I think the biggest downside in Bridge is all the compromises had been made in order to make the product cross-platform. It really doesn't have native feeling neither in Windows or in OS X; for example some keyboard shortcuts work, some don't — some perform in expected way and some don't.
Keywording, searching, grouping… — management overall feels a bit rough on the edges. This may be partially because I use Adobe's Lightroom to manage (& edit) my photographs: Lightroom shares some terminology and some methods with Bridge, but being less of a sandbox I think it is more productive to use. Sadly (or luckily) Lightroom won't deal with all files, so it really couldn't be used as a general digital asset manager.
What I'm currently looking into is OpenMeta tagging to deal with my assets (which, after all, are all files). For my workflow I would be delighted to use just tags to manage and search my files. Just imagine you would had a clients for which you would make brochure:
albert_logo.jpg — tags: albert, logo, print
bob_logo.jpg — tags: logo, bob, albert_event, albert_event_brochure, print
bob_logo_small.png — tags: logo, bob, albert_event, web
copy.rtf — tags: albert_event, print, copy
handshake.jpg — tags: albert, web, stock, corporate
welcome.rtf — tags: albert, web, copy, filler
Using Finder (OS X equivalent of Explorer) in order to locate
welcome.rtf you'd need to browse to e.g.
~/Projects/Albert/Web/ or for
~/Projects/Albert/Logo/ or even
And what about
bob_logo.jpg? If Bob is both your client and a sponsor in Albert's Event, should you put this file to
~/Projects/Albert/Albert Event/Sponsor_Logos/Print/ or to
~/Projects/Bob/Logo/Print/? Both? Create links to both? … And what if Bob & Albert's contract state that Bob will get his logo only to the brochure and web, but not to the poster? Would then one need to create
Poster etc. subfolders to
~/Projects/Albert/Albert Event/Sponsor_Logos/Print/? The chaos is about to emerge.
With tags one could search for
logo and then get all the logos associated with Albert Event's brochure.
To get all the text for Albert's website? Forget the folder structure and just search for
All the functionality delivered by tags could be achieved with Bridge using keywords and collections, just like Alan described. The power of OpenMeta tagging is that it is standard, already supported by Spotlight (search for files with a tag by e.g.
tag:web) and several third party apps can use them. I've compared (albeit quite tersely) few tag managers for OS X and Leap, especially with its recent price drop, looks promising.
In contrast, Bridge's keywords are as far as I know only available for Bridge alone. The OpenMeta tags are applied to the files themselves (not to a dedicated database), so if the file system support it, the data probably will be carried along.
Also it should not be forgotten that Bridge integrates quite tightly, if you wish so, with the Adobe Creative Suite and when used properly, it is great "glue" between the programs; not to mention you could synchronise colour profiles of all CS applications (only) via Bridge.
In the meantime I have been using Alfred with its Powerpack to browse for and open files. Being a bit more keyboard than point & click oriented, it has allowed me to find the files I'm looking for a lot faster. With Powerpack's file system navigation I don't necessarily have to go into Finder at all. For my workflow, Alfred is the Swiss multitool — file operations merely being a part of it. By itself, it has not solved the problem but at least it has made my filesystem more tolerable.
All in all, I haven't used Bridge too much in my workflow. I can recognise its potential, but it doesn't feel intuitive enough compared to other options. You definitely should look into Bridge and see for yourself if its keywords, collections, metadata handling, rating and batch–processing et al. would suit your needs. If you feel there are more drawbacks or just too many options, I would suggest you to look at OpenMeta tags and tagging managers.