Integration, connectivity, security and change – the new tick list for digital asset management

Today, for a digital asset management system to really be doing its job, it needs to be able to seamlessly integrate or connect with other company systems and applications including web and content management tools, social media sites, AI tools, location mapping, reporting and accounting software, document creator applications like word and excel, external category referencing such as ISBN numbers, and any number of third party software types.

A good DAM will never be able to do everything as well as some other third party solutions, and that's fine. As long as it can integrate and connect with them, securely and seamlessly, it doesn’t matter. It should unite internal and external staff, supporting all communication and collaboration. It should bring together departments, like marketing and IT, with the reassurance that integration and security is key. It should also be configurable, and have the flexibility to be able to support and enhance changing workflows and processes instead of being rigid in its usability and presenting a set way of working.

Why do I need an API?

The chances are, that if a solution does do what you want it to today, then it won't do what you want it to in the future unless it has the ability to integrate with other systems. Technology changes, software changes, working practices change. So the question isn't so much 'can it do it now?' it's 'could it do it if and when we need it to?'.

An API is essential to all of these integration scenarios, and should be open for developers to explore and integrate with. This is an Application Programming Interface; an interface that allows two applications or programs to communicate with one another and therefore work together. On your PC, APIs make it possible for you to work between different programs, like copying and pasting text from a Word document into a Mac notes app. On the web, APIs allow platforms like Facebook to work with other apps, enabling a user to sign into various web services using their Facebook ID. For a digital asset management system, it means that if you decide you want to transfer video content directly from your media library to YouTube via the cloud, without downloading to your PC, then you can. Common integration requirements include:

  • Web content management
  • Social media integration
  • Reporting functionality
  • Finance systems
  • External data sources
  • Single sign-on

Digital Asset Management and APIs, integration and connectivity

Many features will be already built into a good digital asset management system. For example, you should be able to connect your desktop software to your media library. You should be able to handle files from Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and so much more. You should be able to access plugins for Wordpress and other content management systems to enable you to work directly inside those systems. But where an API comes in really handy, is when you have specific work requirements that are unique to your company, or haven’t been built into the asset management system as standard.

Simon Freytag, Third Light's Professional Services Principal Consultant comments:

"Building a custom application that allows two pieces of existing technology to work together is often a cost-effective way of delivering a solution. Knowing that the existing software has already been tried and tested also provides an assurance that it will do the job, without having to suffer rounds of bug fixing and excessive development time. Alternatively we can develop specific functionality for our customers if there isn't a third party application that will do the job."

Here are some smart projects we've worked on with our clients to enable them to do exactly what they need to.

YouTube uploader

The YouTube uploader overcomes the time-consuming problem of having to download videos from Third Light, and then upload them to YouTube before adding all the data fields manually. Often the file size may be problematic, and the internet speed slow. The uploader transfers videos directly from Third Light to YouTube using its API, and with it, transfers all the metadata connected to the video, automatically populating the data fields in YouTube. When the video is published, it then posts the unique YouTube video url back to Third Light.

Integration with SurveyGizmo

This is a custom application that combines and integrates Third Light's digital media library software and SurveyGizmo's survey software using a modern microservice. First, the data or a clip from the media library is selected and sent to SurveyGizmo to set up a survey. Then, when the user completes the survey, it makes a call back to the microservice, which then stores the survey back in the media library. All the related assets are then saved together and automatically tagged with the same metadata. This is particularly useful when aggregating or collecting different file types from different sources into one place.

Licensing and expiry date integration

This is a custom feature that automatically sets licensing and expiry dates on purchased media, depending on which supplier it has come from. The system will recognise that if an image has been sourced from supplier A, and that supplier's assets licence expires after 3 months, then it will automatically apply that data to the file. This is really helpful if large numbers of images are being purchased on short licences from a number of suppliers.

PowerPoint Generator

A modern microservice architecture is used to build the PowerPoint slides, with Third Light's template extensions, enabling the user to click on individual slides to create their presentation. The result means staff can quickly and easily select their chosen slides from the media library which are then automatically built into a complete, ready-to-use PowerPoint. This is a really useful, time-saving feature for sales people or training professionals, who frequently need to prepare presentations for different audiences.

Magnifier tool

The magnifier tool is a JavaScript extension that has been deployed through the templates system. It replaces the default zoom tool with a much better, more powerful one, enabling people to see minute details in their images. The default one works on previews only, which are much smaller than the actual file, and so the zoom is quite limited. The new one lets you access the original file itself, so you can zoom into every detail at 100% or indeed beyond 100% using a scroll-and-pan widget. This is particularly handy for looking at minute detail, complex drawings or diagrams with text.

Print button

The print button allows users to 'print the original' directly from IMS, instead of having to download files first. A new printing icon appears at the bottom right of the screen. This uses Secure File Fetch to get hold of the original file, open it in a new minimal window, and trigger the browser's print function.

Select in slideshow

This is a widget that lets you play the image slideshow as it would normally. It observes click events on the slideshow such that when a user clicks on the third picture shown, the browser will navigate to that third picture’s file page instead of the image the slideshow started on. This is really useful when looking at a series of very similar images, where the detail is not clear on the thumbnail but is clear on the slideshow and a selection only possible in this view.

Unique Code Display

Files in Third Light's media library can be exposed as unique codes and GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) numbers, which are usually associated with a barcode. A good example of a GTIN is the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) on a book, or a SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) in retail. For files to be exposed or referenced in this way, a microservice is custom built and used to run inside Third Light's media library, which catches certain URLs that contain the GTIN. The GTIN then sends the request back to the microservice which takes the number and turns it into an API search query. The query extracts the matching image and sends it back. This functionality allows the user and third parties such as customers to create links to images simply by knowing the GTIN.

Custom Reporting

By building a microservice that runs directly on Third Light's media library, users can produce custom reports over and above the reports normally generated in the software. This is done by creating its own simple user interface that lets a user enter some dates for a from-to range. You can filter it by a dropdown of groups. This produces a CSV file that you can import into Excel. A good example is a list of the all the files downloaded by all the users in the group. This is particularly useful if users have specific problems or audit requirements. It’s possible to expose any reporting data that people might need elsewhere in their accounting, auditing or compliance software using the same method.

Digital Asset Management and APIs, integration and connectivity

Third Light's Professional Services is your consultancy partner for hands-on, practical help and customizations. If your team need something 'out of the box' please contact . Or if you haven't tried our digital media library yet, sign-up today for a 30-day free trial.

Consultancy DAM - Digital Asset Management Hints and Tips