Saturday, February 23, 2008

ResourceSpace: An Excellent Open Source Digital Asset Management Package

I keep saying to people that the problem with a lot of open source software is that it's 80% as good as the last guy who worked on it needed it to be. Every once in a while, though, you stumble across an open source project that's just incredibly awesome.

I do a lot of presentations, so I deal with a lot of stock photos, graphs, templates and so forth. Managing these, especially across a globally-distributed organization is no small feat, and things have gotten to the point where we clear need a real digital asset management package. We'd been looking at Canto's Cumulus--proprietary, and in my opinion, the web interface is quite unattractive and inconvenient to use--and then I stumbled across ResourceSpace.

ResourceSpace is written in PHP and requires a single MySQL database. It was originally developed by OXFAM International to manage their own digital assets, and it's available under a BSD license for free use.

It allows users to upload resources of any number of custom-defined types individually via direct http or batched using ftp; image assets are automatically resized to a variety of form factors, and can be distributed either by direct download or via email. There's also a decent facility for defining collections of assets, public, private or shared, as well as "themes" (groups of public collections).

Types of resources, with both global and specific attributes, can be defined, and access can be controlled with high granularity. Users can be freely classified and the access controls are similarly pretty fine-grained.

Tagging and keywords are supported, and the standard keywords and fields can be easily customized, without knowledge of PHP, from the administrative interface. Search capabilities are very good, and, while I haven't loaded my test installation down with pictures, it seems as though it's capable--thanks to reliance on MySQL--with managing extremely large libraries of assets efficiently.

The user interface is clean, easy to use and modern-looking, quite a bit nicer than some of the competing proprietary products. It's also--since the full source code is, of course, provided--completely customizable. Strings can be customized and localized from the administrative interface (which is cleanly integrated into the rest of the site), and the overall look can be modified from the css files.

The biggest missing feature I'd like to see in here is version control, but that's a bit of a side issue to the one I wanted to solve: ensuring that we didn't buy the same stock photos over and over because we didn't know we'd already licensed them and making it possible for our users to access those stock images through a web-based interface, without having to deal with the vagaries of multiple VPNs, etc. For the security-minded, the site requires log-in by default to access resources, has a full supporting facility and can be easily configured to run over https on sites with a usable certificate. Documentation is a little on the sketchy side, but bring-up was dead easy and required a minimum of PHP and MySQL savvy.

If you're looking for a DAM package, I'd definitely check out ResourceSpace before you went out and spent money on anything.


tom said...

ResourceSpace has improved quite a bit in the last few months, and now offers customizable metadata read/write with the addition of Exiftool, configurable PDF contact sheets, some previewing of Office 2007 and OpenOffice docs, find/replace and append for batch metadata editing, flash based batch upload, PDF page previews, improved collection control and emailing of download links, plugin architecture, subversion code control, large/small thumbnail views in the main search, popup infoboxes, drag and drop arrangement of collections, video previews,

Lefty said...

That's definitely a lot of improvements, thanks for pointing them out, Tom...

tom said...

oh there is also an option to store a checksum of the files so that you can find duplicates.

Sean said...

Certainly does look like a very useful application, but I would have to agree that the only pitfall that I have seen thus far is that there is no version control. With that, this would by far be the best Open Source DAM that I have seen thus far

Naresh said...

As well as Resourcespace, our site has a list of most of the readily available Open Source DAM systems here: