Best Friends Animal Society is an animal welfare organization that finds homes for rescued pets across America. They use their digital asset management (DAM) system, the Widen Collective®, to store, organize, and distribute all of their digital assets — which includes a lot of images of ridiculously cute dogs and cats.
Sarah Kichas is Best Friends’ Photography Manager, and DAM administration is just a small part of her job. It entails managing a constant stream of new content from a diverse group of photographers — including staff, freelancers, and volunteers — many of whom take pictures at just a single event. Giving them all access to the Collective with the appropriate login credentials, permissions, and upload instructions could be a part-time job in itself.
At the 2019 Widen Summit, Sarah shared how they use the Widen API and Dropbox to turn this onerous upload process into a simple, streamlined workflow. “I love it,” she said, “because it saves me time and energy, and most importantly, my sanity.”
Letting Dropbox and the Collective work together
Integrating Dropbox with the Collective via the API allows data to flow two ways: from Dropbox to the DAM system, and from the DAM system to Dropbox. Best Friends only uses one direction — from Dropbox to the Collective. Sarah explained, “We use Dropbox file request links to collect files from anybody, and get them over to the DAM as painlessly as possible. Sometimes automatically, sometimes manually.” Here’s how this data exchange works...
File request links. Uploading files into the Collective via Dropbox begins by creating file request links in Dropbox. Anyone is able to upload files via these links, even if they do not have a Dropbox account. “That’s the really nice thing," Sarah said, "is they [one-time uploaders] don’t need to have any kind of account or login to be able to get these files to you.”
So anyone with the file request link that needs to upload assets simply selects their files and uploads them. The files then populate a designated folder in the Best Friend’s Dropbox account.
Upload profiles. The second half of this process — importing the files into the Collective — is managed via upload profiles. “Upload profiles is how this integration runs,” Sarah said.
A file request link and its related Dropbox folder can be mapped to one of these upload profiles, by making adjustments in the Collective's Admin Upload Settings.
If a link has been configured for an automatic transfer, the uploaded files flow into the DAM system instantly. If it’s configured for a manual transfer, they just stay in the designated Dropbox folder until Sarah releases them into the Collective. “Each way can be beneficial in certain circumstances,” Sarah said.
Automatic transfer. Sarah uses an automatic file transfer when she has a lot of individuals uploading content to a single location, or when the files don’t require a lot of unique metadata.
If a file request link populates a Dropbox folder that is mapped to an upload profile in the Collective, files will be ingested into the DAM system immediately. “So all I have to do is get the files that I need into those folders,” Sarah explained. “And once they are moved in the DAM, they are automatically deleted in the Dropbox, which keeps things nice and tidy.” Further, the upload profile applies basic metadata to the assets, such as asset group, location, and categories.
Manual transfer. Sarah configures a request link for a manual transfer when she wants more control over the metadata, or needs to review image quality. This method leaves the files in a Dropbox folder until Sarah decides to push them into the Collective. “I will just let the files go into Dropbox — I don’t have it linked automatically to the DAM,” Sarah explained.
When she’s ready, she selects the folder in Dropbox with images from a file request link, and copies it into the Dropbox folder that is mapped to the correct upload profile in the Collective. And the file transfer is initiated! After some basic metadata is applied via the upload profile, Sarah often adds more values or security settings via a batch edit — often about 300 at a time. “It’s so easy!” Sarah said.
For Best Friends, the integration between the Collective and Dropbox plays a critical role in their creative workflow. “This integration saves my life!” Sarah said. “It saves so much time and energy and headaches.”
Further, it allows her to reserve their seat licenses for her regular uploaders, and conserves her internet bandwidth by eliminating the need to download from Dropbox and reupload to the Collective. And it gives her peace of mind from a security perspective, by ensuring that content in the Collective can only be accessed by the right people.
“When you’re getting thousands of files from hundreds of people, ease isn’t exactly expected,” Sarah said, “but it can be achieved.”
Note: Recent updates to the integration between the Widen Collective and Dropbox have altered some of the technical details in this presentation. Please contact your Widen customer success manager (CSM) or advisor for more information.
Watch Sarah's full presentation from the 2019 Widen Summit: