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Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Image repository

Digital Asset Management

One of the projects we have been working on for a while is Digital Asset Management. Our photo team had evaluated several commercial products, and found that most, if not all, of them were too expensive for us to be able to afford as a single division. We therefore shifted gears and started looking at some of the open source solutions.

As we went through this process we found others on campus who were also looking at the same problem. Last week I sent a note out the the campus communicators’ list asking for feedback of who might be interested in getting a team together to investigate a central service. I was overwhelmed by the results; over twenty colleges, departments, or offices expressed an interest in joining.

In order to facilitate communication on this effort I have set up a local listserv list. If anyone would like to participate in the conversation please contact me and I can get you added to the list.

I look forward to this becoming a successful shared service that can befit the entire campus community.

Friday, January 30th, 2015 Future Projects, Image repository No Comments

Digital Asset Management

Our photos team asked us to look into a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution for organizing our departmental photo repository…or at least that portion of it that we want the public to have access to. After looking at several proprietary and open source solutions we came upon ResourceSpace. As luck would have it, our colleagues over at the Foundation already use the product and were able to give us a preview.

We are currently in the process of putting an installation onto our servers to give it a more thorough run-through. One thing that I have found is that it appears to only be a back-end manager. If that winds up being the case we will have to build a front-end public view, that will wind up replacing the current Photos website that pulls from Flickr.

I have already talked to one other person on campus who was looking for their own DAM solution and asked about getting a test account set up. We will be happy to share our installation if another campus unit wants to review the software and share their experience with it.

Friday, January 24th, 2014 Image repository No Comments

photo.tamu.edu – Gutted & Rebuilt in PHP

Photo.tamu.edu is Texas A&M University’s Flickr presence on steroids. Combining the powerhouses of content around campus into one unified resource. Aimed at proving a solid media outlet for journalists and content providers alike, this refined tool started in .NET and is now completely built in PHP. My goal as the lead developer of this project was to migrate version one’s cover to a framework that could be easily maintained throughout the webmaster office. Although version one was an alright start, it failed at meeting customer requirements and was quite error prone.

Some larger improvements I have made to the system include:

  • “Search” now indexes all A&M Flickr accounts, instead of just one at a time. Check out Reveille.
  • A functioning CMS with integrated approval process and notifications for departments & organizations interested in joining the system.
  • Jeff provided the system with an excellent library for integrating CAS 3 into our login panel.
  • “Media Contacts” are now available for each Flickr account. Need to find out who to contact about a photo? Look no further.
  • Photo was re-structured using the Zend framework, a delightful tool I might add.

Some small improvements include:

  • Random homepage photo is now selectable. Before you had to guess where it resided 🙁
  • Top-level menus have been cleaned up and now reflect the pages that are currently loaded.
  • The drop-down list floats currently selected Flickr accounts to the top of the list.
  • Photo tags link to search appliance. Now you can compare tags of all Flickr accounts simultaneously.
  • URL’s now make sense.
  • Context menus have been added at the individual photo viewing level.
  • Terms “image”, and “photo” were littered all over the site. Let it be known, the site will only state “photo” now. This switch avoids confusion in the long run… photo.tamu.edu? or image.tamu.edu? Your dose of url marketing for the day 😉

As always, we appreciate your input. Email us your thoughts and opinions, or post up in the comments.

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Friday, July 2nd, 2010 Image repository, News, Programming 2 Comments

Mobile Traditions – m.tamu.edu/traditions

The mobile website is now an official A&M tradition (late April fools joke). Traditions can now be found on the mobile site. Ranging from the “12th Man” to “Silver Taps” our campus traditions are now available in a mobile format for all to read up on while on the go. I am also excited to extend functionality out of my recent “A&M Photos” application. I utilized the ‘tag’ system from photos to pull all the images relating to a specific tradition. It is refreshing to see these applications complementing each other. Something we will continue to grow upon as the mobile site furthers development. m.tamu.edu/traditions

New: Mobile Photos – m.tamu.edu/photos

So you had fun over spring break?… I beg to differ. I got to sit down on the laptop and knock out some really fun code, finalizing version one of the new photos application on m.tamu.edu. If you haven’t discovered A&M photos on Flickr I suggest you pick up a phone or visit it on your computer because the content is always flowing. The Division of Marketing & Communications has done a great job of keeping recent A&M Photos available to the public with outstanding descriptions and tags. Even while I was in the process of developing this application I managed to ‘get lost’ in the limitless amount of content.

In version one, you will see two primary viewing types, albums and tags. Using these two types, you can filter literally hundreds of photos, from campus construction photos, photos of our new President Dr. Bowen Loftin, and even our First Lady, Revellie VIII.

Thanks to Flickr’s robust API, I was able to make this content mobile friendly. Individual photos have ‘full views’ when clicked so you can even save and use each photo as a phone background. In version two I will be looking into adding a custom search feature and map tags making campus tours even easier. As always, we are looking to hear more from you the user. If you have any ideas please write us, webmaster@tamu.edu. Thanks for tuning in!

Bob

Image Repository online, again

campus image repository

Shot of the Campus Image Repository home page

Okay about a year ago I mentioned that a photo repository was online. Well, in that time we’ve had a little bit of time to test and refine it. We learned some things along the way too and have relaunched it with a few tweaks.

Probably the most important would have to be, how do you manage all of those photos? Answer: you don’t. That’s where the idea of feeds come in. This way Roz over at Mays or Matt in Engineering (two of our first guinea pigs for sharing) can add/manage/remove their photos as needed to keep them updated and fresh. But they still end up browsable and searchable in one location. So, to access any repository that has joined our “party” (as Roz called it), simply choose from the pulldown menu on the left.

Next is the importance of tags and descriptions. It’s one thing to have an image in there, but unless you want someone to go through images labeled “IMG_1234” or the like, tags make it so much easier. Descriptions are good, too — especially if someone else ends up using a photo and you want to make sure they are noting/explaining it correctly. We’re also having to reorganize our sets so that they are more intuitive in name.

Third is to know when to stop. We originally had the geolocation thing going, but it turned out to add an extra 750K to the page load. Do people really want an extra 3/4 of a MB with each image just to tell you that the Academic Building is on the main campus? What helps is that with separate repository feeds, an image — while not geolocated — is now feed-located, so that if you grab a Mays shot you know where it at least came from.

There are a few more, but give it a shot and see. And if you have a public Flickr feed that has some good quality campus/subject shots let us know so that we can get your feed added to the list. Also let us know if there are image sets you’d like to see. For example, with all of the latest on the presidential search, we’ve had a request for a set that includes head shots of Dr. Loftin and even the upper administration.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010 Image repository, Ongoing Projects 3 Comments

Image repository available

So here it is–an image repository for campus communicators, designers, developers and presenters. Basically, what we did was go through our immense share of campus images and have put up the best ones that fit what our visual identity is all about. These are by no means all of them, but a representative start.

As you can tell by some of the functionality, we are using flickr as the back end and Ben has coded up a nice interface by which you can search or browse. We’ve tried our best to tag, geotag and categorize to keep them in order. We’ve put them in and offer the images in a variety of sizes including the maxed, biggest original we could find. Our plan is to continue adding new shots into the repository, and eventually to hook into other departments/colleges flickr accounts. › Continue reading

Monday, October 20th, 2008 Image repository No Comments

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