I think FM would work just fine for this. I'm not saying it's easy, or that you could do it entirely yourself. Set up properly, you can avoid allowing users to insert files/images unless they document/name them.
Short answer: Anything is possible. It's software.
Longer answers to specific questions:
So, my question is: Is it possible to have FM scan and create a database of all my images and files automatically?
Not "automatically". You have to build the database. A database is a complex enterprise, far too much so for any automated tool to give you anything intelligent. (That's how we earn a living as developers.)
You can, once the database is built, import a folder of files (such as images) and process them using some scripting.
Also, my team has a tendency to create new images and files without documenting them. Is there a way to scan for new files and create a report so that I can go back and properly catalog new material?
I'm going to assume that these items are created and placed in a storage location (like a file share), not that they're being entered into a database. So there are at least a couple of ways to track this. You could have a "drop folder" on your file share somewhere and allow them to drop new stuff there, then automate pulling it into the database. Or, you can scan a directory (using one of a few different plugins) and identify items that aren't already in the database. Those can then be inserted via automation.
And lastly, is it possible to track how many times an image/file is used (via something like drag and drop) in order to sort files by usage?
Yes, it's relatively trivial to have a field that stores the number of times another field is modified. There are a couple of different ways to do it, depending on your workflow.
The good news is that everything you're asking for is possible within FileMaker. However, it's not necessarily trivial. You may want to hire a consultant if you're new to FileMaker before you try to tackle something like this. (Building a simple database that just tracks images is relatively simple; the OS-level manipulations, not so much.)
FileMaker allows you to create a powerful and flexible digital asset management system, customized to your needs.
Your FileMaker system can thought of as an alternate front end view to your digital assets. A custom system will allow you to track an unlimited amount of data about your Images, 3D models, PDF, etc. This gives you lots of ways to find what you are looking for.
The relation database aspect of the FileMaker platform allow you to relate your digital assets to Projects, Usage, People, and any other type of thing that you might need.
Yes, it is possible to write scripted automation that scans and connect your digital assets to your FileMaker system, either as the Digital Assets are created, or after the fact.
Reporting is relatively easy to set up.
As far as a scale, we have one system, in use for years, that track about 600,000 digital assets and could track even more.
There was a time when we would integrate FileMaker with a separate Digital Asset Manager like https://www.canto.com/
Over the years, the FileMaker Platform has added so many features that we usually build systems for our clients using with FileMaker alone. (simpler and more cost effective)
Hope that helps.
Have you looked at other possible choices for disparate data (on the mac) like DevonThink Pro Office? If you want to handle lots of disparate data searching and even have AI matching hints, DTPO is extremely cool. TONS of features. Search being near the top of the list.
And, DTPO, if it's the right choice for you, it's less expensive than FileMaker.
Not sure if DTPO would fit your needs, but I use it all the time on projects to just dump every imaginable file type someone sends to the team. DTPO makes searching that kind of store a snap. It's a mature product with tons of cool features.
DTPO is a great tool to have in the bag, so to speak.
(IMHO, it's worth having a Mac just for DTPO, along with lots of others software titles, if you don't have a Mac yet.)
I have used DevonThink Pro Office and it does have lots of cool features.
- The ability to load it up with .eml and .html files is cool.
- The OCR has been useful.
- I am sure there are more features that I missed
That said, I am not convinced that it fits the stated use case...
Does DevonThink Pro Office give you the relational database ability to connect digital assets to relate project and/or uses?
Is DevonThink Pro Office client-server multi user?
Based on what I know about DevonThink Pro Office, it also falls short in the area of: Customization and reporting. Not to mention all the other features that can be build using the FileMaker environment.
I was using/testing DevonThink Pro Office for “knowledge base” purposes for a while...for example, to store emails and be able to search on them. I went back to using FileMaker to archive emails because FileMaker scales better with 100,000’s of emails. Plus I can relate email to the sender, or the recipients...do compound searches (using Constrain and Extend), as well as sort by any field.
DevonThink Pro Office is an interesting product and good to know about. I just do not think that it fits the use case described.
Perhaps I am missing something?
I think you're right on all counts regarding DTPO.
But, I wasn't exactly sure, based on the posting, what the requirement was.
DTPO was just an idea and as I noted possibly not the right one.
I think my use of "database" was inaccurate. My goal is to have a database developed that can automatically or with minimal effort scan the project folders and resource folders and create new entries for them and produce a report. Then me or someone else would have to go back and fill in the details (keywords, categories, etc.).
Unfortunately there is no "drop folder". Items get scattered across the entire system. Within project folders, resource folders, personal desktops, thumb drives, cds.... It's a mess. Mostly project and resource folders thankfully. The "scan the directory" method is more what I'm looking for.
I definitely intend to hire a consultant for this project. I have some programming knowledge but not nearly enough to tackle something like this on my own.
The big problem with our current system is that nobody here takes to time to properly file anything. Mainly because they don't have the time to do it. And these guys have been here for 16+ years doing the same thing so they will never change their habits. So my goal is to find a way to organize the system with minimal impact on their current workflow.
I would invest in a "file-type" plug-in. Troi File has been my go-to for many many years.
The documentation is always excellent, the support is always excellent.
there are, of course, other plug-ins that manage files.
Canto does seem like it does what I would need but is it more of an enterprise system? I only need a solution for our team of 6 people. And I don't think they're gonna go for the $249/mo fee.
Allow me to clarify...
I mentioned Canto primarily to contrast it with FileMaker for Digital Asset Mangement.
The Canto pricing page seems to say $30,000/year
Is the $249/month fee that you saw per user, or does it cover all 6 users?
With 6 users, I recommend FileMaker as the most likely best choice for you. Better and less costly.
While Troi makes a wide range of high quality FileMaker plug-ins, I would +1 the recommendation that you look at the BaseElement plug-in for your file and folder integration needs. BaseElements is an easy sell...as it is free and open source.