Digital Media Library in Drupal Using the Scald Module - An interview with Sylvain Moreau, Open Web Solutions

Scald logo

Smile was present on February 14 at the OWS offices to participate in the ‘Scald’ (Drupal module for managing digital media) community sprint. Vincent Maucorps from Smile took advantge of the opportunity to speak with its CEO, Sylvain Moreau.

Sylvain, can you present OWS in a few words ? 

Sylvain Moreau CEO Scald Drupal

OWS (Open Web Solutions) was born from a meeting I had back in 2001 with Pierre Ternon, Pierre Cotinière and Cédric Perronnet, all passionate like me about Open Source technologies. Since then OWS has become a key player in carrying out major sites using Drupal. Based in Paris, our team of mutli-skilled experts (encompassing design, usability, user experience, development, hosting and performance) provides services to the most demanding customers.

In 2010 we took over the maintenance of the Scald module.

Can you explain to us the purpose of the Scald module ? 

Scald is a module integrated into Drupal which allows for the management of multimedia, digital assets. Thanks to numerous extensions, Scald allows users to search through various sources both internal (image, sound, video, and PDF files) and external (YouTube, etc)…

The Front-End of the module manages the cache, responsive design, and the various display settings, while the user friendly Back-Office provides access to the entire media library from any page. Also, a Drag&Drop feature is available to place the media files directly in the content.

Who uses Scald ?

Scald logo

Among the most leading users, we can site GDF Suez, Total, Le Figaro, Radio France, and also ARTE.

For these major players, the various media management solutions in Drupal were all evaluated and Scald came out on top, as it best met the groups’ needs in content delivery. These needs include connection to third party suppliers, management of media life cycles, responsive design, and more.

This adoption by such prestigious actors is for us, a major recognition.

How is Scald different from the more frequently installed Drupal media management modules, like ‘IMCE’ and ‘Media’ ?

IMCE is the historical Drupal media management module, in existence since Drupal 4.7. It is mainly intended to allow for access from a rich text editor to a directory server storing media files. It also allows to drop files that are stored on an office or work computer into this server. Its functionalities are limited but still suitable for the general public utilizing smaller files. On the contrary, IMCE is no longer suitable for larger media or office type files.

The ‘Media’ module can move at high speed by combining Drupal entities to the files, via the concept of ‘File Entity.’ This gives way to the possibility of applying the power of Drupal multimedia assets managed by this module, such as : taxonomy classification, management of user rights, etc. Unfortunately, the principle of the ‘Media’ module remains one media type for each folder. This approach is well adaptd for use by the general public, but discloses its limitations during professional use, where, for reasons of performance or centralisation, media is generally stored in dedicated solutions (YouTube, Flickr, Soundcloud, Piksel, etc.). Even if it is possible to emulate this operating mode through the oEmbed module, it is a drawback to the flexibility of the tool.

In terms of technical architecture, Scald exceeds this constraint by using a new type of entity called ‘Media Atom,’ which has no attachment to the file concept. This approach dates back to the Drupal 6 version of Scald, at a time where the entity concept did not exist in Drupal. When the OWS team took back the maintenance of the module to adapt it to Drupal 7, it was natural to rely on the entity concept, to sustain the notion of ‘Atom Media.’ This is the fundamental difference between the ‘Media’ module and the ‘Scald’ module, a difference that ensures flexibility and scalability.

Who currently contributes to Scald ? 

Our group coordinates the work, with help from ARTE, Tieto, Inovae, Makina Corpus, Commerce Guys, Pixel Park, Enigma, Join Up and Smile who contribute by writing patches and add-ons, and finally providers (users of third party tools like YouTube, Flickr, etc.).

Ecran ordinateur

What modules are available for Scald ?  

There are multiple different module providers, some of the major ones being : Youtube, Dailymotion, Soundcloud...

Do you have any idea of the way in which media will be managed in Durpal 8 ?

Drupal 8 image

During ‘Core Conversations’ at Drupalcon Prague, the subject of the best media management tool in Drupal 8 was discussed.

The topic was moderated by Janez Urevc (‘Media’ module developer and Gallery provider for ‘Scald’). He presented the results of a survey of current practices and expectations for media management in Drupal.

The survey revealed that the users were not satisfied with the user experience provided by Drupal on this point, with particular regard to the ‘Media’ module.

The ensuing discussion led to a consensus that none of the current soultions were 100% satisfactory. The emerging trend was that it would make sense to combine the best parts of each solution.

Following DrupalCon, a project of focusing on the unified architecture of media management tools in Drupal 8 began with the module ‘Media Entity.’ The central idea is to define a sustainable architecture through modeling media resources, by which various other modules could be added : Providers, Back-Office Libraries, WYSIWYG Solutions, etc.

What happens to Scald through all of this ?

Scald will hold onto its roadmap for Drupal 7.

  • Package a ready-to-use media center based on classic Drupal modules, such as Views.
  • Further improve the usability of the multimedia library
  • Continue to establish new providers

Concerning Drupal 8, two lines of work are planned :

  • Provide a migration roadmap of Drupal 7 sites using Scald to the new ‘Media Entity’ module
  • Migrate the Scald module as a Front & Back-End interface to the ‘Media Entity’ module

To conclude, give us 3 reasons to choose Scald for managing media in Drupal ? 

  • User experience
  • The native scalability of the module (cache management)
  • Flexibility (number of providers)
Providers logo

If you are interested in trying out Scald, here are some useful links :

Explore Scald demo site.
Try out the Scald Galaxy distribution.
Download the Scald module.
Download the provider modules.
 Download the Scald Galaxy distribution.


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