An Update on ProPhoto6

In an earlier blog post and video, we announced that ProPhoto 6 was coming this September, and would be fully responsive. We’ve spent nearly a year working on version 6, which is the biggest and most ambitious major upgrade we’ve ever attempted.

In the last few months we’ve faced a number of forks in the road where we’ve had to decide how deeply version 6 will diverge from previous ProPhoto versions. The deeper we got into our development work, the more we realized that truly embracing the responsive nature of the future of the web meant we had to re-think almost every fundamental concept within ProPhoto.

In examining these things, we ultimately decided to take the path of doing the hard work to make ProPhoto truly responsive at it’s very core, rather than layering a responsive skin over existing concepts.

We’re pretty thrilled with how it’s coming along — we think ProPhoto6 is going to lay the foundation for years of fast iterations and progress on a great platform that is truly responsive and deeply customizable.

However, even as we’ve felt really good about the decisions we’ve made along the way, they have come at a cost — the deeper we decided to go changing the core of ProPhoto, the more development time is needed to ship a great product.

By mid-summer, we realized that a full launch of P6 by September was probably not a realistic goal. So we internally decided we would aim to release a public beta-form near the end of September, and those who were comfortable purchasing and using it in it’s beta form could do so as we made the final additions, enhancements, polishes, and bug fixes. We followed a similar path with our Proofing plugin, releasing first a beta form to early adopters and then the finished final product.

However, now that the end of September is only 5 weeks away, it’s become increasingly clear that even having a solid beta form of ProPhoto 6 by the end of September is not going to be possible. So, it’s with regret that I need to inform you we are going to delay the arrival of version 6.

I apologize for the delay. We’ve never missed a release deadline before, so I hope you understand that missing this announced timeline isn’t something we take lightly. In hindsight, when I announced the September timing of the release, I hadn’t yet realized how deeply the responsive changes we were going to make would affect the core of the product.

What Now?

We don’t have a new hard-and-fast timeline to give you. Our intention is still to release ProPhoto6 in beta form as soon as we possibly can. We are extremely anxious to get this product in your hands and will be working as fast as we can to do so. But we feel the right thing to do is make sure we focus on building great product that is a rock solid foundation for the future of ProPhoto, rather than releasing something with the numerous deep compromises that would have been necessary to meet the original timeline.

We’ve made a ton of progress already, and can see fairly clearly the list of things that remain undone — and its shrinking every week.

Later this week we’re going to have an online meeting with our network of graphic designers who create the add-on designs for ProPhoto to give them even more detail about the state of ProPhoto6. We’re also going to be showing them some of the prototypes of the new features and concepts coming in P6 (more on those below). As soon as we can, we’re going to be getting a pre-beta to our designers for them to start using the new version and preparing for making designs for it. We’re hoping to do this as early as mid-October. Then, as quickly after that as we can, we will start a limited beta-testing period. As soon as the beta is solid enough to be useful for the tech-savvy early-adopters among our customer base, we’d like to make it generally available.

What’s Coming

We have a ton of cool things in the works for version 6. Here’s just a few details to whet your appetite.

First and most importantly, it’s natively responsive. No more alternate mobile site version — everything about version 6 is being built to intelligently adapt to all screen sizes. In making P6 responsive to the core, we decided to give you really powerful controls over the layout of your site, decomposing all the parts of it into customizable blocks of content, with unlimited rows and columns of various sizes throughout the major portions of your site. These blocks, rows, and columns will be customizable at a fine-grained level, allowing a huge amount of flexibility in building responsive designs.

We’ve also worked hard at the core image display functionality. We’ve built a system to leverage emerging web standards for natively responsive image elements that are fast, optimized, and work great at any device size and pixel density.

Our gallery system is being totally revamped to be natively responsive, leverage custom post types, and more flexible than ever. In P6 you won’t be limited to choosing between slider, slideshow, or lightbox styles — you can mix and match functionality of all three (and more) within single galleries.

Grids have gotten a big makeover as well and they are natively responsive and more flexible than ever, reflowing and resizing intelligently and automatically to make the best use of the screen size.

Menus have been rebuilt nearly from scratch to take advantage of emerging best practices for mobile and large-screen navigation. We’re building some great-looking and intuitive small-screen menu displays, and adding the flexibility for you to control how your menus re-flow and adapt on larger screens.

We’re also working to build in a concept of design templates — alternate variations of your main site design that you can apply selectively to page types or individual posts and pages. This means you will be able to have different parts of your site laid out and styled totally differently, to emphasize and more properly display your different types of content.

We think you’re going to be really pleased with ProPhoto6, and we feel great about building on it for future versions of ProPhoto.

Once again, we’re sorry for the delay. We’re racing to deliver you all something as soon as we possibly can, and appreciate your patience. Please let us know if you have any thoughts or questions in the comments area below.

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