This week at the Adobe MAX conference, we at Silicon Publishing are proud to release our first Open Source framework. Called "LotusJS," it's the brainchild of our Software Architect, Dorian Smiley, the culmination of more than three years of focused effort. We're confident that it will be quite useful to many around the world – and we hope to attract a growing community of collaborators who can bring it to even greater heights.

Seven years ago, Silicon Publishing stumbled into an opportunity to connect Adobe InDesign to remote assets in a very powerful and efficient way. Through the work of our developers, several of whom were part of the original team that built Adobe InDesign, we were able to make a very direct connection from InDesign to remote assets via URLs. Since that time, InDesign DAM Connectivity has become a significant part of our work.

While other approaches rely on technologies such as WebDAV, which is known for latency and headaches, our direct approach has proven itself to be far more efficient, and is now the way that most leading DAMs handle such connectivity. We have over 25 DAM partnerships so far, with more on the way.

This post talks about 10 of the DAMs we've encountered, which happen to represent a great cross-section of the DAMs out there today. First, I will share an overview of what DAM is, heavily borrowing from the wonderful work of DAM guru Theresa Regli, whose book Digital and Marketing Asset Managment: the Real Story about DAM Technology and Practice is an essential guide for anyone in this space.

I write blog posts and create an ever-expanding amount of marketing content for our company. I often have to find free stock images, and I am impressed with how good the public domain offerings are getting. Here are the sources that seem to rise to the top.

Things to watch out for

Before getting to the sites, I should note that copyright law is important to follow and there are certainly different forms of "free" license. Public Domain Sherpa and Creative Commons provide great information about license types. Generally speaking, I prefer "free to use, including modification, for commercial use, without attribution" but I consider attribution if that's all that's available. In any case, it’s important to know which license you are using. "CC0" is nice as it doesn't require attribution.

Enough watching out, here are the sites...

The Flight InDesign Plugin that we developed a year ago is getting renewed attention recently, including an update for 2017 and new, easier, installers. I spoke at the Canto DAM Summit last week, and in preparation I explored a new cool feature that we're slating for the next release, made possible thanks to the gradual evolution of Adobe CC Extension technology. Related to that is a better way of expressing the value of our core Silicon Connector technology, which can be seen by looking in a bit more detail at the other, bad alternatives to it. Below is my presentation from the Canto DAM Summit Americas 2017.

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I recently participated in a presentation at Dscoop Phoenix with three companies that I've known for over a decade: Pageflex, XMPie, and Marcom Central. We had joined a "Composition Engine Panel Discussion" with web-to-print luminaries Jen Matt (of web2printexperts.com) and Chris Reisz-Hanson.

It was quite an honor to be on this panel, but an even greater honor has been the opportunity to work with these companies' rendition technologies since they first came on the scene. I have been involved in solutions involving all four technologies, and I've met the developers critical to the success of the underlying rendition codebases. These range from: FusionPro, the composition engine under Marcom, which dates from the 1980s; to PageFlex, the PDF rendition library from BitStream also originating in the 1980s; to InDesign, dating from the late 1990s. InDesign is the engine that we and XMPie use - it was created in part by our staff.

Adobe InDesign is the tool of choice for page layout, yet it is a relatively old piece of software, originating in the late 1990s. While InDesign has a concept of "links", its initial approach to graphic references was fundamentally that of desktop software prior to the age of the world wide web. Concepts of linked text in InDesign have evolved slowly over the past 15 years.

A link in InDesign is not, by default, a URL, as one might expect of today's programs. Instead, InDesign links are pointers to assets that are local (on the physical drive of the computer running InDesign) or available across the local network (via a network share). A simple plug-in (our Silicon Connector) can bring InDesign into the modern age, where true URLs enable cloud-based workflows, but we'll get to that later.

Historically, Silicon Publishing has delivered publishing solutions across a gamut of communications channels. In the first place, our Silicon Paginator product (first released in 2005 as the "XML Formatting Engine"), is a platform for flowing data through InDesign templates. As in traditional XML publishing, Paginator generates web, email, print and mobile app output from a single rendition-agnostic content source (or from diverse, orchestrated, content sources).

Multi-channel rendition, connectivity and interfacing are persistent themes in our practice, ever since the late 1990s when "multi-channel" became a buzzword to deer-in-the-headlights printers faced with the need to generalize into "communications" from the too-physical, too-easily-commoditized, craft of print.

I remember a channel called "CD-ROM" and now face channels such as "WebVR", "IoT", and "geolocated social" - the only constant is change.

Silicon Connector for Box 2.0 is finally available! When Silicon Connector for Box first came out in 2013, it was designed to let InDesign users access assets in the Box cloud directly. Since then, the Connector product has become so popular that we've added Connectors for 10 other DAMs/storage platforms. We have gotten continually better at extending Adobe Creative Cloud technologies, and we have now applied that experience to bring integration between Adobe CC and Box to an entirely new level.

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It started with a naive InDesign user

Silicon Connector first saw the light of day in 2010, when we at Silicon Publishing were building a large-scale online editing solution for a major client. Our solution was based on Adobe InDesign and Adobe InDesign Server, which were brand-new to this tech-savvy and ambitious organization we were working with. Although the client instantly understood the superiority of InDesign for page rendition and output quality, they looked at InDesign with very fresh eyes and came up with a big feature request.

“These links are barbaric!” said their brilliant technology lead. “They go to the file system, not to URLs as a real link should in this day and age.”

I was thankful to attend Drupa 2016 and spent most of my time in Halls 7 and 7a looking at the range of online editors from around the world. The following five online editing solutions stood out for me from among the 15 or so that I explored.

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