In an earlier blog titled “ KMWorld Article by Adlib: SharePoint and the PDF – It’s About the Content“ we observed companies doing what we call version 2.0 implementations of SharePoint. These are commonly better thought-out strategies on how to effectively redeploy and fix their initial SharePoint deployments that appeared to focus more on the design of SharePoint (where to put things) while almost forgetting about the accessibility and usability of content that was going to drive its successful utilization.

Well today’s blog is getting a little more specific addressing the questions we get from customers time and again around what are the ideal graphic formats to retain in their ECM systems.  Ie. TIFF vs EPS and so on.  Here is a brief opinion based on years of observation.

First off, depending on the intended use and specific strategy for your ECM, you may or may not want to retain the original source files on your ECM.  The exception maybe marketing where the source files for marketing assets like ads, collateral, corporate branding, etc., could remain as they will most likely get leveraged repeatedly as those asset evolve.  However, most source files are typically large, like EPS and only viewable by users with the original authoring application or a viewer. 
 
TIFF - is a terrific format that is useful, at least for raster (bitmapped) images in print workflows. You have the option to save transparency and layered files.  TIFF is also a popular format for archiving scanned images, but has been rapidly losing ground in recent years to the more advanced and searchable PDF.

EPS – has been on the decline for many years now.  There is virtually no reason to ever save and collaborate anything as an EPS as PDF is quite similar in terms of functionality, can be used by most modern design and layout software, but also has several advantages such as being viewable on practically every platform and device with no expensive or specialized software required.

JPEG - is a great format as long as you’re talking about storing photographic images. For synthetic images with sharp lines (such as type on a solid background), JPEG is not so good because you’ll see compression artifacts due to the glossy nature of the format.

PNG - is an excellent replacement for the legacy GIF format, but like TIFF lacks the capability for searching within the image, and PNG does not support multiple pages in a single file.  This format is widely used in artwork or images on web sites, but not suitable for documentation..  PDF is better for print and searchable too.

CAD – there numerous proprietary CAD formats out there all requiring the original CAD (or compatible) application or viewer. CAD files can get quite sophisticated too with attributes like layers.  Converting all “in review or finished” CAD files to PDF for sharing, review (including mark-up) and storing enables lower-cost, yet broader collaboration on your designs.

PDF - provides the flexibility of TIFF but, but has a notable advantage for collaboration and eDiscovery purposes as PDF’s are searchable allowing user to easily find and access the information contained within and overall final print quality.  In addition, vector-based images and text can be stored with much smaller file sizes than in TIFF while providing the highest possible quality and resolution when rendered to screen or printed to paper.

So if you want your ECM to enable as many employees and partners to quickly and easily collaborate with your image files without the need for costly authoring applications, while being cognizant of your storage requirements, try introducing a little more PDF and a little less image files in your ECM strategy.