FocusOPEN Update To 3.4.5

One of our featured DAM vendors, FocusOPEN, have released version 3.4.5 of their flagship open source DAM system.  The point release has a few new features which caught my attention:

  • User group metadata
  • Asset metadata export
  • Google maps links in images (presumably using the longitude and latitude coordinates in the EXIF data)
  • Batch user management
  • Media processing server for 64-bit environments

The information is in FocusOPEN’s typical terse release notes style, more information is available on their blog.

Much of this brings FocusOPEN into alignment with a number of other tools on offer, especially metadata export which should really have been available ages ago .  The user group metadata is a welcome enhancement but probably also could have been included in previous releases.  This feature comes after other more advanced metadata configuration.  It’s not entirely clear why they introduced the content-sensitive metadata configuration before the user group equivalent but in common with a lot of open source systems, the development agenda may well get set by whoever has agreed to fund the cost and whatever their priorities were at the time.

I am an occasional user of this system in my DAM technical consulting work – mainly because its the only open source .NET and SQL Server DAM system readily available and it is easier to get it approved by corporate IT departments because of that fact.  As a .NET developer’s framework for building DAM tools it works quite well.  As an end user you need to have someone on-hand who can help set it up properly and advise on the numerous configuration options – especially the multi-tenant features (or “brands” as they are called in FocusOPEN terminology).  They offer hosted plans but it would appear that their  preferred customers are more those who will organise hosting themselves or have someone else set it up for them.

One other footnote point is they have finally released the 3.4.3. edition with an AGPL licence now, some 10 months after it was made available to commercial users.  The delay was previously described as being around 3-6 months.  The AGPL version comes without a few key features too, namely batch asset metadata import, so if you need to load data you have to buy the commercial edition, use embedded metadata and map the fields across or write your own data importer.  They charge separately for the non-deployment related advanced administrator documentation which I think is a little tight (although commercial users do get it included in the price).  All these points make me question how long they will maintain a free AGPL version for and its role seems to be more as a trial edition.

Overall, this product is a good choice for .NET developers and Windows systems administrators who do not mind getting technically involved with it (or those who have these skills in-house) but if you are looking for hand-holding or a turnkey product this is probably not the best option.  If you either do not want a .NET solution or would consider other technologies like PHP, Java, Python etc then it would be worth comparing this with a number of open source alternatives.

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