Thanks to all of those who congratulated us on the release of pixyBlog; it's great to finally be launched!
In the last post I didn't mention any features that are included in the latest release, so I'll cover these here:
There are three different plans our users can subscribe to, these are:
The different plans are designed to meet the requirements of our users; some photographers want their own domain name and a fully customizable theme, others want a more simple-to-manage photoblog. We also included the Premium plan for power users; it allows up to three photoblogs, multi users and unlimited storage space.
More details about the different plans can be found on our pricing page. Each plan comes with a free 14 day trial and the option to change subscription plans at any time with no extra fees.
To register an account with pixyBlog we now have a simple online sign up process. New users need to supply their contact details, a payment method (either Credit Card or PayPal) and choose the plan they wish to subscribe to. Immediately upon completing the sign up process, new users will be up-and-running with their new photoblog in just minutes.
We have extended the 'Profile' section of the admin area so that our users have much greater control over their pixyBlog account. The different sections are:
Most of these should be straightforward enough not to warrant any explanation, but I will write a little about the Subscription Management and Affiliate Program.
Manage your subscription: Users can change their subscription level at any time. You want to change from monthly to annual billing? No problem. You want to upgrade from your Basic account to Premium? Again, no problems. When changing subscription levels, your blog entries, images and other settings will remain unaffected. If you've customized your theme, then this will remain unchanged too*. Switching between levels is easy and there are no additional fees involved, you just pay for the difference in subscription costs. The subscription system is fully automated, so changes take effect immediately. Also, renewals are processed automatically, so when a user's subscription is up for renewal, they will first be notified by email and then their subscription renewal will be processed.
* unless you're downgrading to the Basic level where customized themes are not supported.
Affiliate program: The launch of pixyBlog includes a powerful affiliate system which can earn users additional credit. The credit earned through this can be put towards the next subscription renewal. Each pixyBlog user is given a unique affiliate code which can be used to receive discounts on new subscriptions. We will give our users 20% of the subscription fee for any new users they refer. Also, the new user will receive 10% off of their chosen plan. It's simple to refer a friend to pixyBlog; simply enter their email address on the 'Your Profile > Affiliate Program' page and they will receive an email inviting them to join pixyBlog. The email includes a link with a unique affiliate code which is used to apply the discount. The credit earned from referring new users will not expire and can be used against subscription renewals indefinitely.
Here are a few other minor changes which are included in the latest release:
Basic statistics overview – number entries, comments, images etc.
Feeds updated – the RSS/Atom feeds now include a larger version of the photo in the feed.
Themes change – Before the release of pixyBlog we included the Lightbox2 script to display overlayed photos on the Thumbnails and Archives pages of our photoblogs. It was decided not to make this a default feature for new subscriptions as it is not perfectly integrated with pixyBlog; e.g. there is no support for display the comment information and the script only works once every image on the page has been fully loaded, which occasionally causes problems especially on the Thumbnails page. For those reasons we decided to make this an optional feature for new users.
Just a quick note to say that as of 9am GMT today (Friday March 7th 2008) pixyBlog has been released to the public. This has been a been a culmination of over two years of work to get to this point and I, for one, will be celebrating tonight. More information about the release will be posted here shortly. But I would just like to thank all the beta testers who have done an amazing job in helping drive this project forward; without you guys pixyBlog wouldn't be what it is today. We started with three photographers and just over 16 months later we're launching with hundreds.
We are pleased to announce that a new release of the pixyBlog photoblogging software is now online for our beta-testers to get their teeth into. Although release number wise we're only moving from version 3.0 to 3.1, it is quite a big update and marks the last major release before we're out of the beta stage.
You can now tag your new (and existing) entries with an array of keyword tags. This helps categorize your photos and also makes them easier for visitors to find. In general, the more tags the better.
For example the you might want to tag the following photo with these tags:
wheel sky fair fun_fair ride big_wheel
Does this mean I need to go back through all my entries and tag them all?
Only if you want your visitors to be able to find your existing entries through tag searches. As your library of photos grows it makes sense to make them as easy to find as possible, so we do encourage you to tag your new entries and "if" you can find the time to go back and tag your existing entries, even better.
A much requested feature was to be able to store your photos in galleries (or albums/folders/sets... whatever your preferred description). This is now possible in pixyBlog. You can have:
pixyBlog has taken your old categories, which you no longer need, and used these as the starting point for you galleries. Each of your categories has now become a gallery. Of course you can login and change these from your admin area.
Search did exist in the previous version but only a few Themes made any use of it and on those it was quite an ugly feature. With 3.1 search has been improved and now we not only make use of keyword searching your entry titles & descriptions, but with the advent of tagging we have a much better search tool.
Another request we kept hearing was from people browsing the Thumbnail pages and having to click each photo, taking them to the main entry page, to view the enlarged photo, and then having to click back to view all the thumbnails again. A much better solution would be to stay on the same page and simply click through each of the photos in turn. Making use of the Lightbox script from Lokesh Dhakar we think this is a big improvement... we would like to know what you think of it.
Another two Themes have been added for our users to choose from. Both are of the 'darker' style and can be seen in use currently on these photoblogs:
These Themes are a little more 'dynamic' then the others... again it would be good to hear what you think.
Still using the bookmarking feature in your browser? Shame on you! ;-)
The popularity of online 'social' bookmarking has prompted us to make it easier for our users to make their photoblog entries bookmarkable using these tools. We've decided to start support for the following online bookmarking sites:
You will see the above icons on the entry pages making it easier for visitors to bookmark your entry and site.
Don't like them? Think the icons are too intrusive? No problem, you can simply remove them from your template.
There are some features which have either moved from the previous version or have disappeared completely (for good reasons). These are:
As mentioned above, categories have morphed into galleries and we now recommend you categorize your entries using Tags, good descriptions and assigning them to galleries.
The 'New Entry' page has changed a little as follows:
Tags: You will now see a field for entering your tags. Tags are many keywords which each help describe your entry in some way. If you want to add a term or phrase which isn't a single word (such as 'modern art' or 'table tennis') then we recommend that you use the underscore character to join the separate words, e.g. modern_art.
Galleries: Select one, many or none for your entry. To select multiple galleries you can use the 'ctrl' key (Windows) or the 'options' key (Mac) to multi-select.
Date: We have moved this to the bottom under 'Advanced Settings'. We found most people are posting their entries straight-away rather than scheduling their entries so it's been moved to simplify the interface.
So... we hope you like it! We're aware of a few glitches on some of the Themes which we are working on fixing now. We would love to hear your feedback (opinions, bugs you find, new features you are craving)... best way is to post in our discussion group.
- pixyBlog Team