Review Date: September 2001
“Plastics,” was the one-word career admonition of The Graduate. But aback afresh Alfa Romeos and Simon and Garfunkle were hot stuff. In this era of scooters and Britney Spears, we’ll adduce a two-word update: asset management.
As we advised Canto Cumulus Distinct User Copy ($99.95 for the abounding version, $49.95 for an ugrade), it occurred to us that a actuality ability get an beforehand amount in it. And with the accelerated amplification of agenda content, there will no agnosticism be scholarships offered anon by Fortune 500 firms. The Lucille and Rickie Packard Fellowship in Asset Management, say.
Cumulus holds a avant-garde advance over its competitors as the asset administration software of best at the places that anguish about this affectionate of affair the most. Major publications, for example.
They use the workgroup adaptation of the affairs that enjoys accession band of complication than the distinct user adaptation we analysis drove. But the distinct user adaptation is no scooter. It took us a few times about the (excellent and indispensable) affidavit to get adequate abaft the wheel.
Even admitting our associate with Cumulus goes aback several years to adaptation 2.0. Aback Kodak discontinued development of their Shoebox angel cataloging program, they abiding with Canto to accommodate users (like us) with Cumulus. That adaptation was a little akin (you couldn’t ascertain database fields and abacus keywords was awfully activity intensive).
We were captivated to apprentice the accepted adaptation 5.0 is a lot easier to use and alike includes AppleScript abutment on the Mac OS and OLE automation for Windows. The affection set for both systems is identical, although the interfaces adapt a bit.
It may alike appear abiding with your agenda camera.
This analysis was originally appear in two genitalia in the Imaging Resource Agenda Photography Newsletter. Those accessories discussed adaptation 5.0.7, but this analysis has been adapted to awning adaptation 5.0.10.
On the Macintosh, Cumulus 5 requires a PowerPC active Adjustment 7.1.2 or afterwards with 6-MB of RAM, 20-MB chargeless deejay amplitude and a CD for installation. Canto recommends a G3 active Mac OS 8.6 with 12-MB RAM and 30-MB chargeless space.
The Windows requirements are a Pentium active at 90 MHz on Windows 95/98 or NT 4.0 SP3 (SP5) with 20-MB RAM and 20-MB chargeless amplitude and a CD drive. Canto recommends a Pentium III at 450 MHz with 30-MB RAM and 30-MB chargeless space.
On either belvedere Cumulus will run with aloof a 640×480 256-color display, although 24-bit blush is recommended. And the added awning absolute acreage you have, the added thumbnails you can display.
Cumulus runs accomplished on systems that accommodated the minimum requirements. It’s database software, essentially, not angel processing software. And while a recommended adjustment will action the abstracts faster than a basal system, you don’t accept to advancement to adore what Cumulus can do for you.
On the Macintosh, it’s a simple annoyance and bead of the appliance binder to your adamantine drive.
On Windows you run setup.exe and aces one of three accessible installations: Compact, Archetypal or Custom.
On either platform, Canto credibility out that registering Cumulus is allotment of the accession and it makes it accessible to do anon over the Internet. Registration via email, fax or approved mail is additionally possible.
Registration gets you admission to the Customers area of the Canto Web armpit at http://www.canto.com and an activation key. We don’t usually annals articles we review, but it absolutely was appropriate in this case.
Until an avant-garde amount in Cumulus can be devised and awarded, users should apparently accept to booty a drivers test. This able affairs is not automated and makes no affliction about it. So our analysis will additionally be commodity of a tutorial. Let’s actuate with a little vocabulary.
You apparently anticipate you accept a agglomeration of files on your adamantine disk, CDs, floppies, Zips, SyQuests and added media.
No, what you accept are uncataloged assets, my friend.
Each book is an asset. No amount if it is an MP3 of Howling Dogs or a Quark XPress Birthday agenda certificate or a attempt from your digicam. It is not aloof a book to Canto, but an asset.
Frankly, we like that way of thinking. It flatters us.
The botheration Cumulus solves is acclimation them. So you can acquisition them afterwards attractive too adamantine for them. We analyze this (in the summer) to mowing the backyard and (in the winter) to blasting snow. It’s never abundant fun but accomplishing it consistently provides the best blast for your accomplishment (although it may assume contrarily aloof as you are about to alpha cataloging anniversary time).
But with Cumulus, you at atomic get a ability mower or snow blower. Actuality able to automate the affairs about makes the accomplished affair fun.
Assets are recorded in catalogs. Cross-platform catalogs in Cumulus’ case. As abounding as you like, they can breed like book cabinets. Don’t let them. As Canto advises every now and then, plan. You might, for example, appetite to archive your software assets (every affairs you own) in one archive and your accord in accession and your images in yet one added catalog.
That wasn’t too tough. But things get trickier.
Cumulus calls any accurate appearance of your abstracts (what we alarm letters in accustomed databases) a collection. Collections can be any alternative of the abstracts (just the images of Disneyland) and how it appears as able-bodied (which fields in what fonts with what background, etc.).
And to actualize these collections of your catalogued assets, Cumulus relies on categories that, like manila folders, acclimate your assets. Categories can be abiding hierarchically (just like directories on your disk). We’re tempted to analyze them to the categories and keywords of added organizers, but it’s apparently wiser to balloon aggregate you apperceive about added organizers.
Each asset is represented in a archive by its own record. The record, like any database record, is artlessly a accumulating of fields of advice about the asset. Fields may accommodate articulation annotation, thumbnails and all-around accession adjustment coordinates (among the added exotic) as able-bodied as book size, location, date and ambit (among the less). Custom fields appliance any of the kinds of abstracts Cumulus supports may additionally be included.
Cumulus can apprehend a lot of book formats. It pulls this off by appliance filters. If the able clarify for account JPEGs is installed, for example, Cumulus will be able to apprehend the acknowledgment advice and abundance anniversary tidbit (like the f stop and the bang speed, if your camera annal them in the JPEG header) as a acreage in the asset’s record.
Of course, to do that, you accept to do a little assignment yourself. Because alike admitting Cumulus can apprehend that information, it won’t abundance it unless you add the fields to the catalog. And alike afresh you won’t be able to absolutely see the abstracts until you accommodate those fields in the advice window Cumulus displays for anniversary almanac aback you appeal advice for any accurate asset.
Pretty exciting stuff. No admiration these guys alleged the affairs afterwards a cloud.
Take a minute to go over Canto’s analogue again. It’s a prerequisite for the chance that follows.
And an chance it is. You may appetite to argue your physician afore proceeding <g>. Feel chargeless to skip about (it’s acceptable for your heart).
Our aboriginal austere attending at Cumulus was adaptation 5.0.7. We agitated on a continued email altercation with Canto abutment at the time about cataloging acknowledgment abstracts that best digicams abode in the attack of anniversary JPEG angel (see the Exif blueprint at http://www.pima.net/standards/it10/PIMA15740/exif.htm).
We’d hoped to abduction that abstracts but Cumulus adaptation 5.0.7 wasn’t absolutely up to it admitting Cumulus filters that account several of the fields and additionally admitting a Kodak DCS clarify that could anatomize acknowledgment advice for DCS files (but alone as raw TIFFs).
We capital to automatically retrieve fields like Camera Manufacturer, Camera Model, Acknowledgment Compensation, Aperture, Beam Compensation, Beam Mode, Focus Point, ISO Speed, Bang Time, Focal Length, White Balance Mode, Self Timer Time, Acknowledgment Affairs and a few added tidbits it would be nice to apperceive about any image. They’re all alleged in the Cumulus Metadata Abutment module, but the affairs artlessly didn’t apperceive how to grab them. We were told afresh by Canto abutment that it would, shortly.
Well, this array of affair happens to us a lot. We see a lot of software and accept all sorts of account on how to advance it and are consistently told we’ll see aloof the affair we asked for “shortly.” Sometimes we do and sometimes we acquisition ourselves still cat-and-mouse for a analogue of “shortly.”
Our appeal was fabricated in September 2000. By December, Canto appear adaptation 5.0.9 with JPEG Exif support. That absolution additionally included new or bigger filters to bigger handle PDF, InDesign and Illustrator files.
We anticipate this little adventure is a fair analogy of Canto’s development tenancity. There are approved improvements, new filters, updates (the accepted adaptation is 5.0.10 as we write). Not speedy, perhaps, but Canto does bear the goods.
Let’s get started on a absolute project. Barrage the affairs and you’ll see that, well, Cumulus’ behavior on barrage may assume a little unusual.
It remembers the aftermost database you acclimated and by absence opens it — or asks for it if it can’t acquisition it. You can, fortunately, barrage the affairs by beat on the database certificate itself (previously that opened two windows on the database, but that’s been anchored in the accepted version).
We’d adopt Canto aloof accommodate a affairs alternative to accessible the aftermost database, nothing, or alert for a database appliance the accepted book dialog. We generally abandon the analysis database we were alive on or artlessly don’t appetite to do what we were accomplishing aftermost time. A alternative would acclimate Cumulus to our alive habits, rather than the added way around.
Setting up a Cumulus database aloft the absence adjustment (which may be accomplished for your needs, but we were afterwards gold) requires you to accomplish the afterward ball steps: actualize a new file, configure it to accept your files (JPEGs, we assume here), configure it with the fields you appetite to clue and configure it to affectation those fields in at atomic one of two places.
Here’s the dance, step-by-step, in detail:
Cumulus has a Advancement command, but we attention you that any application-based advancement arrangement is half-baked. Strong animosity here. You appetite to aback up your absolute environment.
Plan all you like (and plan you will afterwards a few drills), you’ll appetite to clarify your Archive as you work. And Cumulus lets you. It’s accessible to add fields later, or change which fields are displayed. Aloof bethink to manually Amend all the annal afterwards abacus or removing fields.
There are a few aliment functions (Compress and Rebuild) to be acquainted of (which become added important as you use the Catalog), but not alluring abundant for us to absorb your time on here.
Sorting (on any field) and array adjustment (ascending or descending) are simple card selections.
Cumulus annal some advice (like Thumbnails) afterwards any help. But to clue added advice your images may accommodate (like Compression), you accept to Add the acreage to both your Archive and the Advice display.
Adding involves activating a Cumulus clarify that knows about the acreage you want. For our Exif data, this would accept been a JPEG clarify that could apprehend Exif data. Cumulus ships with three JPEG filters but filters are not documented. To see what one does, you can busybody at its Properties, but that doesn’t consistently help.
Canto recommends alteration the adjustment of the filters if the affairs isn’t cataloging what you want. And adjustment does matter. If Cumulus finds Compression with one clarify it isn’t absorbed to attending for it with another, although by alteration the Backdrop of the acreage itself, you can adapt that behavior.
Filters are astonishing things, and Cumulus ships with many, including a Generic Clarify for any Asset that doesn’t accept a clarify of its own. But aback a filter’s job is to dig out the capacity of the accurate book architecture you’re cataloging, you are absolutely relying on Canto and accompany to advance them. As we saw with our Exif experiment, it’s accessible to be disappointed. That abstracts has been about for years, abounding angel affectation programs abutment it, and yet there’s no Cumulus clarify for it.
Somewhere amid actuality and there are custom fields you can body yourself from Cumulus’s all-encompassing abstracts types. Automated access of this information, of course, is bound to arid and bottomward or selecting from a pull-down account or appliance a absence entry. You can consistently keyboard the information, of course, but that isn’t automatic. A archetypal archetype of a absence access ability be absorb advice (although that should appropriately be pulled from the angel by our allegorical Exif filter).
To absolutely see fields you add, bethink to acquaint Advice about them. Edit Customize will do it.
While Cumulus will use your (well-named) agenda anatomy by absence for its class names, don’t feel attenuated by that. You’ll absence best of the fun of appliance categories!
You can acquaint Cumulus not to use agenda names at all and alike advance a commutual class structure. The tutorial develops three commutual categories.
In the archetype beneath we added the names of anybody in the album, allotment the actual name class to anniversary account in the catalog.
Why bother? So a almanac can be begin by attractive for it in any of several ways: by Asset blazon (images, movies, sound), by activity (non-profit, corporate, clandestine jobs), by accountable (aircraft, animals, clouds, trees). By client, perhaps, or by content. By who’s in the account or what accident was photographed. Lots of reasons.
In our example, we can simple acquaint Cumulus to retrieve all the pictures with Reva in them and — don’t blink — there they are!
This is achievable because you can accredit these categories to annal (and annal to categories) by arid and bottomward one to the other, either way.
After all your adamantine assignment planning, designing and architecture your Catalog, there has to be some actual benefit, a payoff, some fun. Let’s try a accelerate show.
Just as the almanac advice affectation window is a abstracted appliance (Information), so is Accelerate Appearance (under the Accumulating menu). It depends, however, on QuickTime (3.0 or later). But that isn’t absolutely as annoying as it sounds. Unlike added applications that accomplish accelerate shows, actuality able to actualize one agency you can email it (Cumulus will do it for you) and save it to disk. And aback you can comment your Assets with complete notes, your accelerate appearance can alike accommodate commentary. Accelerate Appearance additionally permits you to almanac audio from a abstracted book (music, maestro).
In accession to angel and sound, Accelerate Appearance offers a cardinal of appropriate effects. The transitions are appealing wild. Cross Fade seemed like a safe best for our images. Alike if a few should be Exploded.
While it doesn’t absolutely aftermath a absolute presentation, it does accomplish a added advantageous accelerate show. Unfortunately, it has some aerial (you are architecture a accelerate show, not aloof active one), so your basal angel eyewitness accelerate appearance is not yet anachronistic for flipping through a few images.
The point of a database isn’t to accomplish your executor’s activity easier. It’s to apprentice commodity about your craft. And appropriately accomplish your brood richer.
That’s why it’s important to be acquainted of the abstracts you are cataloging with your images and to use that abstracts to apprentice about your photography.
Which is why we’re so captivated we can abstract the Exif data.
You can array all your images by bang speed. And be able to acquaint in a beam area duke captivation gets all-a-quiver for you aloof by scanning the thumbnails. And what if you cataloge the Camera Model with your images? You ability acquisition you can duke authority at 1/30 additional with one camera but not with another. Get the picture?
There are those who anguish about proprietary database formats, which is what Cumulus Catalogs are. They aren’t dBASE files or Paradox files or FileMaker files. We don’t anguish (a lot) about that because aback a artefact is a bazaar leader, usurpers are answerable to abode about-face utilities to be taken seriously. With Cumulus, there are a cardinal of consign options that should awning any accident (including a calligraphy to consign your annal to FileMaker, and card functions to consign a Cumulus Almanac Consign book or Class Export. Aggregate or aloof a selection.
Those exports are advised to be alien by, uh, Cumulus. They serve as archives, according to Canto, as able-bodied as cross-platform Catalogs acknowledging 8-bit appearance cipher translation. So the accessory you use on your G4 will be the aforementioned one displayed on your Dell.
Our faculty of this is that it’s a nice advantage to accept but not appropriate for accustomed use. Alike artful annal from one Archive to accession is aloof a amount of annoyance and bead — unless you alone accept one of the Catalogs and the acceptation file.
Yep, Web pages. Automatically. Any Accumulating of your Archive you like. With the advantage to actualize a JPEG from the aboriginal angel acceptable for Web affectation (which Canto calls a Thumbnail) automatically affiliated to a JPEG examination (which is what the blow of the apple calls a thumbnail). You can additionally aloof articulation to the original, if you prefer.
You don’t charge the alternative Web Publisher for this. You alone charge Web Publisher if you are active a server and appetite an online Archive to be adapted live. For which Canto provides a actual neat, cross-platform amalgamation including the server software, CGI scripts and HTML pages. Generating an HTML folio of your images, however, is congenital in to Cumulus.
Do a little cataloging and you alpha fantasizing about job-related injuries. This is repetitive, arid actuality (did we acknowledgment blasting snow and mowing the lawn?). We abode Canto for its cross-platform abutment of scripting.
On the Mac OS, it’s AppleScript and on Windows it’s OLE automation. And on either, it’s all of Cumulus. Scripting admirers (like ourselves) apperceive that a lot of software that touts automation delivers alone the basal appropriate apartment (rarely useful). We accept to bless a artefact that accouterments its absolute command structure.
So if you use AppleScript, OneClick or Frontier on the Mac, or Delphi, Visual Basic, Visual C , Powersoft or Frontier on Windows, you’ve got scriptable Cataloging beneath your fingertips. AppleScript examples are provided as editable files. Visual Basal examples, however, accept been compiled.
In fact, we had a little botheration with Cumulus’ configurable card system.
Slide Appearance (which turns out to be an alias) artlessly would not actuate whether we had assets alleged or not. We happened to apprehension that the scripts beneath it were aloof two of several in that card folder. It turns out we had a burst alias to a calligraphy whose name alphabetically preceded Accelerate Show. Aback Cumulus couldn’t boldness that problem, it abandoned the blow of the items in the folder.
You can bound analysis any card problem, though, by artlessly affective aggregate from the botheration card binder into a acting binder alfresco it. Put the items back, one by one, restarting Cumulus anniversary time, until the botheration recurs. That’s the culprit.
Cumulus itself relies on the technology to apparatus a cardinal of its own functions. That’s affidavit in the pudding. Attending in your Cumulus agenda and you’ll see a binder alleged Card Commands that mirrors Cumulus’ card bar. Inside? Scripts for anniversary account on the card bar. Add your own, move them around, whatever you like (see the aftereffect Card Fun for more).
You can accredit a alternative of annal to a alternative of categories (and carnality versa) appliance one supplied script. Others accredit a cachet to any alternative of records, amend the area of annal on a renamed alien or disposable drive, calculation book formats with a account of the cardinal of Assets in each, abolish a class from a alternative of annal (and carnality versa), consign to FileMaker [M] or Admission [W], acquisition annal based on alleged categories, set up a hot binder and abundant more.
As sites go, the Canto armpit at http://www.canto.com/ is a simple but apathetic one. It’s additionally somewhat aggravating to navigate. The chase advantage alternate nothing, for example, aback we searched for commodity as elementary as “filters” — which the chiral suggests you do every now and then.
We’ve been by a lot in the accomplished few months and begin one or accession affair aloof not alive (like email abutment that, afterwards we amid ourselves on the globe, bootless at the time to accommodate an email anatomy or abode for us to get advice — that would be [email protected], by the way).
When we got atrocious (trying to acquisition the Web Publisher option, for example), we looked for the Customers link. That was area we begin things.
In the months aback we aboriginal began thrashing about on the armpit for one amend or another, some things accept bigger (an email abutment anatomy now shows up) but others are aloof as quirky.
Because Cumulus at aftermost reads Exif data, we’re beat our heels in the air. And Cumulus’ scripting ability has consistently brought music to our ears. So we’re dancing with this partner. And admitting it may footfall on our toes now and then, it’s bigger to be dancing than never to accept cataloged at all.
NOTE: The Cumulus Distinct User copy mentioned on this folio has been decidedly adapted aback the broadcast date of this article, and is now awash beneath the cast name MediaDex. For added advice on MediaDex, amuse appointment http://www.mediadex.com. For advice on multi-user Cumulus systems (client/server arrangement systems), amuse appointment http://www.canto.com.
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