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Are there any common tools that are used to store Icons Images and graphics for a company wide audience?

As a programmer I would store everything in git so people could update it and track the history. I feel like this would be a poor place for all the non technical users who want to access say the company logo for powerpoints etc. So is there something better than sharepoint confluence or a shared drive for "official" icons graphics and images.

Pretty much what is a good repository for all audiences to find official Icons graphics and Images?

Goals

  • Modifying or updating the list of icons is possible
  • Some way to searching
  • Being able to see a visible view of the files (as opposed to just file names)
  • Suitable for non technical users

Lastly is UX.stackexchange the right place to ask this?

  • Thanks I first started off googling solutions and then I stepped back and thought, "hmmm I have never seen this done great at a variety of companies". I was hoping that there might be a startup providing a better solution or maybe there is something I just havent thought of yet. – Frank Visaggio Nov 3 '14 at 20:23
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    Great question! I think this question on software recs SO softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/10346/… is very close, maybe you will find some thoughts there too. – Preexo Nov 4 '14 at 6:31

11 Answers 11

13
+50

Excellent Question.

Our company have multiple teams in different offices working. We've tried a lot of things... nothing is "ideal".

The biggest issue seems to be that the company as a whole must pick 1 tool/structure, let everyone know about it and commit to using only that.

Different teams are familiar with different tools and our "grass-root" effort of resource repository led to multiple tools being used and us not knowing whether a resource is up-to-date or where specific things can be found.

Anyways, here's a list of tools that we've tried with pros and cons for each.

SharePoint

Pro

  • corporate "secured" data source
  • file checkout control management is good for multiple teams keeping the resources current

Con

  • terrible web UI
  • Not Mac friendly when it comes to pulling or pushing large number of files onto/off a remote server.
  • non-specific usage: other stuff is also saved into sharepoint. Tons of folders means people don't know where to put things. Duplicates folders exist, no clue which is the most recent or whether stuff you want is even available. (could be a "my company" issue)

Dropbox

Pro

  • easy, no need to worry about remembering to uploading stuff it's always up to date
  • good for smallish teams, very little setup and maintenance required

Con

  • corporate IT hates that data is not secured within the company
  • People accidentally dragging files to their "local" work folder instead of copying. There is the "undo delete" option in dropbox, but this doesn't work well for omnigraffle or other mac "folder" files
  • version control issues. Not good if multiple people are making changes at the same time.

Google Drive

Pro

  • search everything
  • version control, history
  • easy sharing & can revoke sharing options
  • good for small teams
  • Edit: can auto sync files like Dropbox using desktop client (Thanks @TheCloudlessSky for the tip)

Cons

  • data not secured within the company

Code Repository e.g. Git

Pro

  • version control
  • readme can act as folder "description". Helpful for determining what files are found where.
  • can be secured by corporate IT

Con

  • non-tech savvy folks aren't happy learning how to access/update resources. No-go for most multi-department companies

Wiki / web-based pattern & styleguide libraries

Pro

  • wonderful for providing descriptions for outlining marketing/branding requirements, styleguides etc for use of resources.
  • take it one step further and you get pattern or styleguide libraries: e.g. http://ux.mailchimp.com/patterns
  • can be secured by IT

Con

  • most wikis are terrible for searching for uploaded files
  • uploading/downloading is a pain
  • libraries take effort to maintain
  • 1
    Re: Google Drive. You can use the desktop clients to achieve the same effect as Dropbox. We use it quite successfully to do just this. – TheCloudlessSky Nov 4 '14 at 1:14
  • the thought behind everyone using the same tool is that way the official image repo is just that official. If everyone is going to different place for iOS android and banner company logos they are more likely to get out of sync and are more of a pain to update. awesome post +1 ! – Frank Visaggio Nov 4 '14 at 14:51
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    @TheCloudlessSky Didn't know desktop clients can do so, updated the answer. Thanks! – nightning Nov 5 '14 at 0:14
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    Also consider that some of these solutions, such as Google Drive, give special permissions to the owner such as determining who is allowed to access it. If that owner ever leaves the company, you have to make sure that the owner first transfers ownership to another person or all the stuff might become inaccessible. Dropbox might have this problem too, depending on how you set it up. – Thunderforge Nov 10 '14 at 15:54
7

SharePoint is the spawn of the devil and should be avoided at all costs due to the vileness of it's UI in general but...

...it actually meets all 4 bullet points of your needs and is typically installed in most every corporation in existence.

So...it's an option. Not ideal, but common, and to be fair, SharePoint is actually OK at a few things. Maintaining a list of files is actually one of these things it's OK at.

Beyond that, you have an infinite range of options.

On one end, you could all just share a Google Drive or DropBox folder. That's pretty easy.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could have a full-blown custom built corporate style guide web site completely with a repository of searchable brand and UI components.

A version control system can work as well...however, these systems can't do a whole lot with binary files other than save the latest version. And you are right, it's not ideal for say, the marketing department to use.

  • I am not a huge fan of sharepoint however after being at multiple companies and never seeing a conistent or easy way to share & keep track of this type of media I was wondering if there is an "easy way" or industry standard I may have missed. – Frank Visaggio Nov 3 '14 at 18:23
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    "Corporate IT" and "Easy Way" are typically contradictory concepts. In the larger companies I've worked at, the 'easy way' is to go ad-hoc skunk works and do everything off the network via something like Google Drive. Obviously not the best solution for buy-in from the company as a whole. – DA01 Nov 3 '14 at 18:45
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    I am remaining neutral on SharePoint's paternity, but I have found Office 365's SharePoint to be much improved in terms of Web UI when compared to past versions. It's still nowhere near great, but I'm pretty sure that's because it aims to solve so wide of a problem-space that a pretty UI is simply too much to ask for. What I have a more difficult time defending is the means of administrating it. I'm a developer for God's sakes and I can't figure out how to do anything without reading a mountain of documentation. but other than that, it's great! lol. – David Schwartz Nov 4 '14 at 1:19
  • Does Sharepoint has a bad UI even today? I thought MS' modern UI should have fixed it. – John Isaiah Carmona Nov 4 '14 at 9:06
3

The best practice would be to set up something similar to the Atlassian Design Guidelines or Google Materials Design site and have a section in there dedicated to visual design elements (i.e. incorporate the Corporate or Brand Guidelines into a design framework document).

I believe that UX assets is something that has to be maintained organisation wide and have visibility to all members of the organisation so that they can all understand and contribute to keeping the user experience consistent across both digital and non-digital products and services.

A challenging but very worthwhile exercise, highly recommended to any organisations that is taking UX seriously.

2

I recommend TortoiseSVN for this job, because I think you'll be happiest in the long-term if you are able to use a true version control system (e.g. Subversion), and I think the fact that Tortoise is just an extension of Windows Explorer will make it the easiest sell to the less technically-inclined.

If you're leaning more towards SharePoint, take a look at OneDrive for Business that comes as part of Office 365. It works just like DropBox, but with a Web UI implemented using SharePoint. It's not particularly impressive on its own, but it's worth mentioning because you get both a SharePoint installation you can customize like any SharePoint installation and simple cloud storage like DropBox.

If I were you, I'd be wary of Git. I have yet to see a presentation that didn't feel like I was at Hogwarts' school, whispering mystical incantations into the command prompt to do very ordinary things. The tooling is obviously better now so you may be able to get away with it. I would just be concerned that if anyone noticed you using a command prompt during a demonstration, your attempt to bring sanity to chaos would end immediately.

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    there are in fact easy-to-use git guis such as SourceTree out there – msp Nov 4 '14 at 7:34
  • @msparer +1. That is in fact a beautiful GUI, thanks for sharing. I'll try it out. But this is one of those times where there's that one middle manager in the meeting going "What the hell are all these columns and lines? Let's just set up a **** file share and be done with it." That's why I'd still stick with SVN. The non-technical people only need to be taught check-in/check-out procedure. Even SourceTree makes very prominent the branch graph. Great for developers, but I can imagine getting a lot of pushback. – David Schwartz Nov 4 '14 at 9:38
  • +1 great idea for TortoiseSVN used it years ago and forgot about it. I definitly need to consider Sourcetree tortoiseSVN and maybe TFS (we use TFS a lot more than GIT) so a non TFS approach might have some pushback from IT. I am just not sure if TFS would work well or at all for this. – Frank Visaggio Nov 4 '14 at 14:54
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    There is also TortoiseGit – darthmaim Nov 6 '14 at 12:09
2

Confluence (a wiki) is actually pretty decent. Images can be "uploaded" with a simple drag and drop and you can organize them however you like. Confluence's search is also very good.

2

Our company has recently run into the same sort of problem, and an option we're currently looking into is Digital Asset Manager (DAM) software.

From a DAM vendor's site:

A Digital Asset Management tool would typically be expected to provide the following list of generic functions:

  • Organizing digital assets
  • Manipulating digital assets (converting, merging, collating)
  • Searching for a digital asset
  • Verifying the integrity of digital assets
  • Delivery and distribution of digital assets
  • Securing digital assets - including copyright protection mechanisms
  • Backing up digital assets

There are also apparently a number of open source DAMs out there.

2

I really like the idea of using a version control system on media files, but I can see some of the limitations it would bring to the table. If that option is truly out of the question, my go to solution for media storage is a CDN (content distribution network), for the following reasons:

First, it is accessible (nearly) everywhere. No pesky authenticated network issues, or VPN for that matter. The files can be searched, secured, or a GUI (typically web-based) can be built to display all of the media in lists or preview form, depending on the CDN you choose. AWS Security Example.

The number of people that actually need access to the raw media (psd, ai, pdf, mov, mp4) files for editing purposes is likely less than the number of people that might want to use the subsequently generated media (png, jpg, pdf, webm, ogg). The number of people that understand the corporate style and brand guidelines is also most likely limited to the team of people that need access to the raw files, so those can be stored in a different location on the CDN.

Want version control? You can have that too with some CDN solutions. AWS S3 Versioning. They also, typically, have access logs which can be invaluable.

If a hosted solution is not in your budget, there are open source CDN solutions available. Though the cost of CDN hosting is extremely affordable compared to the time and cost associated with having to manage a CDN server. MaxCDN Pricing, AWS Pricing

Last, but not least. Storing your media on a CDN makes updating files in production environments (for web) as easy as dropping in a new file of the same name and the file is replaced. Branding for internal documentation is also a breeze for web-generated PDFs which would also be accessing the CDN for media references. The "last mile" so-to-speak, would be Microsoft Office flat documents, but this will be the same problem with almost every solution. They will need to be manually updated. Until you ditch them and use PDFs for everything that will be distributed.

Chances are good that if your company has a web presence, it has (or should have) a CDN anyway. If two birds with one stone sounds like a win, I'd say look into it further. I have tried to provide more than just Amazon Web Services links, but it is what I use and what I'm familiar with. My perspective is slightly skewed, but I wouldn't hesitate to suggest looking at as many options as you can before deciding on any solution.

  • great idea +1, did not consider this until you mentioned it. – Frank Visaggio Nov 10 '14 at 19:13
2

How about using Apache Jackrabbit, it is open source and you can create your own UI for it.

In case you are not interested in creating your own custom UI, you can go with Alfresco but if you want more than the community edition, it will cost you. Also with Alfresco you get workflows.

  • awesome contribution I have never heard about jackrabbit before. looking into it now – Frank Visaggio Nov 10 '14 at 17:16
1

I think a shared network drive would work fine for this. Git is nice if everyone who needs to access those assets is familiar with it, but a shared drive would work fine otherwise since you could just seamlessly blend it in with their file manager which they (probably) already know how to use.

  • The problem with file managers is that everyone manages files differently. Any web-based solution should offer optional WebDAV access or something similar, though. – Crissov Nov 11 '14 at 7:46
  • I was concerned about network drives and duplicate files. mind you no solution solves the duplicate file perfectly. For example if i have a 96 by 96 angry birds logo for iOS, and one already exists there but i cut it from a a psd and name it something else it will be there twice. Mind you nothing really solves this scenario perfectly. – Frank Visaggio Nov 11 '14 at 14:56
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As no one has suggested ownCloud so far:

It is a similar to solution as dropbox and google drive, except that it can run on a system owned by your company. Like dropbox or google drive it has

  • Limited version control/deletion reversal
  • Supports searching of files
  • Images have thumbnail previews and videos can be viewed within the web UI
  • Has a desktop client for automatic synchronization
  • Easy to use for non-technical users (aside from server setup itself)
0

An awesome solution to this problem that was developed to conquer this issue is Smartimage by WIDEN. I happened to discover after my company made an acquisition I found out they were using this to solve this exact problem!Its described as

Cloud-based, Smartimage makes your brand assets accessible to be viewed, shared, and downloaded – from anywhere, at any time. Smartimage is built for small businesses who don’t need the functionality of a true digital asset management system but need a simple way to centralize and share images quickly and efficiently. more info on their site

The workflow I gather from briefly using it was the following

  1. upload the images from the mobile app or desktop (it will guess at generic keywords for each one and descriptions)
  2. modify the keywords and descriptions for each image
  3. you can browse based on categories or search by tag
  4. you can also share links to files or collections of files

Its kind of like a dropbox youtube and sharepoint all merged. I was going to say that it really seems like it was developed for this problem but it actually was.

The video describing Smartimage

Heres some screenshots from their youtube video

enter image description here

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