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Introducing ProPhoto Proofing

This morning we are officially launching the full, non-beta version of our Proofing plugin. Here’s a short (2:52) video overview:

Why ProPhoto Proofing?

  • one-time fee of $199 – zero cut of sales taken
  • integrates seamlessly into your ProPhoto site
  • host your proofing galleries on your own domain, instead of redirecting visitors and search engines to a 3rd party
  • built-in payment processing with PayPal
  • digital downloads
  • flexible shipping & taxes customizations
  • powerful discount code creation
  • customizable to match your business and brand
  • multiple, customizable collections
  • easy to use reports of submitted orders and collections
  • and much, much more

For lots more details see this page, or go here to purchase. Thanks to all our beta-testers who have helped make it a great product over the last few months.

Proofing digital downloads & cover photo

Proofing beta testers, today we’re pushing an update with the final installment of the digital downloads feature. This auto-update also includes a fairly large new feature called “cover photo.” More on that below. Your sites should auto-update within 24 hours.

Digital downloads

With this auto-update, the first major round of development on digital downloads is complete. In a previous blog post, I explained how the first part of the feature, pertaining to admin-side download initiation from the “Proofing” => “Orders” screen, worked. In this blog post I’ll show off a bit of the rest of the feature, which primarily concerns user-facing implementation of digital download products. This blog post will also cover the second installment of the digital downloads feature, released 9/5/14, which was briefly explained in a Facebook post, but not blogged about, so some of this you may already have seen and experimented with.

Digital download products

You can now set up digital download products in “ProPhoto Customize” => “Proofing Products” admin screen. Digital download products are basically a combination of size and watermark profile, with a helpful explanatory name.

digital download product customization area

digital download product customization area

Common usage might be to create a digital download product which represented a full-sized, non-watermarked image, which you might make available for purchase on various galleries. You can also create smaller sizes by designating a “long edge” size in pixels, and apply a watermark profile if you desire. A lot of users have requested the ability to allow downloading of small, watermarked images as free “social media” downloads. You can do this now by setting up a digital download product with your desired size and watermark profile, naming it something descriptive like “Social media” and then making it available for free on your galleries (more on that in a minute).

this might be a good configuration if you want to give away watermarked images for social media use

this might be a good configuration if you want to give away watermarked images for social media use

Once you’ve set up one or more digital download products, you can make them available for purchase on your proofing galleries just the same as any other standard product, including the ability to include digital downloads in product groups.

Purchasing digital downloads

When one of your users purchases a digital download and completes payment for their order, they will automatically be emailed a link to download a zip file of all the images they purchased. This is true for both PayPal and manual-payment galleries. Also, once payment is complete, they will be able to see new download links on the images they have purchased. These links will initiate a download of that individual image.

prominent "download" icons appear after user pays for digital download

prominent “download” icons appear after user pays for digital download

Free digital downloads

Many of you indicated a desire to give away downloads under certain conditions. You now can do this by modifying settings in a new “Digital downloads” meta box in each proofing gallery’s edit screen.

the new "Digital Downloads" meta box in your proofing gallery edit screen

the new “Digital Downloads” meta box in your proofing gallery edit screen

In this area you can choose to make any digital download product available for free to all users (left side of meta box), or to select users indicated by putting their email address into the textarea on the right side of the meta box. If users have been given the ability to download one or more digital download products for free, they will see a download icon when they hover over each image.

the free download icons are a bit less noticable than the icons for purchased downloads

the free download icons are a bit less noticable than the icons for purchased downloads

You can do a lot by getting creative with combinations of free download products and these settings. As I mentioned above, if you want to give away small, watermarked images to all users, just setup a digital download product and make it available for free to all. Or you can do things like pre-authorize your bride and groom only (by their email address) to download fullsize, unwatermarked images if that is included in your wedding package.

Sending all images

You can also now choose to directly initiate the sending of an email containing a link to download a zip file of all of the images in any given gallery. Just click the “Email all images as zip” button, and choose a recipient and digital download profile.

link to send zip of all gallery images

link to send zip of all gallery images

Downloading of collections

When a user has created a collection on one of your proofing gallery pages, if they are authorized to download all of the images in it (because you gave them a product for free, or because they have paid for a digital download of every image in the collection), they will now see a new link to download the collection. The user will then be sent an email with a link to download a zip file of just the images in that collection.

users can download collections of purchased or free download products

users can download collections of purchased or free download products

Cover photo

Also in this auto-update is a new feature we call “cover photo.” What cover photo does is replace the standard post header area of your proofing gallery posts with a large image overlaid with the title and date.

example of new "cover photo" gallery post header style

example of new “cover photo” gallery post header style

New proofing customers will have the cover photo header layout enabled by default, but in order to prevent changing the appearance of your sites unexpectedly we made it so that proofing users who purchased before this feature was released will have to turn on the feature. If you want to do so, just go to “ProPhoto Customize” => “Proofing Appearance” and you will see the option at the top of the “General” tab.

go here to enable the "cover photo" feature

go here to enable the “cover photo” feature

The cover photo style is really powerful and customizable, so feel free to play with the options under the “Gallery cover” tab of the same admin screen. Here are some examples of what you can do with the built-in customization options:

example #1

example #1

example #2

example #2

example #3

example #3

Cover photo as excerpt style

The gallery cover photo style can also be used on your proofing gallery archive pages. You can turn this option on under “Proofing Appearance” > “Gallery Archives”. When enabled, your archive pages (and custom password form landing pages) might look something like this:

proofing gallery archive page set to "cover photo"

proofing gallery archive page set to “cover photo”

We think you’ll love the new cover photo feature because it really allows your proofing gallery images to take first place.

What’s next?

These are the last features we had planned to integrate before officially removing the “beta” tag off of the proofing plugin. So, as soon as we can finish a marketing video, the plugin will officially come out of “beta” status. Thanks so much for being a part of testing it with us.

That said, we do plan on continuing to refine and improve the plugin in the weeks and months to come. Just because we’re coming out of beta doesn’t mean you won’t see new features and refinements, you definitely will. Two things we have plans to tackle are product “packages” and proofing sub-galleries. Look for news on those in the next 1-2 months.

Please let us know what you think of the new features in the comments below, or on Facebook. If you have any problem, just shoot us a support request through our website for the fastest response.

Proofing Update – Digital Downloads, pt. 1

-GOTCHA- If you are a ProPhoto Proofing user, please read this post carefully to the end, it has some important details to ensure the smooth continued operation of your proofing galleries.-/-

Today we are releasing a free auto-update for the ProPhoto Proofing plugin. This auto-update provides the first part of the digital downloads feature, with more updates coming soon.

Why the delay?

digital-downloadAs the Proofing beta testers probably have realized, we’ve fallen behind our intended schedule for the release of the promised Digital Downloads feature. Sorry about that. The reasons are technical and boring, but basically boil down to the fact that we vastly underestimated the technical challenges of certain parts of the feature. To give you an idea what I mean, one thing we had to do was build from scratch our own large, cloud-based web service API to delegate the zipping of files to, because shared web-hosting environments do not give enough computing horsepower to zip more than a few large images at a time. We needed to be able to potentially zip up many hundreds of large files, and create zip files that were hundreds of megabytes or larger in size.

We also ended up re-working the whole way we send email notifications in the Proofing plugin, now leveraging a web service called Postmark. The reason for this is we felt we needed to do whatever it took to get to as close to a 100% reliable method of email delivery as possible, even if it meant development delays, some added complexity under the hood, and a bunch of money out of our pocket to pay for the service. Creation of very large digital download zips can take several minutes or even possibly an hour or more if there are hundreds of huge files to be zipped, so we needed super-reliable email notifications to let you and your clients know when the download zips created by our cloud-based API service were ready. Again, I can give more details about this integration in the future.

Another medium-sized feature we had to build to do digital downloads right was “Watermark profiles”: the ability to setup multiple watermark profiles so that different galleries, and different download zips, can have different watermarking based on your preference.

Today we’ve pushed an auto-update containing the first slice of digital download functionality, incorporating everything I mentioned above. Please note, this is just the first chunk of the feature. We wanted to get part of it in your hands before the rest was done so we could get some real-world testing of the zipping API, Postmark emailing, watermark profiles, and other parts of the feature. The rest of the functionality will be coming soon, since we’ve tackled all of the thorny challenges and just need to integrate the client-facing aspects of the feature.

What’s in the update?

So, what’s in this update? A few things. First, watermark profiles. Instead of just having one proofing watermark group of settings, you can now go to “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Proofing Appearance” > “Watermarks” and set up to four unique watermark profiles. Then, for each individual proofing gallery you can select from any of the watermark profiles, or choose to not watermark at all. Lots of folks have asked for this kind of granular control, so we’re hopeful you all will like this feature. These profiles also will come into play when downloading groups of images, more on that in a minute.

Google Chrome

Second, this update delegates all proofing emailing to a third-party API called Postmark. We went this route because there is just simply almost no reliable way to programatically send emails from shared web-host servers that don’t get routinely lost in cyberspace or flagged as spam. Emails sent by Postmark should be much more reliable, about as reliable as email can get. If the Postmark integration goes well, we plan on moving core ProPhoto emailing functions over to it as well.

Google Chrome

Third, this update contains digital downloading functionality for just (for now) the admin “Proofing Orders” page. Once your site updates, if you go to “Proofing” => “Orders”, you will see two new buttons. These buttons allow you to download the images contained in any collection or order for yourself, or to send an email with a link to download them to anyone else. When generating these download zips, you can specify which watermark profile (if any) you want applied.

Click to download yourself or send a link to download images from a collection or order

Click to download yourself or send a link to download images from a collection or order

Again, this is just the beginning of the digital downloads feature — we’re starting small with the admin-side only on the Orders page. In the next few days we’ll be incorporating digital downloads as purchasable products with a download workflow for front-end (client) users, incorporating many of the suggestions you have given us on our Facebook page.

Two things you need to do:

First, to make sure that your proofing emails are being sent through Postmark correctly, go to “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Site Settings” > “Email”, and set up at least one “Email profile. After saving, then go to “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Proofing Settings” > “Emails”, and double-check that the notification email addresses settings (the top two boxes) look correct.

Second, go to “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Proofing Appearance” > “Watermarks”, and check on your watermark profile. ProPhoto should have copied your old stand-alone Proofing watermark settings to the first profile, but you’ll want to double-check that it looks right and give the profile a descriptive name that makes it easy to remember. You can also choose to add other profiles at this time, if you desire.

ImageMagick

Also, if you hadn’t noticed, just a few days ago we pushed a change to ProPhoto5 which allows you to take advantage of the ImageMagick image library if your host supports it. You can read more details here. The short version is that ImageMagick creates much higher-quality downsized and watermarked copies of your images, and does it faster. Most web-hosts support the library, so it’s definitely worth turning on, especially for users using the Proofing plugin.

If you have a problem:

We don’t expect too many problems with this build, but if something goes haywire after updating, please submit a new contact form request through our website, and we’ll get back to you ASAP. We’ll be watching extra-carefully for problems related to this update, to try to ensure that everything is as seamless as possible for you.

Also feel free to give us any general feedback about the feature so far and what we can improve. Thanks again for helping us beta-test the Proofing plugin, and for your patience!

New p5 feature: "ImageMagick" support

Today we’re making available an enhancement to ProPhoto’s image downsizing functionality.  ProPhoto build #204 adds support for an alternative image downsizing module, called “ImageMagick”.  The bottom line is that ImageMagick is faster and results in better quality downsized images than the default “GD” module.

admin-imagick-options

ImageMagick enabled under “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Site Settings” > “Misc.” > “Image Downsizing”

However because this functionality can effect every image on your site, we’ve released it as an experimental feature that is turned off by default.  It is also possible that your webhosting company doesn’t provide this module on your server.  If you are on build #204 or later, and want to use ImageMagick, see the instructions here:

http://www.prophoto.com/support/imagemagick-support/

If you are running a build below #204 and would like to use this new feature, you can force your site to auto-update by going to “ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Site Settings” > “Misc.” > “ProPhoto Updates”.

P5 Auto-update, build #202

Today we’re pushing a free auto-update to ProPhoto5 for users on auto-upgrade-capable web hosts. The main purpose of this update is to fully release the article-specific options feature, as well as push out a moderate number of small enhancements and fringe bug-fixes. See the changelog below if you love the nitty-gritty. -GOTCHA- If your host doesn’t do auto-updates, you can download the latest build from within your admin area under ProPhoto => Customize => Site Settings => Misc => ProPhoto Updates. Tutorial for updating from downloaded zip can be found here.-/-

Changelog

  • Fixed bug linking to pdf files from ajax enabled mobile site
  • Added new header layout tutorial video to admin area
  • Fixed prophoto-cache problems for plugins like gravity forms which POST data to front-end URLs
  • Modified ProPhoto to allow import of posts-page per-page options when add-on design is using a static home page
  • Fixed messed up spacing of widget area groups after the wordpress UI redo
  • Fixed bug that was resulting in the ProPhoto default widgets not being added correctly on initial activation
  • Fixed bug where excerpt imgs weren’t accounting for post pic border width when setting max-width
  • Adding logging of build history for easier troubleshooting and improved updated of old options
  • Subdivided post image uploads into {day}-{postID}-{postType} dirs to prevent problems with single directory file limits
  • Fixed glitch causing slider images to get get slow and sticky in Safari when more than 30 images in gallery
  • Added/renamed filters and hooks for Proofing to use
  • Added some more filters surrounding grid types, so that proofing plugin can add it’s own grid type/s
  • Fixed bug causing Ajax loaded post content to sometimes load images at wrong width
  • Fixed bug causing the show/hide comments arrow to not display correctly
  • Fixed bug resulting in errors if Jetpack was enabled but no modules were turned on
  • Fixed WPML bug causing some CSS values to come through formatted incorrectly, resulting in seemingly random display problems
  • Fixed caching bug causing some special UTF-8 characters to break things
  • Fixed bugs in contact form remote sending; add longer timeout, and fix incorrectly set name variable
  • Attempted to make ProPhoto caching feature play nice with WPML by caching pages according to language
  • Fixed bug with slider gallery swiping event not working in newer android devices
  • Modified Rich snippet data on WordPress Pages according to Google Webmaster validation errors
  • Fixed bug causing retina images not to load on mobile site after ajax page loads
  • Fixed a couple of CSS cascading bugs when loading a slideshow within a slide-down grid in the bio area.
  • Fixed bug with Google+ button not being clickable in post footer when preceeded by Facebook like button with show faces turned on
  • Added link to LuLu starter design overview tutorial in manage designs page
  • Fixed bug causing Samsung Galaxy S4 to be flagged as mobile, thus always showing the desktop site
  • Fixed bug causing secondary nav drop down opacity to fail
  • Made modification so that when ajax loading excerpt content fails, sent to single post page
  • Stripping out script tags from post excerpt contents, which was causing problems in some cases
  • Updated our twitter API terminology to match their updated terminology
  • Fixed bug causing the load more posts button to show up even if there wasn’t a second page of posts to load
  • Added font opacity support to buttons
  • Fixed bug causing the display of some characters to display incorrectly in post excerpts in grids and elsewhere

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