Cumulus 5 is massive, and I don’t mean the system requirements – considering what it can do they’re pretty modest. No, I mean the number of features it has.
It can do just about anything you’d want a media cataloguer to do. It can store images, audio, video, layouts and PDF files – and show thumbnails of them all. The search options can be fully customized, as can field names, views, categories and file hierarchies. And, it can output HTML documents. It all sounds daunting, but it’s not.
Little and large
For a program of its ability, its system requirements are small; see fact box left. It also needs a CD-ROM drive and a 640-x-480 monitor.
Creating a new catalogue in Cumulus is a doddle – just hit -N and drag-&-drop all the required files onto the window. The next stage, creating categories, is not as easy. But, with a bit of playing around – and some help from the clear and simple tutorial – it doesn’t take too long to master.
With Cumulus, it’s best to plan ahead. Creating and deleting categories is easy – but it can be a nightmare if you can’t decide how to sort records. However, there is even a way around this. When pictures are imported, the file hierarchy from the hard drive is also imported – as long as this is clear, you’ll never need to create any categories.
Once the categories have been set, the information stored in Custom Fields – where data such as notes is stored – can be changed. Adding new fields is a simple matter of clicking on Customize in the Edit menu and deciding whereabouts on the resulting list you want the new field to appear.
The Output to HTML feature couldn’t be simpler either. Just select the category, or even all the records, and go to the drop-down menu.
A total of 64 files took little over a minute to output. However, the resulting page did look odd, but all the information was there.There’s also a QuarkXPress Contact Sheet option, that creates a new XPress document and exports all the pictures and text to it. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this was incompatible with XPress 4.1 – although Canto said there’d be a fix by the time you read this.
Cumulus is so big, there’s stuff I haven’t got room to discuss here. It’s cross-platform for a start, although there’s no support for Linux yet. Also, the catalogues it creates are fairly small – my 64-item example weighed-in at only 2.5MB. Cumulus can even store 3D files. The buggyness of the HTML export was a slight problem. It also has to compete with programs such as Extensis Portfolio and eRocket’s FotoStation. If you’re using one of these applications, it’s not worth switching. If you’re new to media-asset management, take a look at Cumulus on our main cover CD.