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Blog about Digital Asset Management

Can a DAM preview all uploaded assets?


When selecting a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution, you would hope the DAM can preview assets so you do not have to guess what are the asset contents based on the file name nor opening each asset to see its contents. Most DAM solutions allow you preview each asset with a small thumbnail (such as photographs) and/or a working preview (such as a smaller proxy of a video). Often, this preview is automatically generated by the DAM during or after the upload process of an asset. This usually happens in the background which is great.

Don’t get me wrong. Previewing is not meant to excessively click and scroll through hundreds or thousands of assets in a DAM. You should be able to find assets using good metadata applied/associated to each asset. You should even be able to narrow down the assets to preview by searching within the initial search results using metadata. Once you have a limited selection of assets narrowed down via metadata, you should be able to confirm which asset you need by previewing the asset, check its contents in the DAM and then download (export) the asset needed.

While most DAM solutions have no issue auto generating thumbnails for many digital photographs (such as JPEG, PSD, TIFF, DNG), check with the DAM vendor to be sure the DAM will support all other file formats your organization uses and plans to upload to the DAM.

Since software vendors such as Adobe are known to change their proprietary file formats, specifically PDF and SWF,  check with the DAM vendor on which versions of a file format can be previewed. If something is not supported and your organization needs it, ask the DAM vendor to support it. Needs should be filled for DAM clients who request a specific need. If your request is not popular, common and/or obvious with other DAM clients who also need this, you may end up paying for a customization.

If you print hard copies of your assets  and you wish to save the version sent to the printer, be sure you have a way to preview assets with various color spaces in the DAM (not only RGB, but CMYK too). Note that CMYK is one of the smallest and most limiting color spaces available with one of the least amount of colors compared to most of the other color spaces.

If you plan to upload raw files, check with the DAM vendor to be sure the DAM will support and preview more than 8 bit assets. What happens when you upload 16 bit, 24 bit or even 48 bit assets to the DAM aside from eating up more storage space?

If you plan to upload audio, do you get a working preview you can listen to clearly within the DAM via compressed proxy or playback of the audio asset itself?

If you plan to upload text, can you preview all the text (DOC, PDF, TXT, XML, etc) in the DAM?

What happens if your DAM solution can not create a preview for a new set of assets such as proprietary file formats? Well, is there a override feature for the previews in the DAM? Can you create a proxy preview (or thumbnail) outside the DAM, upload it to the DAM and associate that preview to this new asset in the DAM ? If you have the need for previewing asset in the DAM to save time, ask about your preview options and try them.

Let us recap:

  • Downloading and/or opening piles of assets-Very Bad (waste of bandwidth and time).
  • Excessive scrolling-Bad (waste of time).
  • Searching with metadata-Good.
  • Previewing a limited selection of  assets from search results found with good metadata-Very good.
  • Finding what assets you need along with information about them quickly-Great (That is the point of a DAM!).

Can your DAM preview all uploaded assets?

Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Mentor. Podcaster. Writer.

2 thoughts on “Can a DAM preview all uploaded assets?

  1. I think the most important aspect of proxy/preview requirements for any DAM is whether it is extensible (with respect to its format and proxy generation support)… some products pledge to be able to support any format – a file is a file, right? – but don’t provide any extension mechanism for users to be able to plug in additional proxy generation tools…

    I wouldn’t expect most DAM vendors to keep on top of every format I encounter, or I may simply want to handle proxies in a different way then they did. Basic file format support, yeah, it’s to be expected – but mainly I want to be able to build my own when necessary. And that means not just proxy generation, but introspection so I can extract metadata my own way; identify asset relationships my own way; etc.

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