Sketchblog

Ultra Fractal Course e-books now for sale! — January 12, 2010

I'm pleased to announce that the Ultra Fractal Course e-books are ready. Each course is packaged as a separate stand-alone Windows program that will run in a browser-like interface on your computer. No other software or e-book reader is required. You can read more about the courses  here and purchase them here.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions!


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Going live! — January 1, 2010

After two months' work, I've finally beaten this image gallery script into submission, bending and twisting it until it does pretty much whatever I need it to do, but doesn't at all resemble the default design templates with which I started. The site may not look so different from the end-user's perspective, but what's under the hood is a sparkling new system of organization!

My whole purpose for this re-design was to convert to a database-driven website where images are searchable and coding is kept to a minimum. Instead of the nearly 600 hand-written, hard-coded html pages at my Parkenet site, I now have just a few templates to maintain. Finding a script that would be this customizable was challenging. It's amazing how aesthetically-challenged or restrictive many of the pre-made script options are. You'd think that templates created specifically to display photography and fine art would allow for a more artistic presentation of the work! (And that could lead me into a rant about how many artists choose to present their work in such unappealing web design, but I'll refrain for the moment...)

One of the deal-breakers for most of the pre-made scripts was the limited search customization. Stock photography sites are all about keywords. They're nice to have, although I think it's necessary to suggest which ones might actually work for my art,  but I also wanted folks to be able to search by image shape, color, and custom features -- like zoomable images.

Then I discovered Pixaria. I have to say that I seem to have a knack for finding really those rare developers who put a lot of thought and care into their programs and Jamie Longstaff is one of those programmers. His customer service and willingness to help me figure things out have been beyond my expectations. And yes I paid a bit for this script, as opposed to using one of the free or cheap options, but you don't get quality and customization for nothing. I could never have afforded the kind of custom php scripting I really wanted, but Pixaria's versatility is well worth its price and I've been able to achieve at least 90% of the design aesthetic and functionality I wanted.

Pixaria comes with an image slideshow option (look for the slideshow icon on gallery, favorites, and search results pages). It also allows registered users the ability to create collections of favorite images that can be saved here, shared with friends, or downloaded as .pdf files.

I've also been able to incorporate some of the javascript niceties I've used before -- popup info pages info, and high-resolution images zoom that can be zoomed into and explored in amazing detail!

If you'd like to see all these features in action, seach for the keyword  vielle.

All of this initially took a lot of work to set up — not the least of which was keywording 300+ images! I couldn't have done it without the help of a great friend, who offered her time, opinions, and troubleshooting skills and claimed it was even "fun!" You can't buy friends like that, but I'm not too proud to bribe. May she be well rewarded both in this and parallel universes!

Next on the list of enhancements is e-commerce with which I will offer my Ultra Fractal course e-books online. Once all that is working, I'm considering offering my unsold art show inventory of matted and framed images at reduced rates. I can't start the e-commerce process until after the weekend, but I've still got some informational pages here that need writing or finishing. It would be nice to get as much of that done before the real world and real work kick in again on Monday!

There will likely be some holes in the site for a few days, but if you see pages that look bad or find typographic or grammatic errors, please send me a message.


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