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Catalogs vs Stock Management

by James Cook
The question is often asked about the differences in our StockView program and a number of other products that appear to apply themselves to similar tasks.

The biggest differences to look for in such programs is whether they're a labeling program, a cataloguing program or a full fledged stock management program.

Labeling programs print caption labels and in some cases store a limited amount of information about the images. They seldom do anything more. Since their scope is limited, by design, they tend to be the least expensive of these software types.

Cataloguing programs allow you to store and retrieve a lot of information about your images and include the ability to display digital thumbnails. Some allow you to export image data in HTML format to post to a web site. The better ones include the ability to edit META data. Most have absolutely no labeling capabilities or other features pertinent to handling stock images. These tasks are usually accomplished by exporting the information to a word processor or entering it again. Keeping track of submissions is largely up to you.

Stock Management programs, such as StockView, provide all of the features found in labeling and cataloguing software and then some. Currently, most are designed exclusively for digital images although some remain exclusive to analog imagery. They print delivery memos and keep track of who's reviewing images or portfolios. Usually a single display shows who's currently holding images and when they're due back. You can also have the software show you who's had them before. Typically they track usage histories, model releases, restrictions and invoicing for licensed usage. Paperwork, or PDF work, is simplified because the forms are all built in with proper terminology in place. Some are able to issue and track licensing with the ability to alert you when licenses are due to expire.

Of course there are variations on all of these themes, but this is a nutshell overview. Then too, you can do-it-yourself with a FileMaker type program. It has the advantage of being custom designed to your needs, but the disadvantage is in requiring your time to invent it. Building a full-fledged system may require thousands of hours over several years.

See our related article on Keywording Theory.

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