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Picturepark Update To Version 8.4

by Ralph Windsor on February 26, 2013

One of our featured DAM vendors, Picturepark have released version 8.4 of their Digital Asset Management solution.  The main new features include:

  • Adaptive metadata
  • Centralised Control Vocabulary
  • Updated dashboard with social media features
  • Live collections
  • More versatile asset subscription notifications
  • Updated search interfaces
  • Enhanced API

We are spared the ‘boss-quote’ (as we have begun to refer to them here at DAM News) and the overview is spin-free and just tells you what it does that is new.  A few vendors are beginning to catch on to this superior method of communicating with their end users now (which is definitely welcome).

This from the ‘adaptive metadata’ feature which caught my attention:

Without proper and complete metadata, a digital asset management system is nothing more than just another place to lose your files. DAM software has traditionally forced users to think in terms of a single metadata schema that’s applied to all digital assets in the system, but Picturepark 8.4 does away with this limitation by enabling you to apply (and safely remove) metadata layers at any time, to individual assets or groups of assets.” [Read More]

From what I can tell, this allows administrators to define different fields based on asset scenarios.  One of the more common ones might be asset type, so as the product info says: “no more video duration metadata for your Word documents”.  The slicing and dicing of the schema seems to go further than that, so it’s also possible to customise what is accessible by user role/group and asset status (or ‘content lifecycle’ as they describe it – possibly more accurately).  I have seen these features on some DAM systems – mostly higher-end proprietary apps, but a couple of open source ones too.   For preservation CMS (Collection Management Systems) they are usually an essential feature as the items being catalogued usually have their own separate description sub-taxonomy which has to be connected to the rest of the artefact or asset record.

A point worth checking for anyone interested in this feature is the User Interface and how easy it is to operate for that task especially.  On some of the other products I have used, these multi-schema metadata models can get fairly complicated and remembering exactly what was specified for each scenario becomes a problem.  Software developers usually find the interfaces for these features to be hard work, so that part can get skimped on by some and they also frequently don’t get tested as extensively as they should either.

A general point I would recommend for evaluations of any DAM system (not just this one) is to check the usability of the more sophisticated features as these can reveal what the candidate app behaves like when used for the more tricky tasks of the type that you will almost certainly find yourself having to get involved in at some stage.  The more commonly used parts like search, catalogue etc are, of course, essential, but it is possible to get a bit blasé about the capabilities of a given system and extrapolate all kinds of illusions about what it is capable of (a problem which afflicts vendor sales personnel as much as their prospective customers I have noticed too!).

Setting aside that potential caveat, this upgrade looks reasonably extensive and it’s good to see that Picturepark don’t go in for point release inflation where the numbers get notched up without very much changing.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David Diamond February 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Thanks for the write-up, Ralph! In order to address the UI concern (which is very valid), we borrowed from the drag and drop category metaphor that’s been in Picturepark and other programs for ages. The configuration of the new metadata fields and default values lies beneath these special categories. Once assigned to a category, the asset inherits all attributes provided by the category. When unassigned, those attributes are removed. We internally call these special categories “asset classes,” but to the user, there is virtually no difference.

As you might guess, in certain circumstances, this can become quite complex. In order to permit customers to keep things simple, we also support the concept of “exclusive categories,” whereby only one category (or class) within a predefined group can be assigned at a time. This is how we avoid situations where, for example, an asset has been assigned to a “Ready for Release” class while it’s still assigned to “Works In Progress.” Or, to borrow your example, if the customer uses different classes for each file type, this would be another place exclusivity might come into play.

David Diamond
Director of Global Marketing
Picturepark DAM

Ralph Windsor February 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

That sounds better than some others I have seen. The mutual exclusivity issue is always a thorny one and not widely understood by end users especially until they come up with a specific example that is directly associated with their own metadata.

Is the UI for adaptive metadata shown in your video or do you have screen grabs somewhere?

David Diamond March 4, 2013 at 5:18 pm

It’s a tough thing to see because it’s pretty transparent. In order to see it, you’d have to compare the Asset Detail windows of two assets that include different fields. In our “What’s New” video, pay careful attention to what’s shown on the screen at about 45 seconds. Here you’ll see a comparison between two assets. Each of the two fields that change are inherited from the assigned asset class. Further on at 1:00, you’ll see where two of those fields’ default values are configured, though you don’t see new fields being added.

http://w4.picturepark.com/products/what-s-new-in-picturepark/

We’ll be creating more materials around this because it’s becoming the new “hot” feature for us. In the meantime, if anyone wants to get a personal demo of how this all works, they should contact sales@picturepark.com.

David Diamond
Director of Global Marketing
Picturepark DAM

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