I’ve been working with the Gridiron Software folks for a while, beta testing a radical new product that promises to quietly (or not so quietly) revolutionize the way folks like me track our many design projects and the hundreds of files associated with them. In a nutshell, Flow watches while you work, and automatically notes what photographs, design files and other digital assets are used in the projects you work on. It keeps track of where they are, what other projects they are also used in, and how long you worked on them.
As the publishing revolution has gone forward and hard drive space has gotten cheaper and cheaper, print and web designers, photographers and videographers, magazine publishers and everyone else involved in creating media of any kind have seen the number of online files (the ones stored in the computer or on the network, rather than on CDs or backup tapes) grow exponentially. It’s not at all unusual for even a standalone design workstation to have tens of thousands of files scattered among more than a hundred folders. Keeping track of what images are used in what design files gets hairy, no matter how well organized you keep things. “Where’s the original image that I copied for this project?” becomes a hard question to answer, and I don’t know anyone in the field who hasn’t at one time or another deleted an old file only to discover a month or two later that it was a key part of some project from two years ago that the client suddenly wants to update.
Flow has a lot of people in the design community quite excited, and more than one luminary in the field has been part of the beta program. The BIG news is that today is the start of the public beta phase, now that the application is basically complete as to features and functionality. This won’t be a big deal if you only use your computer for emails and photos of the kids, but if you’re a professional photographer, videographer or designer, you should be excited.