Jumping into the Photographer’s Toolbox: Teaming up with Timothy Armes and John Beardsworth

Recently I had the opportunity to team up with Timothy Armes – author of highly regarded Adobe Photoshop Lightroom plugins LR/Mogrify, LR/GMail, and others – and distribute my plugins via his Photographer’s Toolbox site.  Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity!  It was a classic win-win situation for both of us.  It benefited our users because we could now pool our efforts and jointly deliver a broader set of plugins to extend Lightroom.  It also meant I could make use of Timothy’s proven delivery model including automatic updates and registration management functionality.  Those features had been requested by users in the past but I had been dreading working on them because of the amount of effort (and debugging!) that would be involved.  Thankfully those concerns are now a thing of the past.

The move to Timothy’s site has resulted in a few changes here at The Photo Geek.  First the practical matters. 

To aid with the transition all my plugins will have a slight naming update.  Elemental has become TPG ElementalSnapshotter has become TPG Snapshotter.  And so forth.  This naming change means existing users will need to manually remove the old version of the plugin when they first upgrade to the latest release of the rebranded plugin.  Hopefully the new automatic upgrading feature users gain will make up for this inconvenience.

Also users need to ensure all future donations for plugins are made using the plugin’s homepage on the Photographer’s Toolbox.  Currently that means donations for TPG Elemental and TPG Snapshotter will need to be made via their respective homepages.  This is necessary to allow the new registration functionality in the plugins to operate.  Those who have already donated and “bought me a coffee” should have heard from me via email. Thank you again for your generosity.

This brings me to matters of a more philosophical nature.

I’ve been developing Lightroom plugins on and off for almost two years now.  It has been a great little hobby spending time on the code and developing functionality useful for my own photographic workflow.  Over time I’ve been spending more and more of my effort on functionality for the benefit of others, and less on the personal workflow/hobby side.  As Jeffrey Friedl so eloquently described the “unfun” side of development can take its toll.  For me it has slowed the rate of plugin releases, leaving feature requests languishing on the shelf longer than they should have.

You might have noticed the donation button on the right side of the blog and and plugin pages.  Following in Jeffrey’s footsteps I’ve experimented with the PayPal donation concept and even made it possible to donate from directly within the plugins themselves.  The hope had been that users would “buy me a coffee” to encourage further effort on my plugins.  Unfortunately that experiment wasn’t particularly successful.

After teaming with Timothy I am now adopting his “donationware” model.  Plugins are released with restricted functionality – typically working with a reduced number of images at a time – to allow evaluation of the plugin’s functionality.  If you wish to remove the restrictions you can make a donation on the plugin’s homepage, and you will be emailed a registration code to unlock the plugin.  A donation will only be required once and all future updates are free.

Early signs from the move are promising, not only from the donation side but also from the impact of this added encouragement, as Jeffrey put it.  Having an automatic update mechanism makes it more feasible to publish smaller, more frequent updates to plugins.  Having peers such as Tim, and now John, to talk things over with is helping keep interest levels high and momentum going.  I’ve even been inspired to get access to a Mac and devote time to testing releases on both Windows and Mac platforms, with Lightroom versions 2 and 3, to catch more issues before updates are released. (You would be amazed how many tiny inconsistencies are found across the 4 main Lightroom/operating system combinations.)  All in all I’m feeling more energised and ready to work on plugins. 

Thanks for your support and understanding as I continue the move through to this new plugin development and delivery model.  Hopefully you will enjoy the results of the energy and enthusiasm your encouragement generates!

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Posted on November 18, 2010 at 11:09 pm by Matt · Permalink
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