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|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 images. 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: http://www.extensis.com
|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.|
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 below 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 have 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.
Creating a Catalog: This process
is very easy and can be done with a Welcome to Portfolio window when 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.
Item Properties: You can view all the information available about an individual item from 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 displayed, 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:
Searching the Catalog: You can search for Catalog items by examining the items in any of the Gallery views, 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, Portfolio 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: Portfolio Catalogs consist of a number of predefined fields. These system fields, such as 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.
Searching 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: You can highlight your Catalog thumbnails by displaying them in the Gallery window with Thumbnail 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. 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: 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.
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.
|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!|
|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