Plan digital asset libraries (SharePoint Server 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-09-28

This article describes the tasks involved in planning a digital asset library solution in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

The SharePoint Server 2010 asset library, which is a kind of document library, is a collection of media files — such as image, audio, and video files — that are shared with other site users. This article first summarizes the asset library, and tells how to plan for it. Next, the article describes additional tasks associated with planning various aspects of managing digital assets in an enterprise.

For information about managing digital assets, see Managing digital assets overview (SharePoint Server 2010).

In this article:

Asset library overview

Plan for asset libraries

Plan for permissions and security

Plan for storage and performance

Plan for metadata and Search

Plan for Web Parts and Web pages

Plan for client support

Asset libraries are collections of media files — such as image, audio, and video files — on SharePoint Server 2010 that you share with other site users. As part of planning for managing digital assets, you must determine the asset library that best fits the needs of the organization. Because the asset library is nothing more than a SharePoint Server library with specialized content types for digital assets, you use many of the same methods to plan a digital asset solution as you use to plan a document management solution.

You can use an asset library in two ways:

  • As a general document library for digital assets at the team level   This can be as simple as a place to store images, audio, and video files for use by your team. You might give everyone on the team permissions to upload, organize and manage assets, or you might restrict the task of organizing and managing assets to a small subset of people on your team.

    SharePoint Server 2010 does not support live streaming of audio or video content.
  • As a centralized repository for digital assets for the organization   In this situation, you use content approval and workflow for all assets that are added to the library, and you might have people with different roles who are responsible for separate stages of the approval process. For example, graphic designers and audio/video producers could upload assets to the library. But a content manager could be responsible for triaging incoming assets and approving them for publication, in addition to assigning additional metadata to the assets.

The process of planning the asset libraries for your digital asset solution consists of the following major steps:

  1. Identify roles for managing digital assets

  2. Analyze asset usage

  3. Plan organization of asset libraries

  4. Plan content types

  5. Plan content governance for digital assets

  6. Plan workflows

  7. Plan policies

  8. Other uses for an asset library

As with planning a document library, the first step in planning a digital asset library is to determine the participants and stakeholders for your solution. This will help you answer questions such as who creates digital assets in your organization, what kinds of assets do they create, who manages the assets, and who maintains the servers on which the assets are stored? For more information and for a worksheet to record the data that you collect, see Identify users and analyze document usage (SharePoint Server 2010).

After you identify who works on assets, determine the kinds of assets they work on, and how the assets will be used. This analysis will help you determine important information such as how to structure the asset libraries, how many libraries you will require, which content types to use for the assets, and which information management policies to apply to the asset libraries. Because the size of most digital assets will be much larger than standard documents, you must also plan for storage capacity. For more information and for a worksheet to record the data that you collect, see Identify users and analyze document usage (SharePoint Server 2010).

As you plan the asset libraries, you must make decisions about the libraries specifically, where to create them, how they must be used, how many are needed, and how to organize them. You use the same methods for planning asset libraries as for planning document libraries. This section describes special considerations for planning asset libraries:

  • Determine how many asset libraries are needed

  • Decide where you want to create the asset library

  • Choose a fixed or collaborative library

  • Decide how to organize the asset library

Determine how many asset libraries are needed   This determination, as in the earlier analysis and planning steps, also depends on how the asset library will be used. For example, if you have individual teams that must use asset libraries for collaboration, and who must use content governance such as versioning while they work on assets, you can create an asset library for each team site that needs one. You can then let the teams manage their own assets. If you want the asset library to serve as a large-scale centralized repository for use by many teams, you might create a single asset library and adjust the permissions to restrict those who use, manage, and search the library. For more information, see Document library planning (SharePoint Server 2010).

If you enable the disk-based cache for a Web application, every site collection within that Web application will use the cache. If you do not have to have the disk-based cache for most the sites, consider putting in a separate Web application only those site collections containing an asset library that requires the disk-based cache.

Decide where to create the asset library   Where you create the asset library depends on how you plan to use it. For a general asset library that will be used at the team level, you might create the asset library at the site level. For a centralized repository, you might create the asset library at the site collection level. If the asset library will be used with a Web publishing site, place the library in the same site collection as the publishing site so that asset files that are used by publishing pages are available to the publishing site. Use your asset analysis to determine who creates and uses assets, and how those assets are used. This will help you decide where asset libraries are needed in the enterprise.

Choose a fixed or collaborative library   Depending on your scenario, the asset library will be either primarily a fixed library, where completed assets are checked in and the library is read-only, or it will be a collaborative environment, where versioning is enabled for the library, and users who have appropriate permissions are able to both read and write to existing assets.

Decide how to organize the asset library   You can plan to store all assets in the root of the asset library, and use custom views to display assets to library users based on certain criteria. You can also use folders to hold assets based on criteria that you specify. For example, you might put all videos in one folder and audio files in another, or you might create folders based on products and put all assets related to a particular product into each folder. Refer to your asset analysis to determine the most common scenarios for how assets are used in your organization.

The content types included in an asset library are image, audio, and video. You can either use these content types or create your own custom content types that are derived from them, depending on the classification needs of your organization. For example, you might create two separate content types for posters and product logos, and derive the base characteristics for those new content types from the image content type. This arrangement would let you associate separate properties for the two new content types, specify different workflows, or set different information management policies based on the content types. For more information, see Content type and workflow planning (SharePoint Server 2010).

You plan the appropriate degree of control for each content type and storage location for digital assets. For example, if the asset library is a collaborative solution, you can use versioning to store successive iterations of assets in the library, and can require users to check assets in and out before working on assets. You can also specify an approval process by which assets must be approved before they can be made available to an audience. For more information, see Versioning, content approval, and check-out planning (SharePoint Server 2010).

You use workflows to perform management tasks on assets in the asset library as you do with documents in a document management library. Important questions include the following: Do assets have to be reviewed and approved before they can be used by asset consumers? Who is responsible for managing the expiration of assets? Are assets retained or deleted after expiration? For more information, see Content type and workflow planning (SharePoint Server 2010).

For each content type to be used in your asset library, you must to plan the information management policies that determine how assets are audited, retained, and labeled. For more information, see Information management policy planning (SharePoint Server 2010).

SharePoint Server 2010 does not automatically apply Information Rights Management (IRM) protection to audio or video content that is stored in a SharePoint Server 2010 asset library. Additionally, when audio or video assets stored in SharePoint Server 2010 are viewed by a user, copies of those assets might be stored in the user’s local browser cache. The SharePoint Server 2010 media player supports playing IRM-protected audio and video formats where the DRM protection was applied by an external IRM provider that is supported by Microsoft Silverlight 3 or subsequent versions. For more information, see Digital Rights Management (DRM) (

The following table lists additional uses for an asset library in SharePoint Server 2010.


Feature Description


With the new audio and video content types that are included with asset libraries, the library RSS feed can be used for podcasting. Users can take the URL for the library RSS feed and enter it into their podcast application to receive updates for when new audio and video files are added to the asset library. For more information about how to upload audio and video files, see Set up a library to store image, audio, or video files.

Suggested Content Browser Locations

When using a publishing site, the URL for an asset library in a separate site can be added to the Suggested Content Browser Locations list for the publishing site. This will enable content creators to access the asset library when they insert assets into Web pages within SharePoint Server 2010, or within Microsoft Office 2010 suite applications, such as Microsoft Word.

Content Organizer

When using an asset library as a centralized repository, consider using the Content Organizer feature to automate the routing of assets that are uploaded to the library by users. When the Content Organizer feature is started in Site Settings, a new library called Drop Off Library is automatically created. This allows for the creation of rules for how assets added to this library are routed to other libraries, such as the asset library. For example, you can direct all audio assets into one folder of the asset library, whereas all video assets are stored in another folder.

An advantage to using the Content Organizer is that certain metadata fields can be required to receive user input when new assets are added. This helps control where different types of assets are put, and reduces the work that would otherwise be performed by content managers who are responsible for administering the asset library and managing the assets it contains.

Published links

Administrators can add links to SharePoint sites and lists from client applications in the Microsoft Office 2010 suites such as Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. These links appear on the My SharePoint Sites tab of the Open, Save, and Save As dialog boxes when you open and save documents from these applications. Users can manually add links to their published link lists by browsing to a library and clicking Connect to Office. For more information, see Add or delete links to Office client applications (SharePoint Server 2010).

Planning for permissions and security in an asset library is the same as planning for permissions and security in a document library. For information about the available default groups, permission levels, and when to use custom groups or levels, see Determine permission levels and groups (SharePoint Server 2010).

Because an asset library is a specialized kind of document library, determining storage requirements for digital assets will resemble determining storage requirements for documents. The primary difference is that asset libraries contain fewer assets than document libraries contain. But the assets in an asset library are larger than those in a document library. When you plan for storage, analyze the content to determine the number of assets that will be stored in the asset library, and the average size of those assets. For example, if you have 50,000 assets and the average file size is 10 megabytes (MB), you must have a minimum 500 gigabytes (GB) of storage on the database server. If you will be using the disk-based binary large object (BLOB) cache, you must also make sure that the front-end Web server has sufficient disk space available in which to store the cached files.

Depending on the type of digital asset files that will be stored in your asset library, you should enable the disk-based BLOB cache and Bit Rate Throttling in order to provide better performance for users. It is usually a good idea to enable the disk-based BLOB cache. When the BLOB cache is enabled, it stores specified file types on the front-end Web server to reduce the load put on the database server when those files are requested and served to users.

If you will be using the asset library to serve audio and video files to users, we recommend that you always enable the BLOB cache, and that you enable Bit Rate Throttling on the server. Bit Rate Throttling controls the rate at which audio and video files are downloaded to the client so that overall performance on the site is not affected. Bit Rate Throttling also allows for progressive downloading and viewing of these assets by users. For more information about the disk-based cache, see Plan for caching and performance (SharePoint Server 2010). For information about how to enable and configure Bit Rate Throttling, see Bit Rate Throttling Readme (

The addition of metadata that helps describe the type and content of a digital asset greatly improves the discoverability of content in an asset library. When you plan an asset library, remember that rich media files are not automatically searchable because they do not contain text that a search engine can index. The metadata that is used to describe digital assets can include information such as the title, description, author, copyright, and enterprise keywords that provide additional details about the asset. Some metadata, such as the size and dimensions of an image, is entered automatically when the asset is uploaded to the asset library. Other metadata, such as a text description of an image, is added manually either by the asset creator when the asset is uploaded, or by the library manager during triage of incoming assets or performance of administrative tasks, such as the addition of keywords or approval status to library assets.

SharePoint Server 2010 has many Web Parts and field controls that have been added or updated to take advantage of the new content types that are included as part of an asset library. Web Parts are added to Web zones in Web Part pages by content owners, whereas field controls are added to publishing pages by site developers and designers. For more information about Web Parts and field controls, see Understanding Field Controls and Web Parts in SharePoint Server 2007 Publishing Sites. Examples of Web Parts and field controls that are used to display digital assets include the following:

  • Media Web Part and field control   Used to display embedded video in a Web page.

  • Image Web Part and field control   Used to display images on a Web page.

  • Content by query Web Part   Used to display items from all sites in a site collection, a selected site or subsite, or a specific list or library. The query can be configured to return a list of items based on list and content types, and can be filtered and targeted to a specific audience.

When you design Web pages for sites, consider which fields to expose to users in Web pages and Web Parts to help users find the assets they need. You can customize the information that is displayed when a user lets the pointer pause on an asset in the asset library by editing the Thumbnail view in the Library Settings page.

If you want enterprise users to be able to take advantage of the rich media experience offered in SharePoint Server 2010, install Silverlight 3 or subsequent versions on all client computers that will access your Web sites. You must plan how and when Silverlight 3 is installed. For example, will all users access the asset library, and must they all have the Silverlight 3 player installed? Will the organization require a managed deployment of the Silverlight 3 client to all desktops, or will you let users install the client on an as-needed basis? For more information about Silverlight 3, see Silverlight Overview (

When a user who does not have Silverlight 3 installed on a computer tries to play an audio or video asset, that asset opens with whatever media application is set as the default player on the computer.