Rob Pelmas

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What a long strange trip it's been. Xinet dam development at NAPC

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 @ 03:25 PM

Tags: agile, Xinet, Elegant, E6



It's been 3 years since I took the NAPC development team back under my wing. In that time we've rewritten our products, gotten amazing results for our customers as well as record sales, added new resellers, and had a huge surge in our market share as people have come to realize the NAPC difference.

 

Here's a quick review of what's been going on behind the scenes. I was going to make a fancy timeline, but we did so much so quickly I just couldn't wrap my mind around how to show it graphically.


BF-3MM-wall.jpg

 Yes! We hit the 3 Million mark for E6 usage!


How we started:

We implemented Agile, I became a signatory of the Manifesto for Agile Software. Agile is almost like CrossFit, you just can't help but tell folks you're into it. It's world changing, man...

We rebuilt product licensing from the ground up, planned out self installers and autoupdaters, automated version tracking of customer code, and about a bazillion other things you never see. Why should you care? We cut about 2.5 man weeks of labor a month when we were done. That's time we can perform QA, Document, and Code. The things that matter to YOU.

Once the foundation was poured and leveled:

We dove into the products- how they were used, and what could they become? We spoke to every customer, and discussed where we were heading. Some of these sessions got downright electric, as folks got what we were thinking, and the ideas were flying back and forth. A TON of where we are now came from that, so give yourselves a golf clap if you're one of the 200 or so folks I spoke with.

Here's a short list of major features that came from those calls-

Better info about version changes (thanks John)

Easier navigation without moving from the keyboard (thanks Evan and krewe)

More feedback (damn near everyone, but especially Charlie)

Documentation (emberassingly widespread, but the tip-o-the-hat goes to Carol)

Self updaters (thanks RP. I mean our resellers)

Drag and drop file management (Ginnie)

23 different SM improvements (Ginnie  ;)  )

A 'real' metadata interface (Emily and Dave)

Awesome uploader interface (Charlie and Emily)

Make AFR work (Todd, Kevin)

The list goes on and on. I was looking over my contemporaneous notes, and the thing that stands out is your desire to be part of the process, and help us to help you.

We dove into wireframing, blueskying, and figuring futures out as we were also doing final bug fixes for our existing suite. The developers mandate was to squash bugs, not put some scotch tape over 'em. After numerous insurrections were put down, this really started paying off. Again, the time we saved here allowed us to do what YOU care about, delivering amazing new tech that makes your worklife easier, better, and simpler.

 

The good stuff- releasing code:

Since we live and breath Agile, we started releasing code. First out the gate was the basics, with a couple ooh-ahh factors. Then we started adding in functionality as the market demanded. Turns out we're not mind readers, and things that seemed important to me no one else cared about. Alternatively, things that felt 'buried away' were actually key to production. Agile lets us react immediately as demand changes and evolves. Hey, did I tell you we do agile?

Oh, and of course we started a formal Beta program, so users could get in early.  I cannot thank the early adopters and Beta testers enough. Power users helping deliver powerful, rock solid features.

On a whimsical note, the developers made a video, showing the lighter side of the last 3 years :) We all love this stuff!

NOTE: mildly NSFW

 

 

 

 

 



A heartfelt thanks to all, and a bonus

I'd like to personally thank everyone involved, from the customers, to the developers, to the NAPC employees who  made this possible. We have a great team, one I'm incredbly proud of. Since you made it allll the way to the bottom, click this link if you want to beta our rewrite of CreativeBanks- CB5. We now give you a single interface to create and brand sites - CB5 is built into E6, so there's only one place to go. Fewer buttons, far less bouncing between screens, this cuts about 50% of deployment time from what's needed to rollout a landing page/E6 site.

CB5 Beta Invite


 

2 million thanks to the E6 users! Xinet19 ready, and some hints...

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Thu, Jan 05, 2017 @ 02:56 PM

Tags: E6


2 Million pageviews, and record E6 sales in 2016!

 

E6 with quotes PING.png

 

 

We reached a milestone right before the end of 2016- 2 Million pageviews in E6, our Xinet interface!! Below is the top 1/2 dozen reasons to make the switch, and some ideas on how to get more out of E6 if you're already running it.

I personally do a lot of outreach to users, asking for feedback, and making sure they keep me and the developers 'honest'. We also ran a survey asking for feedback on the adoption and rollout process, making sure we kept as simple as possible in a complicated world. Below are some reasons to jump aboard, and maybe some ways of using the software you didnt know....



Top benefits to switching to E6-

1) Simple, simple, simple, sharing of files. The ability to send templated, preformatted emails with clickable links and previews of files from the desktop or a Browser is HUGE. Right click and BOOM. Done. #sharingiscaring

SM-finder.png

 

2) Advanced Batch Keyword Apply. Change metadata en masse on a bunch of files. This alone is worth the price of admission. Apply metadata to all, metadata to some, erase metadata. All in one view. Simple. Done. Oh, and you get the same interface on our 'Upload' page too! #cybrariansrock

ABKA.png

 

3) Speed. E6 is fast. Really fast. When we were doing discovery on rewriting our interface, *everyone* said if we had to choose between a feature or speed, opt for speed. We heard you. Every new feature, every new design get's benchmarked and optimized for speed. Everytime. We were always performance geeks on the hardware side, it's translated to our software too. #screaminglyfast

performance.png

 

4) Ease of Navigation. We've worked incredibly hard on the UX/UI. Minimal clicks to get anywhere, intuitive, easy to change interface. It's a very powerful, option rich software suite. Our mandate is to bridge the chasm between power users and the casual occasional user. We've seen interface and how to questions plummet in number since E6 came out, and our customers report the same. #easy-peasy

4) Feedback. Feedback. Feedback. We're manic about user feedback. Uploading, downloading, adding items to baskets, submitting forms, every interaction gives you positive acknowledgement of the action. One of the design criteria is a user never has to guess if they clicked a button, especially on a process that takes a while, like uploads or downloads. #feedbackisthenewfeature

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5) Drag-n-Drop File Management in the browser. Move or copy files and folders from E6 with ease. No extra clicks, no 3 or 4 steps to get to where you need- drag 'em into the lightbox, navigate to their new home, and select copy or move. Done. #noway,yesway!

6) Ease of Administration. You can update to the newest version with a single click. We QA all releases, so you know you're getting rock solid improvements. Thanks to the modern architecture, no need to recreate sites after upgrade. Bob's your uncle, all sites are updated automagically. #youhaveadayjob

7) Ready for Xinet 19. Since 17.7.1, E6 has been ready on day of release for every Xinet upgrade. No waiting, no upcharges for compatability. And, if you have customized E6 on your own, we promise not to ever break anything. #readyoutofthegate

X19.png


Between performance, features, and ease of admin, E6 is simply the best Xinet interface out there. #DAMawesome

If you don't have it already, get a free trial copy here:

E6 Demo Download

 

Feedback and comments always welcome, the software is where it is mainly due to the vociferous, avid user base. Thanks to all for the tips, suggestions, and occasionally tough love!



 

Xinet V19 pre-release webinar

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 @ 11:24 AM

Tags: Xinet, NAPC, E6


There's big news on the horizon- join us and get a preview of whats coming up in December in the world of Xinet. NP is holding a pre release webinar this December 1st, going over their next major release- Version 19. I won't spoil their thunder, but there's some great enhancements coming.

 

We've been running a  Version 19 beta internally for a few weeks, and it's great stuff. Alongside major news about SMB support and SAML there are some really, really cool improvements in the display layer.

E6 of course will be fully compliant and able to take advantage of the new nuanced abilities provided by the upgrade right out of the gate. We'll also have a information-rich list view in E6 at the same time, for users that need to see lots of files on each page, with metadata and a preview. It's DAM good, if you have that need.

Join us and NP on the 1st, and see what all the fuss is about!

 

Stay in the loop: Sign up for the December 1st webinar-


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See you on December 1st

 


 

Wait, is that ... Xinet? What's new in E6

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Tue, Jan 05, 2016 @ 10:57 AM

Tags: GUI, Xinet, Elegant, DAM, NAPC, metadata, SSO, E6

    Welcome back from the holidays! To start your year off right, here's a list of some really cool improvements we've made over the last 2 months or so in E6, our Xinet interface. We're focusing on usability, performance, and generally easing the adoption of using a DAM system, both for casual and power users.

In no particular order, here's what we've been up to-

We released a new theme- 'Air'. It allows a single background image across all pages, custom volume and folder icons, and lots of other neat features. Check it out:


New 'uploader' plugin- a really nice interface for editing metadata on lots of files. It does drag and drop, and drag and select to choose the files you want some metadata applied to, etc... We'll port the code to Batch Keyword Apply in the next couple weeks, so your cybrarians will have a *much* easier time of setting and correcting metadata on groups of files. And of course, we kept the best bits from the original version- individual progress bars, feedback to the users.

'Steal a Link' in SuperMail- both when browsing in E6 and from the Mac desktop. You can now get a SM link copied to your clipboard to add into a personal email. We had lots of folks who didn't want to send a SM to themselves, then copy the link from there into their email client.

New versions comparison function- you can compare 2 files side by side and zoom in on them. Choose different versions of the same file, (even if the filetpes are different!) and compare them.

You can now export and Import E6 sites- Host to host, or on the same host. We had someone build a site on a Dev server in Cali, export it, and import it into the Prod server in Chicago. Cool stuff!

Gallery view- who doesn't love themselves a Gallery? We then added drag&drop to it, because well, drag&drop.

E6 AFR with SuperMail- with fine grained permission rights. It's awesome - reusing the SuperMail interface, it's 100% reliable (a marked improvement over the OOB experience). Check out Sully's video here: bit.ly/E6_AFR

True SSO- we built a SAML plugin for E6 that will work with any idP out there that 'speaks' SAML 2. It just works, as I like to say. 

Better Navigation- We're always looking for how to bump productivity and ease of use. We added in the ability to navigate up through higher levels using the breadcrumbs along the top. Little triangles of joy I call them. The developers try and tell me stuff like "it's built with AJAX, so no page load hit", but I just nod my head and enjoy the experience.

little_triangles_of_joy.png

 

Internationalization- It's a global world, and people want a familiar touch. We fully support any and all date formats automatically, based on your browser's settings. If you're in the US, you see month/day/year. If you're in Europe, day/month/year. Text is easily customised too, everything can be translated usng a simple text file.

InPress plugins compatibilty- We wrote E6 with an eye towards openness and ease of integration. All InPress plugins are fully compatible with E6, as are all WebNative Basket plugins. 

Documentation- We're documenting everything on our online docs, usually the same day a new feature get's released. Click the help button on any page, and you go right to the correct help page for that subject.


   


 

    So, start the new year off right, and push that 'update' button in Elegant6.  Or,  jump the E6 install  line by dropping us a line - helpdesk@napc.com . Make the subject "E6 install" or "I need me some E6" (fastest response for that one), and the installation elves will get cracking.

    

              Make your users happy. Make your work life better. E6.

 

 

 


 

Awesomeness, reborn. Elegant 6 for Xinet is out!

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 @ 05:48 PM

Tags: Elegant, DAM, Xinet Training

I’m incredibly excited to report the release of Elegant 6. It’s been a long, strange trip from it’s origin over 10 years ago as ‘Green’ - a simple, intuitive DAM interface for casual users.


Many of you have seen previews from the last couple webinars we’ve held, and some of you have been Beta testers (huge props to the Beta team!). For the rest of you, here’s what you can expect:


Performance- It’s fast. Really fast. Our Engineering, Performance and Metrics team have said it’s waaaay faster than Elegant 5, Exhibit, or anything else Xinet out there. That’s a technical term, of course.


Ease of use- we stripped out as many doodads as possible, removing buttons and confusing options for the user all over the place. Everything you see on the screen that is text is customizable, so you can make the buttons say what YOU want. Makes internationalization a breeze too.


Mobile friendly- Out of box we’re multitouch compliant. Pinch and spread away, the interface will zoom in and out, just as you’d expect. Sweet for quick reviews from the road.


Ease of use also translates into more feedback. We’re providing feedback all the time- from adding files to baskets, to browsing into empty folders, you always know what’s going on. And the new interface for uploading files is “light years ahead” (another technical term) of the current. No more users cancelling big uploads, or closing windows before their time.


Send supermail from the finder! Yep, a user can be browsing from the mac desktop, highlight some files, and send links to them without having to go to portal and repeat the operations. “Amazingly useful” is the least flattering comment we’ve gotten on this one.


12000% improvement in file management. OK, that’s an approximation. But real, robust file management through Elegant’s web interface is here. And it’s awesome.


Easy color theming- using online tools like Painstrap, it’s simple to create a color scheme to die for, and then slide it into Elegant 6. See previews of the new look  in the interface as you are applying and fine tuning. We got more than a little applause from the community for this one.


There’s dozens and dozens more, of course. Since we started from scratch it’s built with modern tools, making support a breeze. There’s a self updater, so you can see what’s new in the latest and upgrade yourself to get the latest feature set. We also built it so anyone with CSS skills can change the look and feel without having to pore over a Portal manual, and climb the steep learning curve of legacy software.


We’ll be in touch over the coming days and weeks, working with you on getting you into the future right now. Feel free to drop a line to helpdesk@napc.com with “Elegant 6 install” in the subject, and we’ll move you up the list (you deserve it for getting this far in a blog post!).


Here’s some common questions:


Any downtime for the install?

No, ‘course not.


Do all my users need to switch over right away?

Nope. Elegant 6 and Elegant 5 live next to each other.  E6 doesn’t even need portal to run, believe it or not. It’s that different!


Will my Elegant plugins/ custom CSS/ custom javascript port over?

Sadly, no. Given the vast difference in the code base, these kinds of things need to be recreated from scratch. That being said, we’ve included in E6 a ton of the plugins we’ve built over the years.

 

 

Is there a video I can watch?

Yep- right here: http://bit.ly/elegant6release

 

 

 

How much does this cost?

 

If you’re currently under support, Zilch. Zip. Nada. This is what support should go to- modernization and better code. We hate fixing bugs and retrofitting code too. So upgrade, and make your life better, already!

 

5 things you didn't know you could do with modern Xinet!

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 01:21 PM

Tags: subject matter, Best Practice, Archiving, Buying DAM Technology, digital asset management, NAPC blog, metadata

                             Dollarphotoclub 65554378 resized 600

Everyone's busy. It feels like everyone is treading water, just trying to keep their heads above the surface. With the deluge of interruptions and understaffing, not to mention new corporate mandates, it's hard to stay current with the technology you already own.

Let NAPC help! We're holding a webinar this Thursday, Feb 26th. "5 things you didn't know you could do with Xinet".

We're going to show modern search with real world examples, Pilot coming to the rescue in a variety of situations, some new automation possibilities, as well as a little bit on modern archiving. All of these are geared towards real world situations, making the user experience better while taking load off admins. Oh, and a sneak peek at the next generation of NAPC's products (Don't tell anyone).

So, grap a cuppa, and join us at 3pm Eastern this Thursday, while Sully and I take you through the hottest and coolest in modern Xinet. Click the link below to register. We'll even send a calendar invite to make your life easier.

Register

Archives, Archives, who's got my Archives?

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 @ 03:35 PM

Tags: Xinet, DAM Systems, Xinet server DAM Systems, digital asset management, Ad Agencies, DAM, NAPC, data, data management, digital asset protection

We were all thrown into a whirlwind of activity with North Plain's (NP)  notice this year of the End of Life of SGL's FlashNet for Xinet. Here's the State of the Nation with regard to Archives:

In the immediate near term there's a great new archiving solution using modern software. The builder of the integration has a long history of writing to exactly this space, and his current tools allow restores from FlashNet as well. For the medium term, we can help you setup a system that will give you easy access to archives using the familiar tools, while you restore as much legacy archives as you feel needed. Long term- you restore files using the base FlashNet software, for as long as you can find hardware that will support the tape technology in use at time of archive.


SGL's FlashNet is going away, and in it's place we'll be relying on Archiware's P5 Archive. This backup software is robust, modern, with a hugely enhanced toolset, and a long history or being present in this exact space of Graphic Arts. We're excited by the options and capabilities it presents, from hyper-intelligent backups to much better hardware support, to a modern web-based interface. Archive to Disk? check. Perpetual intelligent incremental backups? check. Ability to offload backup off primary disk to either other disk or tape? check. It's great stuff, and we can't wait to help you getting  it in place and using it.

FlashWeb and it's recent replacement WebNative Archive are going away, being replaced by InPress' OnFile. InPress has been building solutions for Xinet for forever, and has a rich history and understanding of how to write robust code for the ecosystem. They have hundreds and hundreds of instances of InPressive and Accelerator out there, and a great tool set that enhances the Xinet experience. NAPC has been doing business with them for years, and are really excited and pleased by North Plains choosing of InPress as the heir to building out the interface between Xinet and Archive. Jorgen and Co. are well on the way to an initial release that will fulfill the common need- an easy way to find archives, submit them for restore, monitor progress, or ask an admin to restore files.

The other large concern we've been facing is how to ensure continued access to legacy archives. SGL's licensing machine is going dark next summer, so if there's a HW failure that requires a new license, one won't be available after that, which is a crippling prospect. We've worked out with NP a strategy for setting up a legacy restore server: a separate, static Xinet setup, one that has a small license but full access to archives through the web interface, to allow for easy user restores while a larger restore operation takes place. We're envisioning this as a small older server (or VM) with the older tape library attached.

In the longer term, for 'deep' archives that weren't worth the effort of restoring in bulk, you'll be able to attach a standalone drive to an even smaller box, and restore the very occasional file through the much beloved X interface. There's never been a license needed for FlashNet to restore through a single tape drive, licenses are only needed to drive a robot or to use the higher level functionality.

We're all over this- we understand the value and need for robust archiving and access to the lifework of your company. Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, etc..., etc....

rob

We can help- Active Directory

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 11:59 AM

Tags: AD, Active Directory, Centrify, Unix

I'd like to start a discussion regarding the many offerings we can provide to make your life easier, more productive, and more secure. One area we excel in and can help you out with is Active Directory Integration, Security and Auditing.


Active Directory is wildly popular in the enterprise, and with good reason. It's arguably one of the best products Microsoft has come out with. A single point of entry for new employees, permissions, and security, it's a great way to make sure you know who has access to systems, that password security meets a standard, allows users to be turned on and off centrally, and it 'just works'.


NAPC has partnered for years with Centrify, the leader in Non-Windows AD integration. We've been using them for Unix integration since they first came out with their world class solutions, and they just keep getting better. You probably know of us and them from your Xinet server. We also have been doing Mac desktop integration (Centrify leans on us for this expertise when they need implementation !). Check out our video on easy rollout of desktop macs to get a sense of what can be done, in addition to the basics-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHrvZiYEZaE


That's just the tip of the iceberg though. Centrify and NAPC can provide data-center wide services- helping implement AD integration across all your *nix systems. There's a very powerful suite of permissions tools included, so you not only get a stable central authentication structure, you also get an easy way to put 'like' servers into admin groups, and assign rights for users and groups to multiple servers simultaneously. This is tremendously efficient. They have the ability to apply sudo permissions as well in this way, all through an easy, intuitive interface.


On top of this, there's even a great story for Windows servers. Centrify gives reporting capabilities that AD itself doesn't. The suite includes much finer grained abilities to search for idle users, accounts, and machines. We've had people fail SOX audits, and been shown the tool in Centrify that  would have caught the exceptions beforehand. And with automated reporting, you can show the auditors you're trapping for this now, and there's no more examples of it. Talk about looking like a hero!


Another example of what can be done is ongoing auditing of systems. You can load a very lightweight client on any Unix or Windows machine that will actually record screen captures of a users actions. That way, if a system goes down, and an Admin or service provider can't remember exactly what they did, you can watch a video of them typing, mistyping, pushing buttons. This helps you from a SOX auditing standpoint for allowing remote providers in, but also allows you to understand exactly what was done that broke the system. This is hugely powerful, not only to speed up recovery, but also from a training perspective for your admins.


This just breaks the surface of what the tools are capable of. Please feel free to reach out and ask what else can be done, or if you have specific needs, or just feel like you could be doing more on the security and auditing front. Odds are, there's a solution that can address your needs, get you home on time, and sleeping soundly!


To our Northeast and Mid Atlantic customers

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Fri, Nov 02, 2012 @ 02:25 PM

Tags: support, knowledge, DAM Systems, Xinet How To, Linux

As our region recovers, we hope you and your families are safe and sound. Our thoughts are with the communities that have been hit the hardest. We want you to know that NAPC will stand with you as the recovery effort continues.

Your systems have been designed for resiliency and should come through just fine upon restoration of utilities. We'd like to offer some common suggestions on re-powering equipment to minimize the effort required to get back in business.

Once you're back in the building and ready to start powering up the systems, work from the outside in-

Power up the Tape library, fiber and ethernet switches.
If bound to directory services, make sure the DCs and DNS servers are up and running
If your raid has multiple chassis' daisy chained off the head unit, power those on first, and wait for them to come up and settle down to a steady state (usually a few minutes)
Power on the Raid controller, and wait for a few minutes again, until it's settled down and is fully up.
Finally, power on the Production server.
Your Portal server can be turned on at any point through the process.

Please let us know if there's anything we can do to help you through this crisis and recovery.

Xinet WebNative Suite 17 released - want it?

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Thu, Dec 01, 2011 @ 08:23 PM

Tags: Xinet, DAM Systems, Adobe, Asset Browser, Searching with DAM

Exciting news this week from the DAM front: Xinet released their much awaited upgrade, WebNative Suite 17. It seems every nook and cranny of the product has something new and luscious in it. Details here, but I gotta give an overview:

  • Massively reworked search engine, producing both faster results and more flexible criteria
  • Text content searching across a wide variety of document types
  • Richer Asset Timer, with even more built in functionality
  • Fine grained administration delegation, allowing security and delegation (all within the familiar Xinet GUI)--Screen Shot 2011 12 01 at 8.21.19 PM
  • 3D CAD file support 
  • Versioning from within the Adobe Suite
Great stuff, and we're pumped. As always, we're looking for smart early adopters; customers who want to get their hands dirty and finish quicker than the competition. 
If you're interested, give me a call at NAPC HQ and we can discuss moving ahead with the latest and greatest dynamic Digital Asset Management software out there. If you're not an adventurous soul, we'll start a push to get everyone upgraded and reach out to you as the year goes on.
We'll also start populating our online training site, flatheadu with videos describing the new functionality in WebNative Suite 17 , and how to get the most from it. We look forward to our second hundred videos on the site!