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Images Served to Order

(November 2003) posted on Tue Nov 18, 2003

A new kind of asset manager delivers the right image at the right time

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By Jake Widman

The Adobe Graphics Server is another entry in the field, and Allister Lundberg, Adobe product manager for server products, brags that "We've automated many of the common tasks done in Photoshop. People like that idea." The latest version of the Graphics Server, version 2, handles Photoshop 7 files and is based on the same software libraries and imaging engine as Photoshop and ImageReady. That means it processes images the same way Photoshop does--only automatically--and gives results of the same quality. According to Lundberg, some customers use the AGS to produce an image on the fly, while others use it to batch process a bunch of images in advance of using them. Doing the processing of an image in real time sounds like a great idea, he says, but it may not make sense from a performance standpoint.

You tell an image server what to do, generally, by writing some kind of a script. The script defines and restricts the processing of the image and tailors the output to the publishing requirements. "It's ultimately the best way to deploy, because each customer has a unique way of working," says Bigoness. For MediaRich, the script can be written in the company's own MediaScript or in XML, JavaScript, or SOAP. The Adobe Graphics Server can likewise be controlled with commands written in XML, Java, Perl, and others. It can also use a Photoshop or ImageReady file as a template.

The automation saves staff time, but it also enables companies to add consistency to the image production process by reducing the number of choices and variables workers are faced with. The Adobe Graphics Server isn't sold as an end product, but rather as an engine that customers add their own interfaces to, and "when I've seen the user interfaces," Lundberg says, "they've basically simplified and restricted the options for how they want an image." Having the transformations done automatically by the server reduces the chance of error, since someone has limited the choices to go wrong.