Are your digital assets liquid? Can you easily move them from one system to another?


Borrowing another finance term, liquidity for digital asset management is how easily digital assets can be moved and converted from one system or format to another. One aspect of DAM liquidity is the ability to move an entire collection of assets from one system to another. You and your company have and will continue to invest much time creating and organizing files into a DAM. Therefore, the ability to copy or move that work to and from other systems in its entirety is important for safeguarding that investment.

You might want to import and export files and metadata en masse when setting up a new DAM, expanding an existing DAM or during a migration to a new system. During an initial setup, existing databases and spreadsheets are often imported and used as a starting point when possible to avoid reentering data.

Expanding and integrating DAM with other systems like content management systems, museum collection management, e-Commerce and even other digital asset management systems creates further efficiencies by automatically pulling and pushing information between the DAM and other applications or databases. Eventually, you may need to move from one DAM to another if your existing system no longer meets your requirements for capacity or functionality.

However, the process of DAM data migration can be complicated depending on how your DAM is configured. The key to efficient data portability is the mass migration of assets as opposed to migrating data in groups or individual records -- no one wants to click the “download” button 20,000 times just to get their files back. Therefore, it’s important to understand the tools and options available for bulk data migration with DAM.

Get the Original Files

When files are added, the DAM needs to store the original file somewhere. The original file itself is usually stored inside a folder on a disk somewhere or sometimes as BLOB within a database. If the DAM is saving original files within a folder you can access -- in an unencrypted and un-obfuscated format -- migration of your original files should be as easy as a copy and paste. If the original files managed by the DAM are not stored in “regular” folders you can access, check for tools or features within the DAM to batch export or download files in their original format.

Now that you have all of your original files, you have the first half of your data. Let’s turn to getting the other half -- metadata.

Use Embedded Metadata

If metadata like keywords, descriptions and other fields are being saved into the original file, congratulations! That information will travel with the original files when they are copied from one system to another. If your metadata has been embedded to file, sharing between systems should occur automatically if they are both configured to support the same standard (typically Adobe’s XMP).

Export Metadata

What if you weren’t embedding the metadata or migrating non-standard metadata? DAM systems often have tools that import and export metadata in tab delimited or XML format. When importing into a DAM, these tools often require a unique key (typically the file name) that matches in both the source and the destination systems (a benefit of a good file naming convention).

Access via SQL

If your DAM is storing catalog data in an SQL server, the data can be accessed using database tools like SQL Server Management Studio, Eclipse or MySQL Workbench. In addition to file metadata, you may be able to access a thumbnail of the original file stored as a BLOB in the database. Although acceptable for one time data transfers, the downside to directly accessing data from a back-end database is that basic programming skills are required, the database may not be documented well, and direct access or modification of the database may not be supported by the vendor.

Access via an API

A better alternative to direct SQL database access is using an application programming interface (API). An API will allow the same level of back-end access, but often with better support and documentation. API is a preferred method for ongoing data exchange between systems since upgrades are less likely to break custom-made scripts and programs for sharing data.


As technology evolves, asset collections grow and workflows change, the need to share information between digital asset management systems and other systems becomes increasingly important. The tips above can help you protect the investment you’ve made in DAM by ensuring digital asset liquidity.

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