Organize Your Albums
Some of our PicturePush users had problems organizing their albums properly. Therefore we introduce: Album Groups.
To add albums to a group, you can click the 'edit' icon next to an album and then choose 'Add to Group'. This will open a dialog to choose the group name (or an existing group) Grouped albums will show under a seperate group header on your gallery index.
Brand New Server
We moved PicturePush to a brand new server, which should be faster and physically closer to the servers that serve the images, Unfortunately this move did cause a disruption in our service yesterday evening/night. Everything is up and running now, so if you still notice anything strange please let us know.
For those interested: it has both solid state drives for the database and normal disks for temporary image storage and 12 GB of ram. The CPU is a lot faster than the one on the old server, so resizing images and recoding videos should be quicker as well.
Moving to S3
For some time we have used Amazon S3 as back up for our pro users on PicturePush. However, with the growing amount of users we decided that it was time to switch to S3 for all storage. The reason being that we got tired of managing our own storage: disks got full at unexpected times, etc.
The approach we followed was to first get all files into S3 using the backup scripts we already had for the pro-accounts. Then we wrapped al our code that touched the image files. So we ended up with a filesystem based storage api with methods like:
- getLocator($image, $format)
- putFromFile($locator, $file)
Furthermore, we needed to account for metadata storage such as filesize, resolution, etc. because we could no longer get these from the files directly.
Implementing all these abstraction was the most elaborate part of the transition. (If you ever do anything with files: wrap it! ) After this, the actual switch to using S3 was trivial. After a few days of bug fixing everything seems to be stable and quick again.
As we needed to preserve our existing URL structure, lazy image generation and session based authentication ( for private images ) we could not serve from S3 directly. To keep things quick, we decided on using a large local cache for the most common files. This enables us to serve files fast and using our existing infrastructure without relying on it for permanent storage.
For example: To further speed up the serving of images, we are now experimenting with custom CDN nodes. Hopefully we will start some nodes in the US soon, so our US customers will get a much better experience.
Safety First: Daily backupAlthough we store all your photos twice at PicturePush, this might not be enough to handle small or larger disasters. Therefore we decided that we want to keep your photos even safer. Starting today, all photos uploaded by pro-members will be backed up daily to Amazon S3. It's a very reliable service to store data. It uses multiple datacenters to spread the data, so we feel that we will be able to recover your photos in almost any event. So if you want your photos to be really really safe, upgrade to a pro-account.
20.000 PicturePush signups!
Today photo sharing site PicturePush reached the 20,000th signup. The site doubled it's member base in just over 8 months. Member number 20,000 received a free two-year upgrade to pro-membership to celebrate.
With this occasion I have taken the opportunity to write something about our current state of affairs and plans for the future:
The site started in 2006 and has now grown to hosting over 1.3 million pictures taking up over 2 Terabytes of storage space. All of this using 2 storage/web servers and a database servers which together process the 54 million requests each month. Most of these requests come from Poland, The Netherlands and the USA.
Currently the main focus is on increasing reliability and availability. The recent outages have emphasized the importance of this effort. An important step is the addition of very reliable backup for pro accounts which will become effective in the next few days.
In 2009 PicturePush will further focus on it's pro-members by introducing more options for publishing and copyright protection. All members will profit from an ever increasing effort in improving usability and the integration with mobile and social platforms.
New Upload PageA lot of our beginning users were confused about the difference between the normal upload and the multi-file upload. Furthermore the installation of Java for the latter, posed a problem for some. Therefore we have tried to integrate the two into the new upload page. It is based on swfupload. We hope it is easier to use and more clear what exactly is going on. If you have any problems, or liked the old ones better, please tell us.
Protect your images
For PicturePush pro members there is a new feature: add a copyright string to your images. You can set the text to show, and on what format of images to show it, in your profile.
We also improved the effect of the 'Downloadable originals', from now on it does not only hide the download link, it actually completely disables downloading of the full size image for anyone but you.
We hope this improves PicturePush for those users that care about the protection of their most beautiful images. Please let us know what you think.
Updates for PicturePush
Today was a day for some updates on PicturePush:
- A short introduction text is shown on top of your gallery
- Larger thumbnails on the gallery index page for each album
- Choose your own cover thumbnail for each album
- Make comments on your photos private or just for friends (pro members only)