Ian Burley test-drives Extensis Portfolio 7, the latest version of a popular and established digital asset management solution

exPrice: £129.99 (Single Netpublish licence Mac/Win)

*TYPE: Image-editing Software
*SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Portfolio 7 Windows:Windows 2000, Windows XP Home or Professional, Pentium (400MHz or faster recommended) 256MB of physical RAM, 75MB of free hard disk space,QuickTime 6.4 or higher
Portfolio 7 Macintosh: Mac OS X (10.2.8 or higher) Apple Mac G3, G4, G5 or higher 256MB of physical RAM, 175MB of free hard disk space QuickTime 6.4 or higher
*CONTACT DETAILS: www.extensis.co.uk

Portfolio, published by Extensis, has built up a loyal, enthusiastic fan base. Portfolio is a family of software products providing a range of power and flexibility from managing images at a personal level through to multi-user server-based provision and, with Portfolio 7, a new web server offering. A digital asset management (DAM) solution, like Portfolio, is essential for efficient management of your library of images and some other multimedia content types, including some digital audio and motion video file formats. Essentially, DAMs enable you to catalogue your multimedia files, either selectively or automatically, without having to change the location of each file. A catalogue can contain files that live in countless different folders across your hard drive and even on removable media. If you want to you can interface Portfolio to an industry-standard database, like MySQL. During and after the cataloguing process you can add target key words to individual images or selections to help you find them easily using Portfolio?s search facility. Portfolio 7 also has a very handy folder watch feature that updates the catalogue when files are modified, added or removed. In itself, a Portfolio catalogue does not contain copies of the files it references; it?s an index of thumbnail images plus associated information, which can be edited, concerning each file. This information can include your own key words, plus pre-existing embedded data, like camera EXIF parameters and other industry standard embedded details in formats like XMP and IPTC metadata. All this data can be targeted in search actions by the user. You can also search by date, file type, file name, etc. Portfolio 7 provides a stand-alone Mac and Windows compatible catalogue viewer that can be distributed along with the images and the catalogue. You can also distribute catalogues without the original images, either limiting the viewer to thumbnails or medium size representations of the image. This saves storage space and/or limits access to valuable full-size original content as required. Even in stand alone form, as reviewed here, Portfolio has been able, for some time, to act as a client for Portfolio Server, a powerful and expensive centralised image resource management system that provides easy and convenient secure access to large libraries of images to teams of people in a workgroup. When Extensis unveiled version 7 of Portfolio in spring 2004, some welcome streamlining and functionality improvements were made to the basic application. These included direct support for burning catalogues onto CD or DVD, improved batch image conversion tools and improved Portfolio Server synchronisation. Portfolio 7 also introduces NetPublish, a feature that goes far beyond the concept of generating simple web image galleries, which Portfolio can already do, to semi-automatically generate feature-rich stand alone web sites, complete with site search facilities and managed image accessibility, all without having to know anything about html programming. However, it isn?t obvious at first that to make best use of NetPublish, you need to invest in a NetPublish Server licence. Only a limited licence is provided with the basic version of Portfolio 7. At Photokina 2004, Extensis answered some of its critics who had complained about limited support for RAW file formats in Portfolio, by announcing much more comprehensive brand and model-specific RAW format compatibility as well as support for Adobe?s newly proposed Digital Negative (DNG) standard (see p66-67). Portfolio 7, even in its most basic form, is a powerful and highly useful tool for any serious digital photographer.

PROS: Powerful and fast with useful professional features
CONS: Complicated for evryday home use

Features 18
Ease of use 16
Performance 17
Design 17
Value 18