Digital Asset Management Users Group Meeting

The MetaCard feature of the Merlin digital asset management system. My colleagues Rande Simpson, Mike Kullen and I recently held a pair of Merlin User Group webinars for our customers.

A few years ago when we did these, our users were a fairly homogenous group, mostly newspapers (or magazines), people who spoke the language of sections, zones and editions.

Our recent sessions included a huge cross-section of our customers, and what we now see is that managing digital assets like photos, graphics, PDF documents and audio or video is important to a diverse community. Our customers now include a number of non-profit organizations, corporate customers, international customers and even a governmental group. And they all have one thing in common. They want to store their important digital assets in an easy-to-use environment so that their users can quickly access content as required and use that content.

Our new users have inspired us to add some really cool features into Merlin. Our recipient workflow allows users to assign content to specific users, giving these defined users access to only a select set of content. We learned that some of our users users are not sure how to search. So we developed a MetaCard search tool. It allows a site to designate a field and then show a list of entries in that field with associated keywords. Not sure what to search on, how about these items? On our demo system, we have set this up a number of ways. Currently it is triggered by data in the Country field, so there is a MetaCard representing each county found in the country field in the database, and then each MetaCard displays the keywords used for all the pictures from that country. It is pretty cool, and is sort of like a reminder list.

So as the needs of our customers grow, so grows Merlin. Some features come quickly (MetaCard took less than a week from brainstorming session to testing), others require more time and development because of the complexity of how pieces tie together. And of course keeping up with other software is a challenge. Everytime one of our customers picks up the latest digital camera from Nikon or Canon, we need to check to make sure that our import process continues to support it. As our customers adopt other production systems, we work to find ways Merlin can better integrate with those systems.

So at the end of our meeting we asked our customers for suggestions on how to make Merlin an even better product for them. I am sure they will not hesitate to share their ideas.

Want to share your ideas about digital asset management, let us hear from you!

Posted by David Breslauer

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