New shopping cart — June 27, 2008

This is a major release that vastly improves buying prints and gifts.

  • It’s faster.  And it should stay fast after adding many hundreds of items
  • It’s much easier to use.
  • It’s prettier.
  • It’s the key to adding features like coupons in the not-too-distant future.
Many thanks to hundreds of SmugMug customers who gave us feedback on usability and features.
There are a few changes to functionality:
  • We are providing complete contact info to pros whose customers place orders. 
  • The photographer’s name is listed by each item in the cart.
  • We provide details about what the express shipping option is.
There are many refinements, such as the way photos are added in bulk, and the ability for pros to hide the color button, planned for the near future.  
Screenshots and a great discussion are here.

SmugVault: Store anything — June 22nd, 2008

We dedicate this feature to our customers in Iowa who lost everything from tornadoes and floods.

See 30Bone’s photos.

Here’s the overview and help page about SmugVault, and our Chief Geek’s blog.

We’ll try to answer some questions here that those pages don’t:

What is Amazon’s role, and what is yours?

  • Amazon provides the physical storage, reporting, and billing.
  • SmugMug provides the user interface for adding, retrieving, displaying, arranging, navigating, etc.
  • SmugMug creates display copies from as many graphic and video files as we can, so you can see pictures as you browse, not just unintelligible file names.

How do I add and retrieve?

  • We do everything in our power to enable you to add and retrieve your photos in as many ways as possible, including enabling developers to write applications with our api.
  • You can use almost all existing SmugMug uploaders except for the Drag & Drop, which is being retired.
  • Backup DVDs and SmugDav will also support SmugVault in the future.

How does bundling files work?

  • For any gallery, when we see files with the same name but different extensions, we automatically link them into a bundle. For example, we would bundle Sunset.psd, Sunset.jpg, and Sunset.tif if they were uploaded to the same gallery.
  • When we bundle, we add an icon to the display image to show it as a bundle.
  • This way you only have to see one file but can tell it’s several file types of the same photo.
  • You can use a new photo tool to bundle them manually, regardless of filename. For example, maybe you have 5 RAW files that you used to make a panoramic. You can bundle them together, along with the JPEG.

  • We refer to files stored in your SmugVault as archives.
  • When you hover over the large display size of your bundle, a save icon will appear. When you click it, you’ll see options to save any of the files in the bundle independently.

How do you navigate SmugVault?

  • There are two ways: The same way you navigate any gallery with photos in it, and a SmugVault browser.
  • You’re aided by a SmugVault graphic for non-displayable file types, like Word documents (see example, right).
  • And you’re aided by an icon that indicates a bundle.
  • If you click on the icon, you’ll be taken to a SmugVault browser.
  • Note that there is navigation above the SmugVault browser that lets you see different levels.

How does displaying files work?

  • A powerful feature of SmugVault is that we can convert many graphic file types so you can see what the photo is, not just guess from its filename.
  • We can convert most RAW files and many other formats, but sometimes we’re foiled, so no guarantees.
  • You have to enable this option in your control panel, on the settings tab.
  • It doesn’t cost you extra because we don’t charge beyond your base subscription for storing JPEG files, and all this feature does is generate JPEGs for display.
  • Note that when we convert from RAW, for example, we are only doing it for display purposes. So we make our normal display sizes, which is up to 1600×1200 if you enable X3Large.
  • Some people could print from that and get good small to medium-sized prints, so use the image protection you normally do.
  • Yes, if you have a pro account with watermarks turned on, the display copies will be shown with your watermark.
  • No one can see or save your archives, only you. If you want to use SmugVault to transfer a RAW file to a friend, you’d need to give them a guest password if you’re a pro subscriber.

Size limits?

  • Currently, each file can be up to 512 MB.
  • We’re working on bringing that to 5 GB per file but have no estimated completion date.

Display priority?

  • If you’ve uploaded a JPEG that becomes part of a bundle, it is the one used for display, not any preview files we would make from RAW files, for example.

Video archives?

  • Video is a special case, because SmugMug does not currently save the unaltered original video you upload.
  • Instead we convert it from whatever format you upload to h.264.
  • And we may have to compress it more than you did in order for it to play smoothly across the Internet.
  • There is an option in your control panel settings tab, to allow the file you uploaded to be stored as an archive in SmugVault.
  • If you upload the video clips you used to make your final video, the same holds true. We wouldn’t know it’s a SmugVault item unless you check the option to archive videos. In any case, we will also make display copies so that you get more than just a filename.

As always, we love to hear your rants and raves so we can improve. You can post them to our happenin’ photography forum at, or send email (that we really will read and respond to): help at smugmug dot com.

All the best,

The SmugMug family

Bug fixes & conveniences – June 20, 2008

By popular demand:  The save photo icon is now visible when you are logged in even if you have originals turned off.  No worries, your visitors won’t see it.  To check that, you can log out — or click the visitor view button on your home page.

Sorry for the panic this caused for many people the first time they saw it!

More convenience:  If you uploaded PNG, GIF, and JPEG files that were over 12 MB for standard and power users, over 24 MB for pros, or over 48 megapixels,  we used to reject them.  We’d write a Dear John note about them in your upload log, not exactly convenient or endearing.  

Now we re-size them to sneak under our limits so we don’t send you scrambling for Photoshop.

Filenames are back!  In the bulk photo tools, we had many requests to bring back filename display. 

Bug fixes:  

One bug prevented Filenames from being converted to Keywords on upload. Now you can upload files with dashes, spaces, etc… and the filenames are properly converted to Keywords.

Another made the Slideshow button disappear when you forced your gallery to be SmugMug Small.  

Retired:  The Drag & Drop uploader lacked the error detection and retry goodness of the other uploaders and, sadly, had to be retired.  But you can still find it listed in fine print at the bottom of the uploader tabs.  If it works for you, great.

PayPal:  Did you know they introduced a plug-in that lets you use your PayPal as if it were Mastercard on sites like SmugMug?  We acknowledged that on the site.

Pro FAQ:  Version 2.0.

As always:  Many enhancements to the help pages including vastly improved help search.

Oh, one more thing:  Got RAW?  (A separate release note is in the works for this.)


Tools clean up – June 3rd, 2008

After gathering feedback, we cleaned out some seldom-used and redundant photo tools, organized and shined up the rest, and fixed bugs along the way.

Every single tool was fussed over to make it more intuitive and faster. Keep an eye out for round 2 (and 3, and 4, and …) but round 1 brought major improvements with subtle changes such as button placement and the addition of breadcrumbs.

Extra goodies we added to several of our bulk tools:

  • You can now select multiple thumbnails just like you would in your regular OS, by shift-clicking or clicking and dragging your mouse.
  • We added additional photo info for each thumbnail, available on hover-over: A larger version of the image, the caption, and filename.
  • Open your browser window wider and we’ll fill it with thumbnails. Less wasted space = less scrolling.

(More on this help page.)

The customize gallery page was also cleaned up. It’s shorter now, with less scrolling, and is better thought-out in terms of wording and organization.

Note that the option to dynamically arrange photos in the gallery is now called “Auto Sort” and if you’d rather arrange photos manually, you’d now select “Auto Sort: None” whereas previously you would have selected “Sort by: Position”.

Also in this release:

– The password change field in the Control Panel used to be case-sensitive when you typed in your email address. Annoying no longer.

– Shined up the “Forgot Password” routine on SmugMug’s login pages. It’s a bit friendlier and easier to follow.

– Updated the Simple uploader.

-Added Hackersafe logo to marketing and signup pages, since we are indeed safe from hackers.

– Added a call to theme designers on our jobs page.

– Updated lots of help pages so that the images match the current appearance of the site.