WELCOME TO THE BLOG

ProPhoto 6.16.0

Today we’re pushing out pretty big free feature update to ProPhoto, version 6.16.0. This feature release was driven in great part by our reviewing the most up-voted issues on our public issue and feature request tracker. This release includes:

  • WooCommerce support
  • Revised & improved free designs
  • Constraining of gallery height
  • Inserting galleries as fullsize images
  • Facebook blog posts page preview image
  • Facebook preview meta override
  • Several significant gallery performance optimizations
  • Bugfixes

WooCommerce Support

ProPhoto 6 now supports the popular e-commerce plugin WooCommerce. WooCommerce is built on WordPress custom post types, which ProPhoto 6 supports natively for template assignments and overrides. This means that you can easily create custom ProPhoto templates for the various parts of your WooCommerce store, cart, checkout, and even individual products. We think ProPhoto 6 might be one of the most flexible themes to support WooCommerce for those looking to truly customize and tailor their e-commerce experience without being a programmer. We’re excited to hear what you think of the new integration.

Updated Included Designs

Two of our free designs, Sunny and Square, got some significant love in this release also, adding new templates, leveraging more recently released features, adding usability enhancements, and updating the look and feel. Checkout the demos here and here. Big thanks to Matt Hudson from La Lune for the updates!

Gallery Height Constraint

Another feature in this release is the ability to constrain the max height of a ProPhoto gallery to a percentage of the full window height. Lots of you have asked for this ability, so we’re really pleased to make this a possibility.

You can find the new controls in the gallery style editor in the Customizer screen, as shown below:

Insert Galleries as Fullsize Images

We added a new feature for galleries in this release as well. Now, if you want to insert a gallery into a post or page, you have a new option. Besides the normal option of embedding a gallery using any one of your ProPhoto gallery styles, you can also insert the gallery as full-size images, as shown here:

Inserting this way adds a normal placeholder into your post or page, indicating that the gallery will be displayed as fullsize images:

When the post or page is rendered, all of the gallery’s images will be displayed in a group, as if you had inserted them all individually. Then, if you ever update, re-order, add or delete images from that gallery, the post where you embedded the images in this way will automatically stay up to date with the source gallery.

Facebook Preview Controls

This release adds a new upload area in your ProPhoto Settings screen allowing you to designate a default preview image used by Facebook when you or anyone else shares a link specifically to your blog posts page on Facebook. ProPhoto 6 has always supported designated preview images for individual posts and pages.

It also adds a control to completely disable ProPhoto’s Facebook preview meta tags. Check this if you want to use a plugin to handle your Facebook sharing settings. This will prevent ProPhoto and your plugin from clashing and adding duplicate meta information, causing Facebook errors.

And more…

We also spent quite a bit of time working on performance and animation improvements for our galleries in this release. Plus, there are a load of small enhancements and bugfixes included as well. If you’re interested in all the details, as always, you can head over to the changelog.

Our New (P6) Site

Today we’re really pleased to announce that we’ve completely relaunched our website for the new year. If you haven’t seen it yet, click around and check it out! We also switched our domain name from prophoto.com to pro.photo.

A huge shout-out to Matt Hudson from La Lune Creative for being our designer for the project. He’s got a bunch of great designs in our design store, too, if you like his work, and his website is built with ProPhoto 6 as well. We also got some critical input early in the process from Jane Johnson.

Built with ProPhoto 6

In January of 2016, when we released ProPhoto 6 to the public, we started talking internally about how badly we wanted to rebuild our own website using ProPhoto 6 as the theme. We decided to wait through most of 2016 to work on that project so we could add more features and refinements to P6 first, but this fall we started re-designing and re-building our website from scratch using ProPhoto 6, and it’s been a blast. We think our site is also a great example of what’s possible with ProPhoto 6.

We built a custom plugin to handle our new purchase/cart flow, the user account system (see below for more on that), and the premium design store. The rest of what you see is just ProPhoto 6.

User accounts

One of our main goals in rebuilding our site was to offer user accounts for our customers. The idea here was to allow our customers a secure login where they could see their entire purchase history, download products, manage their email addresses, manage promo codes, and more.

We’ve got a few more things we’re going to add, but the new account system is live — if you’ve ever purchased anything from us in the past, you can log in to your account by using the email address you purchased with. Check it out by heading over to your account page now at https://pro.photo/me.

Upgrading to P6

If you still haven’t upgraded to P6, now is a great time. We’ve created a page dedicated to showing you around P6. Or, you can checkout our some customer example sites here.

If you think you might want some inspiration or a head-start on re-designing your site for the new year, be sure to checkout out our P6 included designs, and we’ve got tons more gorgeous options in our premium design store.

Or, you can watch our new upgrade promo video below:

What’s next?

Next up, we’re going to be turning our attention back to building more features and refinements to send out as free auto-updates to P6. As 2016 drew to a close, we took a bit of time off from releasing new features for P6 to rebuild and rebrand, but we’ll be picking up right where we left off after finalizing a few last things on our new website. So keep an eye out on this blog for news about new features and updates.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of our new site!

Good-bye Proofing

Update: the $50 discount mentioned in this post was valid in 2017 and is no longer being issued or accepted.

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.

Get creative with ProPhoto 6 backgrounds

creativebg

The ability to add a background for every block, row and column on your site presents a world of design possibilities. Your main site background from “ProPhoto > Customizer > Background” is what sits under every layout item in your template. Normally this is set to some default color that works well. The creativity tends to be in how layout item backgrounds are used. We get a lot of questions about how to do certain things that involve background images so I thought it would be good to share them here.

Backgrounds that fully cover automatically

Any block, row or column can have a background image set to a background size of “cover entire element with image.”square_cover_bg This handy tool causes the image to always cover the full size of the layout item as it shrinks and expands in a responsive environment. The free design called Square uses this feature to great effect. Many of it’s pages share some sidebar widgets in a left column and then a header image to the right that is different for each template. Here is what the layout looks like. square_blog_bg_layout The right column does not have any widgets, only a background image. The height of the widgets in the left column sets the height of column on the right. As the browser changes size, more or less of the background image is revealed. This image is set to an alignment of top and left. The woman is central in the image so a better choice might have been to set the horizontal alignment to center.

square_column_movement-1

The right side starts getting cropped at a certain point because of the left alignment.

Aspect ratio

There is cropping involved when a background covers an area so carefully consider the aspect ratio you use and the composition of your image. In the example above the column is wider then it is tall so a landscape oriented image with a central focus works best.


Full window backgrounds

These are becoming more and more popular – sites that feature a background image that completely covers the initial browser window. The home page of the Homer design in our store is a good example.

homer_home

The background image fully covers the browser window on initial load

This time a block background is used for the top block in the template for the landing page. The block with this background image should be at the top of the layout if that is the first thing you want visitors to see. Besides setting the background size to cover, the key to making this work is setting the block to occupy the full window height in “ProPhoto > Customizer > Layout > Block > Block Appearance > Block height.”

block_height_full

Any widgets you add to the block will appear on top of this background image. Use top padding on the row or column as well as the vertical widget alignment options to dial in the position of the widgets on top of the background.

A scroll-to link is a good idea if you don’t have a menu immediately visible. You can set a tile, image or menu link to scroll to a block or row lower in the same page.


Background galleries

Blocks can also display a gallery as a background instead of a static image. All ProPhoto galleries are created in “Galleries > Add New”. When editing a block, choose gallery for the background style. Then select the gallery and gallery style you desire.

block_back_gallImages in a block background gallery will automatically cover the entire element and center horizontally and vertically.

2016-10-31_15-45-55

Cathydavidphoto.com features a full height landing page background gallery overlaid by a few rows of widgets.

Parallax background images

 

Selectively applying fixed background images to some blocks and a solid color to others achieves a parallax effect as you scroll down a page with multiple blocks. Check out our free Morgan design, to see an example. If you are interested in applying this look to a page on your site try these steps.

  1. Create a child template and assign it to the page where you want the parallax effect.
  2. Make sure you have multiple block sections in your site layout in “ProPhoto > Customizer > Layout”. Each block can be filled with any widget content you might want. This is going to create the horizontal ‘stripe’ areas where you see either a solid color or a static background photo. The height of the widgets and the top/bottom padding will set the height of each block.
  3. Edit the blocks for which you want to show a parallax background image scrolling by underneath. Set the background color to be transparent. Any rows and columns inside that block should have a transparent background, as well.
  4. Upload a large photo (2-3k pixels wide but still compressed) to act as the background image and set up these options for the background image:
    starting position – top center or center center recommended
    image size – cover entire element with image
    tiling – do not tile
    scrolling behavior – fixed
  5. For other blocks, set a solid color as the background. You’ll want to alternate between blocks with color and blocks with the fixed image background.

Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 for various blocks, and you’ll notice that as you scroll down your site the background image can be seen through the blocks that have the fixed background image, and that it changes as the new block background image scrolls by.

If you don’t see the image, but a solid color instead, double-check that the row and column items in the blocks aren’t adding their own background colors to overlay the block’s background. You might want to experiment with the top or bottom padding (or both) for blocks which act as parallax background ‘see through’ stripes, so you can impact how tall each stripe of background area appears to be.

morgan_parallax_demo

Notice how the fixed background images show underneath and the blocks with solid color backgrounds seem to slide over top of them.

 

Get a $30 rebate when you choose our recommended host, Hostpapa