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Portfolio 7

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Whether you’re a photographer, an illustrator, or another type of creative pro, managing a multitude of images, comps, and other client files can be a real challenge. For years, Extensis’s Portfolio has offered a powerful, flexible tool for this task. And the latest release, version 7, includes several welcome improvements.

One of the handiest additions is the ability to create CDs containing image catalogs—either of thumbnails or of the images at their actual sizes—directly from the program. Portfolio gathers the necessary files, including the catalog and viewers, and burns them to a CD in one step. You can include Portfolio browsers for both OS X and Windows—a nice touch.

Smart Searching

Extensis has enhanced Portfolio’s search capabilities with a feature called Smart Galleries. A Smart Gallery combines a search and a custom view, letting you display images that meet specific criteria (such as being for a particular client, updated in the past day, and derived from a digital camera) in the visual arrangement of your choice. My only quibble is that it takes too many steps to create a Smart Gallery: you must first save your search criteria, then create a gallery, and then control-click on the gallery to set it up as a Smart Gallery (see “Intelligent Searching”). Once set, Smart Galleries are automatic—just click on the gallery name, and Portfolio updates the search to show the latest matches.

Advanced Archiving

Portfolio 7 features a host of significant enhancements that support professional-level archival techniques. Watch folders, for example, are places where you can automatically catalog new assets by syncing folders on your hard drive or networks with Portfolio catalogs. The program can now convert images to TIFF or JPEG format and support additional types of digital-image information tags such as IPTC and XMP. The program also can now generate contact sheets and log who last modified an image. All of these improvements work well and are straightforward and convenient to use.

On the Net

Perhaps Portfolio’s most promising—but also disappointing—new feature is NetPublish, a utility that lets you display galleries on the Web for easy client review. The software includes several well-designed templates and an easy-to-use wizard to help you create your pages. You can also set NetPublish to work as an intranet. NetPublish is designed as a dynamic site utility that updates automatically as you add content to a catalog.

But the feature is optimal only if you host your own Web site using either Apache 1.3 on OS X or Internet Information Services on Windows. Even worse, NetPublish doesn’t currently support users who have their sites hosted by third-party providers, usually on Unix systems. There is a workaround, but it poses a security risk. (The good news is that Portfolio does let you export static HTMLpages for posting to any Web server.)

Further, NetPublish in Portfolio 7 allows only one user (actually, one IP address) to connect each hour, so even if you do meet the hosting requirements, you can’t use NetPublish in a production environment unless you buy additional connection licenses ($200 for the five-pack).

Macworld’s Buying Advice

Portfolio 7 is a powerful cataloging and inventory tool, and a great way to organize your digital assets. It makes particular sense for small and midsize organizations that use a dedicated Mac for asset management. I prefer it to Canto’s less flexible Cumulus 6 Personal Edition. If your organization is large, consider Canto’s selection of enterprise image-management tools instead.

Portfolio’s Smart Galleries feature uses your saved, customized search criteria to help you find groups of images.
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