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

Video: An In-Depth Look At Xinet Pilot

Posted by Robert Sullivan on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 @ 11:47 AM

Tags: Xinet, digital asset management, Xinet Pilot

Xinet Pilot from FlatheadU on Vimeo.

I blogged about the new North Plains, Xinet Pilot, when it first came out and we've had a few inquiries about it's configuration and functionality. Xinet Pilot is a Desktop Service. North Plains' description is an evolution from the Asset Browser feature into a Xinet-aware media browser for Mac client desktops. That's the fancy speak. I just call it awesome!

They further explain that Xinet Pilot runs on the client as a service, no longer restricted to working within the a Adobe application. And that's the awesome part: Freedom from the individual applications!

I provide a look at Xinet Pilot in our latest Flathead U video. Comments and feedback are always welcome.

Tutorial: Installing Xinet Elegant Plugins

Posted by Michael Carusi on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: Xinet, Elegant, Xinet Plug-ins, Xinet How To

In a previous blog, we discussed NAPC developer plugins for Elegant. These plugins allow you to modify an Elegant site in a less intrusive way. The goal is to allow site's your modifications to work or be easily ported across major new releases of Elegant admin/portal. Plugins reduce the need to wade through the templates for any changes you may have/need to make. Additionally they allow you to enable and disable customized features on a per site basis. This will give you more granular control over your end-users experience.

This quick tutorial will walk you through the three step process of installing Elegant plugins to enhance your Xinet functionality.

WARNING: Do not install a demo (30 day trial) plugin on a production server. It will halt production if it expires!

Installing a plugin is easy. Simply log into elegant admin as nativeadmin on your portal server: http://your-portal-server/elegant_admin/ Be warned: You need a web browser that supports HTML 5 (this tutorial uses FireFox version 20.0)

On the homepage, you want to click the button to the far right called “Manage Plugins”. It will take you to the plugin screen. After that you can follow the steps below:


Step 1: Click Install Plugin

elegant plugin

 

Step 2: Click and drag the Plugin to the grey area. You should see a loading bar and a green checkmark when it’s completed the install

 elegant xinet plugin

 

Step 3: Refresh the page and make sure the plugin appears on the list

 

elegant step 3

That was easy, wasn’t it? Congratulations: You’ve successfully installed your new Elegant plugin. If you’ve taken a look at existing plugins but we aren’t offering functionality that you would like to see, contact us to make a plugin request.

The Archive to the Cloud: A Sunny Process

Posted by Mike Gershowitz on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 @ 10:52 AM

Tags: Xinet, digital asset management, cloud software, Amazon S3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud Storage

The idea of taking your finished goods, project files, or other files you don't think you'll need ready, and sending them to the ‘cloud’ has gained tremendous steam over the past several years. Historically, the archive environment blended itself very well to maintaining databases, dealing with hierarchies and storage, especially as discs with more space became commercially available.

Unfortunately, the archive has always had some big problems:

-People need to buy new technology to replace legacy technology, not only creating an upfront cost but causing learning curves.

-The archive creates significant capital expense.

-Large archives inevitably create red tape, which there is significant marketplace pressure to avoid.

The historical kneejerk reaction is to simply buy more discs, but this leads to the archive’s biggest weakness: Disc space grows exponentially because archive data never goes away. Disk storage is more expensive than other media types (i.e.: tape), increasingly difficult to manage, and put you at risk even with an effective disaster recovery plan. Having this massive trove of data somehow backed up or stored in a secure facility isn’t a great answer because you lose easy access.

NAPC believes that the real future is a shift to a cloud storage module with it naturally and conveniently trackable by Xinet, leading to the whole concept Amazon is propagating with its array of cloud storage services.

Approaching cloud resources as part of a hierarchical storage management (HSM) environment will provide highly-leveraged benefits. You’ll be able to define business rules based on how much you archive, how frequently you archive, and how much time from the date you archive to the date you upload. You can put rules in place to automatically manage this information and keep the vast preponderance of your data in the least expensive location. When you need to simultaneously convert a large amount of data, you’ll be able to tap Amazon’s ability to transfer as much as 16 terabytes at once from the discs. Everything will be meticulously maintained by Xinet’s database.

If you can accept a four-hour wait to get your data back, Amazon’s Glacier service is extraordinary cheap (just 1-cent/Gb/month). Keep in mind you could easily spend more than 4-hours sifting through massive, unorganized archives and NEVER find what you need. Cloud storage, including Amazon, is represented by cheap pricing with wonderful enhancements of everything being online.

Amazon promises reliability and access, and some people have raised concerns over Amazon’s reliability, but really: Amazon is one of the most successful web companies ever. If you aren’t going to trust your web storage with them, who can you trust?

At NAPC we’ve embarked on a project working with our own Sean Kenny. Sean builds a very comprehensive step that we expect will take everyone into account who uses any integrator, Xinet or otherwise, BrandControl, took into account things like first period of time that someone archives from live to a final resting place, is your highest possibility of needing it back, incorporated the ability to initially put the archive data into the much more live on demand Amazon S3.

Offline information will show up as offline. Everything shows up as the same environment from a user’s perspective to search and browse, to determine for certain it’s what you want, and to automatically request a restore. You avoid additional infrastructure and IT costs and you eliminate the need for creating secondary copies of all your backup discs and storing them in a secure facility.

At the end of the day, here’s what cloud storage nets you for a very modest price: Support, software configuration, a storage fee, and making the cloud a natural extension of the business environment. Perhaps most importantly, your business looks like real thought leaders to potential leads. Who doesn’t like spending less money for even better results?

Pilot Seat: How Xinet Pilot Liberates Users From Plugins

Posted by Robert Sullivan on Thu, Jun 06, 2013 @ 11:10 AM

Tags: Xinet, DAM Systems, digital asset management, Xinet Plug-ins, DAM, Adobe, Asset Browser

Xinet

Xinet Pilot is a Xinet-aware media browser that will replace the Asset Browser plugins, and a quick look shows it works extremely well so far. North Plains describes it as a powerful hybrid of web browser and production navigation technology that provides Xinet-related tools within creative media environments.

Instead of an Asset Browser plugin, Xinet Pilot is a service that runs directly from the desktop. By launching it once, you can use it across Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign seamlessly. You can drag and drop files from the Xinet Pilot into the three Adobe programs, but you can also upload files to the server and apply metadata on the fly.

The really exciting part about Pilot's upload ability is that it will respect the Template Permission settings for Uploader, Enabled and "Required". So it will work like the Uploader Application in that respect, that we can set data fields to be required. Great! But unlike the Uploader Application, Pilots uploads are limited to singular assets. That's right, one asset at a time. (So far)

North Plains has said that they’ll be “depreciating” Asset Browser plugins and migrating to Xinet Pilot. North Plains has also promised to evolve Pilot in future releases and it will support Adobe Creative Cloud. I'm speculating that people are going to love Xinet Pilot and the first feature requests are going to be for multiple asset uploads.

There's not a lot of configuration options in this first release, but I imagine that will be coming also. Not everybody likes the 'executive black' background. North Plains is rightly taking the approach of providing the right user experience and tools now, and hopefully providing aesthetics in those later updates.

If you haven’t climbed into the pilot’s seat yet, you should.

Flathead U Tutorial: Filtering Based on Metadata Values

Posted by Michael Carusi on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 03:53 PM

Tags: tutorial, Xinet, how to, Xinet How To, Portal, Xinet Training, online DAM training, metadata

Filtering Based on Metadata Values from FlatheadU on Vimeo.

 

Like all great universities, Flathead U offers summer courses long after everyone has put their learning caps away until September. We know that it's just as fun to continue education. Our latest update to the Flathead U discusses filtering based on metadata values. If the value matches the users primary group on an asset or folder, then the user can see and search for it. Any asset that doesn't have a matching value is filtered from view. This video has a lot to talk about, so kick back and enjoy learning!

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!
 

Active Directory services in a heterogenous environment:

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 @ 06:11 AM

Tags: Mac, OSX, SOX, Compliance, Security, Xinet, AD, Active Directory, Linux

Once in a while, we find a great tool that solves a big problem, quietly, effectively, and efficiently at an affordable price.

Enter Centrify, a tool that puts all your Linux, Mac and Unix  platforms under Active Directory services. It solves your SOX compliance, security, and auditing requirements, letting you manage and verify all your platforms with minimal effort.

For our customers who operate a Xinet production environment, it brings both the server and the desktops into the AD realm.

We’re aware of two approaches to implementing Centrify in Xinet domains.

One reduces your initial  license cost, but adds some complexity, reduces functionality and is unsupported by Centrify. We don't do this. It does save some upfront costs, and reduces the annual maintenance.

Obviously, we think that approach is deeply flawed.

We’ve built a robust practice around implementing Centrify as a stable, flexible and fully supported tool. Centrify sets a very high standard. Would that all software worked so well.

What's Your Favorite Trigger Action in WebNative Venture

Posted by Robert Sullivan on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 @ 10:15 AM

Tags: WebNative, Trigger, MySQL, Xinet, Venture, Suite 16

 
I just got back from a road trip to a new client site. Training is getting so much more
involved as the programs have more and more built in functionality. Xinet always 
seems to have multiple ways to accomplish whatever your task might be. The jump
to Suite 16 is big, and aside from the newer version of MySQL ( It's version 5 now )
and all that new power, we now have a combined web GUI for FullPress, 
WebNative and Venture.

We're expanding training classes to include several more exercises within each 
application for a more 'hands-on' experience during training. It's true of learning any
new skill, the more you can touch it, the easier it will be to remember later on in
real world situations. We're creating challenges that have more than one way to resolve
and the trainees can use any means available to them to complete the assignment.

I'm finding that there are favorites as far as Trigger Actions. Mine use to be the
'setdatafield' Action. As of last week my new favorite Action is the
'inherit-parent-metadata'
Xinet has a sample of it on their web site and it's proving to be very cool. So I'd like to
do a very unscientific mini survey. You can answer here with comments or email
me directly.
What is your most used Trigger Action in Venture. And...
is there something you "want" in an Action.
Please let me know.

-Sully
 

Staying Current on Support

Posted by Robert Sullivan on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 @ 11:28 AM

Tags: support, Xinet, XMP, Adobe, metadata


I ride dirt bikes and recently incurred a 700 dollar repair bill on my sons bike.
What? What was the cause of this? It's a two stroke motocross and the engine had
seized up, which is not all that unusual, but we had done a new top-end not all that
long ago. So why had it blown again so early?

The 'real mechanic' I brought it to explained that pump gas has changed drastically
from what the engine was designed to run on. But the bike is only four years old..!
Pump gas these days is going Greener with at lease 10% ethanol or more, and is so
oxygenated that it burns hotter, expanding the rings tighter around the piston...
you get the idea. Ring-ding-a-ding, goes to bwop-bwooooop... silence.

As back yard mechanics working on dirt bike engines we hadn't done anything wrong with
our top-end. The gas we run had changed and we didn't ever realize the consequences.

I had an issue last week that drove home the importance of staying current
with system wide support. My customer was having difficulty with XMP metadata
that was not showing up in Venture. This was for XMP fields that were working
correctly not that long ago. Venture syncs were also not showing the field values
either. The first instinctive question is "what changed?" And the answer is
"we're not doing anything differently." Like me with my dirt bike.

Xinet engineering had me activate fpod vlog per a specific tech note which will
create a special output file. Copy on a questionable file again and watch for it to
show up in the log. Verify that the XMP data is not showing in the browser and then
run the syncxmp command in debug mode to capture what the sync is actually doing,
or having issues with. Verify if the data still doesn't show up and send the logs and
sample file in to them for analysis.
They came back with a new syncxmp binary file to slip in, and this was the resolution
to the problem.

I inquired with Xinet engineering about the 'why' and 'how' questions having to do with
the metadata not showing up in Venture. Xinet replied that from their perspective,
the issue had to do with a non-compatible file: specifically,  the jpeg image that I
had sent, which caused syncxmp to fail with these errors:

syncxmp(87535) malloc: *** error for object 0x512060: Non-aligned pointer being freed (2)
syncxmp(87535) malloc: *** error for object 0x512390: double free

Now this error is gobbly-gouk to me. I would have thought a pointer being freed was
a good thing, but I'm not a code writing engineer for several reasons, which is why I
have a very defined escalation path.

The way they "fixed" this was to test my sample file against a newer build of syncxmp,
from the new Suite 16 code, which incorporates some newer XMP libraries provided by Adobe.
In short, the newer Adobe libraries resolved the issue.

So as far as my customer was concerned, they were "not doing anything differently"
But apparently Adobe was. The problem came from the fact that Adobe doesn't stand
still. Ever! They continue to evolve and improve their XMP libraries and those
changes were not recognized by the Xinet version my customer was running.
This is the intrinsic value of having support. We were able to update to a newer
binary to stay current with the ever changing world.

So even though you may not be doing anything different... Change Happens!
My dirt bike solution is to run race gas. The world keeps changing around us without our
consent or input and will not wait for us to adapt or catch up. The leading edge is really
not all that far ahead. But by falling behind, the distance becomes huge and costly.
So stay current with good support.
And if you ride dirt bikes, check your gas.

-Sully