2015-07-02

DC-X DAM system architecture, data structures, and APIs

Yesterday, we met with a potential customer’s tech and development team who were interested in the backend of our DC-X DAM system.

I gave a quick overview of the system architecture, the most important data structures, and our brand new JSON API.

Here’s the slides of my presentation (or download a PDF of the presentation):

Read the full article…

Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:04:00 +0000
2015-06-14

Topic Maps (as a standard) are dead, I’m afraid

[Update: This post got some well-deserved pushback. Thanks to Patrick Durusau, Lars Marius Garshol and Jack Park for the feedback – and sorry for the controversial headline. I’ve added “(as a standard)” and did some editing to make clear that people still use Topic Maps.]

I’m a fan of Topic Maps – the very well-thought-out Topic Maps Data Model standard with an XML serialization called XTM (XML Topic Maps) dating back to the year 2000. (See also the Topic Maps Reference Model, TMRM).

Even as a fan, I must admit that the Topic Maps standards are dead. They have never been widely adopted, and the key contributors have long moved on. Measured by the value you expect to get out of a successful standard – good visibility, adoption, interoperability, tooling, ongoing development – Topic Maps haven’t been the success we were hoping for.

Read the full article…

Sun, 14 Jun 2015 19:57:00 +0000
2015-05-08

RDF and schema.org for DAM interoperability

There’s no widely-accepted standard for DAM data yet

Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are the hubs for organizations’ creative content. DAMs need to exchange data with other systems all the time: import creative works and metadata from external content providers, export digital assets and metadata to Web Content Mananagement systems and so on. Sadly, none of the various DAM related standards (like the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set Lisa Grimm writes about, or IPTC NewsML G2) have been broadly adopted by DAM vendors. At least not broadly enough that you can expect to exchange data between DAM systems without programming effort.

Do we need a new standard?

Inventing a new standard is rarely a good idea. (You’ve probably seen the XKCD comic on standards.) If there is an existing open standard that more or less matches our use case, we better use that one to benefit from the existing documentation, tools, and adoption.

I suggest that we encourage the DAM community to move towards the schema.org vocabulary in an RDF syntax. This is the stuff that already powers large parts of the emerging Semantic Web. It introduces the DAM to the world of Linked Data.

Read the full article…

Fri, 08 May 2015 12:28:00 +0000
2015-05-06

Vom Archiv- zum Redaktionssystem: Die Drehscheibe für kreative Inhalte

Das folgende Referat habe ich am 5. Mai 2015 bei der Frühjahrstagung des Vereins für Medieninformation und Mediendokumentation (vfm) in Bremen gehalten, zum Thema “Vom Archiv- zum Redaktionssystem” beim Presse-Panel (etwas überarbeitet, entspricht nicht dem genauen Wortlaut). Die anderen beiden Redner waren Christian Wagner, Geschäftsführender Redakteur beim WESER-KURIER (der unser DC-X einsetzt) und André Maerz, Projektleiter bei der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung (HUGO-Anwender). Moderiert hat Jutta Heselmann vom WDR.

Read the full article…

Wed, 06 May 2015 08:44:00 +0000
2015-04-29

Workflow awareness of DAM systems

Workflow doesn’t

This blog post is inspired by Roger Howard’s excellent, thought-provoking “Workflow doesn’t” critique of the workflow functionality in today’s Digital Asset Management systems.

(I don’t know which systems Roger has worked with. If you want to catch up with the state of DAM workflow engines, here’s some links to get you started: Status-based workflows in Canto Cumulus. The MerlinOne workflow engine. ADAM Workflow. DAM News on configurable workflow systems. DAM News on workflow in DAM value chains. Anything else?)

I like Roger’s observations that “exceptions are the rule in production”, exceptions require decisions, and “decision making is something humans excel at”. This reminds me of Jon Udell’s old motto that “human beings are the exception handlers for all automated workflows”. Software that doesn’t embrace this fact will stop the work from flowing.

Read the full article…

Wed, 29 Apr 2015 22:09:00 +0000
2015-04-24

Find the latest articles on Digital Asset Management via Planet DAM

There’s lots of interesting articles being written on Digital Asset Management topics. How do you keep up-to-date? That’s easy – do as I do, follow the more than 250 DAM related Twitter accounts and about 100 RSS feeds, and I promise you won’t miss out on anything important! (I’m suffering from “FOMO”, I guess: “fear of missing out”.)

If this seems like too much work, check out my Planet DAM:

This is the place where I link all new DAM-related articles I come across when scanning Twitter and RSS feeds. A manually curated “river of news” for DAM writing. If you’re using a feed reader (highly recommended), you can even subscribe to the Planet DAM RSS feed (well, Atom feed) and get all the latest stuff without even visiting the Planet DAM Web site.

If you know of an article that should be on Planet DAM but isn’t yet, please send me its URL via e-mail or Twitter. Thanks in advance!

Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:00:00 +0000
2015-04-13

Is there an XML standard for digital magazine replicas?

Many printed newspapers and magazines offer digital replicas to their subscribers – Web or mobile apps that let readers browse the publication in the exact print layout. Often with added functionality, like fulltext search, PDF download or an optional HTML-formatted article view for better readability. You’ll find lots of examples in the Apple Newsstand or Google Play Kiosk. In Germany, these digital replicas are called “ePaper” and are a must-have for publishers because they count towards the official print circulation figures tracked by the IVW.

Technically, replica editions are usually built from PDF files of the printed pages. A decent editorial system will also provide articles and images with structured metadata separately, which means better quality for added functionality compared to content extracted from the PDF. Really good systems can provide page coordinates for articles and images, so that a tap or click on the page can send the reader to the right article or image. (Remember the good old HTML image map?) Companies like Visiolink1000°ePaperiApps or Paperlit help publishers create and publish replicas.

Read the full article…

Mon, 13 Apr 2015 08:50:00 +0000
2015-03-19

Trust your developers’ opinion on technical debt

While “onboarding” a new developer, we get to see our software product, code, development environment and culture through a fresh pair of eyes. There’s moments of pride – when we show something to the new guy and he likes how well-executed it is – and of embarrassment. We’ve cut corners in some places, and they not only make us feel ashamed, but cost the new employee much more time (and our company, more money) to understand and use them than the good, well-documented parts.

Technical debt in software development is a common topic: When writing code, we cut corners now to deliver something faster, just like we borrow money to buy something earlier than we could normally afford. As with financial debt, technical debt isn’t bad in itself but it does accumulate, and usually needs to be repaid someday.

Read the full article…

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 11:50:00 +0000
2015-02-28

strehle.de now powered by Topic Maps

If you’ve visited my blog before: Do you notice anything unusual? I hope not – because that’s what I’ve been working on almost every night for four months… 😄

My personal Web site had been hosted on a company-sponsored server for the last 15 years (thanks guys!), but that server is finally going to be shut down. So I rented a virtual server and started to move my stuff over.

Being a developer, I couldn’t just copy the software and data onto the new server. That would have been way too easy! Developers always feel the need to remove cruft, to improve on their old code, and to learn about new technology in the process.

Many parts of my Web site (my blog, a photographer’s portfolio, Planet DAM) had been powered by our company’s DAM software in the background. I learnt a lot by “eating my own DAM dog food”, but now I wanted to explore something else: Topic Maps.

Topic Maps are a standardized way for modeling information – sadly, they never gained traction and are long-forgotten by almost everyone. But I can’t stop loving Topic Maps, and in 2014, I finally started to build my own open-source Topic Maps engine, TopicBank. (It’s very experimental, useful for no-one but me at the moment, and evolves at an extremely slow pace.) I’m also using this side project to learn Elasticsearch, and dive deeper into Linked Data, Amazon S3, PostgreSQL and the latest PHP 5 features.

So I’m now “dogfooding” TopicBank. I rewrote the DAM-powered parts of my Web site to use my Topic Maps engine instead. And today, after months of hard work, I switched my live Web site over to the new server, and to the new code. Some things are still missing (Planet DAM’s RSS feeds, which I plan to reimplement soon). But for a full heart transplant, the patient seems to be doing very well!

Sat, 28 Feb 2015 21:34:00 +0000
2015-01-27

Demian Hess: Managing Digital Rights Metadata with Semantic Technologies

Very interesting webinar recording by Demian Hess: Managing Digital Rights Metadata with Semantic Technologies. (You need to supply your e-mail address to view the recording, and playback requires Windows Media Player, but it’s worth it if you’re into Digital Asset Management and rights metadata.)

Demian explains how complex licenses are, and how people try to simplify them because the complexity / variability doesn’t fit into their DAM systems. And why dumbing down doesn’t work too well in the long term.

His approach is to losslessly store all the licensing terms in a separate RDF database, which is integrated with the DAM system so that terms can be displayed along with the DAM asset information in the user interface. Special licensing reports (using SPARQL in the backend) can list all the different terms for a set of assets.

I only wonder why there’s no mention of RightsML? RightsML, hopefully, is going to become the standard for rights metadata, and it’s built on semantic technology. See my blog post Rights Management in the DC-X DAM – and RightsML.

Demian also wrote an article on Digital Rights and the Cost of "Lousy Record Keeping".

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:23:59 +0000