Manual: NetPublish has its own manual (paper and PDF versions) - the NP manual
Portfolio NetPublish Server. Formal name for the project, and the folder name for the app install on Mac and Windows.
What is NetPublish?
NetPublish, more formally Portfolio NetPublish Server, effectively replaces v6's PortWeb and is an additional Portfolio module for which allows web-publishing of catalogues. This provides a read-only web browser access to Portfolio catalogue data and more (viewing/downloading originals). Unlike PortWeb, NP is not free. Although describing it as a Portfolio 'module', i.e. part of the Portfolio product family, NP is in fact a separate application. It is a server application for IIS 5/6 on Windows (2k/XP+) or Apache on Mac OSX (10.2+). Unlike PortWeb, which is now withdrawn, the NetPublish application is formally supported by Extensis.
Why is NP not free like v6's PortWeb
Actually, originally PortWeb was pay-for. It just didn't get much development after initial launch (or users didn't buy it) so it became free and unsupported. NP is not free but it is formally supported by tech support (except for what they term 'custom' use - helpfully not defined anywhere!). NP has a lot more than PortWeb and whether you find the pricing agreeable, NP certainly deserves some return on development costs for Extensis. It is worth checking out and NP hosts, where the costs are shared by users, are coming on stream.
Aren't there several different NP versions?
Sort of - the marketing information is none too clear! There is in fact one application "Portfolio NetPublish Server", with 4 different functionalities - a demo and 3 grades of pay-for licence. Regardless, they all use the same installer and install an application called "Portfolio NetPublish Server". The difference between NP 5-user, NP Unlimited and NPS is the cost of the licence and what the licence allows you to do; no licence = demo version. The key difference of the NPS licence is it is the only one that will allow web serving of Portfolio Server-served catalogues, which by inference also includes all SQL-based catalogues (v7 introduces additional new SQL modules for MDSE on Windows and mySQL on OS X). In the basic NP once 'web published', the NP-served catalogues are stand-alone assets from their parent Portfolio catalogues. If you want changes to your catalogue made via the Portfolio client to be immediately live via NP then you'll need the Server version. One exception (sorry!) to this rule is that if the client, web server and NP app are all on the same PC (or I guess Mac - not yet tested) the catalogue can be served live; don't try going to admin mode via the client while the site is served though. I assume this local 'served' mode is possible as that TCP/IP communication bit normally involved between the modules doesn't arises as the calls are internal to one computer.
It should be noted that Extensis have considered the need to update catalogues and the basic NP version supports 'refreshing' already published stand-alone web catalogues by only uploading changed data. On further investigation this only relates to preview and/or original files uploads; updating a stand-alone catalogue means uploading the catalogue. The rules determining when/if images are uploaded has not been revealed but may be as simple as comparing file OS date stamps. The VB/AS scripting interfaces may support automation of this 'manual' task. There is certainly a VB TLB for NP, but it is undocumented as yet (as at to v8.0.0).
There is one slight problem in all this. The NP installer is not available for anonymous download as a demo from the Extensis site but it is on the install/demo Portfolio CDs or else contact your local Extensis office US/Europe and ask how you may obtain a copy (my hunch is they'll mail a demo CD).
Can users download images?
Yes. Exactly what users can access depends on how you configure/write your templates. In its most open form NP users will be able to download the original of any record in the catalogue (in v8 Gallery-based sites they can only access records in the source gallery). There are tools to allow creation and download of (smaller) jpg/gig/png proxies of the originals. Using templates configured for collections, whole collections can be downloaded as a single file. This is done as a 'ZIP' file (Win/Mac) or 'SIT' file (Mac). The file is just a wrapper - no compression is applied; thus a collection of 5 x 5MB files will make one 25MB ZIP. If you prefer not to give access to actual files via NP, read on below.
But what if I don't want people to access my originals?
Then you don't let them. This area has been the source of some misunderstanding. The fact that you can web publish in about 7 or 8 mouse-clicks doesn't mean this 'default' is what everyone needs. Just because you are able to do something via NP doesn't mean you always should. I recommend you open the NPA and walk through all the stages to see what sort of options are on offer. Then sit down and review what you want your site to do. If you don't need to use originals in your site, just don't use those options and don't upload any originals. It really is very simple!
How many catalogues can I serve?
There's no limit as such - most likely your server hardware will be the constraint you'll hit first. The basic service unit for NP is a 'site'. A site can contain one or more catalogues. In order to be used in NP sites, every catalogue must first be published via the NPA after which you make manual edits to the NP configuration files via NP's admin dialog. Each catalogue has its own unique 'alias' (familiar to PortWeb users) within the site. This systems allows a site to allow searches across more than one catalogue. Conversely it allows any NP catalogue to appear in more than one site. Although not actually stated in the documentation is seems a catalogue can also appear in more than one site. This gives scope, for instance, for per-customer sites with an admin site for the owner with all customers' catalogues available. Note that for cross catalogue searching to work, all catalogues in the site must have the same fields - important is you use custom fields as these may differ.
Can I serve only some records from a catalogue?
In v7, NetPublising a catalogue makes all its records availalbe via the site. As of v8, individual galleries may be published. In this mode, the whole catalogue is served (or uploaded) but, significantly, any queries via that site are constrained to only records in the published gallery. Thus if gallery X has 100 records and the whole catalogue is 5,000 records, when gallery X is published as a site visitors doing a "Find All" search will only see 100 records. THe fact the whole catalogue is uploaded means this is a technique best used with NP Server. Indeed, the gallery constraint is live so if items are added to it or it is a Smart Gallery, the number records available to the user can vary with time. In theory, NP can serve the whole catalogue and every custom gallery in it as an individual site - though at some point software/hardware infrastructure constraints will affect the actualamount served. One useful scenario is having a catalogue fully viewable internally via client and/or NP but served externally as per-customer web sites so customer A doesn't see B's files by mistake as a result of a query. Bear in mind the latter requires that the admin has a strong grasp of how Smart Galleries work to avoid the embarrassment of the wrong files getting into the wrong galleries.
Can I set passwords for access?
Yes, at number of levels. The most basic is access or level based catalogue passwords. However, these are used internally within NP if set in the catalogue and not seen by the user. NP has an admin password which is used by the site admin to access the application's admin panel - for instance to enable or disable existing sites (turning the NP service to the web for that site on or off). The is also a site creation password which stops unauthorised users creating new sites on this NP server. There is one admin password and one Site Creation password per physical NP installation. Below this, each site (of one or more catalogues) can have its own Editing and Viewing passwords. The editing password is for the site owner and controls the ability to re-publish the site, e.g. for updates. Lastly, the Viewing password - if set, means any web user trying to open the site will be asked for a password before gaining access. Note the user's browser will ask both for a user name and password but NP will accept any name, it is only the password that is important. However, so as not to confuse users you might want to give the users a dummy user name to input; that way they'll fill all the browser dialog boxes as on any other site.
Do I have to use the supplied Extensis web templates?
Does the web server with NP have to have the Portfolio client installed?
No. At minimum you just need NP installed on a suitable web server (see tech requirements). At the other extreme, you could have Portfolio client, Portfolio Server, SQL connect, and NetPublish Server all on the same physical server. Exactly how you split things up will depend on your need, equipment, space and budget - there's no special ideal setting. Do bear in mind that where different modules exist on different physical machines, you will need ensure the applications can access each other and any assets required, such as previews. Consider not just access permissions but the paths, if using server shares. You might also want to read an Extensis tech brief on NetPublish.
Why does the NPA template code have sections in [[code]] brackets?
What you are looking at are placeholders. The template code you see in NPA are actually templates for the output templates you'll have published. If you want to use existing templates as a basis for your own templates, it is suggested you save copy of an existing template (to do this, publish any old catalogue - you can delete the site when done). Unless you go deep under the hood, you shouldn't ever see these NPA pre-cursor templates but if you do you'll know as they use an "NPT" extension whereas normal templates use an "NP" file extension. If you make you own sets of precursors for NPA use from scratch, you'll need to use the NPT extension. NPTs other than those compiled inside NPA are saved in My Documents (Win) or the user 'home' folder (Mac) - see here for more.
Can I use my existing PortWeb templates?
Question: Portfolio v7 - NetPublish [FAQ00159.htm]
Last Update:- 02 June 2006
Site and articles © Mark Anderson 2001-2007 - Visit my home page