Expo for Mac OS X is a fine DAM tool

Insider Software’s Expo is an digital asset manager (DAM) designed to help web, creative and marketing professionals create great sites, presentations, documents and designs faster. However, it comes in handy for a other Mac users, as well.

The software helps you manage your digital assets, as well as assisting you in finding new images, clips, fonts and icons online. You can use folders and tags to automatically organize all these assets. When you’re ready to use ‘em, drag them into your favorite apps such as Pages, Keynote, Quark, PowerPoint, Word and Adobe’s software. I use Expo with Pages in preparing articles for Apple World Today.

You can get up and running with Expo quickly. It sports an intuitive interface that presents your digital assets in an easy-to-follow system. The inerface is divided into three columns that follow familiar user interface designs used in iTunes and other Mac applications. The Left Sidebar lets you select which assets appear in the main window

The Center Window displays asset previews and thumbnails and includes a divider bar you can use to adjust the size of the top and bottom panes. The Right Sidebar is a series of inspectors that show properties and metadata for the currently selected asset.

What exactly can you import? Documents, images, fonts (Open Type, Mac TrueType, Windows TrueType, Type 1 and dfont files formats are supported), icons, songs, audio and video clips. Then you can view the assets (and their metadata) with a click in Expo. 

You can use automatic, manual and batch tags, and search them later, as well as apply ratings, licenses and notes to describe your assets and how they’re used. The software allows you to, if you wish, free yourself from using the Mac file system to organize your assets. 

You can start with Expo’s built-in asset folders, then add your own. Smart folders that auto-update based on asset tags and attributes can be enabled. An ExpoExpress menu bar widget lets you use the utility even when the Expo app window isn’t visible.

Another advantage: Expo lets you keep track of your asset licenses. You can select from predefined asset licenses or enter your own license text. You can track where you licensed each asset and how much you paid. 

Then there are the considerable online-oriented features. Traditional DAMs focus on asset retrieval, but some of us also have a constant need for new asset discovery. Expo includes a built-in browser and site manager with dozens of predefined asset sites, which helps you quickly find free and commercial assets quickly on the Web without leaving the app. You can visit multiple asset resource sites with a single click, select new assets and drop them into Expo — which then imports the assets and their properties and tags into its catalog. 

Expo’s built-in asset-discovery engine lets you customize its Website Groups and the list of asset sites in each group—so you can explore, purchase, download and immediately add the images, fonts, icons, video and audio you need for your projects. It’s very efficient.

Expo places all these assets in a centralized repository instead of managing ‘em in place as most photo viewers and the Mac OS X Finder does. If you accidentally move or delete them, the assets don’t just disappear. You can store assets of any size and format including Adobe and Quark files, fonts, website icons, video files, audio files, word processing files, presentations, PDFs and other application documents. You can store your Expo assets locally on your Mac or on a networked volume.

Do you need Expo? If you have lots of digital assets that need a sophisticated organization system or if you want an alternative to the Mac file system for managing/tracking those assets, yes. If you have a limited amount of digital assets or you’re happy with your present organizational method, then you can pass.

A demo is available for download. It costs $149 for a single user license or $1,349 for a 10-user license. Expo requires Mac OS X 10.8 or later.