• Price: 129 . 163 . 3149

  • Company: Extensis

  • Pros: Comprehensive and very expandable digital-asset manager. Handles most media files. Practical use of metadata for automation. Exports to Web, print, and slideshow.

  • Cons: Slow to import despite fast cataloguing. Thumbnail and previewing displays aren’t as either flexible as Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

The past year has seen Extensis sell its range of plug-ins and XTensions to onOne, leaving it free to concentrate on its two core areas: digital asset management and font management.

Portfolio 8 is the latest version of the digital asset management system that started life as Aldus Fetch around 15 years ago. It’s not just for images – it works with word processing and layout files, PDFs, movies, and other media files. A proper asset management database like Portfolio is far more powerful and flexible than even the new breed of image browsers such as Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom.

As with previous versions, Portfolio 8 is available in a wide choice of configurations, and prices vary wildly. There’s a single-user version (tested here), but Extensis tends to push its server version, which is suitable for small workgroups but can be scaled up to large workgroup or enterprise levels, including integration with big SQL databases.

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The single-user model starts at £129 plus VAT. There is also Portfolio Server, starting at £3,149 plus VAT with five client licences. Optional SQL Connect additions can access larger databases, and prices stretch to over £6,000 for high-end <BR>
server versions. Portfolio NetPublish 8 lets you create searchable Web sites with dynamic access to the Portfolio database, and costs an additional £163 plus VAT for five concurrent connections. 
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The Portfolio Express utility supplied as standard isn’t new but it’s incredibly useful. It lets you call up Portfolio catalogues to work with Photoshop or any layout program. 
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It appears as a floating searchable palette of thumbnails that lets you drag images or files into any application, where they are placed in full resolution. An XTension is supplied for QuarkXPress, which doesn’t natively support the drag-&-drop capabilities.
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<b>Shake your assets</b>
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Extensis describes Portfolio as ‘creative asset management,’ meaning it not only offers the usual business of cataloguing files, adding keyword captions and then searching, but it lets you set up an automated and tracked workflow that can move files into new ‘basket’ folders if you change the file info status. This is particularly useful for collaborative working internally, or if images are sent to customers or published online for approval or sales. 
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It offers useful batch features such as lossless rotation (in 90 degree increments), renaming, rescaling, colour conversions, and file format conversion. It’s able to catalogue RAW files from some digital cameras (including Adobe’s DNG standard), though you still need a RAW processing application to do much with them.
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