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[Poll] Do you need a DAM? And what should it be like?

Do you need a DAM-program by Serif? And what should it be like?  

263 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you need a DAM?

    • No thanks. I'm just fine with the OS native File Browser / I happily use a 3rd party program for browsing my assets and RAW editing.
      44
    • Yes. I would like to have an Asset Browser. It should provide reliable Preview of all Affinity filetypes and of other popular file types. I do not work with RAW files / the current RAW editing implementation works well for my needs.
      41
    • Yes. I would like to have an Asset Browser, but it needs to have a powerful RAW processor built in. I often work with numerous files which need common base-corrections as well as individual tweaking – therefore the Develop Persona and working on single files one at a time doesn't cut it for me. I would appreciate better interchange with 3rd party RAW editors, hence sidecar files were very helpful. Affinity still could embed the RAW file along with its settings for compositing with other artwork – but in a way that one can return to the DAM for further tweaking of the input RAW file. Note: This implementation should work equally well for those who voted for 2).
      178


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My most immediate requirement is for a DAM to replace Lightroom. I''m running Photoshop and Lightroom on old purchased versions on a Mac. Given Apple's stated intention of withdrawing support for 32-bit apps, I need to replace Lightroom (I'm happy with Affinity Photo) as a priority.

I'd be happy to pay a reasonable monthly sub for editing software (if I need Photoshop). But I hate the idea of my edited images being held to ransom, as is the case with a subscription-based DAM - I can't stop paying (whatever the price) if I want access to my images. I'm willing to sacrifice the latest bells-and-whistles functionality for this security (I guess I can pay for an upgrade - as I did with Lightroom - if it adds value) so I'm tending towards Picktorial atm.

RAW processing would be useful, but isn't necessary - there are functional alternatives out there. I rarely use local adjustments.

'Round tripping' to external editors, picking up the adjusted images, is essential for me. As well as basic editing, I use Nik Efex and potentially others) for different versions.
As is a flexible batch export process (print, FTP, etc.). Being able to create presets for repetitive tasks is important.
I'm not particularly bothered about slideshow or book printing (Publisher is pretty good for that :)).
Generating a web page is a very 90's thing now - most sites use scripted code generators (for so many reasons) rather than reading flat HTML files.

I'm a bit of a hoarder, so I've a lot of images, not all in their filesystem folder structures. Many are infrequently accessed, but I still want them catalogued / accessible.
They cover a number of genres (wildlife, events, people, music gigs), and I use keywording/tagging a lot (not least for remembering who is in the shot, or creatives who contributed). Each genre will have its own set of tags,  so it's much easier each has its own catalogue, so lists don't get clogged and unwieldy.
I like Lightroom's catalogue systems because I can restrict the view to the relevant bits. I wouldn't have a problem with all images in a single database (providing it's performant), if it has the ability to slice by a different view for each genre. I'd prefer this to constant hard-disk reads.

I use Lightroom's colour coding to drive my workflow - 'yellow' is selected for edit, 'green' is work-in-progress, 'blue' is complete, toned, and ready to share. I sometimes use 'purple' for versions cropped to print dimensions.
I also use Lightroom's flags, and I use stacking a lot to keep different versions together.

I use collections to pull together images used for different portfolio sites, but also to drive workflow (I set them up for my 'to do' lists of images to be edited).

The important bit (for me)
I like hierarchies / taxonomies.
I'd like more (e.g. to group images for a specific shoot or project) - it would actually be easier if keywords could be applied at that level.
Ideally, I'd like custom, context-specific / genre-specific taxonomies which could be optionally output as keywords.
To explain a bit more ... for wildlife, I'd like to be able to log the species (binomen and common name - literally the Linnaen taxonomy). For my Scuba photos, I'd like to record a dive reference, which can lookup my dive log database (which has temperature, depth, location name and equipment). For gigs, I'd like a record of the band, and for fashion shoots I'd want designer / model / MUA etc.
There used to be a LR plugin called "LR Transporter" which would let you output XML files from Lightroom, alongside the image export. Some years ago, I built my website to interpret that data, which drove the site formatting & display (I've attached a page to show how this worked). So I think that output in json or XML would be useful.
A bonus would be if each taxonomy entry had multiple attribute fields, so I could record the model's agency (a taxonomy in itself) , portfolio site and Instagram handle, for instance - which would make things easier when posting an image with credits.

 

Contextual keywords.png

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I look at this from a workflow perspective. In my workflow, the DAM tool is at the heart of managing the images from a photo shoot.  

My workflow:

  1. Ingest images from cards
  2. apply keywords to images as they are being ingested
  3. Conduct first-level sorting, review, and selection of images
  4. Apply raw processing changes (for example, synchronizing white balance, noise reduction, sharpening, etc.)
  5. Begin adjusting the reduced set of images to get to a final state.  This includes sending the images to other applications, like Affinity Photo, Nik Collection, etc and then having them return to the DAM tool.
  6. Making final selections and exporting images for the client to review.

Having another Affinity tool to manage this workflow would be outstanding.  

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Maybe media/file browser instead of DAM. Like Adobe Bridge.
Currently it's little awkward to find and open them in Affinity.

I can use 3rd party one such as XnView for now.
But would be nice to have media/file browser with tight integration with Affinity Suite on both Mac/Windows.

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Hi folks and Affinity Team,

This is 5 years (June 2014) now that Apple have dropped Aperture.
Since then, I've tested everything around and Aperture simply beats hands down any single other apps in the — DAM — aspect. (I'm not talking about the adjusting tools, which luckily did evolved on competitors). And if we speak about adjustments, it was a matter of 300kB with Aperture, which was describing all in a text file + some B&W masks…
I've purchased Affinity Photo in July 2015, since then, I'm reading here people asking for a DAM (many, are still on Aperture like me), and Affinity is answering, "yes", "yes", "yes", then "no", then back "yes"…
So I'm sticking on Aperture, it's that simple (sadly) :( The day an Affinity DAM will come, I simply hope it will vaporise Aperture, which no one yet have been able the achieve.

But now, the wait must come to an end. Apple have officially dropped 32bits apps, and Aperture (which still has some 32bits code), can't work on Catalina.
As professionals, we need to know were to go, how and when to invest. Please answer us guys.


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I posted a comment on YouTube about this just today.

Something akin to Adobe Bridge would be great! There are lot's of "photo browser" type apps around (ala ACDSee) but they are all photo based... they show previews for RAW and JPEG files but no previews of PDFs or publishing-type files - dare I say like Illustrator or InDesign or more particularly, previews of Affinity files (Publisher, Designer and Photo).

 

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Capture One is the market leader in this space, not Lightroom.  I'd love to see Affinity take on that challenge. 
 

RAW processing in the develop persona is one of the few weaknesses in the suite of programs.  Developing a DAM with RAW processing, color control and teathering on the level of Capture One would be remarkable.

While I own Capture One, Lightroom, On1 RAW, Darktable, ACDsee I'd prefer to stay in the Affinity echosystem.  Capture One has the market leading tools and performance.  Don't make the mistake of thinking Lightroom is the benchmark.
 

 

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5 hours ago, Tazintosh said:

But now, the wait must come to an end. Apple have officially dropped 32bits apps, and Aperture (which still has some 32bits code), can't work on Catalina.
As professionals, we need to know were to go, how and when to invest. Please answer us guys.

In all fairness, if history holds well, it sounds as if you could easily stick with your current operating system for quite a few more years while you wait for the dust to settle and decide at that time what you need to do. Upgrading my OS is usually the last thing I do when it comes to software updates. If you currently have a very stable and predictable computer, there's usually no need for a new OS, often being more trouble than it's worth. 

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1 hour ago, 78deluxe said:

Capture One is the market leader in this space, not Lightroom.  I'd love to see Affinity take on that challenge. 

While I agree with you that Capture One Pro is overall a superior product compared to Lightroom, I wouldn't call them the "market leader." Adobe is clearly the 800-lb gorilla in this space in terms of shear adoption and general ease of use by the largest numbers of people. There's a reason for that. Adobe is a marketing machine. However, this doesn't necessarily make Lightroom the superior tool for professionals unless then want/need tight integration with other Adobe applications.

I also like the fact that Capture One Pro allows you to buy a perpetual license, giving you the option to rent the software via subscription. Adobe simply locks you into ONE choice, which is the reason many of us left Adobe. 

If Serif is to build its own DAM, they somehow need to come up with a means to deliver something DIFFERENT than what either Lightroom or Capture One Pro is doing. As mentioned in their keynote yesterday, the Affinity team was interested in thinking differently about achieving the end goal. I hope that if they create a DAM, it will continue to adhere to this idea. Recreating what's already been done is usually not the way forward. They need a fresh look at this sort of product. 

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4 minutes ago, Ulysses said:

In all fairness, if history holds well, it sounds as if you could easily stick with your current operating system for quite a few more years while you wait for the dust to settle and decide at that time what you need to do. Upgrading my OS is usually the last thing I do when it comes to software updates. If you currently have a very stable and predictable computer, there's usually no need for a new OS, often being more trouble than it's worth. 

This. Unless you buy a new Mac that requires the latest OS version you could easily hold on to Mojave for one more year. In fact, given the amount of bug fixes and increased stability with each minor upgrade it is usually always a good advice to take it slow with new major versions. The best versions is usually the ones late in the cycle anyway. 

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2 hours ago, Ulysses said:

Adobe is clearly the 800-lb gorilla in this space in terms of shear adoption and general ease of use by the largest numbers of people.

Yup. LR has a massive installed user base (and a huge preset industry) so that's the low-hanging fruit - the biggest market, and (I suspect) the most vulnerable to Affinity's pricing model.
I think Capture is probably now best-of-breed, but (let's face it) it's priced for pro users.

As a result, I've made the switch to Capture One. I needed to make the change, and figured any Affinity offering would be in beta for months. I'd previously tried Capture at version 9, but there were too many gaps. They've now introduced catalogs (as opposed to sessions) and recognise PSD files - thinking back, those were the main showstoppers for me. Those are sorted now, and I'm settling in with it (the decision was eased by Capture offering a 40% discount for this month).

Digressing a bit ... I've just downloaded Publisher, Photo has upgraded, and I've tried out Studio Link. It's mind-blowing. Many congrats to Affinity on delivering this.
And (I think) to try to spec DAM functionality without taking on board the possibilities of this technology is to miss a massive trick.
But it raises another point. Does Affinity focus its resources on a DAM (basically a database) for its existing user base, or does it concentrate on the media manipulation capability to produce (for example) video & audio editors?

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On 12/11/2018 at 1:24 PM, Ulysses said:

Downloaded and installed it on my Mac, which calls for XnView MP, which is the multi-platform version. No AFPHOTO thumbnail join. :61_sob:

 

XnView_MP.png

enable Tools > General > Show all  graphic format
 

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I'm a little confused by this conversation.

The question was "Do you need a DAM?" (i.e. a digital asset management system).

Whilst I agree that 50% of Lightroom's job is the management of camera output files (primarily still images but I believe it also handles video), the other 50% of its job is image editing. The same also goes for Aperture (which has been mentioned in this trail) and possibly Capture One (though I'm not familiar with Capture One so I don't know if it has the database functionality).

Because a large part of these program's functionality is image editing I don't consider them "asset managers"... the purpose of asset managers is to track digital assets and share them to stakeholders - not to modify them.

And, when I say "digital assets", I mean the whole gamut of digital media... not just video and images but artwork and audio files - including the likes of PDF, EPS, AI, INDD and (importantly on an ongoing basis) Affinity files (Photo, Designer and Publisher).

It should show preview images for all of the file formats it tracks so there is an immediate visual cue as to the file's contents, along with the ability to rate files and save virtual collections (I know Lightroom does that latter two functions but it is quite limited in the types of files it handles).

Its primary purpose is to quickly and easily find files (digital assets) for use in other projects.

Lightroom, Aperture and Capture One's primary purpose is to take raw files from a camera and process them to a final form.

Yes, it's be great if Affinity produced something that does that, but I want a DAM first and foremost.

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Just further to my previous "rant", here's a link to what are considered to be digital assets management tools:

https://www.capterra.com/sem-compare/digital-asset-management-software?gclid=CjwKCAjw3azoBRAXEiwA-_64Og1F-Mf50xw10evLTYVCwOsfCd6qlcaI-dAj7UMKIPl6tIGt26EmQhoCdgwQAvD_BwE

Most of these are aimed at corporate entities and are prohibitively expensive for individuals (I know... I've looked into this before) but they clearly fall into the DAM category and you'll note Lightroom, Aperture or Capture One don't appear on the list.

I'm looking for a single user, relatively inexpensive application, along the lines of Adobe Bridge but without the buggy behaviour, ongoing subscription cost and questionable product support.

Please, Affinity, come to the party! 

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15 minutes ago, davidg2020 said:

Lightroom, Aperture and Capture One's primary purpose is to take raw files from a camera and process them to a final form.

I do not agree that that is the only truth. I'd say organizing large droves of photos and helping the photographer pick the best shot quickly and efficiently is equally or even more the purpose of Aperture. I'd go as far as saying that is why people still love Aperture and use it. Otherwise they would have left it long ago.

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8 minutes ago, AdrianB said:

I do not agree that that is the only truth. I'd say organizing large droves of photos and helping the photographer pick the best shot quickly and efficiently is equally or even more the purpose of Aperture. I'd go as far as saying that is why people still love Aperture and use it. Otherwise they would have left it long ago.

I did say earlier in my post that 50% of Lightroom's (and by inference Aperture's) job was asset management but equally (and I realise I said "primary" - I should have said "equally") its purpose is also that of image editing.

At the end of the day, it's a photographer's tool.

I'm looking for a publisher's tool (i.e. one for graphic designers, art director and magazine/newspaper editors).

And I hope Affinity will take on the challenge.

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2 minutes ago, davidg2020 said:

I did say earlier in my post that 50% of Lightroom's (and by inference Aperture's) job was asset management but equally (and I realise I said "primary" - I should have said "equally") its purpose is also that of image editing.

At the end of the day, it's a photographer's tool.

Yes Aperture is a photographer's tool, I totally agree. A tool that unfortunately is dying and Affinity is in a great position to take over, if they want and can spare the resources. So while a publisher's tool would be awesome I'd settle with an Aperture heir as the first step. 

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1 hour ago, ashf said:

enable Tools > General > Show all  graphic format

Thank you. :)

Although this was answered and resolved back in December 2018, it’s still a good reminder in case others run into the same issue. Thanks again for helping out. :)

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8 minutes ago, AdrianB said:

Yes Aperture is a photographer's tool, I totally agree. A tool that unfortunately is dying and Affinity is in a great position to take over, if they want and can spare the resources. So while a publisher's tool would be awesome I'd settle with an Aperture heir as the first step. 

We just have different priorities - and I respect that (and I would also love them to create an Aperture/Lightroom replacement).

The main point is, the people at Affinity are hopefully reading this and will act one way or the other (or hopefully both).

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12 hours ago, 78deluxe said:

Capture One is the market leader in this space, not Lightroom.  I'd love to see Affinity take on that challenge. 
 

RAW processing in the develop persona is one of the few weaknesses in the suite of programs.  Developing a DAM with RAW processing, color control and teathering on the level of Capture One would be remarkable.

While I own Capture One, Lightroom, On1 RAW, Darktable, ACDsee I'd prefer to stay in the Affinity echosystem.  Capture One has the market leading tools and performance.  Don't make the mistake of thinking Lightroom is the benchmark.
 

 

The Capture One tools, colour editors and management are indeed leading on the technological front.

I had to go back to Lightroom the other day and remembered that after 20 minutes of use ,it'll bring ANY high end workstation to its knees with it's system consumption and various memory leaks. It's really showing it's age these days and no wonder Adobe are pouring everything into the web based software.

Capture One is the answer!

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23 minutes ago, davidg2020 said:

At the end of the day, it's a photographer's tool.

I'm looking for a publisher's tool (i.e. one for graphic designers, art director and magazine/newspaper editors). 

It's a fair distinction (and it intrigued me).

There are ( I suspect) more fundamental differences than just the users' occupation. What most people are looking for (in the Aperture / Lightroom "DAM" context) is a way for creators (and yes, mostly photographers) to manage the workflow of their images, from RAW ingestion to output. In my workflow, editing has three phases : RAW processing, detailed editing and colour grading / toning. I only used LR for the first of those.

The DAM side - for me - is to keep track of the images in the process; I use it to upload proof images,  record the clients' selections, manage the stages of the editing process, and output the processed files. There may be gaps between these stages, so I want to be able to pick up where I left off. I want to find the image easily and quickly, if I decide to share it to Instagram a month after editing.
Other photographers - in other genres - will have different processes, but any of these apps will cover 90% of most photographers' needs, from enthusiast to professional. Most of us are one-man bands.
Importantly (and I suspect this applies to most users) they're all my images - my assets, and the app site on my machine.

A publisher/studio asset management system (the beasts I think you referred to) would, I suspect, be on a whole different scale, especially as all publishable media forms would eventually need to be embraced (including audio and video) and web platforms - not just 'print' media.
Third parties may have an interest in some of those assets, in which case you'd want metadata recording the licence/royalty terms, including (potentially) by-lines, cast lists and licence expiry dates. There may be contractual, regulatory or ethical restrictions on the asset usage.
As an extreme example, think of the copyright clearances now needed for samples on recorded music.
Records may need to be kept of where and when the asset has been published - what happens if you get a takedown notice for an image that's been shared on several different platforms ?
If you're a larger business, you might want an API to take feeds from - or send them to - other systems (a sales system, or royalty payments, for example - or music/video streaming volumes and income). And you'd need development support trained to configure and implement them.
A commercial studio might want to link to job management statistics, or workload/issue completion projections.
Because of the interaction within the team (copywriters / editors), this would be designed as a multiuser application, so you need to be able to book assets in and out (a bit like GitHub). You might want messaging or approval functionality. Some of team members might work remotely (typically, from home).
Most importantly (because of the above), it would be a complex database application, applicable to niche vertical markets, rather than to retail customers.
Because it's such a radically different development, there would be little synergy with Affinity's existing software and people assets - meaning a different software toolkit, and a different set of skills to maintain and support.
All of which is really outside Affinity's existing business and pricing model - and the reality is that there aren't as many 'enthusiast' publishers as photographers :( - although the growth of on-line magazine platforms (Kavyar & Issuu, for example) is making it much more accessible. So there's probably a niche, but the trick would be building it for the right price.

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7 minutes ago, km.au said:

I had to go back to Lightroom the other day and remembered that after 20 minutes of use ,it'll bring ANY high end worstation to its knees with it's system consumption and various memory leaks. Capture One is it!

No kidding.

About three years ago, I started looking closely at using Affinity Photo to replace Adobe Photoshop. About two years ago, I decided to use a Capture One Pro to replace Lightroom for raw image processing. I’ve never regretted these two major decisions to a single moment.

Because I’ll likely never let go of Capture One Pro, I don’t particularly need Serif to replace its functionality. I have to agree with @davidg2020, that Lightroom and Capture One Pro are basically raw processors and image managers, rather than true digital asset management systems. My bet is that Serif will focus on the latter sort of software, and come at it a bit differently than anyone has done before. 

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13 hours ago, Ulysses said:

While I agree with you that Capture One Pro is overall a superior product compared to Lightroom, I wouldn't call them the "market leader." Adobe is clearly the 800-lb gorilla in this space in terms of shear adoption and general ease of use by the largest numbers of people. There's a reason for that. Adobe is a marketing machine. However, this doesn't necessarily make Lightroom the superior tool for professionals unless then want/need tight integration with other Adobe applications.

I also like the fact that Capture One Pro allows you to buy a perpetual license, giving you the option to rent the software via subscription. Adobe simply locks you into ONE choice, which is the reason many of us left Adobe. 

If Serif is to build its own DAM, they somehow need to come up with a means to deliver something DIFFERENT than what either Lightroom or Capture One Pro is doing. As mentioned in their keynote yesterday, the Affinity team was interested in thinking differently about achieving the end goal. I hope that if they create a DAM, it will continue to adhere to this idea. Recreating what's already been done is usually not the way forward. They need a fresh look at this sort of product. 

To breakdown my quote a bit more.  

Capture One is the market leader in terms of technology and professionalism in the RAW processing space.  

The cell phone is the best selling camera in the world and I don't think anyone would reasonably think that is the tool professionals need to benchmark against for photography.  I think of Lightroom in a similar (though not as extreme) fashion.

If Serif cloned Capture One and sold it for $50, it would sell like hotcakes.  While I agree and expect them to do something different, the reality is they clearly looked at the Adobe products to create the current (wonderful) trio of applications.  The obvious thing to do would be to create a lighroom-like application to bring those same users in.  The difference in this product space is that Lightroom is only the leader in terms of sales, not in terms of actually pushing image processing to the current limits.  Thus my overall point here is that InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator WERE the best of breed and it made sense to use them as the benchmark.  LIghtroom doesn't sit in that seat and I think they would sell themselves short of world domination if they chose that as the real source of what a DAM/RAW Processor can and should be.   

I'm positive they could produce a non-RAW processing application like Photo-Mechanic, integrate it with the trio and it would be valuable to a lot of people (including myself).   But once you enter the RAW processing world, I'd like to see a market leading product (i.e. like Capture One) instead of a "it is pretty good" product like Lightroom.  All the pro photographers I know seem to view the RAW processing piece as the most vital to end product quality.  

Capture One is priced for pros and so were InDesign, Photoshop, and Publisher when Affinity was under development.  Adobe didn't introduce subscription until well after Affinity was underdevelopment.  It just happened to help create a revolution, which I personally still find interesting considering the Photography package did become cheaper for some users.  Photoshop + Lightroom were $700+ , that is almost 6 years worth of the $10 subscription.  I personally was not a fan of either Adobe model.  The one time cost was too high and a subscription is just unacceptable.

 

I LOVE what Affinity has done on all fronts and recommend them without hesitation.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, 78deluxe said:

Capture One is the market leader in terms of technology and professionalism in the RAW processing space... 

I personally was not a fan of either Adobe model.  The one time cost was too high and a subscription is just unacceptable...

I LOVE what Affinity has done on all fronts and recommend them without hesitation.

Completely agree on all those points. :) 

What I found interesting about yesterday’s keynote was that while the Affinity apps were built to care for similar tasks as competing Adobe applications, the truly revolutionary thing about them is now realized with StudioLink technology. It’s such an intuitive approach that it’s amazing no one has truly done this sooner. Cannot wait to see where this takes them in future versions.

This sort of tight integration is another reason I, too, always recommend this suite to other pro colleagues and friends.

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