DAM Glossary

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Index of Terms


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3GP

3GP is a video codec designed for delivery of media to mobile devices (e.g. telephones or PDAs) in particular those that are 3G enabled. 3GP is a heavily optimised variant of the MPEG-4 video format and 3gp files are usually small and well suited for mobile internet delivery. 3GP is also referred to as 3GPP after the Third Generation Partnership Project - a consortium of telecoms associations that invented the standard.

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A

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API is a set of specifications used by an application program to communicate and share data with other applications. These are often published as a set of documents by the software vendor. By leveraging the power of an API, developers can execute functions and retrieve their results from an external application. The degree of ease required to achieve system integration and expansion are commensurate with the quality of an API.

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Asset Management

The term 'Asset Management' when taken in isolation can be confused with Digital Asset Management. In general, it relates to the management of either physical objects, locations or items of value and might include: Computers, Furniture, Property & Buildings or Financial instruments such as equities or bonds. Digital Asset Management and derivative terms like Brand Asset Management usually specifically relate to digital files which are usually (but not always) media related.

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Asset Manipulation

Asset manipulation refers to the alteration of an original asset to produce a derivative file. The new file might be used as a proxy within a DAM system, or it could be for external purposes, for example, changing the resolution of an image or converting a video file into another file format.

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Audio Video Interleave (AVI)

Audio Video Interleave (AVI) is a popular multimedia format typically used for delivery of video content. AVI was invented by Microsoft in the early nineties. Like QuickTime (a competing technology invented by Apple around the same time), AVI is known as a Container Format because it contains content that may be compressed using a variety of other codecs such as MPEG. Despite being technically inferior to a number of other formats, it has achieved a high level of market penetration and is widely supported by most video editing and playback software

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Boolean Search

The process of identifying an asset on true or false (binary) basis. For a yes answer, a user's request term is the same as an index term associated with the asset being examined.

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Boolean Search Operators

Boolean Search Operators control how the DAM system interprets your search terms for asset retrieval (e.g., AND, OR, and NOT). AND represents the intersection of two terms, while OR represents a union of the two terms. NOT acts as a filter, excluding records containing a specified term.

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Brand Asset Management

Brand Asset Management systems are a specialised type of Digital Asset Management (DAM) system dedicated specifically to managing the marketing and brand assets of an organisation and to help marketers gain improved control over their corporate brand. This can be contrasted with Digital Asset Management systems that are hold assets for a wide variety of purposes, including cultural or social objectives (e.g. preservation or accessibility) as well as commercial or operational uses.

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C

Catalog

Catalog (or 'Catalogue' to use the UK English spelling) refers to the range of assets stored within a repository (such as a DAM system). Conventionally, this would only include digital files which have had descriptive metadata applied to them via the cataloguing process (and which have become digital assets as a result). Where workflow is involved, assets that have not yet been approved may or may not be considered as included within a catalog.

Some uses are less restrictive and depending on context, catalog can refer to any asset (digital or otherwise) held inside a repository.

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Cataloguing

Cataloguing means the high-level process of adding metadata to assets in a Digital Asset Management system.

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Metadata

Cloud Computing

Cloud is often used as a euphimism for the Internet and Cloud Computing means services that may be offered by using multiple servers across the internet. The main benefits of Cloud Computing are scalability, robustness and reduced capital expenditure (for the user of Cloud based services). Scalability is made possible by adding more nodes (servers) to increase available capacity and improve performance. Robustness can be enhanced by distributing traffic across multiple nodes and providing redundancy or failover in the event one or more nodes fail. Capital expenditure can be saved when used Cloud based services since the service provider will provide the infrastructure and communications required to support their service (or build it on top of an existing Cloud based provider). Cloud Computing makes considerable use of Virtualization technology to simplify the maintenance and deployment of multiple service nodes. There are a variety of services provided via The Cloud and the definition has become somewhat blurred in recent years as vendors or service providers endeavour to associate existing application services with a term which is perceived as fashionable. Some examples of Cloud Computing include the Amazon S3 storage platform, web based application services (e.g. Google Applications), Cloud Hosting and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). There are a range of other Cloud based services specific to Digital Asset Management, video transcoding being a notable offering.

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CMIS

CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) is a standard to enable integration between content management systems. CMIS defines various layers of abstraction, including an object model and generic content classification schema as well as workflow and status management.

CMIS uses SOAP and REST protocols to facilitate communications which means it can be used by a large range of different applications (including those that might not be delivered through a web browser).

CMIS was first ratified by standards organisation, OASIS in 2010 and a new edition (1.1) was approved in 2012. The standard has a lot of support from ECM vendors but has yet to gain widespread acceptance in DAM. There are many common themes, however, and CMIS may become more widely supported by DAM solutions in the future.

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Codec

Codec stands for coder/decoder and refers to the encoding of analogue media like audio or video into digital format and subsequent decoding upon playback. Codecs are methods of achieving this process (they are often called 'algorithms'). The encoded media are sometimes referred to as essences. For practical purposes, the encoding usually means compressing the original media so it produces a file that is usable and can be stored without occupying vast amounts of storage space. Media formats for audio and video employ different codecs - generally there is an inverse relationship between the level of compression and the quality of the corresponding output

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H.264, H.265, Lossy
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Lossy, H.264, H.265

Compression

Compression is used in many digital media file formats to reduce the amount of storage capacity required to hold files on a storage medium and to enable faster transmission over networks. The process of compressing data uses one or more algorithms that identifies potential inefficiencies in terms of how the file is stored. The algorithm needs to both compress and decompress the file so it can be saved and opened again later.

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Container Format

Container format is usually applied to multimedia digital assets and means that the file type is not a compression technology (or codec) but is used to hold media that has been encoded by other technologies. Some popular container formats include AVI, DNG and QuickTime.

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Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Content Delivery Networks or CDNs are dedicated networks with high levels of capacity specifically designed for the distribution of bandwidth heavy content. The most common use case scenario for a CDN is online advertising and in particular where rich media like video is utilised as part of the presentation. As well as a very high capacity network, a CDN provides multiple geographically dispersed Points of Presence (PoPs) and replicates content across the network so that latency (access time) can be reduced as much as possible. After online advertising, the next most common use for a CDN is video streaming (for both live events and archived distribution). CDNs can also be used to deliver large content files like print documents that must be supplied to multiple groups of users simultaneously to coincide with product launches etc. CDNs can be used for Digital Asset Management to reduce the time required to download archived media. Often a DAM system itself will generally run at an acceptable speed even if the user is located a considerable distance away from the application server, however, media they may want to download could take an unacceptably long time. A CDN enables the content only to be distributed without the expense and complexity of a fully distributed application hosted on multiple servers. A number of DAM solutions can now provide this if they are hosted using a Cloud based hosting provider and there is certainly overlap and convergence between Cloud and CDN hosting models, although CDNs are specically optimised for media delivery and provide services such as media streaming.

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Hosting
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Content Stewards

Content Stewards "work with all forms of assets across the enterprise, keep the right version of assets discoverable and accessible to groups with different needs for content access and usage. They are also the strategic partner for every department in looking ahead to next year's business goals and how DAM can support them. (Horodyski, 2013, http://www.cmswire.com/cms/digital-asset-management/digital-asset-management-we-need-it-more-than-ever-022720.php)

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Controlled Vocabulary

Controlled vocabularies are used in indexes, subject headings , thesauri and taxonomies. Rather than presenting a free form natural language vocabulary where any term can be supplied, controlled vocabularies offer pre-selected terms for users to choose from.

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Metadata
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D

Data Migration

Data Migration is the transfer of data from an incumbent database to its replacement. The process is consultative in nature and usually involves programmers and subject experts deciding how to convert (or 'map') records from the old system into the new, then writing scripts or programs to automate this. In some cases (where the system is very old, obscure or the volume of data is small) it may be easier to re-enter records. After successful data migration, the original system usually ceases to be in use. Contrast with systems integration which involves the sharing of data between two live databases systems that will both remain operational.

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Database Server

A database is typically used in a DAM system to hold metadata about assets. The majority of modern databases are known as Relational Databases (the correct term is RDBMS (Relational Database Management System). In a relational database, tables of information are connected together by using identifiers (or indexes) to query them.

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DBMS

A abbreviation for Database Management System. See Database Server for a more detailed description.

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Derivative Files

Derivative files describes assets that are created from the original. In Digital Asset Management Systems, these can refer to previews that enable users to see what an asset looks like before they download it. They may include a variety of options such as thumbnail images, Flash Video, low resolution or watermarked editions of images. As well as previews, derivative files sometimes refers to assets that will be used for production purposes but where some key aspect has been altered (e.g. the size, format, or colour space). The term derivative files can almost be used interchangeably with surrogate files, although the former expression implies a wider range of uses.

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Digital Asset Management

Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a collective term applied to the process
of storing, cataloguing, searching and delivering computer files (or digital
assets). These may take the form of video, audio, images, print marketing
collateral, office documents, fonts or 3D models. Digital Asset Management
(DAM) systems centralise assets and establish a systematic approach to
ingesting assets so they can be located more easily and used appropriately.

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Digital Content Management (DCM)

Digital Content Management (DCM) is synonymous with Digital Asset Management. Although technically it specifically relates to media content as opposed to general data assets, in practical terms there is no difference between the two descriptions. The phrase Digital Content Management is often used to avoid confusion with Asset Management, which has a variety of meanings across different industries.

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Digital Negative (DNG)

DNG or Digital Negative files were invented by Adobe as a Container Format for holding RAW files along with other associated information such as metadata in XMP format. They can also be used to hold previews of images and a wide range of other data which need to be stored with an image rather than in Sidecar Files.

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Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to technology and practices used to protect digital intellectual property from being used in a way that breaches the terms of its licence. This generally means preventing assets from being illegally copied. The term can have multiple meanings depending on whether it is being used by asset consumers or asset suppliers. In the latter case it will often imply the use of some kind of technology to prevent media from being copied from one device to another (MP3 files is particularly common), however, it can also mean controls established by media users to prevent intellectual property from being accidentally used without permission.

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Digitisation

Digitisation is the conversion of analogue or physical assets into digital equivalents. The methods for doing this are as varied as the media that a Digital Asset Management system can support. The scanning of images and conversion of film or video tends to be the most common form of digitisation activity. The need to digitise assets is gradually diminishing as more media is recorded directly in digital formats.

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Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI)

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) is a reference to a metadata standard and the organisation that first established it. Dublin Core Metadata is common in public sector Digital Asset Management Systems as well as other archives and repositories of information. The aim to provide a standardised core set of fields or criteria for the description of content (in a broad sense) as well as a framework for adding content-specific extensions. DCMI fields can be theoretically be applied to almost any type of asset. DCMI data is sometimes used either in-line in the meta tags of web pages (or as a reference to an associated XML file) as well as for other content such as photos, documents, videos etc.

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E

Embedded Metadata

Embedded Metadata is information about a digital asset stored inside the digital file itself. The main motivation for using it is to better ensure metadata does not get separated from the digital file it associated with it. In DAM, it is typical for embedded metadata to be both read from the file and stored in an associated database and also for it to be written back to the file again (although a number of systems read it only). Some DAM systems use embedded metadata more extensively to control system activity at a deeper level.

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Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)

Encapsulated PostScript or EPS is a derivative of the PostScript standard and is a digital image format. EPS files are fully self-contained (or encapsulated) PostScript documents that come with an associated preview image so the user can view them. EPS files are more prevalent with specialist structured drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator but are still supported by most modern desktop applications.

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Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a wide ranging term that is sometimes incorrectly used instead of Digital Asset Management (DAM). ECM systems tend to be large scale repositories of many types of content held across the entirety of an organisation. As well as digital media, nearly all material (including operational documents and files) may be included in the scope of an ECM implementation. The objective of providing ECM is usually to offer a single interface where employees can gain access to all of an organisation's data. Although technically an ECM application can fulfil the same function as DAM, in practice most organisations and departments (especially those that have a lot of digital media like marketing communications) find they need a separate system as ECM tends to be too broad for anything but basic activities such as searching. Many DAM systems are being integrated with ECM as an alternative method that enables organisations to leverage the benefits of both.

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Essences

Essences refers to raw audio or video streams used in media files. Essences will usually be encoded with a Codec such as MPEG or MP3.

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EXIF - Exchangeable Image File Format

EXIF is a metadata standard used to store information about digital images created by the Japan Electronic Industries Development Association (JEIDA, later renamed JEITA - Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association) in 1998. EXIF data is usually stored inside a JPEG or TIFF file - i.e. it accompanies the image rather than being held in sidecar files (in the same fashion as IPTC and XMP). In particular, EXIF is used by manufacturers to record technical information about the digital camera used to shoot an image. XMP data offers many of the benefits of EXIF but in a more flexible and easier to manipulate fashion, however, the support for it by the digital imaging industry has ensured that EXIF remains active and in widespread use.

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F

Faceted Search

Faceted search is also sometimes referred to as guided navigation. Users search a collection of discrete, but related elements called facets. These can be organised hierarchically or as a linear sequence. The way the facets are presented can be using a keyword search to act as a preliminary filter - where the initial characters define what is shown subsequently, or they might be fixed classifications that users browse through like bookmarks.

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File Format

File format is a catch-all term to describe the type of each digital file. Some file formats are product-specific and will be named after the software or hardware used to create them. Others are more generic and may be created by a wide range of tools.

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Filter Search

Filter Search has a relationship with faceted search and controlled vocabularies. The interface presentation for filter searches is closer to a conventional application. Controls like drop-down menus, checkboxes or radio buttons will be used to allow users to refine their search criteria. In some DAM systems, it may get referred to as 'Advanced Search' and may be utilised more by sophisticated users.

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FLAC

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a codec (compressor-decompressor or coder-decoder) which allows digital audio to be losslessly compressed such that file size is reduced without any information being lost.

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Flash

Flash is an application used to create ShockWave Flash (SWF) files and associated media such as Flash Video (FLV). Although the files are often referred to as 'movies' they are frequently applications, interactive features, animations or games. Flash was brought to prominence by Macromedia who acquired the original application in 1996. They subsequently merged with Adobe in 2005. Flash movies are generally highly compressed and designed for playback within web sites and over the internet. The Flash player is ubiquitous as it is bundled with Internet Explorer and Firefox web browsers. As a result, Flash is currently the pre-eminent dynamic media format in use on the web. In Video Digital Asset Management systems, H.264, MPEG4 and Flash movies are often used as proxy formats to allow users to check video assets before downloading them.

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Flash Video (FLV)

Flash Video or FLV is a compressed video format developed specifically to allow video to be played back over the internet via the Flash player. FLV files tend to be considerably smaller than conventional video formats which makes them especially useful for previewing media prior to download in Video Digital Asset Management systems and websites that use video.

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G

GIF

The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.

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Graphical User Interface (GUI)

A graphical user interface (GUI) is a common type of user interface which allows users to interact with DAM through the use of graphical icons and visual indicators. GUIs were introduced in reaction to the perceived steep learning curve of command-line interfaces (CLI) and have been found to to be far more visually appealing to most users. GUI is often pronounced 'gooey'.

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Guide File

Guide files are a type of Controlled Vocabulary where an existing file will be used to locate others. A common example is a report or brochure containing images. Users may know that a specific image was used in a document, but be unable to locate it using other search strategies. Using the document as a guide file, they can obtain a list of assets and search within this to isolate the one they require.

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Metadata
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Ontology

H

H.264

H.264/MPEG-4 AVC is a video compression standard which was finalised in 2003. It is widely used in DAM systems to provide a high quality preview of video files. H.264 supersedes H.263 which is the basis for FLV (Flash Video).

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H.265

H.265 or HEVC (High Efficient Video Codec) is the successor to H.264 and was published as a standard in 2013. H.265 compresses video at considerably higher density than its predecessor - without loss of quality.

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Hosting

Hosting refers to the process of storing and making accessible digital files or services on a remote server. In most discussions about Digital Asset Management, hosting implies that the system will be managed externally by the vendor and/or an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Hosting can be either shared between several customers of the provider or dedicated where the whole server is set aside. For hosting to be effective, there are three key components necessary: an operational server, available storage capacity to hold files and bandwidth to send/receive requests. Specialist DAM hosting services where the whole provision is outsourced also need application services and (usually) a database server also.

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I

ID3

ID3 is a metadata tagging standard typically used to embed metadata in MP3 audio or MP4 video. Most end-users come into contact with ID3 when using software such as Apple's iTunes to catalogue their collections of music files. Although popular, ID3 has a number of inherent limitations. As with the IPTC metadata standard for images, there are a fixed list of fields: title, artist, album, year, genre and comments. It is possible to utilise ID3 by mapping this fixed list to an alternate selection (e.g. 'genre' corresponding to 'category') however, the limitations of this approach when compared with advanced metadata standards such as XMP are apparent. The key advantage of ID3 is the widespread availability of tools that can adjust the tag data and batch process audio or video files. See the official ID3 site for more information.

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InDesign

Adobe InDesign was first released in 2002 and is a page layout and graphic design tool. InDesign is the main competitor to Quark Xpress and is aimed at the professional designer market. One of its key benefits is tight integration with the Acrobat PDF format, also, Adobe has a wider product base than Quark which enables a higher level of compatability with other popular graphics applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

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Ingestion

Ingestion is an umbrella term that covers the process of supplying media to a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system (often called uploading) and cataloguing it by adding descriptive information or, metadata to enable it to be located by users when searching for digital assets.

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Interoperability

Interoperability means the ability of systems or processes to work together and is the conceptual basis of systems integration. Achieving interoperability involves two or more systems agreeing a common protocol to exchange information. In more modern systems, this tends to be using technologies such as XML. The degree to which applications can easily integrate with each other depends on how detailed the protocol for communication is. There are a wide range of interoperability protocols used in Digital Asset Management, particularly in the area of exchanging metdata. A more common interoperability standard that has been widely adopted in the past is the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) schema.

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IPTC

IPTC stands for International Press Telecommunications Council and is a consortium of news agencies and suppliers to the press industry. In 1979, the IPTC developed a metadata standard that defines a common set of fields used to describe images such as caption, copyright owner and keywords. Adobe developed a specification known as "IPTC header" for embedding IPTC fields directly into image files. The benefit of this approach is that information about the asset is theoretically never lost and follows the image even if it is copied. In practice, the IPTC headers can be overwritten or replaced with extensions developed by other vendors that are incompatible with the original list. A new standard XMP or Extensible Metadata Platform has been developed jointly between Adobe and IPTC that uses XML and allows extensions to the fields instead. XMP is now becoming the predominant metadata standard for images.

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JPEG

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, however, it more commonly refers to a compression standard that is used to reduce the disk space consumed by digital images. The compression method is referred to as 'lossy' because some of the original data from the image is lost as part of the process. JPEG images are very common in Digital Asset Management solutions because they are natively supported by nearly allow web browsers and their size is considerably smaller than other uncompressed formats such as TIFF (Tagged Image File Format). JPEG files are usually recognisable by the extension .jpeg or .jpg.

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K

Keyword Search

Keyword search is probably the most commonly understood form of search interface and is usually provided in all DAM systems. The user enters a term or phrase and metadata fields are checked for matches.

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Keywording

Keywording is a colloquial term applied to a specific asset cataloguing activity where words, phrases or terminology (or 'keywords') are attributed to assets as metadata. Keywording is particularly relevant for photographs and images as these types of assets lack any integral descriptive information to help users identify whether they are suitable for their needs.

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Metadata
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L

Linked Data

Linked Data is a series of techniques to allow data which is stored in a distributed fashion to be interconnected. It is describes a range of functions, including exposing, sharing, and connecting data. Linked Data is closely connected with the Semantic Web. In the context of DAM, Linked Data might be used to enable interoperability by allowing other systems to browse a collection of asset metadata records. The conventions for this might be based on an existing standard like Dublin Core or they may be an alternative protocol.

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Lossy

'Lossy' codecs are those that compress the source media by removing (or losing) some of the information to achieve the result, MPEG is an example of a lossy codec.

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M

Marketing Asset Management

Another euphemistic term for Media Asset Management (MAM) and/or Digital Asset Management (DAM).

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Marketing Operations Management (MOM)

Marketing Operations Management (MOM) is the theory behind Marketing Resource Management (MRM) systems and is a method of applying classic Operations Management techniques to the marketing realm. MOM seeks to generate efficiencies and improved ROI across the whole range of marketing activities, including planning, forecasting, budgeting and collateral management. This is achieved by implementing both electronic systems to give marketing managers dashboards that they can use to gain 'at a glance' view of current performance as well as a more process oriented perspective on the functions performed by marketing departments.

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Marketing Resource Management

Marketing Resource Management (MRM) is a systematic method of managing marketing resources such as digital assets, collateral, schedules, forecasts and budgets. The concept applies operations management techniques used in production/manufacturing environments such as Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to the marketing function. MRM systems are closely related to Digital Asset Management or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications and tend to concentrate on providing digital tools to help marketing departments produce or deliver marketing collateral (e.g. brochures, direct mail or e-mail). They are often used in combination with relationship marketing techniques, for example, to generate personalised sales collateral based on the profile of a prospect. MRM systems also use workflow tools to integrate the different elements of a solution and provide an approval/sign off mechanism for the resources that are created or represented.

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Media Asset Management (MAM)

Media Asset Management (MAM) is generally considered as simply an alternative term for Digital Asset Management, although some would argue that a MAM system only supports video rather than any type of digital file. To a greater extent, the terms are interchangeable, the expression tends to be favoured in when discussing Digital Asset Management for video or broadcast media contexts. In some cases, this term can refer to editorial or metadata activities associated with assets and DAM systems, for example, cataloguing, keywording or transcription of video footage or audio clips.

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Media Streaming

See Streaming.

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Metadata

Metadata is often referred to as 'data about data'. In a Digital Asset Management context it refers to descriptive information applied to assets to support a task or activity. The most common example is to help users to locate assets in searches. To help find suitable media, assets will generally have short descriptions or titles added to them as a basic minimum, although it is more common to add much more descriptive detail to help users to locate what they are looking for. As well as search metadata, workflow and business process information may also be added to determine what procedures are followed when users want to download assets. See Tagging and Keywording also.

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Metadata Working Group

The Metadata Working Group (MWG), which includes Adobe, Canon and Microsoft, publishes a specification called "Guidelines for Handling Image Metadata". This describes how applications reading or writing embedded metadata (EXIF, IPTC and XMP) should deal with redundant or inconsistent information.

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Metatagging

  • Colloquial


Metatagging is a portmanteau of the terms 'Metadata' and 'Tagging'. The latter is generally considered a colloquial euphemism for cataloguing assets. The expression is more typically used by newcomers to Digital Asset Management to refer to the process of applying metadata to assets during the cataloguing stage of asset ingestion.

Despite not having any formal basis, it is widely understood as a shorthand description by both DAM users and system developers.

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MOV (QuickTime)

MOV is the file format extension for QuickTime movies.

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MPEG

MPEG stands for Moving Picture Experts Group and is a working group that develops standards for encoding digital video and audio. In the case of most Digital Asset Management systems, MPEG refers to a type of video format. There are three common variations of MPEG (named MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4) along with MPEG-7 & MPEG-21. MPEG-1 was the first standard for encoding video. MPEG-2 enhanced the standard and improved support for digital storage on DVDs and other devices. MPEG-3 was discontinued. MPEG-4 increased the range of output devices to cover mobile and internet delivery.

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Multi-instance

Multi-instance DAM is similar in concept to multi-tenant DAM, but it provides each stakeholder with its own discrete instance of the DAM software. Contrast this to multi-tenant DAM in which virtual partitions of a single instance are assigned to each stakeholder.

All instances are managed from a single overlying software interface and control console. This enables the DAM service provider to make global configuration changes, and to manage software updates for each instance from a single location.

Multi-instance DAM offers benefits not available to the stakeholders of a multi-tenant system, including having one database per stakeholder, which ensures absolute security; dedicating hardware resources, such as processing power or storage, which means that Stakeholder A can be paying for resources that Stakeholder B doesn't need (or want to pay for); better reliability assurances because the actions of Stakeholder A do not affect the actions of Stakeholder B (if one instance crashes or is misconfigured, it will not likely affect other instances.)

In addition, hosting providers can more easily define service-level agreements (SLA) that meet the requirement of diverse customers.

Multi-instance DAM can be less desirable than multi-tenant DAM in cases where some resources should be shared between stakeholders. For example, logos, policy documents, branding and other things that would be useful across an entire organization would have to be manually copied between each instance in a multi-instance configuration. By contrast, rights/permissions settings could be adjusted to make these resources available across a multi-tenant system.

If a DAM supports both multi-tenancy and multi-instance deployment, it should be possible to cascade tenancies through a hierarchical combination of instances that each include tenancies.

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Multi-tenant

Multi-tenancy as it relates to Digital Asset Management refers to multiple stakeholders using a single DAM system. Unlike the separation of users via groups or roles, multi-tenancy affords each tenant (or stakeholder) its own virtual partition of a single instance of the DAM software.

A truly multi-tenant DAM will be able to provide virtual walls between each tenant that will ensure system resources developed by or intended for a specific tenant are not accessible to other tenants. Examples include digital assets, taxonomies, metadata schemas, processing or other configurations, and branding.

In addition, a multi-tenant DAM will be able to divide activity logs and other admin-level statistics between tenants. This ensures that users of one tenancy won't see the activities of another tenancy's users, and it enables system administrators to charge for DAM access based on each tenant's use of the system.

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MXF

MXF stands for Material eXchange Format and is a container format for time based media such as video and audio. MXF files allow a number of essences encoded in a given codec to be (theoretically) stored in the same file as the metadata which may be used to described it. The implementation of MXF varies across different software systems, some will not actually use the same file to store data but rely on a single MXF header file with linked video, audio and XML metadata stored as separate files. Despite some problems with the handling of MXF it is gaining widespread acceptance among the A/V industry as a means of archiving time based media.

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NAS (Network Attached Storage) Server

Network Attached Storage (NAS) Servers are dedicated to the storage of digital files. The purpose of having a computer whose sole purpose is file storage is to reduce the load on a web, application or database server. Unlike an external hard disk, a NAS is usually an actual computer with an operating system installed on it. Because NAS servers are specialised towards just providing storage alone, extra capacity can usually be added to them easily. NAS are commonly used for Digital Asset Management projects to provide sufficient storage capacity for repositories of larger files such as video, print/artwork files or original high resolution images. SANs (Storage Area Network) are sometimes used as an alternative to a NAS, although this is less common with a dedicated Digital Asset Management Software.

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Normalization

The phrase 'Normalization' is generally used when designing databases to hold asset metadata. This description is highly simplified but in essence it means to index or rationalise common groups of terms down to a series of numbers so that they can be searched more quickly. Normalized data is typically found in drop-down menus or sets of checkboxes. Fully normalized data is also considerably easier to manipulate, for example, if an index or ID is used to represent a tag, changing it once will cause all assets associated with that term to be updated also. Many of the biggest issues with normalization come when migrating data from a legacy system to a new Digital Asset Management system as the older application may not be as well normalized as the new one.

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O

Ogg

Ogg is a free, open container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The creators of the Ogg format state that it is unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high quality digital multimedia.

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On Premises

On Premises, as the opposite of SaaS (Software as a Service). The expression refers to hosting or installation of an application on servers owned and operated by the organisation. Usually this will be at the premises the business operates from (hence then name).

The advantages and disadvantages of on-premises are largely an inverse of SaaS. A potential benefit is improved security since the system can be held behind a corporate firewall and strongly defended from external threats. This is counterbalanced by reduced ease of access for any external users, especially asset suppliers or users such as photographers or creative agencies.

On-premise solutions are often less scalable since they depend on the capacity of the organisation itself, however, they are also less at risk due to the failure of a dependent supplier (e.g. hosting services provider).

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Ontology

Ontology has a philosophical definition as well as an IT oriented meaning which is more suitable in the context of Digital Asset Management. An ontology show the relationships, properties and functions between entities or concepts. Unlike a taxonomy, an ontology enables a wider range of relationships between attributes or terms than a simple hierarchy to be represented. This is of particular value when cataloguing complex or multi-faceted asset repositories or if a DAM System is tightly integrated with Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) and Enterprise Search.

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P

PDF

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. PDF files are created by Adobe Acrobat and are widely supported standard for distributing print quality documents electronically. PDF was first created in 1993 and has gained in popularity because of the free distribution of the reader and Adobe's decision to make the format an open standard that vendors can write tools for without paying royalties. PDF is sometimes considered a successor to PostScript, although they do not technically fulfil the same role. Since the PDF reader operates on both Mac and PC, the format has achieved critical mass despite various attempts to compete with it such as Flash Paper (developed by Macromedia who Adobe later acquired). Adobe InDesign also has native support for PDF and most corporate desktop rollouts include a copy of the reader as standard.

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PNG

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a raster graphics file format that supports lossless data compression. PNG was created as an improved, non-patented replacement for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), and is the most used lossless image compression format on the World Wide Web.

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PostScript

PostScript is page description language that once achieved a high level of market penetration in the professional printing and graphic design market during the 1980s and 1990s. The language was developed in the 1970s and was the basis for the many high end printing devices used for commercial printing work. The Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)

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Product Information Management (PIM)

Product Information Management (PIM) is the process, techniques and technology of gaining control over a company's product marketing information. The objective of PIM solutions is to remove inefficiency in the marketing supply chain by delivering information to sales channels more quickly and with fewer mistakes. There is a close relationship between Product Information Management and Digital Asset Management, but there are some crucial differences also. In a PIM system, the taxonomy, metadata and user interface will be heavily oriented around the products that the business offers with each asset being directly associated with an SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) or model/part number. PIM systems are evidently most effective in sectors where hundreds of different types of products may be offered, for example: retailers, consumer electronics and certain types of manufacturing or FMCG. A common factor of most PIM systems is their ability to integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems such as SAP.

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Protocols

Digital Asset Management uses a variety of protocols to enable data to be exchanged between either systems or components within a DAM solution. Some of these are general purpose, others are more specialised towards DAM and media processing.

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Provenance Information

"The information that documents the history of the Content Information. This information tells the origin or source of the Content Information, any changes that may have taken place since it was originated, and who has had custody of it since it was originated. Examples of Provenance Information are the principal investigator who recorded the data, and the information concerning its storage, handling, and migration."
-Quote from the online version of issue 2 (2012) of the OAIS reference model: CCSDS 650.0-M-2

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Proxy Files

This term refers to any files that are created from the original for reference purposes. They are used to represent assets - in general as a low resolution, truncated or otherwise constrained edition. The term is now the more popular way to describe non-original assets that have been rendered specifically for use in Digital Asset Management system. Also see surrogate files.

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Q

QuarkXpress

QuarkXpress is a page layout and design application. It is commonly used by professional designers for a variety of print publishing activities (e.g. brochures, magazines, letterheads, leaflets, flyers etc.) and provides a high level of typographical control over designs. Quark Xpress was first released in 1987 by the Quark corporation and remains very popular, although Adobe InDesign is eroding its share of this market. Many marketing oriented Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems have support for Quark files because it is so common in design agencies and marketing departments.

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QuickTime

QuickTime is widely adopted standard for delivery of multimedia content and was developed by Apple in the early 1990s, originally for the Macintosh but Windows support was added in a later release. Although capable of dealing with other types of media such as audio, text and 3D panoramas (such as QuickTime VR), it is generally associated with video. The QuickTime file format (see the MOV entry for more) is known as a Container Format because it holds various types of media - rather than being a native codec in its own right. The QuickTime player required to view media has a high penetration on Macintosh computers because it ships with this operating system. On Windows, it is reasonably widely deployed, however, it must be separately installed and this makes it less suitable than Flash Video for pure web based delivery using an online Video Digital Asset Management System.

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QXD

QXD standard for Quark Xpress Document and is the standard file format for Quark Xpress documents.

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RAW

RAW files are used by professional grade digital cameras to store images without processing them into a more common image format such as JPEG or TIFF. The characteristics of the RAW format that each camera writes tends to change depending on which component vendor a manufacturer has used for their device, this makes dealing with them using Digital Asset Management Tools quite complex. The main benefit of retaining an image in RAW format is that the conversion to a more universally recognised standard tends to lose at least some information (i.e. the quality of the reproduction degrades). In this sense, RAW files can be viewed as analogous to negatives in traditional photography. Because original RAW files are by their nature precious, sidecar files are used by some applications such as Adobe PhotoShop to store the changes made to them. Another format: DNG (Digital Negative) has been developed by Adobe as a Container Format for holding RAW files along with other types of data.

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RDBMS

A abbreviation for Relational Database Management System. See Database Server for a more information.

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RDFa

RDFa stands for "Resource Description Framework in Attributes". It adds a series of fornalised attributes to either XML documents or XHTML which can be parsed by a third party application. RDFa is associated with the Semantic Web and can be used as an interoperability protocol.

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Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP)

Real Time Streaming Protocol is an internet protocol for Media Streaming. It was developed by the The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to provide a basic set of commands for controlling dynamic media such as play, pause, record etc. A variety of commercial and open source streaming products support RTSP, including Real Networks, Apple and Microsoft via Windows Media Services.

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Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

RSS is an XML based Metadata standard that makes it simple for websites to syndicate data from other web based resources. RSS sources are typically referred to as 'feeds' and include a short snippet about the article and a link back to it, they are common in blogs and with news sites as they allow readers to find out if there has been an update to a site without visiting it (using a 'feed reader' or 'aggregator'). RSS equipped Digital Asset Management systems allow new or revised assets to be published to other locations (e.g. an intranet or external website).

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Rendition

In the context of Digital Asset Management, rendition means different editions or versions of an original asset, for example, an alternative file format, colour space or resolution.

The use of the expression 'version' can be confusing to understand for those new to DAM. In terms of relationships with assets, Renditions are adjacent to assets rather than having any chronological or sequential meaning. Each version of an asset might itself have multiple renditions generated at the time that version was created.

Alternative terms for rendition are derivative files, proxies or surrogates. Rendition has a broader based usage than some of these (proxy especially) and can also describe the process of generating variations to underlying assets.

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REST

REST stands for Representational State Transfer and is a method of exchanging data between two applications using http (hypertext transmission protocol).

Data is encoded in popular web application protocols such as XML or JSON which is usually straightforward for other systems to interpret and process.

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RGB

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue and is the standard colour model used for screen based media.

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SaaS (Software as a Service)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a method of delivering applications using a subscription or service model. The majority of SaaS products are provided as web applications that users access via a browser, but dedicated clients (programs) can sometimes be provided for more complex functionality that might be difficult to achieve otherwise. The major differentiator with SaaS as compared with alternatives such as on-premise is that the majority (if not all) of the technical aspects of the software are the concern of the vendor exclusively. This makes SaaS more suitable for DAM users who do not have their own servers and/or skilled IT resources. Security can sometimes be an issue with SaaS due to the necessity for the users to store all their assets and other data with a third party rather than within their own internal environment. SaaS (as a term) now tends to be used interchangeably with 'Cloud' and for practical purposes, the meaning is similar.

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SAN (Storage Area Network)

A SAN (Storage Area Network) is used to aggregate the storage capability available on different devices (e.g. servers) so they appear as a single disk. The key benefits of this approach are efficiency and availability. By combining storage, SANs can prevent uneven distribution of capacity and also offer greater reliability by replicating data across the network. Most SANs require special fibre optic cabling to be effective as the performance across a conventional LAN is insufficient to be of practical use. DAM Systems tend to be established as separate facilities so the use of a SAN is not as widespread, however, they can potentially offer some advantages and should be considered as an option when deciding a DAM hardware and hosting strategy.

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Search

Search is one of the fundamental elements of Digital Asset Management and using search tools to locate a selection of assets within the wider repository is probably the biggest single reason users decide to invest in DAM. Search facilities can cover a variety of different capabilities, including keywords, facets and filters. These are not mutually exclusive and as well as search, users may also employ controlled vocabularies to help them find suitable assets.

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Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is a collection of aims, initiatives and objectives designed to encourage more structured web content. The motivation behind it is to enhance interoperability across data stores to allow more advanced services to be created that can reference and re-use information. The Semantic Web is also referred to as "web of data" or Web 3.0.

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Service Oriented Architecture

This refers to a technique for designing complex applications where key elements of the functionality are separated into modules (or 'services'). These are semi-independent from the core system and can potentially be called by other applications in a client/server model. The biggest single benefit of SOA is scalability. Since the service is independent of the main application it can be scaled up to support increased demand without any specific modifications being required. It also eases functional enhancements since one service can be replaced by another far more easily.

In Digital Asset Management systems, it is common to have dedicated services for a variety of intensive features, in particular asset manipulation and processing, but also searching, indexing, metadata importing/exporting, business intelligence and a range of specialist requirements like zipping big collections of files. SOA is also beneficial for application integration since third party systems can use features on a selective basis and connect into them in the same fashion as the central DAM system.

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Sidecar Files

Sidecar files are used to hold XMP data about a RAW image. This can include modifications to the RAW file, IPTC data or other types of metadata. The benefit of using sidecar files is that the metadata does not need to be contained with the image and can be manipulated separately. The disadvantage is that this does also mean that the metadata contained within them can become lost or divorced from the original. Sidecar file data can also sometimes be stored in a database rather than files to reduce the risk of loss at the expense of some flexibility.

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Ontology

Significant Properties

Investigating the Significant Properties of Electronic Content over Time (InSPECT), a JISC funded project that ended in 2009, defines the concept as, "the characteristics of an Information Object that must be maintained over time to ensure its continued access, use, and meaning, and its capacity to be accepted as evidence of what it purports to record" (King's College London, 2009). - See more at: http://www.tameyourassets.com/what-are-significant-properties/

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SOAP

SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol and is an interoperability protocol. SOAP uses structured data in XML format which is then transmitted over HTTP (the same standard as used to deliver web sites).

SOAP was first conceived in 1998 and was one of the more widely used earlier methods for applications to exchange data. A related interoperability protocol is REST which has similar objectives but it is somewhat simpler to implement and is acquiring greater popularity as a result.

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Stemming

Stemming refers to a technique for increasing the quantity of search results by reducing a supplied keyword search term to the base element of the word (i.e. its stem) and then using that to try to identify other terms. For example, searching for activation in a Digital Asset Management system that supports stemming, might yield results for activate, actively, active, activeness etc.

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Storage

Digital Asset Management relies on digital storage facilities to hold assets. There are numerous different storage types and associated terminology used for them.

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Streaming

Streaming means the ability of media to be viewed at the same time as it is being downloaded. The key benefit of streamed assets is that the user does not need to wait until the entire file has been obtained before they can inspect it. There are two basic varieties of media streaming: live and archived. Live streaming involves capturing the output from a camera or other digital source and relaying it to users in real-time as an event takes place. Archived streaming takes assets that have already been digitised. Streaming takes on particular significance when dealing with dynamic time based media such as audio or video and is (to a greater extent) essential for a Video Digital Asset Management system. There are a variety of media streaming protocols in widespread use, including FLV (Flash Video), Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) and 3GP (for delivery to mobile devices).

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Surrogate Files

This term is now losing favour to Proxy files. Surrogate files are those derived from an original digital asset and are typically used in combination with metadata to help users locate media prior to downloading them. They usually provide a preview in the form of a thumbnail, smaller image, preview clip or other file that can be transferred quickly. In some cases, surrogate files may be the actual file supplied, for example, if an image is to be used in a PowerPoint presentation and the user does not have a graphics program installed. Surrogate files are sometimes referred to as Derivative Files. Also see watermarking for information on how surrogate files can be used to enforce copyright.

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SWF (ShockWave Flash)

ShockWave Flash or SWF is the type of file created by the Flash application. SWF movies are generally played back on the Flash player built into browsers, although the format can be used on mobile devices and is sometimes embedded into other programs also.

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Systems Integration

Systems integration is the process of exchanging data between two or more IT systems to leverage further benefits out of the original applications. In the context of Digital Asset Management it may mean either receiving digital assets from another system (e.g. artwork from a workflow system) or providing raw data to automate an on-going business process such as providing asset ordering and pricing information to a finance system. Frequently it now refers to the process of integrating Digital Asset Management Systems into an enterprise-wide search tools or portals using XML. Systems integration is distinct from data migration because both systems continue to be active and co-exist semi-independently.

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T

Tagging

Tagging is a colloquial term given to the process of adding metadata generally and keywords in particular
to digital assets.

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Targa (TGZ)

Targa (TGZ) is a legacy image file format.

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Taxonomy

Taxonomy means a classification system that is usually hierarchical in nature (i.e. it has parent/child relationships between terms). Originally a scientific term used to classify living organisms, taxonomies are now used to describe any abstract tree-like metadata structure that is composed of categories, sub-categories and nodes. The relationship between terms is more rigid than an ontology where terms can be inter-connected using a range of polyhierarchical or non-hierarchical systems, for example, venn diagrams or matrices (note that this does not mean that an ontology is superior as a metadata structure - in many cases it is not). In Digital Asset Management discussions, the design of a taxonomy to represent information about assets is important to enable the development of thesauri and controlled vocabularies for metadata entry and searching purposes.

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Thesaurus

A thesaurus is a set of synonyms or related terms for a given word or description, unlike a taxonomy, it may be polyhierarchical and involve complex relationships such as broader or narrower terms. Thesauri describe the standard terms for concepts in a controlled vocabulary.

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Transcoding

Transcoding is the process of converting one video or audio format into another. In general it refers to the conversion of one codec to another (e.g. MPEG to FLV), although the description can also apply to conversions between container formats (e.g. QuickTime to AVI).

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Transformation

Transformation, refers to the modification of assets using a Digital Asset Management system. A more specific definition relates to the geometric manipulation of assets (especially but not necessarily always bitmaps) such as flipping, rotating or stretching. This usage is a reference to the functionality of the same name in Adobe Photoshop (which is often familiar to many DAM users).

When the term is used in a business context, for example, to discuss the benefits of a DAM solution, the more generic definition applies and it can imply any kind of modification of the underlying asset and does not apply just to images.

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U

UI (User Interface)

User Interface (or 'UI') is a generic IT term relating to the method by which a user operates computer software. User interfaces typically are either graphical or command oriented (i.e. written instructions).

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Uploading

Uploading refers to the process of transferring a digital asset from a user's computer to a Digital Asset Management system. In most cases these days, it implies transferring the asset over either the internet or a corporate intranet.

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Usage Approval

A specialised type of Digital Asset Management Workflow where a user must apply before they are given the rights to download or use an asset. Typically, it will involve the proposed usage being checked manually by a human being, although, if the asset has been tagged with suitable metadata it is possible to partially automate this process by directing it to the correct person.

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User

User refers to the operators of an IT system (such as a DAM solution).

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V

Video Asset Management (VAM)

  • Possible Duplicate


Similar to Media Asset Management (MAM) and Video Digital Asset Management (VDAM). Common among video content producers and television broadcasters. See definition for Media Asset Management and Video Digital Asset Management (VDAM).

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Video Digital Asset Management (VDAM)

  • Possible Duplicate


Video Digital Asset Management or Video DAM is an attribute of Digital Asset Management systems that relates to the management of digital video assets. Video DAM systems are typically capable of more advanced operations on video, such as generating previews, live conversion of one format to another, streaming, video effects and extracting frames.

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W

Watermarking

Watermarking is often used to protect assets by applying a translucent logo or image over the top of a surrogate asset such as an image, video or document to prevent it being copied and re-used without authorisation. Watermarking is very common in stock photography libraries where Digital Asset Management systems have been used to create public catalogues. It is also common in corporate Brand Asset Management systems to help enforce copyright compliance.

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Rendition

Workflow

Workflow refers to the modelling of the steps required to achieve a task so it can be streamlined and managed more effectively. In the asset supply chains commonly used in Digital Asset Management systems, workflow is often used at the ingestion and usage approval stages. It may also be used to integrate with artwork tracking systems to automatically publish assets after they have been originated and approved.

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X

XBRL - eXtensible Business Reporting Language

XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language and is an XML based metadata standard for representation of business, accounting and financial data as well as semantic relationships between these entities. As a standard it is specifically focussed on financial data that would historically have be represented by either unstructured objects (e.g. a block of text) or an arbitrary method (e.g. a spreadsheet where there is an implicit structure but not necessarily a uniform structure). The type of financial data represented is not necessarily transactional but might include information such as net profit or other aggregate information. A typical use case scenario would be for investor relations or financial publishers who wish to represent corporate accounts in a method that can analysed via third party applications or other automated methods (e.g. stock screening). See the official XRBL site for more details.

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XML - eXtensible Markup Language

XML is an abbreviation of eXtensible Markup Language. XML is a standard for creating markup languages which describe the structure of data so that it can be exchanged between two different systems. It is heavily used in systems integration. Most Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems include features that allow metadata and assets to be supplied to third party systems in XML format. More advanced Digital Asset Management Systems also allow third party applications to integrate with them using XML web services.

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XMP - eXtensible Metadata Platform

XMP is an abbreviation of eXtensible Metadata Platform and is form of XML and is a metadata standard for describing assets such as images and documents. XMP is widely regarded as the successor to IPTC as it allows the range of metadata fields used to describe assets to be extended as required.

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Y

YUV

YUV is both a file format and a colour space used in PAL, NTSC and SECAM video standards.

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Z

Z39.50

Z39.50 is a protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote repositories of content such as databases. Z39.50 is popular in lending libraries and is widely used for inter-library loans. The standard pre-dates web technology by a number of years, however, a number of initiatives such as SRU (Structured Retrieval via URL) have developed gateways to allow searches from intranets or websites to be interpreted by Z39.50 systems.

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ZIP

ZIP is a popular file compression format used to reduce the storage space consumed by digital files.

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