One of our featured DAM Vendors, Brandworkz, today launched version 6 of their flagship brand management oriented DAM solution. The update is entirely about usability enhancements and mobile device support, hence the quip about how they ‘proudly announce no new features’ in their PR. There are a couple of quotes, including this one from Joel Stobart, Head of Development:
“We have made Brandworkz easier to interact with and ultimately use. It is the ease of use and intuitive nature of the software that give Brandworkz its competitive advantage. This fusion of aesthetics and functionality in the UI feeds into the user experience which we believe is a must-have in brand management technology.” [Read More]
“Fusion of aesthetics and functionality” is heading dangerously close to some of the platitudes more associated with their competitors in the past, but since it’s a UI oriented update, I guess I’m going to have to let that one go (on this occasion).
One point in Brandworkz favour is that they at least haven’t tried to cast a bunch of UI tweaks as full feature enhancements. Some of the press material we get sent by other vendors clearly has ‘nothing much to say’ written through it like the stick of proverbial rock, but it’s probably better to present these kind of updates for what they essentially are – as Brandworkz have done here. The list of mods is as follows:
- Tablet ready – including an HTML5 video player
- Checkerboard thumbnails (the ‘like what Photoshop does mode’ as I have heard these type of features described before)
- HTML upload control to replace the Java one and various other asset manager interface enhancements
- Continuing internationalisation (Brandworkz was already quite well served in this area anyway)
- Better integration with Showcase (their brand management portal solution)
- Improvements to their web to print module (this is called ‘Print on Demand’ or ‘Variable Data Printing’ by some other vendors)
One of the main items in terms of wider trends is tablet support. Quite a few other vendors have been touting their coverage of this interface option also, including WebDAM (just today). MediaBeacon were one of the earlier vendors to support iPads but North Plains Telescope and OpenText have both followed suit – amongst others. Most vendors (although not Brandworkz, to their credit) have claimed that they were the first DAM vendor to support tablets. As my co-contributor, Nick Brookes pointed out when MediaBeacon first announced their iPad interface in 2010, technically, any DAM system which is delivered via a web browser can be accessed via a tablet – since they all have built-in browsers anyway. With iPads there is the Flash video issue, but most products are now switching over to HTML5 for video (and most are also providing multiple playback options for legacy Flash based users).
I acknowledge that some vendors have optimised their interfaces to support the range of finger/touch gestures that these devices seem to require the users to contort themselves to operate properly but I have to wonder how many people are really likely to willingly spend extended periods using a DAM system on an iPad/Android etc unless there it is due to some unavoidable constraint like being stuck on a plane/train or because your regular workstation is out of action.
Our view here at DAM News (and it’s one we all share for a change) is that these are still a bit of a gimmicky ‘solution looking for a problem’ in regard to DAM specifically, but there are some clearer use cases gradually emerging and we do plan to discuss this topic more in due course.