Can a relatively inexpensive digital asset-management
program give you what you
need for handling thousands of files and
images? At a street price of approximately
$185 ($199 list), Extensis Portfolio
7 certainly gives you more bang for
your buck than any previous version. I
found the product to be well thought out
and powerful enough to be a real contender
for most applications.
Portfolio is designed to allow you to
view, find, and track all of your digital
assets, and the current version has added
capabilities of archiving and distributing
those assets. This is no easy task, and
can be a taxing challenge for any program.
The Portfolio interface, however, is
clean, fairly simple, and intuitive.
Extensis has built into the program a lot
of capabilities that are extremely useful
to many production environments. For
instance, you can track assets on remote
volumes and even automate that process
by setting up watched folders. The program
will automatically alert you to
changes in those folders so they can be
continuously updated. You can track just
which changes have been made"?and by
utilizing the program's User ID capabilities,
you can also see who made those
changes and when they were made.
Portfolio can read most image files,
including most digital camera RAW files,
and can track the metadata embedded in
those files and allow you to add metadata
of your own. If you're unfamiliar with the
term, metadata can contain information
such as keywords, dates, digital camera
settings, and much more. You can set up
each Portfolio folder to add keywords and
descriptions to all of the assets in that
folder as they're read; this data is embedded
so metadata-savvy programs can
also read them.
Using Portfolio to move, rename, and
edit assets offers a distinct advantage.
Graphic-arts professionals often find
themselves in the position of contending
with files that have been moved and
edited and seem to "disappear" because
the workflow does not track these
changes. If these changes are done in
Portfolio, however, the program can be
set up to track and update the locations of
all effected files. And moving files in Portfolio
is simple enough that you can insist
that your operators only move files from
within the program.