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Files found fast: How Extensis Portfolio makes asset management simple

It’s something every creative can relate to. You’re working flat out in a race against the clock when suddenly, disaster strikes – you can’t find that image you need to finish the job. Locating it manually could mean a deadline missed. But luckily, Extensis Portfolio makes fishing out files an easy, speedy process...


Mike Laskey

US-based software firm Extensis is behind the secret weapons in many a creative’s arsenal. Whether it’s Universal Type Server, which provides font management for larger teams, or the geospatial image compression tool GeoExpress, their products provide practical solutions to challenges that might otherwise slow work down.

It’s Portfolio that our designers have used most frequently, though. By creating a repository for all your assets with relevant keywords and metadata, it effectively indexes files in a much more user-friendly way, ensuring they’re easier to access whenever they’re needed next.

That automatic keywording is particularly impressive. AI-enabled image recognition and metadata extraction can save users tons of time, picking out the important features of your files that are likely to contain precisely the phrases you’ll search for them with lately. (Of course, you can still add your custom metadata fields for keywords specific to your organisation or industry terminology, a process sped up by batch tagging functionality.)

Portfolio also excels when it comes to uploading assets and working with them in other applications. Files can be added simply by dragging them into Portfolio, or alternatively by mapping the already-organised folders housed on your network. Once uploaded, you can conveniently drag and drop them between Portfolio and your folders, your desktop or supported apps including big-hitters like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator or Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

Conversion’s covered, too. You can resize an asset to a lower resolution or convert it to another file format from within Portfolio itself, opening up plenty of self-service opportunities to save your creative teams’ time. And it isn’t just images – Portfolio also works with videos, audio files, documents, graphics and even large satellite or aerial images, with support for new file formats being updated regularly.

But enough about the features. What’s Portfolio actually like to use in the real world?

We spoke to some of our marketing colleagues to hear how they’ve taken advantage of this popular digital asset management solution.

Designer Simon Curd, who often works on our video projects, said: “Essentially, Extensis Portfolio allows us to browse through all of the assets on our server – and there are loads – to find things much more quickly.

“Often, I’ll be looking for imagery, so seeing search results displayed with thumbnail images makes identifying the right file so much more convenient. We catalogue all our projects with a unique job number, so with Portfolio, it’s just a case of searching for that number and seeing all the files related to that job. There’s no need to manually find the project folder, and it means files don’t get lost if they were accidentally stored in the wrong folder previously.”

"Seeing results with thumbnail images makes identifying the right file more convenient."

For fellow Designer Xenia Spray-Smith, speed has proved the main benefit. Xenia said: “I’ve used Portfolio several times a day, every day – it’s absolutely the fastest way to find a picture you know exists but can’t quite place.

“With the team working from home for nearly a year now, accessing our primary server via a VPN and not being able to just shout across the office to ask where a file was saved could have slowed things down. But Portfolio has meant I can just quickly type in a keyword and find what I’m looking for in seconds.”

"I’ve used Portfolio several times a day, every day."

Simon added: “I also like the advanced search options, which are handy when you’re struggling to find a very specific asset. You can use multiple search parameters, like stipulating that you want something that contains X but does not contain Y, to really narrow down the results and locate that needle in the haystack. And you can search for a specific file type as well, which lets you see only your Photoshop or Illustrator files at a glance.”

Liana Phillips, Head of Design & Brand, concurs. “I find it so useful, for both specific and general searches. We organise our work into quarters and months, so remembering where a certain image lives would be much harder if we just had to use Finder on its own.

“For example, with Portfolio, I can search for ‘Photoshoot AND iPad’ and see all the images from any photoshoot folder that has the word ‘iPad’ in its name – even if that photoshoot was a few years ago. It’s just way quicker, especially when you think we have hundreds of thousands of assets on our hands.”

"I find it so useful, for both specific and general searches."

There are benefits for non-designers, too. Copywriter Hina Malik said: “One of the smartest things about Portfolio is its ability to search within a document, as well as for a document.

“If I was given a print-out but knew nothing about its history, I could run a search for a specific sentence and Portfolio would be able to find it. It removes the need for guesswork or to run a time-consuming process of elimination, and it can make rediscovering the sources for old statistics that you’ve referenced before a lot more painless.”

"It removes the need for guesswork or to run a time-consuming process of elimination."

Extensis Portfolio had long relied on Adobe Flash Player, which Adobe ended support for at the end of 2020.

But while legacy builds of some Extensis software are still interwoven with Flash technology, the good news is that the latest versions of Portfolio (and Universal Type Server, too) are Flash-free, so new subscribers don’t have to worry about the risks of corruptions or a lack of patches.

It’s also extremely affordable, with subscriptions to Portfolio Professional (for small creative teams) priced at £440 ex VAT per user per year, and subscriptions to Portfolio Enterprise (for creative teams of any size, and including extras like single sign-on, API, MediaEngine and Netpublish) costing £680 ex VAT per user per year.

For any creative team looking to save time and hit deadlines with less stress, Extensis Portfolio definitely comes with our own first-hand recommendation.

And you can also get a quick analysis on whether Extensis Connect – the cloud-based digital asset management tool – would fit with your team simply by taking a quick survey.

Interested in Extensis Portfolio or other Extensis solutions? Give our experts a call on 03332 409 204 or email all the latest news, follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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