Image Portal X;Hexafoo full review

If your work involves handling heaps of images, you probably already have a way to keep track of them: numbered folders on a file server, in a FileMaker database, or with a proprietary image library software. For small, one-building offices, this works just fine. But if the Art Director has ADSL and insists on working from home, you need a digital asset-management system.

Image Portal X and Hexafoo (the ‘lite’ version) are client-server products that centralize a store of images and video, giving users controlled access to them via the Web. Browse to your organization’s site, select the images you want, and have them downloaded to your desktop, sent by email as a Web link, or dumped ontoan FTP server of your choice. NetXposure also offersthe InCaddy plug-in that gives you access from InDesign.

What Hexafoo lacks is Portal’s flexible repurposing tools. Image Portal X can supply selected images in a different format, at a different resolution, or with a selection of other manipulations applied. So you store just one full-size Photoshop file, and your users can retrieve it as a low-res jpg for the company Web site,or a printable TIFF, for instance. Hexafoo also misses Portal’s support for LDAP directories, Web Services(for integration with other company web systems)and WebDAV (making files available as a desktopserver), but you can add these modules later.

One thing that you may balk at is the price. Hexafoo comes in at £3,000, Image Portal X at £9,000, and the InDesign plug-in at a further £3,000. For a two-man outfit this is prohibitive. But the competition here is with Portfolio and Canto Cumulus, and unlike its more proprietary rivals, NetXposure doesn’t believe in a ‘per-seat’ cost – when you include Portfolio and Cumulus’ Web-access tools into the equation, the pricing is competitive. Of course, there’s also competition fromthe open-source community: tools like Typo3, Midgard, and so forth claim some asset-management credentials, but they’re aimed more at the Web and text market,and they’re not quite there yet. Plus, NetXposureinstalls the software for you itself (albeit remotely),and it’s there when you need support.

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