Explorer or Mac OS X Finder without launching the Cumulus 7.5 program.

ClearStory Systems

Clear Story Systems offers ActiveMedia, a digital-asset-management suite that's geared toward the print and graphic-arts industry as well as marketing and brand management. The suite comprises several components, including:

* ActiveMedia, a Web-based program that manages digital-media images, graphics, videos, publishing files, presentations, fonts, logos, and picture libraries. It offers Internet-accessible workspace to organize, find, share, collaborate, and distribute images and digital files. An ActiveMedia Essentials edition is available for small businesses.

* CreativeConnections, which allows Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress users to utilize ActiveMedia without leaving their layout application.

* An Enterprise Media Server, for custom applications and on-demand delivery of digital media to enterprise applications, portals, and websites.

DAMUseful Software

DAMUseful's Rank and File is a plug-in for Adobe Bridge allowing the user to map labels and ratings from Bridge to keywords. Features include a Star Ratings into the IPTC keywords so that other programs can see whether the image is one to five stars. Rank and File also writes labels into the keywords, headline, title, or description fields and can also resolve labeling issues with outdated Bridge labels. Prefixes can also be applied to labels so that different individuals or departments can have different rating systems.


Extensis Portfolio 8.5 offers a wide range of file-format support for asset management, organization, and storage. The SmartGalleries automatically discovers cataloged material fitting user-defined criteria; the Express Palette floating palette uses a keyboard shortcut to bring up catalog contents; and Roundtrip Metadata writes Portfolio metadata back into image files, including EXIF, IPTC, and XMP.

New features in Version 8.5 include a Presets Palette that saves metadata as presets that can be applied to batches. Default Field Values can be set and automatically applied to all assets entering Portfolio. Digital camera support has been expanded to include new models, and PDF and EPS support has been enhanced with high-resolution thumbnail previewing options.

Also available is the similar Web-based program, Portfolio Server 8.5, created for Adobe CS3-based workgroups.


FileMaker Pro 9 and FileMaker Pro 9 Advanced are the newest database-management products from FileMaker. In addition to managing digital assets, this software allows users to manage customers, clients, and vendors; track inventory and products; organize pictures, video, and other multimedia files; and even print invoices. FileMaker databases can be shared with both Windows and Mac users simultaneously over a network or the Web.

New features include a Quick Start screen that automatically recalls favorite databases and a Conditional Formatting option for visually formatting fields based on user-determined conditions. Also new is an easier 'send link' option to share databases, an Append to PDF tool that appends multiple reports into one easily distributed file, auto-resize options, software update notifications, and the option of connecting to external SQL data.

A server edition of FileMaker Pro 9 is also available.


FotoWare 6.0, a DAM system for finding, processing, and sharing digital assets, now supports XMP metadata while remaining compatible with existing installations. Metadata can now be added to any file type for full FotoWare searching capabilities.

FotoStation Pro 6.0 is designed for professional digital-asset-workflow solutions by building new archives or organizing existing ones. New features include SmartClean automatic image enhancement, customizable thumbnail and preview appearances, and Data Mining for finding images without formulating a search for them. FotoStation Pro includes tools for high-speed image editing and offers a fully integrated color-management system. Sharing with FotoStation can be done through a network or uploaded with an FTP or HTTP. The program is compatible with major publishing software programs and the Mac version supports Universal Binaries.

FotoWare Cameleon is also available, geared toward small office environments.

Graphic Detail

Graphic Detail offers Thumbs Up multimedia management solutions for images, animation, graphics, text, sound, and video-up to 2.1 billion files can be archived in numerous file formats. Viewing options allow users to view the entire database or a single record, and images have search, sort, and reorder features. Thumbs Up offers 132 user-definable searching fields, drop-down choice lists, and importing or exporting options for existing data. Searches can be run through multi-criteria, quick sorts, and numbers-based field organizing such as alphanumeric, date, time, Boolean, integer, real number, and text fields.

Thumbs Up supports internet and intranet usage and offers password protection for security.

HindSight Ltd

Stockview, a DAM system from Hindsight, helps manage stock photography plus digital and analog image files. Any image can be tracked, including layouts and design, all with updated meta capabilities. Images can be read, written, edited, and metatags imported, as well as batch convert sizes and file types or rename batches. With Web integration, users can offer thumbnail galleries for online viewing or a searchable image library on their website.


IDimager 4 stores and manages images in a cataloging system, with an open architecture that integrates into existing image-workflow applications. Images can be searched through keywords or phrases, dates, or origin. Images can be collected through Virtual Collections, Fast Collections, or the Image Basket, regardless of what aspect of the program the user is in. The stacking and versioning features allow multiple copies of an image to be stored together, and the Version Placeholders allows users to browse through the multiple versions. Entire images or simply parts of an image can be tagged for searching.

IDimager automatically writes metadata as XMP, IPTC, or EXIF. Archiving can be done on an external hard drive, CD, DVD, memory card, or other storage device. IDimager will update references to the new location.

iView Multimedia

Acquired by Microsoft in 2006, iView offers the MediaPro 3 digital-asset-management and cataloging solution. The software allows users to organize, manage, archive, and search more than 100 files formats, including raw files. Users can create visual databases with previews and annotations so files can be searched even when originals are offline. The drag-and-drop option allows batch meta-tagging using industry standards, including IPTC, XMP, and EXIF. Images can be edited in single or batch mode with Version Control, and full scripting support is available with Visual Basic or JavaScript for Windows and Applescript on Macintosh. The creative export options also allow high-quality PDF composites, contact sheets, and printouts of any size and layout.


MediaDex 2 offers cataloging, organizing, searching, and sharing options for all standard media file formats. Using a customizable auto-cataloguing feature, users can organize files within catalogs and collections with multiple hierarchical categories. MediaDex now also offers batch file conversion, renaming, and editing as well as customizable workspace layout and duplication detection. Searching can be done through keywords, metadata information, Boolean operators, or a Quicksearch option. MediaDex 2 can also read and write metadata in EXIF, IPTC, and XMP and utilizes ICC color-management options.

Meta Communications

With Meta Communications' Digital Storage Manager 2.5, users can find and retrieve files based on any file, custom, or associated metadata. The Digital Storage Manager indexing technology automatically captures metadata including XMP, IPTC, and even text content. Files can be managed and archived by project or job, with all related files and folders automatically included. Metadata can be searched within creative design applications or through the hard drive's finder feature. Digital Storage Manager's Archiving capabilities create disaster-recovery media with available storage space, preventing lost media. Full-size multi-page documents can be previewed online, near-line or offline ,and files can be shared through secure access with a Web-connection.


NetXPosure's Image Portal is a Web-based DAM system with plug-in solution options. Based on open standards, Image Portal offers an unlimited category hierarchy with limitless asset categories and sub-categories, which can be viewed simultaneously. Each asset can be assigned up to 50 customizable metadata fields-text boxes, text areas, pull down menus, or date fields-all of which are keyword searchable. Access is controlled with one of seven functionality levels assigned to each user or an ACL-based Permissions systems allows administrators to restrict access for both individual and user groups. Importing and exporting can be done with Web-based entities such as email, direct download, and FTP or DAM-direct plug-ins.

Image Portal can store any file type and has auto-thumbnail generation for numerous formats, including BMP, GIF, JPEG, and more. Most images can be repurposed in size, format, and color space with more advanced repurposing options are available with the Repurposing Engine.

North Plains Systems

North Plains Systems offers its TeleScope line of DAM products for media management and distribution, centralization, workflow optimization, and Web-collaboration. Features of the TeleScope Enterprise include centralized media management, automated asset importing, an unlimited metadata schema, and a searching capability over multiple asset and metadata repositories. TeleScope Enterprise has a workflow and collaboration engine for multiple-user connectivity and support for file migration, replication, and distribution. TeleScope Professional is available for smaller operations.


Photools' iMatch image-management solution can organize and catalogue images through user-determined methods. The Open System approach ensures data is never locked and offers flexible import and export features. Users create albums, categories, and keywords for image sorting and then can view, find, transform, rename, and convert images as well. The program supports more than 100 file formats, including raw images and uses the embedded EXIF, IPTC, and XMP metadata.


Media Mogul from Picdar manages digital assets with descriptive, technical, and metadata information. Media Mogul's 'system robots' obtain assets automatically from FTP, shared folders, and stripping attachments from e-mails, and notification is sent to the appropriate parties. Users determine appropriate components, work steps, and approvals necessary during the workflow process and track each step.

Media Mogul integrates with creative and publishing software, such as QuarkXPress and Adobe Creative Suite, and the program automatically places high-resolution image copies into final PDFs or print outs. Administrators determine image-view eligibility with the Visibility toolset, and interactive portals allow users to share projects with Web-based publishing.


Quark offers its Digital Media Server, which works in conjunction with the Quark Media Portal. Using an Oracle 9i database, the Digital Media Server aids users in obtaining, organizing, and archiving digital image files. The Media Portal then provides Web access to those files.


Photobase Professional Edition from RVC is a full image-integration database that allows users to archive and search for images. Users can determine which data is stored with each image; the program can digitize, search, archive, and show images as well as edit images' contrast, colors, size, rotation, brightness, and more. Photobase Professional works directly with Adobe Photoshop plug-ins and offers client-server-database possibilities.


Screen offers its TrueFlow3 ArchiveManager, to archive, restore, schedule, and search digital assets. Files can be archived on numerous storage devices, and the Schedule module automatically archives files without user intervention. The search options allow users to find archive sets or archive jobs, preview the jobs in lower resolution, and then restore those jobs into workflow, drop them into new jobs, or delete them.


SeeFile is a Web-based software DAM system that can be accessed by both PC and Mac users. Images can be automatically uploaded with SeeFile, eliminating the need for an FTP or email file exchange. SeeFile can handle nearly any file type and both raster and vector artwork. Previews can be created and viewed by clients online and the account administrator can restrict viewing access to all SeeFile information.

Wave Corporation

MediaBank, by Wave Corporation, supports all file types and immediately accepts and stores digital assets. Searching can be done through relative criteria and saved searches, with integral full-text searching even in design documents. MediaBank has automatic image drag-and-drop options into layouts, a thumbnail previewing option, and an open archive and restoration function. The system removes EXIF, XMP, Dicom and IPTC tags and applies the information to the metadata, as well.


Xinet's WebNative is a visual database that can be organized by job, subject, and contributor and searched by format, date, title, or any other file data. WebNative automates reformatting and resizing, notifies users of new jobs, and triggers PDF proofs. It accepts virtually any file format, including raw files, offers a drag-and-drop option into creative layouts, automatically generates image previews, and manages color with ICC profiles. Additionally, the program automatically integrates IPTC and XMP metadata and has unlimited custom metadata fields. WebNative supports creative-design-software programs, as well as PostScript programs and PDF RIPs.

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