Digital Asset Management and the Folder Hierarchy

 

Organizing Files
 
The best Digital Asset Management system for organizing your files is a solution that allows for strong hierarchical and visual presentation. Users are empowered with their ImageDirector DAM because it provides familiar processes in handling files. The main difference between local file systems and a shared DAM solution is the requirement of more discipline in order to keep files retrievable. On the other hand, the facts that all files are visually represented with different thumbnail sizes as well as instant previews and that folders can be arranged in non numeric/alphabetic ways makes organizing and retrieving files much simpler. Since the visual representations are automatically designed within the ImageDirector DAM solution, creating a compelling folder hierarchy is the most important step toward success.

 

If you already have an existing folder structure that suits your preliminary needs, you can simply upload the entire structure into the ImageDirector DAM solution, and it will be represented as in your PC. Even if your current folder content is not well organized, it is easier to upload what you have and then organize it within the DAM solution. Right in the system, you can add, rename, and move folders, files, or groups of files at will.

 

One of the most annoying shortcomings of most DAM solutions is that reorganizing your hierarchy can leave a graveyard of empty folders behind. Users that browse through the system often click on a folder with the expectation of a number of visuals only to find a zero search result return. Smart DAM solutions never show empty folders. This also means that you cannot create new folders without actually placing files into them. Likewise, moving all files out of a folder makes it magically disappear. Of course, it can be recreated at anytime by placing files into a ‘new’ folder.

 

Those Digital Asset Management solutions that are absent of empty folders are capable of providing access to a different set of files to different access rights while never showing empty folders to any of them. Of course, search results are also limited to the files that the users have access rights to. In other words, entire folders can be shared even if they contain files with varying access rights. This makes organizing files so much easier. For example, one access right of some files inside of a folder can be set for public viewing with no password requirement at all. Other files in the same folder can be set to external use with registration requirement, while others can be set to internal use with direct Intranet access through machine-to-machine handshake and single sign on.

 

Creating the Folder Hierarchy

 

A folder hierarchy presents all the main folders and its subfolders. It is the main search method of users since they are accustomed to this mode of retrieving files from their local file managers. Folder names also provide for the first level key words when users look for files through the search tools.

Advanced Media Asset Management systems allow for a combination of the so-called expanding and cascading menu display options, or you can choose between the two. The expanding menu option opens the subfolders below the main menu with a click, leaving the user always aware of its current position in the folder structure. In addition, this position needs to be displayed for easy copying since it represents an absolute folder position that may help to retrieve a set of files. The cascading menu option opens a window style submenu through which the mouse can fly through without having to click. This menu option enables you to easily access the target the first time, but the target disappears once a subfolder is selected. Hence, the best of both worlds is combined in one smart menu model.

 

We have seen many systems to ‘float’ their folders in order to force them into a specific order. For example, users would add a number before the folder name in order to ‘float’ them. However, advanced DAM systems let the user with the respective access rights rename folders or move them at will. Most DAM systems force an alpha-numerical folder hierarchy upon their clients, which invites the workaround of ‘floating’ folders. However, the majority of Onison’s large Media Asset Management implementations require the ordering of the folder structure according to the organizations’ hierarchical logic and workflow, not the one of ordinary file managers. The ImageDirector DAM is the world’s only such solution that allows for the adaptation of any hierarchy or workflow. This makes it easy for anyone to find what they need through a smart folder structure. Hence, ‘floating’ is unnecessary, and it speaks for itself that special characters should be avoided in the folder hierarchy.

Additional files can simply be dragged into the existing folder structure or into the inbox for further processing. In addition, one original file can be stored in multiple folders and given different metadata and access rights, including different languages. Of course, a search will always return the correct one folder of the multiple possibilities, avoiding redundancy traps and improving productivity.

 

Remember: a DAM for most organizations, with few exceptions as for example our museum customers, is not a static monolith with fixed rules. This approach only invites ‘experts,’ and it does not mater the amount of effort, you will never be able to foresee the needs a few weeks out. Instead, your DAM needs to be a digital workspace that constantly adapts to your changing requirements. Hence, instead of banging your head against the wall about how to create the smartest folder hierarchy that is guaranteed to dramatically change all the time, start with what you know and let the system grow. If you have multiple users that add folders, you need some simple ground rules, but again, going overboard works against the success of the system. Based on these best practices, document some simple folder naming conventions and a limited set of rules as to what to avoid when creating new folders. Your system needs to be adaptable at any time without administrative roadblocks or red tape, and this is how it should be looked at from the beginning.

 

If you do have different groups or divisions that might get into each other’s way, organizations are better off to work with group functionalities that essentially provide independent areas to the groups that can still share files. Each group then creates its own folder structure. The simpler the system is kept for the various groups of users, the more successful it will become. 

  

The ultimate secret tip: should you ever get in trouble with how to organize your Digital Asset Management system, call us. We will look at your ImageDirector and help you how to better set it up. It will cost you absolutely nothing, no consulting fees and no expert invoices.

 

In summary:
  • Creating a compelling folder hierarchy is the most important step toward success
  • Upload entire folder structures into the ImageDirector DAM solution
  • Add, rename, and move folders, files, or groups of files at will   
  • Folders can contain files with varying access rights
  • DAM needs to be a digital workspace that constantly adapts to your changing requirements
  • The simpler the system is kept, the more successful it will become.
  • Should you ever get in trouble with how to organize your DAM, call us

 

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