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Thursday, 25 June 2009

How to get Digital Asset Management to report image details

The Digital Asset Management (DAM) capabilities of UCM are powerful and kick-arse, but often misunderstood. Unfortunately it has a non-Oracle dependency that limits its effectiveness and could cause your management to shy away from implementing it. DAM is supposedly able to plug into any image conversion software but it turns out that it has a dependency on the ImageAlchemy converter. After converting an image, it asks ImageAlchemy to do a report on each image rendition - the size, filetype, dimensions etc - that cannot be reconfigured. Without ImageAlchemy that useful information is lost.

ImageAlchemy is not free - it costs thousands of dollars to purchase. If, like me, you are unable to convince the boss to purchase this non-Oracle add-on you'll find yourself relying on alternative software for conversions. Anything should work just fine - but you have no image information.

ImageAlchemy does offer a free demo version but it is crippled to only convert small images so it cannot be used. It turns out that although the ImageAlchemy demo won't convert images, it can still perform the reports; it just appends a "buy now" disclaimer to the output. If you try to use the demo with UCM, just for reporting, it works fine - except the extra disclaimer message at the end causes UCM to fail the conversion.

The solution is quite simple. Configure DAM to use whatever conversion software to generate images, but set the <$ImageAlchemy$> variable to point at a shell script. Tell the script to accept two parameters - the image filename and a report flag. The script should accept the parameters and execute the ImageAlchemy demo, but instead of just printing the output to the console, pipe the output to a file. Then get the script to output the file to the console but stop at the disclaimer. Eureka! The reporting is complete and the conversion is successful. There is one little hiccup - ImageAlchemy can't read filenames over 80 chars, so make sure your script changes the image path.


  1. One other thought is that you ought to be able to use Image Magick's "identify" application (with the right flags) for this inspection step. I seem to recall there being a rich set of controls over the output from identify.

  2. DAM requires the inspection output to be in a very specific format. The "identify" application output is too different. You'll need to use ImageAlchemy. Not sure about how 11g handles conversions.

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