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Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Assets can identify if an uploaded file contains references to assets that already exist in the repository. This feature is available for supported file formats only. If the uploaded asset contains any references to AEM assets, a bidirectional link is created between the uploaded and referenced assets.

Besides eliminating redundancy, referencing AEM assets in Adobe Creative Cloud applications enhances collaboration and increases the efficiency and productivity of users. 

AEM Assets supports bidirectional referencing. You can find referenced assets in the asset detail page of the uploaded file. In addition, you can view the referencing files for AEM assets in the asset details page of the referenced asset.

References are resolved on the basis of path, document ID, and instance ID of the referenced assets.

Adding AEM Assets as references in Adobe Illustrator

You can reference existing AEM assets from within an Adobe Illustrator file.

  1. Using a WebDav client, mount AEM Assets as a drive.

  2. Within the mounted drive, navigate to the location of the asset that you want to reference.

  3. Drag the asset from the mounted drive to the Illustrator file.

  4. Save the Illustrator file to the mounted drive, or upload to the AEM repository.

  5. After the worflow completes, go to the asset details page for the asset. The references to existing AEM assets are listed under Dependencies in the References column.

  6. The referenced assets that appear under Dependencies can also be referenced by files other than the current one. To view a list of referencing files for an asset, click the asset in the under Dependencies.

  7. Click the View Properties icon from the toolbar. In the properties page, the list of files that reference the current asset appear under the References column in the Basic tab.


Adding AEM assets as references in Adobe InDesign

To reference AEM assets from within an Indesign file, either drag AEM assets to the Indesign file or export the Indesign file as a ZIP file.

Referenced assets already exist in AEM Assets. You can extract subassets by configuring InDesign server. Embedded assets in an InDesign file are extracted as subassets. 


If the InDesign server is proxied, InDesign files have their preview embedded within their XMP metadata. In this case, thumbnail extraction is not explicitly required. However, if the InDesign server is not proxied, thumbnails must be explicitly extracted for InDesign files.

Creating references By Dragging AEM assets

Creating references to AEM assets by exporting a ZIP file

  1. Perform the steps in Creating Workflow Models to create a new workflow.

  2. Use the Package feature of Adobe InDesign to export the document.
    Adobe InDesign can export a document and the linked assets as a package. In this case, the exported folder contains a Links folder that contains sub-assets in the InDesign file.

  3. Create a ZIP file and upload it to the AEM repository.

  4. Start the Unarchiver workflow.

  5. When the workflow completes, the references in the Links folder are automatically referenced as subassets. To view a list of referred assets, navigate to the asset details page of the InDesign asset and close the Rail.

How asset references in InDesign files work

In Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Assets, links to referenced assets are dynamic and automatically change if the referenced assets in InDesign files move within the JCR hierarchy.

It is because, rather than persisting the absolute AEM server address, InDesign documents persist link paths relative to the placeholder server.

If InDesign files and assets move from one AEM instance to another, links automatically change to the other server URL. This way, the dependency of InDesign links bypasses the AEM externalizer.

The reason for this is that assets in AEM carry a GUID, which stays consistent when assets are moved or replicated from one server to another. However, if you delete an asset and uploaded it again, a different GUID is created.

A REST service is implemented, which can be called with multiple asset paths. Each path is prefixed with the path parameter. The service is registered under the path /content/dam/dam:batch.status.json, and HTTP POST method.

Here is a sample code for a call.

curl --data "path=/content/dam/asset1.jpg&path=/content/dam/asset2.pdf&path=/content/dam/asset3.indd" http://localhost:4502/content/dam/dam:batch.status.json

In the background, the service scans the assets defined in the path parameter and reads their metadata properties. The metadata properties are defined with a prop parameter. If no prop parameter value is passed, the following default properties are returned:

  • dc:title
  • dc:description
  • dc:language
  • cq:tags
  • xmp:CreatorTool
  • dc:creator
  • dc:contributor
  • dc:rights
  • xmpRights:Owner
  • xmpRights:UsageTerms

You can also retrieve all metadata properties that have names starting with a specified string using the wildcard character "*." For example, the prop value dc:* prompts the system to return all properties that have names starting with dc:.

Passing the prop value d* fetches a response that includes properties that have names starting with d. This feature is not case sensitive.

If a given property does not exists for an Asset, it is ignored. The API also returns a summary of retrieved assets.

Here is a possible response for the CURL command.

  "summary": {
    "requested": 3,
    "found": 2,
    "missing-or-not-authorized": 1
  "assets": [
      "path": "/content/dam/asset1.jpg",
      "dc:title": "Asset 1 Title",
      "dc:subject": "This Asset has a subject"
      "path": "/content/dam/asset2.pdf",
      "dc:title": "Asset 2 Title"

Adding AEM assets as references in Adobe Photoshop

  1. Using a WebDav client, mount AEM Assets as a drive.

  2. To create references to AEM assets in a Photoshop file, navigate to the corresponding assets in the mounted drive using the Place linked functionality in Photoshop.

  3. Save in Photoshop file to the mounted drive or or upload to the AEM repository.

  4. After the worflow completes, the references to existing AEM assets are listed in the asset details page.

    To view the referenced assets, close the Rail in the asset details page.

  5. The referenced assets also contain the list of assets they are referenced from. To view a list of referenced assets, navigate to the asset details page and close the Rail.


The assets  within compound assets can also be referenced based on their Document ID and Instance ID. This functionality is available with Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud and Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud versions only. For others, referencing is done on the basis of relative path of linked assets in the main compound asset as done in earlier versions of AEM.

Viewing pages of a multi-page file

The Page Viewer feature of AEM Assets lets you view individual pages of multi-page files, including PDF, INDD, PPT, PPTX, and Ai files. For InDesign, you can extract pages using InDesign server. If the previews of pages are saved during indesign file creation , then Indesign Server is not required for page extraction.

You can browse through individual pages of a file from the asset page. You can use options from the toolbar to annotate individual pages of the file. You can also use the Page Overview option to view all the pages simultaneously.

  1. Navigate to the folder in AEM Assets that contains the multi-page file.

  2. Click the asset to view its asset page.

  3. Click the Global Nav icon, and then choose Pages from the menu.

  4. Click the left or right arrows below the image to navigate to individual pages of the file.

  5. To annotate a page, click the Annotate icon from the toolbar and add a comment.

  6. To download the file, click the Download icon.

  7. To view all pages of the file simultaneously, click the Page Overview icon.

  8. To view the activity stream for the file, including annotations and downloads, click the Global Nav ico and then choose Timeline from the menu.

  9. To view and edit the metadata properties of the page, click the View Properties icon from the toolbar.