As there are a large number of asset management programs available
on the internet, the choice is difficult. Fortunately, a comparison
of the feature sets should rule out many of them. An occasional amateur
photographer will have very different needs than a professional photographer.
While the professional photographer will need many more features,
the amateur will want an easier interface to deal with. In my case,
I had to make a difficult decision -- I am serious about photography,
have a growing collection and look for future-proofing. Thus, I need
a highly-featured product. But my wife will also need to use the same
software; searching for photos and emailing them to friends. Obviously,
she will not have the patience to deal with a cryptic, non-intuitive
- Keywords in database, not only in files
Having keywords that are managed outside of the files themselves
allows easy renaming and rearranging of keyword categorization
or hierarchy. It is also nice to have the ability to copy
the tags from the database into the actual photos (for safety),
but this is not as important.
- Unlimited levels of hierarchy
It is very important that one have as much flexibility as
necessary to arrange the category hierarchy. Restricting the
category structure to be only four or five levels deep may
eventually be extremely limiting.
- Complex searches
Need to have the ability to perform boolean searches across
- Fast and robust with 100,000 photos
Although I do not have 100,000 photos yet, I am quickly building
up a sizeable collection. Some programs are not designed well
to handle large collections, and they progressively get slower
over time. Similarly, it is unacceptable for a program to
hang or crash when dealing with large databases.
- IPTC Keyword write
Otherwise, the ability to write the tagging data into each of
the file's metadata. This effectively protects you against database
- RAW files
- Offline image collection
- Link to external editing software
- EXIF orientation auto-rotation
- Lossless rotation
- Great support
Both from the community and the developer
Scripting allows one to accomplish repetitive tasks or features
that were missing from the original software.
- Easy-to-use Interface
Some degree of learning curve is acceptable, but with those
who must share their management software with others, a simple
intuitive interface is prefered. Similarly, if common tasks
take a large number of steps, the efficiency within the program
will be reduced.
- Export of Database
Preferably, an open database structure that allows one to migrate to another tool
- Multiple versions. Please see the section
on catalog versioning.
I am now thinking that this feature should fall within the "must-have"
- Generation of web pages
- Color managed
Tool should recognize embedded ICC profiles within the photos and
render them accordingly. Having a mix of sRGB and Adobe RGB photos
without ICC support will cause some photos to incorrectly appear
washed out, for example.
- Frequent updates and bug fixes
As file formats change and other features become necessities,
it is important that the program keep up with the pace of
the digital photography world. For example, newer digital
cameras often add extra features or use different file formats
that will need to be supported by the management program.
- Low cost of ownership
Not only is the initial cost outlay important, one has to
figure in the cost of updates or add-ons over the lifetime
of the product. Some programs require an add-on for additional
camera models, or even charge for bug-fixes.
- Product roadmap: Asset Manager or Swiss Army Knife?
While it is nice for a program to support a large number of
features, where is the future of the product heading? Is it
focusing almost entirely on the asset management side, or
is it trying to please every customer with a different feature?
You want your asset management software to be stable (ie.
no crashes) and fast. The actual process of handling catalogs
in a efficient manner is actually quite difficult. Adding
flexible printing, image editing capabilities, web page development,
etc. will typically come at the expense of the real purpose
of the program. In particular, I think one should be leary
of any asset management product that offers a lot of image
editing features. You simply cannot address these two markets
with one program! I want multiple products that perform their
jobs in a superior manner, rather than a single product that
performs multiple jobs in an inferior manner!