Digital Asset Management: The Next Generation

The new Merlin 5 DAM thick client interface. Photo by David Breslauer

The new Merlin 5 DAM thick client interface.

I am really excited about our new Merlin 5 digital asset management client, and there are lots of reasons why you should be as well.

When I joined MerlinOne nearly eight years ago, one of my first tasks was to document new features that had been incorporated into our venerable Merlin 4 client. This list of features came directly from user input and included text-centric things like keyboard macros (an easy way to input long text strings), a compare feature to look at images side-by-side, a new list view with sort-able columns, the ability to join stories, zap to text (highlight text anywhere and “pop” it to any field) and auto completion of fields when editing were just some of the new features we included in the update.

Support for “newer” operating systems (Windows XP and Mac OSX on PowerPC) was part and parcel of that client upgrade as well. The longevity of the M4 client often amazed me. During my travels I found the M4 client running on older systems just fine. At one site I visited, the M4 client was running on Windows 95. At another, a bondi blue iMac running MacOS 8.6 was quite happy to run the M4 client. Not much in the software world can claim that type of longevity.

Well, all good things come to an end I suppose, and it is time for the Merlin Rich Client to move on. In order to add the type of new functionality our customers wanted going forward, as well as support for video, the Merlin 5 Rich client was built from the ground up to be a modern client, supporting modern operating systems like Windows 7 and Apple’s Snow Leopard.

In addition to exciting new video asset management features like support for streaming video and searching within a video file, the Merlin 5 rich client makes it easier than ever to manage digital assets by allowing the batch editing of any fields and support for XMP side cars for raw camera files – not only on ingest but also on export. Users can create their own search windows and save them as templates. Important process functionality like slide show and compare have been improved to speed up workflow. There is more contextual menu support so mouse users can access commonly used functions with a right click.

We took a lot of good things and made them better. Our customers liked the metadata-based color code tagging applied to objects in M4. So did we, so M5 now supports tagging based on four different fields. The tags can be system wide, or applied to individual user groups.

Under the hood, the M5 client has been built with a plug-in architecture so that when it is time to add new features, it can be done easily. We’ve also made it easier to manage M5 installations. Merlin5 has been written so that user profiles travel with the user. Whenever possible M5 will remember user settings, and resume with a similar client experience regardless of where a user is working. Merlin 5 installations will also be able to take advantage of automatic upgrades. Once a site approves a new M5 update, new features are pushed to appropriate users or groups automatically. No more sneaker disk to install updates. This is keeping with one of our many goals, reducing support and user mouse clicks.

As always, the M5 client uses a simple and secure http connection to the database, no complex (ODBC) database connections. For our hosted sites, HTTPS connections provide an even more secure environment.

Soon all MerlinOne customers will be able to take advantage of the M5 client. Transitioning could not be easier, both the M4 and M5 client may be run together, ensuring customers can make a smooth transition to one of the most powerful digital asset management (DAM) workflow tools available.

Posted by David Breslauer
Photo by David Breslauer

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