PXLX: Introduction to a Long-Term Side Project

PXLX: Introduction to a Long-Term Side Project

If you’re one of the few reading this, you’re one of the first to know about this thing I’m super excited about… Mostly because I’ve been ripping hair out over it for the last year and I’m excited to share my progress.

I created QNeville.com with the goal of selling photos from trackdays and having a central spot to share photos with clients. Unsurprisingly it’s WordPress-based, so I threw some plugins at it including WooCommerce and the WooCommerce Photography plugin. It sucked – Not in that it didn’t just fit my needs, but the whole user experience was terrible. Mostly, in my case because it just assumes people are buying prints from you (which I firmly believe is a huge waste of money for your client). Digital is where it’s at. Digital is convenience. Digital is reproducible and easily shareable. Maybe you disagree, but I’m a big fan (also, Costco prints for CHEAAAP).

I checked out ZenFolio and SmugMug, but didn’t really want to create a whole new site for myself. Ironically, I decided to build an entirely new web application and re-engineer the necessary functionality for myself. I leveraged a well-supported template parsing engine and built a full customisation and theming system around it. I’m a software engineer. Why not make things significantly more complicated than they need to be?

In short, PXLX’s design and user-flow was designed in such a way to be integrated with an existing site. Using a subdomain like “photos.qneville.com” URL for allows separation between your favourite blog or portfolio service and a dedicated photo-selling side. A quick edit to DNS records to point at my externally hosted service is simple enough to add a ton of functionality without being intrusive to an already excellent ( 😉 ) website. If I’ve lost you at this point, I’ll be providing a heck of a lot of documentation for your favourite hosting providers.

1. What it do?

I laid out a list of basic requirements for myself. PXLX in its current (very beta) state, seems to satisfy all of them. My previous way of sharing photos was providing a link to a Google Drive folder – If this new way was easier, perfect.

  • Support social sharing of an album
  • Have a base degree of privacy (pass code for accessing private albums)
  • Allow easy downloads of free photos
  • Support per-gallery watermarking
  • Per-site users linked by social media or email
  • Accept online payments
  • Facebook account/email tied to purchased photos

2. Pre-Release To-Do’s

  • Fix small security holes
  • Add a couple of bonus themes
  • Clean up admin interface
  • Add necessary marketing pages
  • Provide a privacy agreement
  • Fix small instability issues
  • Polish existing base-bootstrap theme
  • Add per-site Google+ OAuth support
  • Add Email support
  • Support multi-social account linking
  • Handle some weirder use-cases that crash things

3. Future Features

I don’t shoot commercially, but I can imagine different types of licensing would be necessary to distinguish personal use and commercial use for the buyer. I plan to include a legal contract builder.

  • Support generation of contracts for different types of photo sales
  • Full theme customizer, rather than just colors.
  • Multiple portfolio sites per user

4. Timeline

  • May 5, 2017 – First public release and soft public test. Also celebratory burritos and tequila shots.
  • May 10, 2017 – Have first round of bugs and requests from my tiny user base resolved.
  • May 20, 2017 – Begin social media stuff. Advertise on Reddit. Get buzz rolling, but don’t be aggressive about it.
  • May 30, 2017 – Hard public launch. Who knows what’s gonna happen?