Portfolio 4.0

"Taking the Pain out of Cataloging"

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge it. Use your browser's "BACK" button to return to this review when done.
Type of Product
Portfolio 4.0, by Extensis Corporation, is an easy-to-use cataloging tool that allows you to organize all your creative work into libraries that can be browsed. You can take images--including graphics, presentations, movies, sounds and other digital media files, even documents--that you or members of your workgroup create and put them into common catalogs. Then you can view, edit, copy, and retrieve items from the Catalog and transfer them to other documents, regardless of file format, location, platform, or applications that created the files. It's quick to view and retrieve images in the Catalogs because they only store the thumbnail images of the file (along with whatever additional information you require), rather than the full document or image. There is no limit to the number of items a single Catalog can contain. You can attach an unlimited number of keywords to images to help you easily search for an item. It is also possible to attach a description that lets you store important or useful information about the file. And unlimited custom fields make searching for data very easy.

PC Cafe uses it to catalog images from the reviews as we have amassed a quantity of imagSamplees. And we usually have duplicates of images in various formats. For instance if we create an image in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe ImageStyler, we save it in that format and then we save it in another format depending on output: if it is to be placed on the Web, printed, a JPEG, or a GIF. We then save these images to a CD and can locate them easily, in the format we want with search commands. To the right is a screen shot of a Catalog we created for our review of Extensis PhotoFrame.

Price: $199.95, Upgrade $69.95. The program comes in a Windows and a Mac version. Extensis has a variety of products: PhotoTools, PhotoFrame, Intellihance,VectorTools, QX-Effects; QX-Tools, PageTools, Preflight Pro, Preflight Designer, BeyondPress, and Portfolio. For information on their products, see our other reviews of Extensis software. We used Extensis PhotoFrame and Adobe Photoshop for the section headings for this review. Extensis has an excellent Web site were you can get information, examples, and tips on their products:
User Level
Advanced Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced users. This is a great tool for an individual or workgroup who creates, stores and retrieves images, sounds, movies or other file types. Workgroups can use it to locate and distribute files to others in their organization; catalog publishers can use it for publishing from databases into layout templates; content vendors will find it helpful in distributing their photographs, illustrations or movie clips for sale; and individual artists or photographers who maintain portfolios for prospective clients will find it invaluable. A user just starting out with cataloging could use the default settings. Intermediate and Advanced users can customize to their heart's content.
  • Client/Server Access (New)--Portfolio 4.0 and Portfolio Server 4.0 combine to provide enterprise-wide asset management across TCP/IP networks. (Portfolio Server is a separate product.)
  • Scripting (New)--The program can be scripted using either AppleScript or Visual Basic to create custom solutions, including Internet publishing, automated database publishing, automated data import and background cataloging.
  • Fully Scalable (New)--Clients can function on their own, peer-to-peer and in a full client/server environment. Portfolio 4.0 clients never require replacement within a Portfolio 4.0 workgroup when it is time to upgrade to the Portfolio Server. Many other programs require different clients for standalone and client/server situations.
  • Thumbnail and Keyword Extraction (Enhanced)--Extract from image files the thumbnails, keywords or other text embedded by image-editing applications.
  • Web Catalog Publishing (New)--Use scripting to publish Catalogs on the Web and make them available to anybody with a Web browser.
  • File Translators (Enhanced)--Over 30 included file translators let Portfolio users view virtually any file type without needing the original application.
  • Create Custom Fields (Enhanced)--Create unlimited database fields to thoroughly manage your assets. Customize your Portfolio Catalog to track the data crucial to your specific workflow.URL
  • Clickable URL Field (New)--Launch hyperlinks to Web pages in a Web browser directly from Portfolio, so you can go straight from a Portfolio Catalog to a location on the Internet. The image to the right is a Sample Catalog from the CD that shows links. The hyperlinks for Extensis Corporation takes you to their Web site. The hyperlink for David Reynolds takes you to the Internet and opens an e-mail window.
  • Importing Data (New)--Import data from other sources for total asset management.
  • Quickly Assign Keywords (New)--Create an unlimited number of keywords and assign them in any combination to the assets in your Catalog.
  • Search with Complex Criteria (New)--Lets you search any combination of keywords and fields as narrowly or broadly as you need.
  • View Files without Applications (Enhanced)--Portfolio's file translators can display most popular file types without needing to launch the original application.Export
  • Export to HTML (New)--Create custom Web pages from Portfolio's Galleries either as they appear on screen or using your own HTML templates. The image to the right is a Catalog that was exported and made into a Web page.
  • Customize Your Views (Enhanced)--View Catalogs and Galleries in list, thumbnail or new record layout. Display any combination of fields for unlimited flexibility.Borders
  • Thumbnail Borders (New)--Add custom borders to the thumbnails in your Catalog. I put a blue border around the my thumbnails in the image to the right.
  • Splash Screen (New)--Add your own custom splash screen shown when a Portfolio Catalog is opened. Common examples include a company's logo or project title.
  • Slideshows (New)--build custom presentation slideshows from the current Gallery.
  • Administration (New)--Protect your Catalog with four different levels of access control. Assign passwords to secure each access level.

Installation & Manual: The installation process is straightforward and easy. Extensis always includes a variety of demos, free software, and sample files on their CDs, some installed with the regular installation and some not.With Portfolio 4.0, there is a sample Catalog, sample borders, and scripting extras, along with QuickTime, and Acrobat Reader if you need them. The Manual is thorough and graphical so you get a feel for the program. And every time I thought I understood a feature, I would go back and read the pertinent sections again and learn something new. So it doesn't hurt to read or review the manual a few times.

Interface: The interface is intuitive and easy to work in. You have a Menu Bar, with a Toolbar right belPlain Interfaceow it, at the top of the window and a workarea or Gallery as it is called in Portfolio, in the middle. The Toolbar gives you quick and easy access to the commonly used functions and options. Each time you open a Catalog a Gallery window is opened automatically. When viewing catalog items in the Gallery you are actually viewing the information contained in each item's record, such as the item thumbnail, description, and keywords.

Gallery Views: You havCustomize Viewse a choice of three Gallery views: Thumbnail view, List view, and Record view. You can easily switch back and forth between views. Each view can be customized to show as much or as little information as you require. And you can customize the way thumbnails are displayed--changing the display size, adding background colors, and even thumbnail borders.

  1. Thumbnail View--displays Catalog items as thumbnails, with item information dispThumbnail Viewlayed below the thumbnail. It shows the number of items that are displayed in the current Gallery window out of how many total items are in the Catalog.

  2. Record VieRecord Vieww--gives you the ability to see more information about a Catalog item than you can easily see in the other views. You can scroll the Record list to see additional items.

  3. List View--displays Catalog items as a list, allowing you to search quickly bList Viewy name, and/or location. You can specify what information will appear in the columns; thumbnail, keywords and description for the selected item are always displayed at the bottom of the window.

Creating a Catalog: This process is very easy and can be done with a Welcome to Portfolio window Drag & Dropwhen you open the program or select "New Catalog" under the File menu. You choose a name and location and then either drag and drop items or use the "Add Items" from the Catalog menu.You can select whole folders or individual files. The image to the right demonstrates the drag and drop method. I displayed Windows Explorer and Portfolio side-by-side and dragged items onto the new Catalog. This method is also great for displaying and copying images into another program such as Photoshop.

Galleries: You can create multiple Galleries to display just a few or all cataloMultipleged items; drag and drop items between Galleries; and save Galleries by name for viewing at any time. ThiSaved Gallerys allows you to have a large number of items in a Catalog, yet be able to limit the view to a small number of specific items. And you can add, rearrange, and delete items from Galleries without affecting the items stored in the Catalog. You can also have multiple Galleries and Catalogs opened and viewed at the same time. In the image to the right, the first two sections show the Sample Catalog but with two different Galleries opened. The last section is another Catalog that I created.

Item Properties: You can view all the information available about an individual item fromProperties the Item Properties dialog. This view is helpful when you want additional information. You can also edit the item's keywords, description, and custom fields from the Item Properties dialog.

Catalog Options: When you add items to a Catalog, the Cataloging Options dialog is diCatalog Optionssplayed, allowing you to choose a variety of options for the cataloged files. You can select the default settings or customize them. You can change the options at any time either when the dialog box is displayed during an add or update, or by choosing "Cataloging Options" under the Catalog menu. There are three tabs across the top of the dialog box:

  • General--you select a Modification method; Path as Keywords; Thumbnail Quality; and Thumbnail size.
  • Rules--lets you select rules when adding and when updating files, such as Extract Keywords and Extract Description.
  • Mappings--gives you the ability to extract text data that is embedded in a source file's fields other than the standard Description and Keywords fields.
  • File Types--you can tell Portfolio to skip files of a certain File Type or Name.
  • Exclude Strings--you can exclude files with a specific File Name by creating an "exclusions" list that specifies an explicit set of file names or patterns.

Searching the Catalog: You can search for Catalog items by examining the items in any of the Gallery views,Find Dialog Box or you can use Portfolio's Find function. You can search any field, including Custom fields and keywords. By giving you a variety of ways to search, PortfolioComplex Search enhances its practicality for different types of users. If your Catalog is small or you're looking for ideas, you could start by looking through the whole Catalog. If you have a very large Catalog or have a general idea of what you're looking for, you might want to look only at items related to a particular subject or concept, or a particular file type. If you're in the final stages of a job, you probably know exactly what items you need and you can go directly to them. You can enter a single search description for a simple search, or choose "More Choices" to perform a complex search. The image to the left shows the Find Window and a simple search. The image to the right shows the options for a more complex search.

Custom Fields: PortfolioFields Catalogs consist of a number of predefined fields. These system fields, such Custom Fieldsas Filename, Path, Created and so on, categorize the file information for each item in a Catalog, allowing you to search for specific items based on that information. You can define Custom Fields to hold specialized information about Catalog items.

SearMasterching Using Keywords: A keyword is a word or phrase that you associate with a particular item. Each Catalog item can have an unlimited number of keywords associated with it. Item keywords are available for display in every Gallery view so that you can easily see which keywords are assigned to an item, and have easy access to other items with the same keyword. You can create a master Keyword list for your Catalog to help maintain consistent keywords among the items in the Catalog, or across Catalogs.

Borders:Blue Bevel Photo You can highlight your Catalog thumbnails by displaying them in the Gallery window with ThumBorderbnail Borders. Any bitmapped image (PICT, BMP) can be used. You create your border design, copy it to the system clipboard, paste it into the Edit Borders dialog, then select it in the Thumbnail or Record tab of the Customize Gallery dialog. I used the blue border image to the left, which was a sample on the CD, and applied it to a Catalog, which resulted in the image to the right.Transparent Border Portfolio looks at the center pixel of the selected border image and sets that as the designated transparency color. This allows you to create borders that behave like a transparency mask, allowing the background to show through certain areas of the border design. Wherever the transparency color appears in the border image, the background is allowed to show through. So you can designate areas of the border image as transparent by coloring them the same color as the center pixels of the border image. To the right is an image of the Define Border dialog box with the Extensis Slide Border. By painting the four corners of the Border image the same color as the center pixels, the gray background in the Gallery can show through at the corners of the Border, creating a "slide" effect.

Exporting:EditExport The Portfolio Export to HTML function allows you to export Catalog items as Web pages for posting on a Web Server. You can specify either that the HTML pages produced will be based on the items and the layout of the currently active Gallery view, or you can specify that Portfolio export the pages using a custom HTML settings file (Template). The Export dialog box is the image to the left and the HTML edit dialog box is on the right. This was a fun feature. The one drawback is that you can't export your wonderful borders for the Web pages.Slideshow

Slide Show: Portfolio lets you create slide shows from your Catalog images (not thumbnails) that can run automatically--with the images being advanced in specified intervals--or that can be manually advanced.

Personal Comments
This is an excellent program for anyone who wants to efficiently keep track of their images. Portfolio 4.0 was another program that I thought, "Oh well, this review should be quick. The program just does one thing: cataloging. It's a practical application and necessary, but probably boring." Boy, was I wrong. This is not just ordinary cataloging. It is Cataloging with a capital "C." I read the User Guide and played with the basic features. One thing led to another. I read the section on custom borders and thought, "I have to try that." I found the examples from the CD and used those at first. Then I had to make my own. Then I read the section on border transparency, and of course, had to try that. The same thing happened when I read the section on exporting. I started exporting a Catalog using the default settings and then had to create custom settings. And of course, I had to play with the Edit HTML dialog box. Another feature I like about the program is you are not wedded to your first Catalog "till death do you part," or until your computer crashes. You can start out with just the default options and then customize the Catalog as you go along. The program is powerful and probably overkill for someone with just a few images they want to organize, but if you are serious about cataloging, and want to enjoy it, this is the program for you!
system Requirements
Processor: 486, 33 MHz (Pentium, 133 MHz recommended)
Operating System: Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0
Memory: 32 MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 20 MB

Graphics: Extensis PhotoFrame & Adobe Photoshop
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page
Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series