Good-bye Proofing

It’s with some sadness that I take this opportunity to announce that we’ve decided to discontinue our Proofing Plugin product.

Here’s the TL;DR version — Proofing is no longer for sale, as of today, December 26, 2016. We will continue to support the Proofing plugin for both ProPhoto 5 and ProPhoto version 6 until those versions of ProPhoto are no longer supported (until P7 and P8 are released, respectively). As a gesture of good-will, we’re going to be granting those who purchased proofing a one-time use discount code for $50 off their next ProPhoto purchase of any type. Plus, we’re going to be seeking to negotiate some conversion discounts through some other proofing solutions, to help ease the transition.

If you want more of the backstory and explanation, read on.

Our Decision

I know that for those of you out there who are using the Proofing plugin and have made it a significant part of your business, this will not be welcome news. Let me assure you the decision was not made hastily, or without regard to how it might affect you. I’ve been personally weighing this decision for several months, and have only reluctantly come to believe that this is the best course of action I can see to take. I know that for some of you, this represents a significant inconvenience, as you hoped to stick with our Proofing solution for years to come. To all of you who feel let down, I am truly sorry.

Why are we discontinuing proofing?

The simplest way to answer that is that it has proved, over the last 2 years, to earn us far less revenue than the development and support time it required.

What’s more, the time we spent pouring into Proofing ended up significantly delaying the release of ProPhoto version 6, which was detrimental to our entire customer base.

Why not invest more into it and keep trying?

A handful of people have already asked this question, and it’s likely that some of you, our proofing customers, would like to ask it as well. You might well urge: why not spend some more time, add some more features, and make it even better? Then possibly it would prove to be a more profitable product.

It’s a good question. There are several reasons why, but the simplest answer is that it feels wisest for us to stay focused on our core product, ProPhoto.

Plus, we’ve learned a bunch of things in the last 2 years building and supporting Proofing in it’s current form.

First, we’ve found by experience that doing proofing/ordering well in the universe of WordPress + shared hosting is very hard. In fact, I don’t know of anyone successfully doing what we tried to do: build a business-grade, professional proofing/ordering solution that ran on WordPress and worked with all varieties of cheap, shared hosting. There’s a reason why every other proofing/ordering vendor insists that their platform be run on their own servers, infrastructure, hardware, technical specifications, etc.

The type of loads and stresses placed on web-servers when trying to quickly and professionally serve and process the huge batches of thousands of high-resolution images that are normal for large-scale professional photography shoots are extremely difficult to handle on the inexpensive or even mid-grade hosting plans which most of our customers use. We knew this was a big concern going in, and to even ship our 1.0 version, we built a distributed cloud platform to offload the most resource-intensive aspects of the proofing plugin. That system has been expensive to maintain, and we’ve found an ongoing stream of interoperability problems keeping it communicating correctly with shared hosts, as each shared host is constantly shifting caching strategies, security and firewall settings, and more.

What’s more, the inherent complexities of proofing and ordering are immense. The variety of products, variations, workflows, integrations, tax needs, pricing concerns, device support, digital download needs, security, discount codes, promotions, plus various legal and tax issues, etc, multiplied by the fact that we have customers in many different countries, make this a truly large and complex problem with a huge amount of surface area.

That’s not to say that those issues aren’t manageable, but we would likely need to double our development staff at least to truly give all of those concerns the time and attention they deserve. And, so far, the initial indications of market demand are not encouraging for us to take such a big leap of faith.

What’s more, as I mentioned briefly above, the time we’ve devoted to Proofing in the last few years has taken away considerably from what we might have devoted to ProPhoto itself. So, as I weigh the possible disappointment from our Proofing users, I keep reminding myself that there is a much larger group of ProPhoto users who have been, and will be affected should we keep working on Proofing. In hindsight, I think it would have been better for us to not tackle proofing, and work on getting the fully responsive version of ProPhoto, (P6) out the door faster.

Where do we go from here?

We’re going to do our best not to leave any of you in a lurch. I hope you guys have enough of a sense of who we are as a company to know that we care a lot about managing this transition with integrity and consideration.

First of all, for any one who recently purchased the Proofing plugin, if you want to bail and go a different direction, I totally understand. Contact us and we’ll get you a 110% refund, if you don’t want to use Proofing.

For anyone already invested in Proofing to a degree, don’t worry, we’re going to keep supporting it for a long time, so you can keep using it, possibly for as long as several years. It’s always been our policy to continue support for two versions of ProPhoto at a time, so we are currently supporting both ProPhoto 5 and 6. Since the Proofing plugin works for both versions, we’ll continue supporting proofing for the normal support lifetime of each product. That means if you’re using P5 and Proofing, we’ll be doing bugfixes and critical updates until P7 is released. And, if you’re using the P6 version of Proofing, you can stick with P6 and Proofing until P8 is released, which is likely several years away.

During these windows of ongoing support, bugfixes and critical WordPress compatibility and security fixes will continue to go out at regular intervals. However, no new major features will be added.

Some help with your transitions

As a gesture of good-will, we’re going to be issuing an individual one-time-usage discount code good for $50 off any ProPhoto product to any non-refunded Proofing purchaser. You can expect to receive an email with your individual promo code within 1-2 months — we’ve got a busy couple weeks ahead of us with our new site launching, so we won’t be actually issuing those codes for a few weeks, until after the dust settles.

Plus, that window will give us some more time to explore whether we can’t also help any of you transition to other proofing/ordering solutions, by negotiating a transition discount or some other means of helping you guys smoothly land your proofing/ordering needs with another vendor. We’ll let you know what we come up with in the email you receive in a few weeks.

Comments welcome

Please feel free to let us know how you’re feeling about this in the comments below. I’ll make sure to check them regularly, so I can follow up and respond individually to any concerns or questions you have. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

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