What is Digital Asset Software?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A digital asset is material in digital form — such as animations, audio, graphics, text, and video, that is owned by an individual or organization. A digital asset may be owned outright, if it was created or purchased by the individual or organization, or rights to use it, with or without restrictions, may have been licensed from the woner or holding company. Digital Asset Management (DAM) refers to the strategies and structures used to organize and track digital assets. Digital asset software is another name for a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS).

Digital Asset Management (DAM) refers to the strategies and structures used to organize and track digital assets.
Digital Asset Management (DAM) refers to the strategies and structures used to organize and track digital assets.

Digital asset software from different companies may have different capabilities. Depending on its features, this type of software may be used to acquire, organize, locate, tag, and analyze digital assets. Digital asset software may also provide the ability to edit, export, create versions, alter metadata, and show a slideshow or filmstrip of assets. Other possible functions include archiving, backing up, and optimizing.

There are three main types of digital asset software. The type referred to as a browser looks at the file information and presents it to to the user, but doesn’t store it. iPhoto® is an example. A second type catalogs the information, or metadata, in a separate file as a database, making access more efficient and providing the ability to make and maintain virtual sets. This is called cataloguing software, and Microsoft® iView MediaPro® is an example. Finally, Adobe® VersionCue®, which is integrated with Adobe® Bridge® is an example of DAM software in which the assets and their versions are actually stored — in VersionCue® — and browsable — through Bridge®.

iPhoto®, part of the Apple® ILife® collection, is digital asset software created particularly for photographs. In addition to the usual tagging, searching, and organizing features, iPhoto® has a feature called Faces that employs face detection and face recognition as a means to propose to the user faces that may be the same person for the user to approve or reject. iView® is not attached to a particular software group or a particular OS and has the advantage of allowing the user to work on the catalog completely separately from interacting with the digital assets themselves. Adobe® Bridge®, referred to as a “media manager,” accompanies Adobe’s Creative Suite® editions, as well as certain of its stand-alone programs, like Photoshop®, Illustrator®, Flash®, and InDesign® and is capable of managing non-Adobe® as well as Adobe® files of any number of media types. It is linked to Adobe® Version Cue®, called an “asset management system,” which is meant to act as a virtual server for collaborative work using common files or a file manager for an individual.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


@clintflint - Most software is designed to be rather extensively backwards compatible, because developers don't want to shut out the possibility of excluding any potential customers anyway.

Even Windows will release patches for their older versions for many years after they've moved on to later products.


@Ana1234 - Functions might not be copyrighted, but that's not really what makes something an asset to a particular company. Software that has been designed with the latest aesthetic and capabilities in mind is always going to be an asset as an item to sell or license. And big companies need to make sure they keep their digital abilities up to date, so they are going to want to license the latest big programs so that they don't ever run into compatibility problems with other companies.

That's particularly true about web content management software and companies that need to have content on the web. It changes so much and so quickly you really do want to have the latest software because, if nothing else, the company that designed it will release updates as necessary to keep you functional in a changing digital landscape.


Digital asset software must be quite difficult to keep exclusive, if it's being offered as a service. I mean, for example most of the features that are available on Office Suite programs, which would be considered very valuable digital assets, are also used on almost every other kind of similar program and in some cases are replicated entirely in free programs like OpenOffice software.

The thing is, I don't think that programming is all that difficult. It's just time consuming, but if you can describe what you want a program to do (within reason) a programmer can make it happen.

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