Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

Distributed DAM: From silo to search engine

This week I dived into product management: gathering requirements for our DAM product, sketching and specifying new features, taking screenshots and writing discussion documents. It’s an important process (here’s an outline) – we don’t want to build stuff our customers don’t need.

But I’m getting lost tracking the documents and files produced during this process: To-dos and discussions in Basecamp, documents in Google Docs, PDFs and photos of paper sketches in Dropbox, and wireframes in myBalsamiq. A bit ironic given that I work for a DAM vendor, isn’t it? After all, my favorite DAM system claim is to be “the content hub for all your digital creations”…

I could (manually) create copies of all these documents within our DAM. But they’ll get modified in the originating systems, and new documents will appear which I’d have to copy as well. In this case, most of my digital assets need to live outside the DAM (for editing and sharing) so the DAM system isn’t of much use to me.

Can’t our DAM software be a bit more like a Web search engine, or “enterprise search” software, and not care where a document is located as long as it is accessible? Why does our software require the records and metadata to reside in its local database? (I already discussed this in “Dreaming of a shared content store”.)

I wonder whether a modern DAM system should let us “manage” decentralized or distributed assets: We should to be able to not just find them within the DAM, but also add/edit metadata and rights information. (That structured data associated with the “remote asset” could well live within the local DAM database.) Wouldn’t it be great to sign up to a fresh cloud DAM system and have it automatically index and link my Dropbox files, Google documents and Facebook photos – then letting me search and organize them?

This sounds way easier than it is; it has its drawbacks and will be a pain to implement. (Yes, I’d be the poor developer struggling with all the fragile connectors to other systems.) But that’s the DAM system I wish I’d had this week.

See also: Cloud software, local files: A hybrid DAM approach and System architecture: Splitting a DAM into Self-Contained Systems.

Update (2017-02-27): It’s here – see DAM innovation: Distributed content in Nuxeo and Picturepark!