October 29, 2009

Picture Management in SharePoint 2010

Digital asset management is something of particular interest to me.  For those of you that aren’t aware, at Envision IT we have a number of products for image management.  You can see them at www.envisionit.com/products.  So naturally I was very interested in what was new in SP2010 for image management.

I’ll save the image management changes with respect to web content management (WCM) for another post (there’s lots there too).  Here I want to focus on the changes to the picture library.

For those of you that are familiar with picture libraries in MOSS 2007, you may understand that they were really second class document libraries.  Things like major/minor versions and content approvals didn’t exist in them.  Ever wonder why the Images and Site Collection Images libraries in the MOSS publishing template are not picture libraries, but rather just document libraries.  Unfortunately that means you lose the great picture library features like automatic thumbnail and web-friendly image generation, and picture metadata extraction (like image size).

For SP2010, they’ve given us the best of both worlds, and gone beyond.  Not only do you get first class management, with full support for approvals and major/minor version, but you get all the picture library features.  Not only that, but Microsoft has apparently gone much further in the metadata support.  Most digital images have rich metadata, such as aperture and exposure information, camera details, and even GPS information on newer cameras.  All of this is supposed to be supported, although I haven’t experimented with that yet.  I bought myself a new Canon Digital Rebel last Christmas (someone has to buy you cool Christmas presents), so I should do some experimenting with that.

One other big difference for picture libraries is support for data view.  This may not sound like a big deal, but for anyone who has wanted to update metadata like title, description, and keywords on a large library of photos knows it can be a painful process one at a time.  I haven’t found the option in Beta 1 to do this, although I did find the checkbox in the Advanced Settings to allow datasheet mode.  Setting it to Yes didn’t seem to help, so perhaps this will be a Beta 2 feature.

The last thing is a slide show mode for a picture library.  This is a JavaScript slide show that takes you through the pictures in a library, and shows you some of the metadata on it.  Here’s what it looks like.

Not bad, but for high-fidelity sites like public web sites, it’s just not going to cut it.  We’ve developed a Silverlight Photo Viewer for SharePoint (http://www.envisionit.com/Products/Pages/SilverlightPhotoViewer.aspx) that gives you similar functionality (sure we have a few more bells and whistles), but the main difference is the richness of the interface.  The example below you can see live at the Shops at Don Mills web site at http://www.shopsatdonmills.ca/en/custom/Pages/PhotoGallery.aspx

For those of you familiar with Silverlight, you’ll know that there is a lot you can do with Expression Designer and XAML to create very rich interfaces.  Silverlight is something else that is big in 2010, so I’ll have to post more about what we’re doing there.