Icon Library Database

6 Jan 2005 - 5:40pm
9 years ago
7 replies
862 reads
carl myhill
2006

Whilst we're on the subject of icons.

For a couple of years I have been searching for an icon library database we
can chuck on our intranet to share icons across several sites.

We have several thousand icons now, and we'd like to have a bit of meta data
with each so we can do some searches. Perhaps even have some imagemagik
routines or something for converting from one format to another on demand,
and that kind of thing.

Can anyone recommend anything like that?

Carl

Comments

6 Jan 2005 - 6:17pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

Hello!

Now this is interesting!

> We have several thousand icons now,

And this gets even more interesting

and we'd like to have a bit of
> meta data

Just what kinds of icons are they that you have so many? And how have
you avoided giving at least rough metadata or categories to them up to
now?

The thing is, I could recomend a great variety of sources of X possible
sizes and Y types for icons, depending on what it is you have and are
trying to do. On the other hand there might be nothing available for
your particular case, becasue it looks most interestingly odd and
unusual!

Alain Vaillancourt

--- "Myhill, Carl S (GE Energy)" <carl.myhill at ps.ge.com> a écrit :
>
> Whilst we're on the subject of icons.
> For a couple of years I have been searching for an icon library
> database we can chuck on our intranet to share icons across several
sites. We have several thousand icons now, and we'd like to have a bit
of meta data with each so we can do some searches. Perhaps even have
some imagemagik routines or something for converting from one format
to another on demand, and that kind of thing. Can anyone recommend
anything like that?
>

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

6 Jan 2005 - 6:49pm
carl myhill
2006

[AV]Just what kinds of icons are they that you have so many? And how have
you avoided giving at least rough metadata or categories to them up to now?

[AV]The thing is, I could recomend a great variety of sources of X possible
sizes and Y types for icons, depending on what it is you have and are trying
to do. On the other hand there might be nothing available for your
particular case, becasue it looks most interestingly odd and unusual!

Hi Alain,

We build quite large enterprise software and the icons are mainly on our
toolbars.

We mainly use .ico format but being able to convert to .png, .bmp, .gif
(subject to legalities) would be helpful.

We do of course have ways of dealing with the icons, like file names,
defined suffices 'icon_grey.ico' for a greyed out version, and directory
structures. We did have a lot of it on the intranet, hand cooked html but it
was all a bit of a nightmare.

I'm not sure what you are talking about with sizes and types. We mainly have
16x16 icons, some 32x32 and some odd small sizes but this is not really
relevant. We need somewhere to put them! Perhaps some digital media asset
management system. We don't need to buy more icons if that is what you
meant.

Advice welcomed. I'm sure these sort of thing would be quite easy to build
with a bit of php and a mysql database. Wish I had time to learn those fine
toys.

Carl

PS I have looked at these sorts of things, but none did what I wanted...

icon library catalogue http://www.simtel.net/category.php?id=157
http://dmoz.org/Computers/Software/Graphics/Image_Cataloguing/

icon libraries
http://abbsoft.com/abbiconpro/faq.htm
http://www.2beesoft.com/iconbook/features.asp
http://www.diplodock.com/Products/IconSuite/librarian.aspx (good but not web
- have asked them)
http://www.iconcool.com/icon-library-manager.htm
http://www.xequte.com/smartpix/index.html

http://www-itg.lbl.gov/ImgLib/ImgLib_intro.html

digital asset management http://www.widen.com/media_director.shtml
http://www.imagefolio.com/
http://www.integritsistem.com/mam/ digital media asset man. MAM
http://www.extensis.com/en/products/product_family.jsp?locale=en_US&id=prod6
0005 (looks good but heavyweight)
cumulus / canto
http://www.aurigma.com/Products/MediaGallery/Screenshots.aspx

http://www.miro.com.au/index.php?option=displaypage&Itemid=156&op=page&SubMe
nu=
http://www.interwoven.com/products/dam/

7 Jan 2005 - 12:23pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

> We build quite large enterprise software and the icons are mainly on
> our
> toolbars.

Toolbars!

In other words you are talking about icons within an application.
Icons which are used to activate a feature of some sort. So, you are
not talking about icons used to represent an application (on the
desktop or a folder or elsewhere) or icons used to represent files
generated by a given application And you are also not talking about
icons used to give a graphical identity to specific documents, such as
email messages, by doing things like giving them an image of the face
of the author (as was done at Bell Labs in the 80s with vismon and at
NeXT in their internal email and by some UNIX systems running X-face)
or the face of the author or the institution logo (as is still being
done with Picons) or something else.

Tiis narrows things down quite a bit!

Since you have thousands I thought that Picons or something of the sort
might be involved. But thousands for functions within apps!! This
seems more like a design problem than a question of organising the
icons, though you might want, yes, to categorize the icons before to
have an idea of all the concepts you are handling, before doing a
redesign.

You might want to seriously consider cutting down on the number because
when you get to that many function icons (unlike icons of faces of the
authors of email for instance) you start to lose the benefits of
graphic expression and start getting into a graphical language. The
only cases large numbers of icons have been efficient in the past are
in very spcialized applications like computer games, where gamers are
eager to devote a lot of intellectual resources in learning the visual
language of the game or military systems, where participants receive
special training on the icons. Unless of course all of those pieces
of enterprise software you are talking about all serve different goals
for small numbers of employees, with no common operations.

We need somewhere to put them! Perhaps some digital media
> asset
> management system. We don't need to buy more icons if that is what
> you
> meant.

You are absolutely, totally right! Don't buy more! you have enough! Too
much perhaps!!

I can't guide you towards an icon management system any further. You
seem to have gone much deeper in this than I have. The more
sophisticated databases dealing with large numbers of icons that I know
of all manage significant, non-function icons like faces.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

7 Jan 2005 - 1:49pm
carl myhill
2006

> We build quite large enterprise software and the icons are mainly on
> our toolbars.

[AV]Toolbars!

[AV]In other words you are talking about icons within an application.
Icons which are used to activate a feature of some sort. So, you are not
talking about icons used to represent an application (on the desktop or a
folder or elsewhere) or icons used to represent files generated by a given
application And you are also not talking about icons used to give a
graphical identity to specific documents, such as email messages, by doing
things like giving them an image of the face of the author (as was done at
Bell Labs in the 80s with vismon and at NeXT in their internal email and by
some UNIX systems running X-face) or the face of the author or the
institution logo (as is still being done with Picons) or something else.

[Carl] I said mainly toolbars, we have desktop icons, file icons, document
icons - pretty much everything you listed apart from the bell labs faces
(but we do have a squirrel in a font somewhere - critters sometimes cause
Utilities some trouble by chewing through things)

[AV]Since you have thousands I thought that Picons or something of the sort
might be involved. But thousands for functions within apps!! This seems
more like a design problem than a question of organising the icons, though
you might want, yes, to categorize the icons before to have an idea of all
the concepts you are handling, before doing a redesign.

[AV]You might want to seriously consider cutting down on the number because
when you get to that many function icons (unlike icons of faces of the
authors of email for instance) you start to lose the benefits of graphic
expression and start getting into a graphical language. The only cases large
numbers of icons have been efficient in the past are in very spcialized
applications like computer games, where gamers are eager to devote a lot of
intellectual resources in learning the visual language of the game or
military systems, where participants receive special training on the icons.
Unless of course all of those pieces of enterprise software you are talking
about all serve different goals for small numbers of employees, with no
common operations.

[Carl]What are you talking about? We build numerous large scale applications
- we don't have all the functions within one application!!!!!!!!! We aim for
consistency between applications which are produced across 6 development
sites globally. We need to make sure that when someone chooses an icon for
something like 'search' that they choose one from our existing set and not
go off and get a new one designed. This saves money and gives us more
consistency.

[Carl]Perhaps not as many people as I thought have the same problem we have,
I thought someone would have cracked it.

Carl

7 Jan 2005 - 2:21pm
Jay Zipursky
2005

Hi Carl,

We have a similar issue, but have not invested any time into solving it. It
sounds like we have a smaller scale management challenge than you do. Our
graphic artists are few and work closely together, so duplication is not an
issue. However, it would be nice for developers and designers to be able to
pick up existing icons without having to bother anyone.

I think the solution is some sort of existing digital asset management
application. There are many out there.

Jay

On 1/7/05 10:49 AM, "Myhill, Carl S (GE Energy)" <carl.myhill at ps.ge.com>
expounded:

>
> [Carl]Perhaps not as many people as I thought have the same problem we have,
> I thought someone would have cracked it.
>
> Carl
>
--
Creo
Jay Zipursky | Tel: +01.604.451.2720 ext: 2204 |
www.creo.com
Team Leader, Usability | Cel: +01.604.418.2238
Printing Workflow Solutions | Fax: +01.604.437.9891
3755 Willingdon Avenue | jay.zipursky at creo.com
Burnaby, BC V5G 3H3
Canada

IMAGINE CREATE BELIEVE

7 Jan 2005 - 5:32pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- "Myhill, Carl S (GE Energy)" <carl.myhill at ps.ge.com> a écrit :
We aim for
> consistency between applications which are produced across 6
> development sites globally. We need to make sure that when someone
chooses an icon for something like 'search' that they choose one from
our existing set and not go off and get a new one designed. This saves
money and gives us more consistency.
>

OK, so, you really need a thousand or so. And you really need metadata
tagging for each within a searchable database. In other words a
digital presentation based on a controled vocabulary for the tags. And
you need to realy work at those tags. You can't just take the Dublin
Core Metdata Element Set or other ready made ones given your special
needs.

Have you already considered a paper based classifed (or
matrix)presentation of those thousand icons? Something which could let
people browse visually through the collection(s) in addition to making
digital searches based on the metadata tags. If you have access to
large or medium size digital plotters you could print out blown up
versions (say one inch squares) of the icons on 40 by 60 inch sheets of
papers, with some of the metadata next to each.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

20 Jan 2005 - 6:46pm
Craig Oshima
2004

Carl,

> ...I have been searching for an icon library database we can chuck
> on our intranet to share icons across several sites.

I'm not aware of any specific off-the-shelf solutions, but here are some
thoughts I hope you find helpful.

As I see it, there are several parts of this task:

1. Converting the image formats
2. Adding meta data
3. Publishing the images and metadata
4. Providing an ongoing way to manage the images and metadata

The conversion part shouldn't be too difficult. There are programs
available to convert .ico to other standard formats...hmm, not sure
about server-based versions though. Ideally, you'd convert everything to
some common master format like PNG. Then, when all is said and done,
your users would be able to browse/search the collection online, select
the images and formats they want, and have them converted on the fly and
downloaded. Although I'd convert the files to a master format, I'd
probably keep the different sizes and color depths separate (grouped as
a set though), since automatically scaling icons doesn't usually give
good results. (I guess you could make this an option though.)

Tagging the images is probably going to involve editorial labor. You
can automatically get the image properties (size, depth, etc.). Someone
will have to enter whatever meta data you require. I would suggest at a
minimum the name of application(s) the icons were used in as well as a
title and description of the intended purpose, and perhaps a comment on
the visual metaphor, if it isn't obvious.

You could use an off-the-shelf asset management system, or, if you could
keep things fairly simple and develop it in-house fairly quickly, or
outsource the development. (If you require role-based privileges or
audit-trails, things get more complex.)

Finally, I leave you with an anecdote of caution: Once upon a time when
I worked at a giant company, we had an icon catalog (even published in
hardcopy actually, that you could put on your bookshelf). There was
also a painful, slow, and not-very-effective corporate icon approval
process. It was so painful and slow in fact, that people commonly went
to the icon catalog to harvest icons that were already approved (and
were therefore spared this process). The result was that the same
(generally mediocre) icons were appearing in numerous applications with
different meanings. It's bad design to use the same icon for different
functions.

So you want to be sure that people use the icons for the intended
purpose (which puts added importance on the quality of the meta-data).
At the same time, if you want to avoid a painful policing process. In
our case, we (my product team) opted to design our own icons, run them
through some usability tests, and when we were satisfied, we submitted
them to the corporate approval process along with the message that if we
didn't hear back in 30 days (or something), we would consider them
approved. Basically, we rebelled, and we weren't the only group either.
But that's a story for another day :-)

Good luck!

--
Craig Oshima
coshima at acm.org

Syndicate content Get the feed