We are on the cusp of releasing Silicon Connector for Box version 3.0, ten years after the very first version. As we take the product to new heights, we’re getting more serious about documenting it and sharing it with the world. As part of that process, we just made a simple video describing the basics of how to use it.
We anticipate greater collaboration with both Adobe and Box in promoting this Connector. We do this with the thought in mind that our audience so far has been very sophisticated. They were InDesign workgroups who struggled with using the two products. They knew that they needed a third party tool.
This second video shows our Connector from a slightly different perspective:
We are learning from our partners that we need to reach out to organizations less focused on the technology. Many companies use software “as is,” not even imagining that great applications like InDesign and Box are extremely extensible. Third party developers like Silicon Publishing use this extensibility to make such products work together, in ways not directly built into the products themselves. This is particularly powerful within specialized use cases, for example Marketing departments with Design teams working in the cloud.
The rise of Box
When we met Box in 2012, we were already building Connectors from InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator to various DAMs (Digital Asset Management systems). Creatives using InDesign found challenges when moving to Box. Moving between two different systems can really take time. They would look for assets in Box, download to their local drive, then link to them in InDesign. But they were often linking to copies of the assets in Box. This could lead to many copies of linked assets. What if, for example, 100 documents used the company logo? This would take considerable manual effort to update each InDesign file to point to the new logo asset.
When I met the Box team, they were in “startup” mode, focused on growth, with a very broad and horizontal target market. To the extent they focused on specific niches, they were aiming at business users, intending to comply with security standards such as SOX and HIPAA (back then, regulated industries were often very resistant to the cloud). When I asked their COO why they didn’t focus on creative workflows, he said “when you have 20 million users, you find yourself in all sorts of niches you know nothing about.” Yet they had seen enough creative workgroups that they came to us to improve what appeared to be an obscure sort of workflow.
InDesign extensibility and URL links
As I’ve explained elsewhere, InDesign is extremely well-architected, with extensibility built in from the ground up. We at Silicon Publishing have been fortunate to bring on several of the original creators of Adobe InDesign, so we know the very insides of the application. In 2010, we began to build Connectors that leveraged some of the deep, low-level functionality within InDesign to facilitate true dynamic linking with remote assets. During the CS3 and CS4 period, Adobe had actually built the plumbing inside of InDesign that made this possible.
We quickly built the first Silicon Connector for Box, which was well-received by many organizations who found that it dramatically improved their efficiency. It avoided redundant copies of assets, and it offered “single-source” authoring capability: hundreds of documents that pointed to a single logo file in Box could be automatically updated to the latest version, because the link was truly a reference to a Box URL.
Box comes of age
At its inception, Box did not have much of a partner program, and they were moving rapidly towards their goal of taking the company public. Marketing departments were not their first priority; their focus was on growth. The Box Connector was not our most popular product for creatives. The true Digital Asset Management systems like Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, Photoshelter, and Bynder were almost entirely focused on designers and creative workflows.
Over time, however, Box has steadily improved with respect to the features that creatives need. The metadata improved, imaging improved, they saw more and more authoring workgroups, and the product became much better suited for creatives. Again, third-party tools like Connector take it that last mile. As of now, Box is being used successfully by some very successful ad agencies and corporate marketing departments.
These days, as an established public company, Box has become more formal and process-oriented: they now have a robust partner program which makes it easier for companies like ours to connect to their customers via their partner ecosystem.
Adobe doesn’t sit still
Meanwhile, Adobe has made it possible for us to improve the quality of our plug-ins and extensions, as they have made a big push to take extensibility to even greater heights. We have an ambitious roadmap for the coming months, leveraging both new extensibility features (such as UXP) and some of the now-available integrations that have developed directly between Adobe and Box. We believe that Box will serve creative workflows better and better over the coming years.
I would encourage you to try our Connector and let us know what you think. You can download it here (you can check back over the next week for the 3.0 release):