Pushing the envelope, the need for speed, Part 1. - Extensis.com

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Pushing the envelope, the need for speed, Part 1.

Wednesday August 6th, 2008 by Paul Krummenacker

Paul and George Krummenacker and the 1964 Porsche 365cMaybe it’s a male thing, maybe it’s just a product of being American, maybe it’s a geek thing, I’m not sure but I love things to go faster, better and easier.

My view on software is similar. Personally I’d give up extra bells, whistles and features that I’d never use over speed and reliability. I’m not quite at a Bauhaus level of austerity, I do like the occasional decorative element or unnecessary bit of styling for the sake of style and I do have a belief that less is more. As the architect Louis Sullivan would say, “form follows function“, but also, function need not be ugly or sterile.  A good example is the Bayard-Condict Building in NoHo on Bleecker Street in New York City. Somewhat spare, but yet not a basic boring box.

Taking this view of efficiency and applying this to Extensis’ software, I want to talk about how you can pare down some of the unnecessary bulk and make things work faster. Plus there are a few extra optimizations you can do to pick up the pace, so to speak.

With Portfolio, the first thing you need to do is really look at how you plan to use your catalog. What are you going to be tracking, what sort of assets, what sort of data, what sort of workflow are you going to have? What is the function that it will serve? Crack out your notepad, or dry erase pens and start listing what you want to accomplish, what sort of data do you need to track, what is important, and what would be a ‘gee, I MIGHT use that some day’ sort of thing. Based on what you find, you can then create a catalog. Selecting from one of the premade templates that come in Portfolio 8.5 is a good starting point, but even there you’ll want to pare down or maybe add some custom fields.

Do you need ALL the IPTC fields? Do you need every EXIF setting cataloged? Realizing that this data will still exist in the original assets (digital camera files have the EXIF info embedded into them) so later on if you NEED this information, you can create a new custom field and extract this data out. Having less metadata in your catalog will help boost performance because it’s less data that has to be stored and searched.

Next step would be to look at your use of Galleries, both Static and Smart.  A gallery is a very useful tool and excellent for tracking projects and other organizational elements. But do you really need to have 85 galleries, 3/4 of which are for old projects you are no longer using?  It might be better to have a smaller number of galleries, but still be able to get the information for your old projects by using a custom field such as Job Number, Client, PO number or Part Number. You can have lots of saved searches, and if need be you can later take these saved searches and turn them back into a gallery so you are not losing anything, you’re just getting rid of the clutter.

What about your use of catalogs? Do you really need one massive catalog that has EVERYTHING you’ve ever done, or every photo you’ve ever taken? Maybe it’s better to have a catalog of Current Projects, and then a larger, less frequently used catalog of Archives.  When you finish a project, move it from Current Projects, into Archives. Depending on how you work, maybe you will have a catalog for each year, or a catalog for your major clients. With Portfolio Server, you can easily serve and unserve a catalog and only serve out the catalogs you need, rather than having everything available ‘just in case’.

In my next post, I’ll look at more ways to boost your efficiency and performance in Portfolio.

And in closing, while I have said that ‘less is more’ sometimes ‘more is more’. There are times when there is no substitute for something bigger or maybe a bit more entailed. This last weekend I purchased a 1982 Honda CB450T motorcycle, a ‘Hawk’ and while it’s only 450cc and 45hp, it is quite a major leap from my 150cc, 9hp scooter.  Now that I’ve tasted something that can actually go up a hill without causing a traffic jam, it’s going to be hard to go back.