Author Archives: sxoop

Making an Amazon EC2 instance Pixenate-ready.

This is a simple recipe for preparing a Basic Amazon EC2 Instance (using Amazon’s Basic 32-bit Amazon Linux AMI 2011.02.1 Beta (AMI Id: ami-47cefa33) as a starting point) for use by Pixenate.
1. ssh into your newly created instance.
2. sudo bash
3. yum install perl-CGI
4. yum install ImageMagick-perl
5. yum install httpd
6. Add the following to /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf
AddHandler cgi-script .pl
7. Edit the <Directory “/var/www/html/”> body and add +ExecCGI as an option.
8. service httpd start

Congrats. You now have an Amazon EC2 instance that’s ready to run Pixenate.

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Pixenate version 1.3.5 Service pack 3 released

This version includes a fix for a security bug in the optional save and upload scripts provided with Pixenate.

Pixenate Version 1.3.5 Service Pack 2 released

I’ve just updoaded Service pack 2 for Pixenate 1.3.5 . This release is a very minor update which includes fixes for problems running pixenate on Windows.

Pixenate at ZoomIn.com

It gives me a thrill every time I see Pixenate in use at one of our customer’s websites. The screenshot below is from http://www.ZoomIn.com/ one of our earliest customers.

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Pixenate as an Extensible photo-editing solution for user-generated photo products.

One of Pixenate’s great strengths is its extensibility and the flexibility it provides to website operators. Pixenate is designed first-and-foremost with photo-merchandising in mind. If you own or operate a photo-merchandising website, you know that the process of acquiring and processing user-submitted photos for use in custom products (T-Shirts, Laser etchings, etc) is fraught with peril. Every step the user takes between uploading the photo/s and turning them into custom products, can be a point at which the user just walks away. This can happen if they find the process too cumbersome or complicated or if there are simply too many steps in the process. This results in lost revenue. Streamlining the process of uploading and editing photos to simplify and reduce the number of steps necessary can really help boost revenue and convert casual visitors to paying customers.

Using Pixenate on your photo-merchandising / custom-product website can streamline the process of uploading and editing photos by combining multiple image-editing operations into a single user action. This was really brought home to me in a recent conversation with a customer who operates an online laser etching service. The customer called to talk about his service and explain what he needed. Specifically he need to be able to allow customers to crop (using a fixed aspect ratio) an uploaded photo and then for the photo to also be automatically…

  1. Re-sized to a height and width specified by the website administrator.
  2. Converted to black and white (for laser etching).
  3. Have a diffuse border added (for blending with the product’s surface).

The key requirement was that these steps should happen automatically once the user had chosen the part of the photo they wished to appear on the product. The customer’s main concern was “Can Pixenate do this?”. Because I know Pixenate like the back of my hand I was able to answer “Absolutely – Yes!”. I’m a developer and I knew Pixenate could do this and I knew how it could be done in Pixenate, but I guess I haven’t done a good job of showing just how beneficial Pixenate can be in this kind of scenario. In a nutshell, the customer wanted the process of turning user-submitted photos into laser-etched products to be as simple as possible for the user…

  1. Choose product.
  2. Upload photo.
  3. Crop photo (using a fixed aspect ratio based on product chosen).
  4. Preview end product.
  5. Purchase product.

The difficulty (as the customer saw it) was the work required for steps 3 + 4 since the photo would need to go through some additional processing (conversion to black & white, resizing, diffuse border added) before it could be previewed. It turns out these are exactly the tasks Pixenate does well.
The number one request I hear from customers is (paraphrasing)

“We’d like to combine many of the tools seen at http://pixenate.com/ into a single user task.”

For photo-merchandisers, simplifying the image-editing process is really important – too many options, too many features and the user might never get to purchasing the product. Streamline the editing process, making most of the editing tasks happen automatically and you end up with happy customers who’ve turned their cherished photos into something tangible – something more than pixels on a screen – without having to spend hours laboring in Photoshop.

I hope I’ve gone some way towards explaing what Pixenate can do. Now here comes the science bit…

Pixenate’s API is well documented. There’s an API Reference and Customization Guide with plenty of example code. I didn’t realise until recently that I didn’t have a working example of how to combine more than one image-editing operation into a single user task so I’ve set about doing just that.
Essentially the customer wanted to know if pixenate could turn the photo on the left into the photo on the right in a single step.
dog_bw
You can see a working example of this functionality by clicking here. (By the way – I strongly encourage you to view the source for that web page – you might be surprised by just how little there is)
This is achieved using the PXN8.tool.startTransaction() and PXN8.tools.endTransaction() methods which allow web developers to easily combine multiple image-editing operations into a single atomic user operation. When the user clicks the ‘Crop & Prepare’ button in that example page a prepareImage() function is called…

function prepareImage()
{
    // combine more than one image-editing operation into a single user operation.
    PXN8.tools.startTransaction();
    // [1] crop (user-selected area)
    PXN8.tools.crop();          
    // [2] resize
    PXN8.tools.resize(480,720); 
    // [3] convert to grayscale
    PXN8.tools.grayscale();     
    // [4] add a nice mask (soft edges - this can be changed by supplying a different mask image)
    PXN8.tools.mask({filepath: "images/overlays/feathered_mask.jpg",background_color: "#ffffff"});
    // complete transaction (commit changes)
    PXN8.tools.endTransaction();
    // turn off selection
    PXN8.unselect();
}		


The above JavaScript function performs 4 different image-editing tasks which are bracketed with by PXN8.tools.startTransaction() and PXN8.tools.endTransaction() methods which form the bookends turning all of the tasks between into a single atomic image-editing task.
It’s all well and good providing an API Reference but sometimes working example code is just what you need to dispel those last lingering doubts about what can and can’t be done with Pixenate.

p.s. If you have suggestions for improving the example please leave a comment.

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Pixenate version 1.3.5 service pack 1 released.

If you are a customer and you are signed up for updates and support you will already have received an email with download details for the latest release of Pixenate. This update includes some important bug fixes and new examples.
Go get it.
If you own or operate a website and would like your visitors to be able to easily upload and edit photos then Pixenate is the solution.

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New simplified pricing for Pixenate

I’ve simplified the pricing of Pixenate so now it’s even easier to buy the best AJAX photo editing software.
To be honest I was never entirely happy with the opaque pricing of Pixenate premium edition so now we’ve made the price of both Pixenate basic and premium editions transparent.

It made sense to have opaque pricing for Pixenate premium edition because some of our customers were large businesses. If you are a small startup, selling software to a large corporate customer can be time-consuming and expensive what with all of the paperwork and legal handling involved. We learned this the hard way 2 years ago with our first big customer where the cost of the transaction just didn’t make sense given the price of the software and the number of licenses involved. Because of that experience we decided to make the pricing of the premium edition opaque so that we could price in the cost of the selling the software to larger customers.

While the business we’ve gotten from larger companies has been great and we are grateful for it, we’d like to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to buy our software too. This is why – as of today – we are introducing a simplified pricing structure for Pixenate.

Pixenate basic edition costs $295 US Dollars. Pixenate premium edition costs $495 US Dollars.

That’s it.

30 days email support is included in each package. If you’d like to avail of further support and updates contact us by email. We hope this simple and competitive pricing will make it easier to make the decision to buy Pixenate for use on your web site.

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