Wednesday, December 19, 2012


DIY: Presents for everyone!


The book is said to be the best present, we believe that photobooks are even better, and a scrabook made with your own hands - is the very present that will convey all your warmth and care.

Try PhotoAlbum.com as your workshop. We prepared step-by-step instructions to guide you at our scrapbooking platform.

Get started! We will help!

1. Click on the “Create project” button.
2. Choose your scrapbook format:
3. Specify details  in the “Price calculation”  section such  as Country, Shipping Service, Zip code, Shipping Type etc:

4. Click on the “Next” button:

5.    Enter the name of your project:

6.    Press on the “Blank design” area under the Pages section to start designing from pages of your future photobook or click on “Blank Design” area under the Covers section to create a cover for your artwork:

7. Use Cover Layout template to make sure that you put all important information into Safe printing areas that will not be cut down by the output.

8. Click on “Add Files” button and choose files from your PC:

9. Click on “Start upload” button :

10. Drag and drop uploaded files from the Uploaded content window to the canvas area:

11. If the image is too big, just click on the middle of the image and pull it upwards holding the mouse till the Control arrows appear, using these controls arrows re-size the image to fit the canvas area:

12. Add different design elements to your canvas and move layers using the buttons on the Layers window (the first and the last buttons are to send a layer in forwards or backwards correspondingly):

13. Click on the “T”sign in the upper left corner to add the Text field to the canvas:

14. Double click on the appeared text field to open the Text editor .
15. Choose your font family, font size, color or/and background color and then click on the Save button:


You will see the following:
 

16. Click on “Build product” button and then on “Exit”:  

17. Click on the “Start proofing” button :

18. Once the poof is ready click on the proof preview image to check your photobook before printing:




19. You can use magnifier to check minuscule details.

20. You can copy the link to your project's proof and paste it in any IM.


21. Or click on share on Facebook button and let your friends enjoy your artwork!



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Individual and Group Designing

We have been developing software for the printing industry for a long time and have dabbled into tools for scrapbookers. This project actually started life as an online browser based design and layout tool for print and book buyers. To help novice users get the most from this tool we first added in support for site moderators to see and help live users, this then led to adding support for multiple users to be able to work on the same design, and then the full groups concept with multiple users/multiple designs and live updates and chats.

We only went live with a very beta version of this around Oct 19th and are working like mad to get it really working great. It is on our site at PhotoAlbum.com where we also have some of the best prices for printed high quality photo books and another neat tool to enable you to post online versions of finished books to your web or facebook pages. We are very much seeking partnership opportunities and feel there are a number of ways this can be beneficial to all involved.

I'd love to schedule a demo or discussion to share ideas.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Micro Social Collaborative Design Studio


Micro Social Collaborative Design Studio

 Highly creative design projects, such as Photo or Scrap Books, can greatly benefit when worked on in small groups where group members can gain inspiration and increased productivity by sharing ideas and viewing each others “ work in progress” in a social settings. From the days of social “Quilting” to present day scrapbooking - “Crop” events, these physical gatherings occur on a worldwide basis. The Patent Pending Micro Social Collaborative Design Studio provides the tools and features that are missing from all existing design platforms to enable social collaborative design groups to form, inspire, produce, and disband – without regard to physical presence of the group.

The Micro Social Collaborative Design Studio – or MSCDS for short –works in a networked or cloud environment. It consists of:
1.      The Project Manager, is a cloud based system that both manages user accounts and design projects. User accounts enable people who visit the system to create, edit, and delete personal accounts. Design projects are typically, but not limited to, product oriented user design-able projects and may consist of numerous sub-components, such as a Scrapbook which may include a component for the pages of the book, another component for the cover of the book, and additional components for items like a slipcase or a dust jacket. Together the User and all Components for a specific product make up a Project.
2.      The Social Networking Manager provides tools in the form of web based methods for users to be able to perform actions such as listing or searching for Micro Network Groups based on a variety of criteria such as themes, size, users and more. It enables users to invite other users to join existing Micro Network Groups or to join groups they have found or been invited too by attaching a Project to the group.
3.      The Collaboration Manager provides the live connectivity functions to make Collaborative Design possible. The Collaboration Manager will establish and maintain an always open connection channel – or “Socket” for each active Micro Network group. Each user Design Studio instance will “subscribe” to the designated channel/socket as established by the Social Networking Manager for the specific “joined group” for the currently open User - Project - Component. The Collaboration Manager will send and receive messages using either the channel/socket with the Design Studio, or using a standard messaging system with the various server side Design Processors that perform work.
4.      The Design Studio, a web application that will create a visual user experience when run as part of an internet connected web browser for each User - Project - Component. The Design Studio performs two most basic functions, providing the tools and features similar to existing design tools which enable the user to combine art, graphics, text and more into an artistic creation; and second to enable the Social Collaboration Preview Window features enabling users to experience the social sharing of design, inspiration, criticism, and communication that is critical to maintaining the Micro Network group.
5.      The Design Processors developed using technologies such as AMQP messaging, C++ and Java the Design Processors receive messages from the Collaboration Manager to perform various work units which give work results that are then transmitted back to the Collaboration manager. Design Processors are used in various ways such as to prepare uploaded art to a form compatible for use in the Design Studio and to prepare final Project Component designs into forms suitable for production printing such as PDF. One highly critical function of Design Processors is Social Collaboration Preview Rendering. The Collaboration Manager will receive Page Layout Descriptions of modified pages from the Design Studio. These single page descriptions are then sent to the Preview Rendering Design Processor which quickly renders a version of the page to a format that can be displayed by the Design Studio Social Collaboration Preview Window and then returns this Design Preview back to the Collaboration manager.

In a typical case users will start by creating a User Account. Next they would create a new Project based on some design-able Product – or any kind of design event could be used in place of Products depending on the nature of the web use. Once a Project is created the user can attach the project to a Micro Network Group by creating a new group, responding to an invitation of an existing group, or requesting inclusion to a found group, using features of the Social Networking Manager.

Once attached – and until the user removes the project from the group – any time the user opens any Component of the Project in the Design Studio a channel/socket connection will be made with the Collaboration Manager which will now designate this Project with an Active Status in the group. The Collaboration Manager will now send a message to all Active subscribers to this specific Group channel/socket causing all Active Users Design Studio to add an entry to the Social Collaboration Preview Window for this user and to load any current Design Preview should one exist.

When the User Project Component is updated in the Social Collaboration Preview Window of all Active Users Design Studio then several actions can be taken by any Active User that includes:
1.      Contribute to the design of the currently open component. This includes using the Design Studio artwork tools to add or edit any artistic element in the current design layout area or page. Such actions result in changes to the Page Layout Description of the currently referenced layout area or page. When individual actions are completed, or after some short predetermined time period has passed, as defined by the Collaboration Manager settings, the Design Studio will transmit the modified Page Layout Description of the current layout area or page to the Collaboration Manager which then forwards to Preview Rendering Design Processor and receives back an updated Design Preview which is transmitted to all Active User Design Studio Collaboration Preview Window.
2.      Contribute to the design of another Active User Project Component. This involves activating the Edit URL link associated with the specific Active User Collaboration Design Preview panel. This action will either open the designated User Project Component in the Design Studio while minimizing the current Users Project Component or open a separate Design Studio window with the designated User Project Component. Once opened in this fashion, either user can contribute to the design of the project as described in #1 above resulting in modified Page Layout Description first transmitted to the Collaboration Manager and then in turn transmitted back to the Design Studio of other users with the same Project Component open. The Design Studio will then execute these received Page Description Modifications and update the design to reflect changes made by others. All Active Users also receive updated Design Previews as in #1.
3.      Engage in an act of communication with the group or a specific Active User. Communication can take the form of various technologies starting with simple text based chat, and later using live audio streaming, or live video/audio streaming. Such communication data is collected into packets by the communication routine of the Design Studio and transmitted through the channel/socket to the Collaboration Manager which then stores and directs the data back to the specific Active User or the entire Group as designated by the use of the communication routine.
4.      Close and leave the Active User Group. This action of closing the Design Studio will result in a message to the Collaboration Manager which will then close the channel/socket for this User and send a notification message to the Design Studio of Active Users to remove the Collaboration Preview of the exiting user.

 Examples of Use

Currently, the wide spread nature and accessibility of the internet combined with social networks and other collaborative environments have expanded the collective base of like-minded people, irrespective of distance and location. This has given a new impetus to many traditional activities, such as scrapbooking, designing, projects (such as preparing regional marketing materials, project reports and so on) by allowing people to express their creative nature through collage and design in an artistic fashion through online social and collaborative networks. These activities are greatly enhanced by a collaborative environment, where people can work on individual design projects and tap into the collective consciousness of like minded groups to share resources and knowledge. This group activity as it relates to the scrapbooking community is generally referred to as a "Crop Event" which has a long standing history in the traditional world of scrapbooking as a gathering of people for the purpose of cutting pasting and assembling intricate books while working in the company of a group.
There are many websites which offer designing as a project, where users may create and edit various artistic works ranging from technical design, creative writing, and photo based layouts. A few of these websites provide a rudimentary capability for multiple users to edit the same design. However, none of the websites provide a capability for multiple users to work on multiple individual projects in a simultaneous collective fashion. In addition none have the capability to provide any indicators of the current moment activity status of online collaborative group designing.
Currently online social networking connections are made on permanent basis around individuals instead of events. Design sharing events such as the previously described scrapbooking “Crop” event are short lived networks based on the project and subject or theme relevance rather than long term connections and such connections will typically dissolve at the conclusion of the event.
Thus, there is a need for enabling a group of users to be able to easily find “active” design “parties” they can easily join to prepare creative expressions individually, while working in a shared collective social network that automatically dissolves at the conclusion.

Description

A web site such as www.photoalbum.com will provide the user experience enabling visitors to interact with each other. These interactions can start from the ability to see activity based on the Social Networking Manager and the Collaboration Manager components. These are manifest in a “What's Happening Now” listing of current group design projects that are actively in use at the moment. This is further enhanced by the ability to display the Design Processor Design Preview of live or near to live actions happening in the group. This completely new concept causes the visitors to not only quickly become entranced with the live activity, but to also quickly find group projects that match their interest and to then join the selected group.
Once a member of a Collaborative Design Group the user experiences the strong motivation, caused by the peer group activity, to devote a greater amount of time and effort into their design project than might normally be the case with individual design. The communication capability of the Collaboration Manager allows users to provide guidance and inspiration to each other. Additionally users can actively assist other users using the Design Studio with Collaboration Manager ability for multiple users to actively work on the same design at the same time. This enables the kind of sharing of artwork content and layout techniques that are central to the traditional physical Crop Event.
Benefits of this capability extend beyond those described above for the group design members, to the website owners. One of the most common problems for ecommerce sites using online design capability for the purpose of promoting the sale of personalized products is the very high percentage of unfinished projects that are never converted to orders. The Micro Social Collaborative Design Studio solves this problem in a number of ways. Design projects are left unfinished for many reasons. One user might not finish a project due to technical questions about how their design idea can be accomplished, with the MSCDS this user is able to quickly get answers from group members. Another user might abandon a project due to a lack of creative inspiration or a feeling of dissatisfaction with their work, with MSCDS users gain both creativity and pride from the direct feedback of their peers. Yet others might leave partially complete projects due to boredom or the tedious nature of completing such intricate work and subsequent mental exhaustion, with MSCDS users receive a higher level of motivation to finish projects and additionally since a project is required to join a group the mere desire to be part of the group results in ongoing project activity. All of these benefits lead to higher levels of project completion and completed projects result in higher levels of product orders.

Additional examples of MSCDS usage.
There are many circumstances where MSCDS can provide additional benefits. One example is the use in an “IntraNet” environment such as might be the case with a multi-national or regional company. Each divisional sub-unit in the company might be responsible for preparing artistic content while other executive units might be responsible for overseeing that such content meets corporate guidelines. Using MSCDS productivity in content creation is much greater due to the fast feedback and sharing, while at the same time another aspect of the Collaboration Manager enables the executive unit to “View” a masonry style layout of the activity of the divisional units in a passive fashion. At any point the executive unit has the ability to become actively involved as needed by either utilization of the communication tools or to become a multi-user participant of a project.

In a similar fashion as described above, one of the problems common to ecommerce sites involving web-to-print such as online commercial printing, screen printing such as T-Shirt or Sign printers, or any site utilizing client design as part of the order process – is the conversion rate between visitors and those that place an actual order. Current tools for such sites are very limited in regards to ways for site administrators to interact with site visitors, simple chat functions being the best case.
Using MSCDS site administrators can use the Collaboration Manger ability to provide a layout view of current active visitors enabling the administrator to easily determine if a user might need help and to proactively offer assistance. This layout view is provided in what is termed a “Masonry” style along the lines of “Bricks in a Wall”. Each “brick” represents any given active users current Design Preview and can also include along with the Design Preview a variety of additional links to various tool sets, such as a link to open the design in the Design Studio, the ability to open a larger preview for closer observation, the ability to remotely activate various functions in the remote users Design Studio application such as save or build final print ready PDF, and also access to communication tools such as chat.
These heretofore unavailable features improve the conversion of visitors to orders and enhance competitive advantage.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Partial Transparency is now supported!

A new update to the PhotoAlbum online design tool was posted today to provide full support for partial transparency in files such as PNG format. Partial transparency is popular in artwork provided from various scrapbooking sites and is often used for things like frames or elements intended to "blend in" with any background elements.

We have updated the design tool along with the PDF creation system to now support these partially transparent files. If you have previously uploaded artwork with partial transparency then please contact us so we can reconvert your artwork, otherwise you can just upload these files again.

Transparency is recognized in artwork as it is uploaded to the design tool and the resulting images in the Your Photos tab will maintain the original transparency.

Friday, April 24, 2009

How to build a flipbook

Online digital flipbooks are becoming more popular as a way to to both share your digital designs with others and a method for publishing content online. There are a number of sources for publishing digital flipbooks but most either have a cost factor involved - or they require your original content to already be in PDF format.

Using your free account with photoalbum.com and the browser based design tool, you can both create your content and share it as a beautiful online flipbook. These books can be embeded to your blog or website or even included into your ebay auctions.

To read more see this:
http://www.photoalbum.com/how_to_make_flip_book.html

Monday, April 6, 2009

Update to PhotoAlbum Design tool

Sorry for the lack of postings. Some are better at blogging than others 8-)

We have updated the online design tool so that placed artwrok appears on the page at full size. So now if you upload 300 DPI images and drag and drop them to your design - they will place at the full size of the image. This will save time in not having to scale up images as has been the case in the past.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Check out this great scrapbook

Here is a really nice book by one of our users:

http://tinyurl.com/6mt9c9