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Use Connected Assets to share DAM assets in Experience Manager Sites

In large enterprises the infrastructure required to create websites may be distributed. At times the website creation capabilities and digital assets used to create these websites may reside in different deployments. One reason can be geographically distributed existing deployments that are required to work in tandem. Another reason can be acquisitions leading to heterogenous infrastructure that the parent company wants to use together.
Users can create web pages in Experience Manager Sites. Experience Manager Assets is the Digital Asset Management (DAM) system that supplies the required assets for websites. Experience Manager now supports the above use case by integrating Sites and Assets.

Overview of Connected Assets

When editing pages in Page Editor, the authors can seamlessly search, browse, and embed assets from a different Assets deployment. The administrators create a one-time integration of a deployment of Sites with a different (remote) deployment of Assets.
For the Sites authors, the remote assets are available as read-only local assets. The functionality supports seamless search and use of a few remote assets at a time. To make many remote assets available on a Sites deployment in one-go, consider migrating the assets in bulk.

Prerequisites and supported deployments

Before you use or configure this capability, ensure the following:
  • The users are part of the appropriate user groups on each deployment.
  • For Adobe Experience Manager deployment types, one of the supported criteria is met. For information about Experience Manager 6.5, see Connected Assets functionality in Experience Manager 6.5 Assets .
    Sites as a Cloud Service
    Experience Manager 6.5 Sites on AMS
    Experience Manager 6.5 Sites on-premise
    Experience Manager Assets as a Cloud Service
    Supported
    Supported
    Supported
    Experience Manager 6.5 Assets on AMS
    Supported
    Supported
    Supported
    Experience Manager 6.5 Assets on-premise
    Not Supported
    Not Supported
    Not Supported

Supported file formats

Authors search for images and the following types of documents in Content Finder and use the searched assets in Page Editor. Documents are added to the Download component and images to the Image component. Authors also add the remote assets in any custom Experience Manager component that extends the default Download or Image components. The supported formats are:

Users and groups involved

The various roles that are involved to configure and use the capability and their corresponding user groups are described below. Local scope is used for the use case where an author creates a web page. Remote scope is used for the DAM deployment hosting the required assets. The Sites author fetches these remote assets.
Role
Scope
User group
User name in walk-through
Requirement
Sites administrator
Local
Experience Manager administrators
admin
Set up Experience Manager and configure integration with the remote Assets deployment.
DAM user
Local
Authors
ksaner
Used to view and duplicate the fetched assets at /content/DAM/connectedassets/ .
Sites author
Local
Authors (with read access on the remote DAM and author access on local Sites)
ksaner
End user are Sites authors who use this integration to improve their content velocity. The authors search and browse assets in remote DAM using Content Finder and using the required images in local web pages. The credentials of ksaner DAM user are used.
Assets administrator
Remote
Experience Manager administrators
admin on remote Experience Manager
Configure Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS).
DAM user
Remote
Authors
ksaner on remote Experience Manager
Author role on the remote Experience Manager deployment. Search and browse assets in Connected Assets using the Content Finder.
DAM distributor (technical user)
Remote
Sites Authors
ksaner on remote Experience Manager
This user present on the remote deployment is used by Experience Manager local server (not the Sites author role) to fetch the remote assets, on behalf of Sites author. This role is not same as above two ksaner roles and belongs to a different user group.

Configure a connection between Sites and Assets deployments

An Experience Manager administrator can create this integration. Once created, the permissions that are required to use it are established via user groups. The user groups are defined on the Sites deployment and on the DAM deployment.
To configure Connected Assets and local Sites connectivity, follow these steps:
  1. Access an existing Sites deployment or create a deployment using the following command:
    1. In the folder of the JAR file, execute the following command on a terminal to create each Experience Manager server. java -XX:MaxPermSize=768m -Xmx4096m -jar <quickstart jar filepath> -r samplecontent -p 4502 -nofork -gui -nointeractive &
    2. After a few minutes, the Experience Manager server starts successfully. Consider this Sites deployment as the local machine for web page authoring, say at https://[local_sites]:4502 .
  2. Ensure that the users and roles with local scope exist on the Sites deployment and on the Assets deployment on AMS. Create a technical user on Assets deployment and add to the user group mentioned in users and groups involved .
  3. Access the local Sites deployment at https://[local_sites]:4502 . Click Tools > Assets > Connected Assets Configuration and provide the following values:
    1. Assets location is https://[assets_servername_ams]:[port] .
    2. Credentials of a DAM distributor (technical user).
    3. In the Mount Point field, enter the local Experience Manager path where Experience Manager fetches the assets. For example, remoteassets folder.
    4. Adjust the values of Original Binary transfer optimization Threshold depending on your network. An asset rendition with a size that is greater than this threshold, is transferred asynchronously.
    5. Select Datastore Shared with Connected Assets , if you use a datastore to store your assets and the Datastore is the common storage between both deployments. In this case, the threshold limit does not matter as actual asset binaries reside on the datastore and are not transferred.
    Figure: A typical configuration for Connected Assets.
  4. As the assets are already processed and the renditions are fetched, disable the workflow launchers. Adjust the launcher configurations on the local (Sites) deployment to exclude the connectedassets folder, in which the remote assets are fetched.
    1. On Sites deployment, click Tools > Workflow > Launchers .
    2. Search for Launchers with workflows as DAM Update Asset and DAM Metadata Writeback .
    3. Select the workflow launcher and click Properties on the action bar.
    4. In the Properties wizard, change the Path fields as the following mappings to update their regular expressions to exclude the mount point connectedassets .
    Before
    After
    /content/dam(/((?!/subassets).)*/)renditions/original
    /content/dam(/((?!/subassets)(?!connectedassets).)*/)renditions/original
    /content/dam(/.*/)renditions/original
    /content/dam(/((?!connectedassets).)*/)renditions/original
    /content/dam(/.*)/jcr:content/metadata
    /content/dam(/((?!connectedassets).)*/)jcr:content/metadata
    All renditions that are available on the remote deployment are fetched, when authors fetch an asset. If you want to create more renditions of a fetched asset, skip this configuration step. The DAM Update Asset workflow gets triggered and creates more renditions. These renditions are available only on the local Sites deployment and not on the remote DAM deployment.
  5. Add the Sites deployment as one of the Allowed Origins on the remote Assets' CORS configuration.
    1. Log in using the administrator credentials. Search for Cross-Origin . Access Tools > Operations > Web Console .
    2. To create a CORS configuration for Sites deployment, click add option next to Adobe Granite Cross-Origin Resource Sharing Policy .
    3. In the field Allowed Origins , input the URL of the local Sites, that is, https://[local_sites]:[port] . Save the configuration.

Use remote assets

The website authors use Content Finder to connect to the DAM deployment. The authors can browse, search for, and drag the remote assets in a component. To authenticate to the remote DAM, keep the credentials of the DAM user provided by your administrator handy.
Authors can use the assets available on the local DAM and the remote DAM deployment, in a single web page. Use the Content Finder to switch between searching the local DAM or searching the remote DAM.
Only those tags of remote assets are fetched that have an exact corresponding tag along with the same taxonomy hierarchy, available on the local Sites deployment. Any other tags are discarded. Authors can search for remote assets using all the tags present on the remote Experience Manager deployment, as it offers a full-text search.

Walk-through of usage

Use the above setup to try the authoring experience to understand how the functionality works. Use documents or images of your choice on the remote DAM deployment.
  1. Navigate to the Assets interface on the remote deployment by accessing Assets > Files from Experience Manager workspace. Alternatively, access https://[assets_servername_ams]:[port]/assets.html/content/dam in a browser. Upload the assets of your choice.
  2. On the Sites deployment, in the profile activator in the upper-right corner, click Impersonate as . Provide ksaner as user name, select the option provided, and click OK .
  3. Open a We.Retail website page at Sites > We.Retail > us > en . Edit the page. Alternatively, access https://[aem_server]:[port]/editor.html/content/we-retail/us/en/men.html in a browser to edit a page.
    Click Toggle Side Panel on upper-left corner of the page.
  4. Open the Assets tab and click Log in to Connected Assets .
  5. Provide the credentials -- ksaner as user name and password as password. This user has authoring permissions on both the Experience Manager deployments.
  6. Search for the asset that you added to DAM. The remote assets are displayed in the left panel. Filter for images or documents and further filter for types of supported documents. Drag the images on an Image component and documents on a Download component.
    The fetched assets are read-only on the local Sites deployment. You can still use the options provided by your Sites components to edit the fetched asset. The editing by components is non-destructive.
    Figure: Options to filter document types and images when searching assets on remote DAM.
  7. A site author is notified if an asset is fetched asynchronously and if any fetch task fails. While authoring or even after authoring, the authors can see detailed information about fetch tasks and errors in the async jobs user interface.
    Figure: Notification about asynchronous fetching of assets that happens in the background.
  8. When publishing a page, Experience Manager displays a complete list of assets that are used on the page. Ensure that the remote assets are fetched successfully at the time of publishing. To check the status of each fetched asset, see async jobs user interface.
    Even if one or more remote assets are not fetched, the page is published. The component using the remote asset is published empty. The Experience Manager notification area displays a notification for errors that show in async jobs page.
Once used in a web page, the fetched remote assets are searchable and usable by anyone who has permissions to access the local folder. The fetched assets are stored ( connectedassets in the above walk-through). The assets are also searchable and visible in the local repository via Content Finder.
The fetched assets can be used as any other local asset, except that the associated metadata cannot be edited.

Limitations

Permissions and asset management

  • Local assets are not synchronized with the original assets on the remote deployment. Any edits, deletions, or revoking of permissions on the DAM deployment are not propagated downstream.
  • Local assets are read-only copies. Experience Manager components do non-destructive edits to assets. No other edits are allowed.
  • Locally fetched assets are available for authoring purposes only. Asset update workflows cannot be applied and metadata cannot be edited.
  • Only images and the listed document formats are supported. Dynamic Media assets, Content Fragments, and Experience Fragments are not supported.
  • Metadata schemas are not fetched.
  • All Sites authors have read permissions on the fetched copies, even if authors cannot access the remote DAM deployment.
  • No API support to customize the integration.
  • The functionality supports seamless search and use of remote assets. To make many remote assets available on local deployment in one-go, consider migrating the assets.
  • It is not possible to use a remote asset as a page thumbnail on Page Properties user interface. You can set a thumbnail of a web page in Page Properties user interface from the Thumbnail by clicking Select Image.

Set up and licensing

  • Assets deployment on Adobe Managed Services is supported.
  • Sites can connect to a single Assets repository at a time.
  • A license of Assets working as remote repository.
  • One or more licenses of Sites working as local authoring deployment.

Usage

  • Users can search for remote assets and drag those on local page when authoring. No other functionality is supported.
  • Fetch operation times out after 5 seconds. Authors can have issues fetching assets, say if there are network issues. Authors can reattempt by dragging the remote asset from Content Finder to Page Editor.
  • Simple edits that are non-destructive and the edit supported via the Image component, can be done on fetched assets. Assets are read-only.
  • The only method to re-fetch the asset is to drag it on a page. There is no API support or other methods to re-fetch an asset to update it.

Troubleshoot issues

To troubleshoot for the common error scenario, follow these steps:
  • If you cannot search for remote assets from the Content Finder, then ensure that the required roles and permissions are in place.
  • An asset fetched from the remote dam may not be published on a web page for one or more reasons. It doesn't exist on remote server, lack of appropriate permissions to fetch it, or network failure can be the reasons. Ensure that the asset is not removed from the remote DAM. Ensure that appropriate permissions are in place and the prerequisites are met. Retry adding the asset to the page and republish. Check the list of asynchronous jobs for errors in asset fetching.