In an ideal world, one where digital transformation has finally taken place (as discussed in Deep Content) a digital asset would never leave its business context. This would lower the need for storing standardized metadata content on the file itself. But most of the industries haven’t quite reached this stage yet and until then leveraging file metadata will still be of great interest. One of the recent additions to the Nuxeo Platform is a service for easily reading and writing metadata in files. A perfect use case for this service is the IPTC / XMP metadata management. I will walk you through the use case scenarios and how you can use Nuxeo for advanced metadata management of your media files.

Learn more about the digital transformation imperative

Industry Standards: IPTC, XMP and EXIF

Some industry standards exist to describe the digital assets metadata. One of them is IPTC Information Interchange Model (namely IPTC). It was introduced by the Newspaper and News Agencies industry for describing all types of media (articles, images, etc). It was found to be particularly useful by the community of photographers. IPTC metadata describes the who, where and when of the asset as well as its intellectual property rights. As a standard it has been widely adopted by softwares in the imaging industry. Then, Adobe pushed XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) to cover the same use cases as IPTC and go beyond, with an extensibility capability for custom behaviors. From the recent Windows OS versions to the Adobe Creative Cloud, XMP is widely adopted. EXIF (Exchangeable Image File format) is another standard which is adopted by camera vendors for storing technical metadata about pictures, such as resolution, focal distance, etc.

File Metadata: A loose and costless data transfer protocol

Let’s take the example of media companies and advertising agencies. They have gone through all the transformation cycles of the digital industry when dealing with media authoring and distribution. Here are the different phases:

Phase 1: Desktop Applications

  • Content Authoring: Desktop applications
  • Internal Storage: Local /Network Drive
  • Distribution: CD/DVD or (at best) FTP servers

In this scenario, a desktop application of an actor 1 in enterprise A can edit metadata on an asset that will be read by desktop application of actor 2 in enterprise B - thanks to the standard ITPC. This metadata is the only way to transfer information in a structured way from actor 1 to actor 2 without endangering the user experience.

Phase 2: Internal Document Management System

  • Content Authoring: Desktop applications
  • Internal storage: Document Management Systems
  • Distribution: via email or FTP servers

Here, metadata can be persisted on the internal Document Management System], but there is no way to structure the transfer of information from actor 1 to actor 2. So, metadata editing on an asset is very useful and necessary.

Phase 3: Business to Business Portals

  • Content Authoring: Desktop applications
  • Internal storage: on the central repository
  • Distribution: via the business portal plugged on the central repository. Users access the portal.

In this case, most of the useful information can be presented quite well on the portal. However, metadata is necessary once the asset has been distributed. Actors in the destination company will get the asset at some point for business context, so it is good for them to have a way to read the initial information.

Phase 4: Cloud and Digital Transformation Era

  • Content Authoring: Cloud applications
  • Internal storage: on the central repository, tightly integrated to cloud applications
  • Distribution: no more concept of “distribution”- the asset is present at all the business processes naturally, without having to think of “transferring” or “distributing” it.

In that situation, the application context always provides all the useful information and there is no need to store metadata on the file.

As you can see, it looks like using these file metadata standards when working with external partners (especially when it is not possible to include them in a process that you control from end to end) is still very common. In future, when most of the processes are tooled with dedicated business software this standard may find less use. But until then let’s see how we can leverage this metadata.

Writing XMP or IPTC Metadata Before Distributing It

The binary metadata processor we added in the Nuxeo Platform allows easy configuration of mappings between managed metadata of the document repository and the file metadata. For instance, if you are building a B2B distribution portal (phase 3), you can easily apply a writing rule using Nuxeo Automation. This will make sure that the asset gets the most recent information and qualification based on your company before being sent out. And thanks to the flexibility of Nuxeo Automation, you can control which information to write on the asset depending on who you want to distribute it to.

Advanced metadata management for digital assetsAdvanced metadata management for digital assets

Pluggable and Interchangeable IPTC and XMP Metadata Extraction Tools

The Nuxeo binary-metadata module easily allows changing the command line tool used for performing the metadata extraction. We did a study of the existing ones and selected Exiftool as being the most complete and efficient one.

If you want, you can very easily switch from the default Exiftool to anything else. Check out our documentation to find out how.

With the DAM industry changing gears from being a ‘photo library’ to an enterprise system, any service that makes managing media files easier is an asset for this transition. Our advanced metadata handling service has opened up ways to leverage the metadata in digital assets better, thus adding another feather in Nuxeo’s DAM solution! As we continue to help industries transition into the world of Digital Transformation and the age of Deep Content, we will keep adding new features and improvements to our Digital Asset Management systems. Stay tuned!