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Traveling Asset Management's Bumpy Road

(August 2005) posted on Fri Aug 05, 2005

Developments in Tiger and Longhorn and other tools for managing assets.

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By Stephen Beals

More new tools

Beyond the Tiger and Longhorn developments, there are other new
tools on the market that can make for easier asset management:

  • For newbies in the DAM field, there is the recently introduced
    low-cost, Mac-based solution: SeeFile. A 10-user bundle
    costs $1000, which includes a Mac mini (40-GB version). The
    product contains many of the Web-management tools and infrastructure
    that are generally found in much more costly systems.
    Its first users have largely been found in the professional
    photography market, the company reports.
  • As indicated earlier, Xinet has released a new version of its
    WebNative DAM product called Portal. This is a $15,000 upgrade
    (no computer included) built atop a very solid foundation of
    Xinet's WebNative product ($12,500), which has enjoyed years
    of development. This is a DAM system for the very large provider,
    requiring plenty of firepower and all the bells and whistles; not
    for the faint of budget.
  • Adobe has made dealing with metadata a major part of its
    Creative Suite product and the basis for its Version Cue tools. The
    product is essentially designed to keep different versions of
    files organized and integrated (for example, you can make a
    change in one file and update all the associated files if you want
    to). It accomplishes this with metadata, which opens up a lot of
    collaboration and file-search possibilities.
  • Canto and Extensis have released new versions of their entrylevel
    products. Extensis Portfolio 7 sells for $200, while the personal
    version of Canto Cumulus is $69. Obviously these are not
    designed for full-production environments, but can be very handy
    for tracking files on a single computer. Both also make workgroup
    versions of the products available for less than $10,000. In addition,
    both companies have released patches or updates to make
    their latest releases compatible with Apple's Tiger OS; each company's
    products also are available on Windows platforms.
  • The total cost

    Dozens of other DAM products are on the market, ranging from
    entry-level products to systems costing several hundred thousand
    dollars (see "Sourcelist: Managing Your Assets," February
    2005, p. 54). And while basic systems may be just fine for most
    operations (though probably not the single-user versions), keep
    in mind that the cost of software is only a portion of a shop's
    total cost. Whatever you pay for DAM software, you will probably
    expend more capital setting it up and putting it into action than
    for the software itself.

    It's no small task to set up client permissions, establish and
    input keywords, enter the assets, and thoroughly test the system.
    The key to a good system is having it set up correctly in the
    first place"?and that requires plenty of planning and research.
    While automation sounds good, you can only automate data
    after it is input, and that can be a very painstaking process.

    Consider the source of the data you wish to manage and
    how it's formatted. And consider what you might want to do
    with the data down the road. Many shops have set up systems
    only to find that they did not allow sufficient variables or open
    fields for future growth.

    Even with the most careful planning, there will also be costs
    associated with updating and maintaining the software and
    hardware. As new operating systems come online, you will really
    have no choice but to upgrade. Many DAM developers offer a
    fixed yearly price for upgrading your software.

    Stephen Beals (, in prepress production
    for more than 30 years, is the digital prepress manager
    with Finger Lakes Press in Auburn, NY.