Manual: (not yet released)
(Note: this article is written based on demonstration of late beta and discussion with Extensis staff. Given the late beta status some aspects may change slightly by public launch. As this article is here to try and help those planning their upgrades please inform the FAQ (form link at footer or by email) if there are any factual inaccuracies. Any such errors, if found aren't intentional and will be corrected as quickly as possible.)
Project Sync is part of Portfolio Server (from v8.5 onwards). In trying to understand what Project Sync does, it's not so much about what Project Sync does, but about what it enables everyone else in the organization, who doesn't have Creative Suite 3 (CS3), to get from a Portfolio Server 'system' (client/Express/Server/NetPublish). Project Sync allows creative users to work they way they normally do, while simultaneously 'feeding' the Portfolio Server, i.e. into the Portfolio-managed assets. Assets that are ingested this way can be used by 'non-creative' users (e.g. PowerPoint authors in Marketing), via the Portfolio Client Express, creating a self-service system. This keeps the creative user working the way they want while giving the rest of the organization access to valuable assets for little extra effort once the workflow is set up. The Portfolio Server database can also be connected to NetPublish site(s) so that, in effect, CS3 users can publish to the web without doing anything - simply by setting metadata in their CS app's file info panel. In fact, the NetPublish site can filter the content, based on a smart gallery. For example, the web site could display all PDF files from a certain folder that are marked as 'Approved' in an 'Approval state' field.
Project Sync is a plug-in to the new Version Cue v2 ('VC2') that ships with CS3. VC2 is not the same as VC v1 as seen in previous suites. Recognising that previously most CS users installed VC v1 found they couldn't easily use it an gave up, Adobe have re-written the app as a more robust and power workgroup tool extensible via an SDK (that is Java -based); Project Sync is a plug-in for this SDK. Within the CS3 suite VC2 has hooks to 5 (only?) of the suite's programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash and InCopy. Acrobat seems to be supported by VC2 but not the VC2 SDK plug-in but that may be an anomaly. There's no Lightroom integration with VC2 (or really even CS3) yet but doubtless it will come; meanwhile Adobe's approach is the other CS3 apps use Bridge to find assets and open them into the correct editing application. It's worth noting the latter point as the degree of integration Portfolio can achieve is limited by what the VC2 SDK offers and the latter is a new feature - more functionality will doubtless follow. VC2 supports LDAP and if the Project Sync is configured to use similar users as VC2 this allows leverage of the permissions configured via LDAP.
Project Sync allows you can maintain collections of assets, e.g. common graphics such as logos, that can be used by creative users within standard VC2 projects. Whilst technically you can already do this with VC2, you have the inconvenience of having to maintain it manually in VC2, instead of just using Portfolio Server's AutoSync 'hot folders' There is also the fact that only VC2 users can access VC2 projects. When you maintain this data with Portfolio, the Portfolio admin decides what subset of this data (an AutoSync folder set) to enable for users so that the library stays current.
Project Sync also acts as a way to archive completed projects. Instead of filing finished jobs in VC projects (that only CS3 users can access) you can store them in a secure Portfolio server database and allow different users numerous ways to access the archives: Portfolio client, Express, NetPublish on both Macs and Windows. Remember not everyone in the organisation will have CS3 on their workstation.
Using Project Sync you can also limit the files/data to which individual users have access and to manage your Portfolio catalogue as a 'superset' of projects. Especially if using SQL Connect and SQL-based catalogues, the Portfolio catalogue can contain a vast collection of data (> 000,000s) and you may want to enable a small portion of that via Project Sync, so creative users can save to it (drop folder) or access content directly. You can think of the Portfolio client as a dashboard for projects and even access data fields that CS3 users have no access to.
Another big reason to use Portfolio Server here is that Portfolio catalogues are much faster than reading off of a network file system, like VC2 would do on it's own. Portfolio's thumbnails are 'already there', stored in the catalogue which also holds all of the metadata. Therefore, you can search and display what you are looking for, much faster than Bridge can do if left to read directly from files, VC2 style (try using Bridge to search a folder of 10,000 assets... ). Portfolio also 'streams' previews to Bridge, so even if the original is 1GB, you can display a full-screen proxy faster than Bridge could ever think of, over a network.
Having access to the Portfolio metadata means not only can you edit in VC2 enabled CS3 apps but also in Bridge you can do Portfolio-style searches based on Portfolio data fields.
As Project Sync is a VC plug-in, VC2 needs to be set up before installing Portfolio Server v5. The requirements of VC2 are thus something to factor in, e.g. hardware/OS improvements you might need to make. It may be useful to read the PDF manual for VC2 if you don't already have VC2 installed. The document also raises Adobe CS/VS considerations if you need to mix CS2 and CS3 apps.
A limitation (of the VC plug-in architecture) means that if you want a VC2 project with saved versions (as in VC1) then you'll need to use a non-Project Sync VC2 project for those files. However, with planning this should only be needed for files under active edit and therefore ones which your organisations wider audience shouldn't (yet) be using in routine work. When allowing for image storage space, don't forget to allow for VC2-only project asset storage - it can balloon quite quickly.
Thus Project Sync adds a very powerful feature to Portfolio - and CS3 - though those looking to deploy it are well advised to think through carefully their use of CS3, VC3, use of metadata and workflow before the physical install; v8.5 with Project Sync is a more complicated task compared to Server v8.0 due too the interface with VC2. Such planning will help ensure you've the correct hardware, OS, LAN and user configurations before you add the actual application software. VC3 doesn't have to be installed as part of CS3, i.e. it can be installed as the only CS3 app - on a suitable server, for instance, instead of a CS3 desktop. A sensible location is the server running Portfolio server (and main image storage, if not on a NAS device, XRAID, etc.). Internally, VC3 uses its own encapsulated mySQL database. Given that, allow for the fact you'll be running a server supporting SQL even if you're not currently using SQL Connect as part of Portfolio Server. It this sort of detail doesn't make sense to you, then talk with you IT department or external integrators about what infrastructure you may need to upgrade. At the other extreme, e.g. for initial investigation/test purposes (i.e. 'what does it look like when installed?'), all VC2 and Portfolio suite software will install onto a single Mac or Windows (Pro) desktop OS but just be careful not to add too much data and accept you may not be able to fully explore some of the multi-user aspects unless you set up all the shares, LDAP, etc., yourself.
There is a page with the overal changes for Portfolio v8.5.
Question: Project Sync (Server v8.5+) [FAQ00392.htm]
Last Update:- 09 August 2007
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