Portfolio Provides Asset Management for Newspapers

Users can drag & drop any photo from a Portfolio catalog directly onto the page in Quark, InDesign, PageMaker and other layout programs
Since 1997, Extensis Software has been creating great programs and plug-ins for the graphic design professional. A few of their most notable products have included SuitCase, Preflight Pro, and QX-Tools. A year ago I reviewed a new version of Portfolio (version 6), Extensis’ digital asset manager. A few weeks ago, Extensis took a significant leap forward by releasing version 6.1 of Portfolio.

Digital asset management is nothing new to newspapers. As long as there have been newspapers, there have been staff members responsible for collecting photos, articles and other materials which make up the finished piece for possible future use. With the number of photos on file at most newspapers, a solid application to keep track of all the digital images is a must.

For me, Portfolio has long been the asset management tool of choice. With the release of version 6,0 in 2002, Portfolio brought a plethora of improvements over previous versions. You wouldn’t normally expect a decimal upgrade (from 6.0 to 6.1) to be very significant. But Extensis has built a reputation on providing the unexpected.
What I appreciate most about Portfolio 6.1 is that it lives up to its billing. The program is easy to use and it works. Portfolio lets the user automatically create image catalogs and assign keywords, mini descriptions of the artwork or photos, en masse. The most significant improvement for the Mac user is the ability to work in native OS X. While version 6.0 worked well in classic mode, the ability to work natively in OS X is a major step ahead.

Portfolio works like this. When the program is started, the user is requested to choose an existing catalog or create a new catalog. A catalog is a group of photos, graphics, PDF or other files. Catalogs can consist of a few or thousands of items. Once the files have been cataloged, the user can view thumbnails (you determine the size of the thumbnails) onscreen. For instance, a sports editor might create a catalog of all the photos taken for the sports page. Photos can be added to the catalog as they are created. In Portfolio, or when the photos are saved in Photoshop, keywords can be included to help locate a file at a later date.
For instance, I cataloged a photo of a motorcycle rider with a beard and included the following keywords: man, beard, bike, motorcycle, leather, etc. Later, I was able to search for the photo by entering “motorcycle” in the keyword window. Portfolio also allows the user to search for files which contain requested text. While looking for a graphic to go in a Valentines Day ad, I did a search for any file which included the word “heart” in the filename. I quickly received a mini-catalog featuring nine files.

Another wonderful feature in Portfolio 6.1 is the ability to drag and drop photos from Portfolio into other programs. This is particularly simple in the OS X version. A floating Portfolio window allows users to access files with a single keystroke rather than moving back and forth between two programs. I selected a photo of a man with flowers and simply dragged the file onto my InDesign desktop. It would have worked just as easily in PageMaker, Quark or most other programs.

The single-user version of Portfolio 6.1 offers all these features for a list price of $199 (US) / $293 (CAN) / $333 (AUS). If you already have a licensed copy of version 6, you can upgrade to 6.1 (OS X) or 6.01 (OS 9/Windows) for free. Newspapers might be more interested in Portfolio 6.1 Server, which allows all of these features to be distributed throughout a network from a central server. Most newspapers have numerous users throughout the network designing pages in various programs. With Portfolio Server, anyone on the network has access to all designated files, photos and graphics. If the administrator wishes, catalogs can be password-protected with four levels of access control or access can be set on a user-by-user basis. A license to load the software on up to twenty workstations, with access to Portfolio Server, lists for $2,499 (US) / $3,660 (CAN) / $4,200 (AUS).

Upgrading the single user version of Portfolio from previous versions range from $99 to $129 (US). For more information, or to download a free demo version of Portfolio 6.01 or 6.1, go to www.extensis.com.
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