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Xinet Upgraded To Version 18.1

by Ralph Windsor on March 7, 2016

North Plains, the current owners of the Xinet DAM solution have announced some upgrades to this long-standing DAM platform.  The details on the press are a bit light, but the key items North Plains have chosen to highlight are:

  • Improved performance through use of an InnoDB database engine.
  • Business rules engine with filtering search support.
  • A new metadata panel, navigator and zooming tool.
  • Drag-and-Drop functionality for uploads of multiple files and multiple folders.

From their press:

Integration and customisation continue to be attributes that set Xinet apart from other solutions. The software works seamlessly with the most popular and widely used applications in the creative environment, whilst Xinet’s open API makes it simple for customers to create their own add-on features. ” [Read More]

Also the following quote from North Plains CEO, Hassan Kotob,

Xinet has long-standing history in DAM and sets the gold standard for creative workflow. Xinet 18.1 is part of our commitment to continually evolve the existing product line and support the developing needs of our global customer base. Many of the new features and enhancements within Xinet 18.1 have been introduced based on specific feedback from our worldwide customer base. Xinet already has the largest user base worldwide and with this new release, we hope to extend the product footprint to new customers too.” [Read More]

The press release, while well written, appears to have suffered from having a lack of raw material to work with.  This write-up by one of their resellers, IO Integration has more detail for those who are interested in the specifics.

As is the current theme with vendor releases, this is more spit and polish and not so much anything radically new.  Essentially, what is offered is an update that means Xinet can (just about) keep up with the pace set by more recent competitors, hence the ability to use the InnoDB engine being marked as a benefit (where a new entrant to the market might start using MySQL with that engine enabled anyway) and ‘ability to run Xinet in a VM instance’ – some more modern alternatives might never get installed on physical kit at all now and also offer options like deployment to Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure etc.

There are some key lines to note in the press, such as: “Integration and customisation continue to be attributes that set Xinet apart from other solutions”, this is a statement that you can generally take to imply that not only are they ‘key attributes’, but that you will be customising the product quite a lot to get it to work as you need it to (and paying the fees of suitably qualified reseller integrators to allow that to happen).  There are some other statements which quite a few other vendors claim for their platforms too, like “Xinet already has the largest user base worldwide”.  How true that is depends on how you want to define and measure users – which is not a straightforward task.

With all that said, it is true that there are a good number of Xinet DAM users (especially from the print industry where it has a very established presence).  Many of them may not relish the prospect of migrating to something else (however modern) with all the risks that these kind of exercises involve.  I have seen some fairly poor implementations of Xinet in the past, including a few where raw paths to mac server folders were visible in the source code of the browser (although this ‘feature’ was helpful for the task I had to carry out at the time).  As is often the case with complex enterprise applications (of any kind, not just Digital Asset Management) this is mostly down to misconfiguration by engineers who don’t understand the application properly, so this is partly excusable and the case I refer to was about eight years ago, so things might well be quite a lot different now.  I do note they have fixed a lot of the bugs and I would expect basic security issues like this to have been addressed.

One other point to note is that Xinet is an acquisition by North Plains, I gather that a number of the original development team are not employed by them any longer.  This is both a positive and negative.  Positive because it means an opportunity for a fresh pair of eyes to look over the code and fix latent issues that needed to be dealt with.  Negative because deep-level expertise about the fundamentals of the system are not on-hand should some obscure issue rise to the surface, unannounced.

An issue for North Plains, in regard to Xinet, is that there are a decent number of alternative products available these days from a number of competitors who can certainly hold a candle to what were once its USPs (and arguably travel some distance further now).  So it’s another scenario where you might remain an existing Xinet user, but not necessarily be so willing to become a new one.  The clock is ticking on how long the older DAM vendors can continue to pull-off this trick.  Sprinkling a few adjectives like ‘well established’, ‘long-standing’, ‘gold standard’ are all good ploys for marketing products like antiques, classic cars, mutual funds, newspapers etc, but there is only so far vendors can do the same with DAM software and continue to get positive results.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Max Dunn April 23, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Well put. With software, having the oldest living application is not so much of a great feature, but quite often something of a bug. Still every time I see a FrameMaker release I toast the amazing team in India that manages to extend an ancient codebase to keep it relevant to users (they actually HAVE made exciting new features in that old product).

Honestly I have yet to encounter a Xinet user that loves it, but it is still tolerated in many large organizations in America and at least North Plains has put some effort into keeping it alive.

The “growth by acquisition” model scares me when it comes to software: Adobe is the one company I have seen do really well at it in some cases, and even with them they’ve got a mixed track record. At its worst, companies acquire for less-than-great motives such as eliminating a competitor, acquiring (then sitting on) seats of licensed users, etc., and the acquisition sits frozen in time. That was my impression of Xinet, yet more power to them if North Plains finds a way to keep the product alive or somehow offer a smooth upgrade path to something more modern.

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