Tag Archives: Pixenate

Twitter Mosaic and EC2

We’ve played with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud service before – principally as a low-cost proof-of-concept to demonstrate Pixenate‘s ability to scale across multiple servers in a clustered environment (Some of our larger customers have several instances of Pixenate running on multiple servers).

Recently I took another look at EC2 – this time for a different reason…

Our Twitter Mosaic service can generate large mosaic images on the fly which can be printed on to T-Shirts, Mugs and Bags.
The service pulls 100’s of user avatar images from twitter and creates a large mosaic from the image collection. This turned out to be a much slower process than anticipated – not because of the image processing but because of how Twitter stores it’s images. Twitter uses Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service – a very low-cost effective storage system. The only problem with S3 right now is that access can be slow. Our service was pulling 100’s of images at a time from S3 – that’s 100’s of HTTP requests – most of which could take anywhere between 0.05 seconds and 5.00 seconds to complete. The result was that our service could take up to 2 whole minutes to create mosaic for use on a product. Clearly not a good shopping experience.

One of the overlooked advantages of EC2 is that if you run software on an EC2 server, S3 is blazing fast. If you’re writing software that does any heavy lifting with S3 data – do it on EC2. It’s like working in zero gravity.

We quickly changed the service so that a key part (the retrieval and composition of S3 images) moved to EC2 and a single HTTP request could be made to the EC2 server. By doing so, we reduced the time it took to create a mosaic from 2 minutes to a couple of seconds. A big win.

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Pixenate WordPress Plugin

I’ve just released a new improved version of Pixenate plugin for WordPress. Using this plugin, you can edit images on your blog before posting them. Please click here for download details.
I’ve also submitted the plugin to the official WordPress Plugin Directory and I’ll post a link to that when it becomes available.



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Pixenate version 1.3.4 released

We’ve just released version 1.3.4 of Pixenate ~ the online photo editor. This version includes updated documentation and a new Transparency tool which makes it easy to create cut-outs from your photos and images.
Pixenate is a mature, feature-rich and extensively documented photo-editor that can be easily integrated into any website. You can purchase the software for install on your own server or subscribe to Pixenate on a low-cost monthly basis.
If you’re a medium-to-large web publisher with decent traffic, it probably makes sense to install Pixenate in your web infrastructure.
For smaller web publishers and cash-strapped startups, using the Pixenate hosted service makes more sense – you can avail of all of the features of the premium edition starting at just €29 Euro per month.

In other news: More than 800 twitter folk used Pixenate to make festive twitter avatars in the lead up to Christmas 2008. I’m hoping this will be a Christmas tradition and that next year there will be even more. Happy new year! I hope 2009 will be good for everyone. :-)


Add Santa hats and snowflakes to your twitter avatar

As the silly season approaches, it’s that time of year again. The time when all self-respecting citizens of the Internet must don appropriate head wear. Go on you know you want to.

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Bring on the clones

When we created the ImageMagick bridge in Pixenate we really let the genie out of the lamp. Exposing the full power of ImageMagick through javascript makes it possible to prototype interesting photo-editing tools in very short time. I’ve long resisted the idea of adding a free-hand selection tool to Pixenate because I thought it would be too difficult to implement in AJAX. It turns out I was wrong. While the user interaction may not be as sophisticated as some desktop photo editors, it is possible to plot the outline of a cut-out by clicking on the edges of the area you want to cut out.

I’ve updated the Pixenate Customization Guide to give an explanation of how cloning is done.

Once I’d figured out which arcane ImageMagick methods to call to create an irregular shaped alpha mask, the rest was easy. I haven’t added this to the main Pixenate website yet but you can play with the cloning tool here and here.
Feedback as always, is appreciated.

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Twitter Avatar Editor

While not an official Sxoop service I thought I should mention the Twitter Avatar Editor. It’s a service which uses Twitter’s API and Pixenate’s Hosted API to let Twitter users edit their Avatars / Profile pictures.
Pixenate now has hooks into …

We offer customization and integration services, so if you would like to get up and running with a photo-editing enabled web service or social network contact sales@sxoop.com.

If there’s a feature you’d like to see in the Twitter Avatar Editor, leave a comment here.

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Pixenate on Demand. Affordable Image processing for web publishers.

I’m proud to announce we’ve just released a new edition of Pixenate. Pixenate On-Demand is a low-cost and convenient way for web publishers to provide image-editing right from within their own websites.

Visitors or users of Pixenate-enabled websites, can easily edit photos they have uploaded to the website, for example to create thumbnails or avatars from existing photos or to turn their photos into gifts and merchandise.

For web publishers, Pixenate’s powerful API puts you in control of user-generated photo content. For example … Online classifieds websites can ensure that photos uploaded by users are cropped to a predefined aspect ratio and are resized to match the website’s requirements, eliminating the need for post-upload editing. If user-generated photo content is part of your web workflow you should seriously consider using Pixenate to streamline your workflow.

Two things which I think customers will be really happy about with Pixenate On-Demand…

  1. Low cost. Pixenate on-demand starts at just €29 Euro per month, so it’s easy on the wallet of startups and small businesses.
  2. Zero setup required. That’s right. Pixenate on-demand will work in shared hosting environments. It doesn’t require you to install Perl or ImageMagick. This I think is a big win.

If you are a web publisher looking to add photo-editing to your website, check out Pixenate On Demand or leave a comment here.

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