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Author Topic: Looking at EM 2 for two people  (Read 9382 times)
BeckyMalaria
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« on: October 07, 2010, 03:02:38 PM »

Hello,

I am desperately trying to jump ship from Picasa to EM 2 at my workplace. We had gone with Picasa because it offered a way to share the image library (albeit with limitations and not officially supported.) However, we've run into a lot of problems and I finally have to admit it it just not going to work. Now that EM has a new owner and will hopefully have new life breathed into it... I feel more comfortable giving it a go.

So with Expression: there are only two of us. If we purchase 2 licenses (and maybe a third for a laptop) what does the actual setup look like? Where is the catalogue file saved? We understand there can only be one person working on the catalogue at a time, but hope there can be a "read-only" version available for the other person to at least view.

I'll check the DAM book to see what the recommendations are but wondered if anyone has any in-the-field observations.

Becky
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 12:01:18 PM »

Hello again,

For anyone following along at home, I found some information on the Microsoft forum:

http://social.expression.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/media/thread/df5f7e44-57eb-4517-988d-44f2b11f7ebe

and here

http://social.expression.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/media/thread/0cd13a70-01e2-4caf-8f01-73153c37a285

This answers one of my questions -- that if we each have licenses, we can each open up the catalog but "record locking" means that only the first person to open it will have edit privileges (which is a good thing -- I was trying to determine if we would have to have one designated "edit workstation", but it appears we don't have to,) and the other person will get a warning that they are opening a read-only so can't make changes. Good and good. (Altho' actual network capability would be much preferred, of course.)

I guess we will have to try it out to see if the speed is workable, and if keeping the catalog file on the network turns out to be a bad idea (like it does with Filemaker or Quickbooks for example, the files get corrupted unless they are saved locally.)

-Becky
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 11:11:54 AM »

Continuing to update in case any lurkers find this useful (or, hopefully, in case anyone has a helpful suggestion!)

In the past month we've been experimenting with EM2 for two, as discussed above. We've found that the "record locking" scenario described in the Microsoft forums I linked above doesn't work as described.

What is supposed to happen is that only the first person to open the file is able to edit and save changes, while the second person (and any theoretical people thereafter) can only work with a read-only version of the catalog. If it worked this way, it would be fine for us.

What happens in practice is that if two people have the catalogue open, then neither one can save changes. It will let you make all the changes you want, but won't save them. Worse, there is no error message to tell you so. You can choose Save from the File menu, and you can have Auto-Save turned on, and it just silently fails to do so.

Only when you try to quit the file will it ask if you want to save. Unfortunately, you can't until the other person has closed out of the file.

We each have an iMac running Snow Leopard. Are other people experiencing this behavior? Suggestions for a workaround? I guess we could set up a "distribution catalog" scenario but I was hoping to avoid that.

-Becky
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roberte
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2010, 06:38:17 PM »

Hi Becky,

The only safe way to share a single Catalog with Expression Media is to use a 'distribution catalog'.

To avoid more than one person opening the same Catalog I have a Catalog zipped on a read-only server. Users download the Catalog to their desktop machine and unzip it. They then access the Catalog from the (free) Expression Media Catalog Reader on their PC or Mac. When the Catalog is updated monthly it's zipped onto the server and users are notified by email.

While not ideal it's proving successful in a workgroup of several dozen staff. The next step up would be AtomicView or Portfolio.
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 10:06:19 AM »

Hi Roberte,

Thanks for the response and advice.

At the moment AtomicView (server) or Portfolio isn't an option for us. I am therefore hoping to implement a not-too-intense system which would allow both of us to work with images and not drift out of sync for more than a day. It SEEMS like it should be possible... but the best laid plans...

For a few weeks we followed the below scenario, with the images on the shared drive and each machine with its own local EM catalog, Primary and Secondary:

Primary works and saves on the catalog.
Secondary determines which group she needs to work on, alerts Primary to not work with that group.
At end of day, Secondary does a Sync Annotations > Export on JUST those images.
At end of day, Secondary emails a Notepad file if she has made any new catalog sets (or altered an existing set.)
Both Primary and Secondary quit EM at end of day.

During the night, two backup routines run:
1. The Primary catalog replaces the Secondary catalog.
2. The Notepad file for Secondary is copied into the Primary folder. (This is optional since we're also emailing the Notepad file, but what ends up happening is that the email just serves as an alert that the Notepad file has been changed, and this backup routines saves Primary having to manually copy the Notepad file over)

In the morning:
Primary selects ALL images in the catalog and does a Sync Annotations> Import > Merge (prefer original file)
Primary checks email to see if there is a new Notepad file. If there is, she uses it to update catalog sets.

It sounds complicated, but actually (with the help of a post-it on each computer) it was pretty easy to follow. We did see some red question marks when one or the other of us renamed or moved files, but it seemed manageable.

However, as those of you with more experience will probably NOT be surprised by, we ran into trouble yesterday when we were under deadline and both needed to work with the same group of images. Here is what happened:

Secondary imported the images and started adding keywords and other annotations (Title, Job Identifier).
For various reasons we needed to switch Primary onto that task while Secondary worked on something else. So Secondary did a Sync Annotations > Export.
Primary then imported the new folder and the keywords were there.
Primary then continued to work on the images by adding keywords and other annotations.

The day ended. We both closed the program.
During the night, the backup routines ran, as described above.

In the morning, Primary (following protocol) selected all images and did a Sync Annotations > Import > Merge (prefer original file.)
Of course, some of the keywords and annotations she had added the day before were lost. Not all, because she selected Merge, but those which conflicted with the original file (Secondary's work from yesterday) overwrote her new ones. And in some cases, Secondary had added annotations into other fields which had been deleted by Primary (as not necessary) and of course those appeared again after the import.

So... I think I understand the problem, but not what to do. I feel like I'm playing a chess game with a much better player, who will outwit my every move!

Any advice would be SO appreciated. I am going to look at the Phase One forums and the old MS forums as well.

I know the program is not built to be networked. But it seems like, with only two (reasonably) intelligent people involved we should be able to figure something out?

-Becky
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2011, 08:04:57 AM »

Hi again,

I wanted to give a quick update since my last post. We have abandoned that approach. Since then we've been trying out this routine, using two separate catalog files:

Each morning, both people select ALL images, Sync/Import/Replace Current
Work during the day tagging etc. while making sure we are not working on the same group of images (this is possible b/c there's only 2 of us)
At end of day, each person does a Find/Front catalog/Annotated (today's date), Show all. Select images, then Sync/Export.
If you made a new catalog or edited an existing catalog -- you make a Notepad file and send it via email for the other person to import the next day.

So far we have run into these issues:

- "Sync All" does not always work. At least, not on such a large group of images. Keywords we know are there, don't appear after doing the sync. Sometimes they show up if you select just that image and sync, sometimes they show up if you remove the image from the catalog and re-import, sometimes they randomly show up later on, sometimes they don't show up. Also, checking the "include catalog sets" box doesn't seem to do anything.

- Problems with the Notepad file. When you're trying to import a catalog set, the Notepad window may sometimes show your list of images with a red "?" instead of a thumbnail. I'm not sure what could be triggering this. If you create a set from this, the Organize Panel displays the total number of images you're supposed to have but the viewer area only shows the images with no "?", which is concerning, because then your number counts are off.

- If one person deletes a physical folder, the other person gets a "?" This usually isn't a big deal as the other person can just remove that ? folder.

Hope this adds to the general knowledgebase out there and any advice on the above issues would be much appreciated as well.

-Becky
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2011, 07:34:08 AM »

Back again -- sorry to make this thread all about me, me, me, but it's helpful to keep track of what we've tried...

Our "Sync Annotations" problems persist. Exporting, then importing in the other catalogue, produces inconsistent results. Not good. The issues increase depending on the amount of images in the group. One image usually, but not always, works. Sometimes one keyword comes through but not the rest. Sometimes it comes through on a second try. Sometimes you have to re-export from the other catalogue, and then it will come through. Sometimes not. Syncing (importing) all the images in the catalog never works. Sync/Export "Catalog Sets" never produces any result whatsoever.

The Notepad feature seems completely farked. When sending/receiving, you'll send one group of images in the Notepad and the other person gets something completely different when they open it on their end. For example, I made a Notepad yesterday with two groups of images in it (page 1 and page 2.) Page 1 had 91 images in it and a bit of text in the comment area. Page 2 had 6 images and text in the comment area. When my colleague opened the file, she had only 1 page of 91 images. The text in the comment area was correct, but the images were a mix of my selection and other, seemingly random images mixed in. They didn't have similar file names nor were they from the same folder. Completely mystified.

Losing my s*** over this issue, I realize EM2 is not meant to really network but even the limited tools provided don't work as described.

-Becky
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Roelof
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2011, 08:15:18 AM »

If i'm correct you are working on apple, isn't?
If not, you could consider IdImager. There is lot's of info on this forum to migrate.
Maybe it's worth waiting on the next release of EM (it's been almost 10 months now...)
Roelof
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2011, 08:17:11 AM »

Hi Rolf,

Yes we're on Macs, so idImager is not an option.

Carey
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2011, 08:24:15 AM »

Sorry, make that Roelof!

Becky
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2011, 10:10:08 AM »

Since my last post, we downloaded and set up a trial of Extensis Portfolio Studio, a new-ish middle of the range offering from Extensis which allows 3 simultaneous connections, costing $1999. There is a web interface and desktop software, which are interchangeable. We gave it an honest go, but after 30 days, we didn't feel we could justify the price. I could write more but that's for a different thread, probably. It did allow us to share catalog sets (which they call Galleries) which was great, and the Smart Gallery feature is also very useful. But we had enough other problems with it that we decided against purchasing.

Back to EM 2. Here is the third try at a sharing setup for two.

On the file server, in the same folder as the images, we have a primary Image Bank.ivc and a distribution Image Bank.ivc also. Both people have equal access to this folder.

If one of us wants to work on the Image Bank, she first tries to open the PRIMARY. If EM throws up an alert saying it is in use, the other person is using it, then she has to use the distribution one and be aware that her changes will not be saved. (n.b. Try opening it twice since sometimes this is a phantom error)

Every night Chronosync updates the distribution catalog by replacing it with the PRIMARY catalog. Of course we can run the sync manually at any point during the day if needed.

We are going to try the Notepad under this scenario. Our first try worked. Perhaps the problems we were having earlier had to do with the catalog files being on different hard drives (although that shouldn't matter...)

Will update with results.

-Becky
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K.Murat
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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2011, 12:17:00 PM »

Becky, using a standalone photo management software in a multi-user environment might cause the potential problems:

  • There is no guarantee that your media management system crashes and will damage your content due to simultaneous attempts to change it by multiple users.
  • Someone in your team can accidentally “screw up” your assets.
  • You can’t see the changes made by other users in the same media database till you restart the media database software, or refresh the opened catalog.
  • Users may configure access rights on the Windows NTFS level, but it is extremely laborious, inconvenient and limited.
  • You can’t limit an access to your content for users by roles: Restrict to download your hi-res photos for guests or restrict to users with Reader rights to change the content.

Full article here: http://bit.ly/q5wUoq

I guess the only safiest solution in your case is Portfolio (because you are on Mac). Because it's a true multi-user solution.
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Daminion - a new server based photo management software.
http://daminion.net
BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2011, 08:28:04 AM »

Hello K. Murat,

Thanks for the reply. I've been told it's the rule in this forum to sign the end of your posts, by the way.

As I wrote above, we tried Portfolio and decided against it. The interfaces on both the desktop and web clients are a maze of confusion and, worse, do not share any commonalities -- you have to learn two visual systems. Customizations to the interfaces on the desktop client do not stick. You think you have applied tags to certain images and later they are not there. You cannot nest or re-order galleries. You can drag images to galleries but there is no visual feedback telling you where you're about to drop your images -- lots of mistakes. And after 30 days it still had not completed cataloging our assets, which are not outrageously large.

Regarding your first and third bullet points, each setup we've tried with EM2 has not involved accessing the same catalog file, for the reasons you state, but rather synchronizing changes made to two separate catalog files. This approach has relied on the fact that there are only two of us, so we can coordinate who's working on which group of images at any given time.

As to the second point, again, with just two of us this is less of an issue, so we rely on backups to ensure we can get back to earlier versions and our original assets can be restored.

Your last two bullet points are not applicable in our case.

We use Filemaker for our other database needs, which handles small workgroups gracefully out of the box. I wish other systems would take note.

-Becky


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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2012, 11:12:41 AM »

This is a follow up post. We have been using the system I described above (July 7, 2011) for a whole year now.

While not perfect, I think it's the best we're gonna get. We have not experienced keyword loss the way we did under the Sync Annotations scenarios we tried. The Notepad feature works now, so the problem there must have been related to hosting it on the NAS drive.

The biggest gripe we have is sluggish performance, which I think just comes from accessing large images on another drive. I'm not sure how to improve matters there.

I would say this is a workable system, but for no more than two people. Perhaps one or two more if everyone is extremely vigilant in following the rules, and constant write access does not need to be available but rather can be handed off to one person at a time.

-Becky
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BeckyMalaria
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2012, 10:20:12 AM »

Whoops, I realize that in the intervening time since July 2011, we did make one change to the setup. We no longer have the primary Image Bank.ivc file hosted on the file server -- it's on one of our hard drives instead. The other computer connects to it there when needed.

I don't remember exactly when or why we made this change, but it was pretty early on. I suspect it had to do with the Notepad issues described above, and perhaps a speed issue as well.

-Becky
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