We at Cloudmanic Labs recently launched a sweet new product: Photomanic, the best way to upload, organize, store, and enjoy your photos using the Evernote platform. But when I initiated the building of Photomanic some of my closest advisers were puzzled, asking questions along the lines of “WTF are you doing, Spicer?” Now, I’m the first to preach staying focused on your core, and Cloudmanic’s core is small businesses. Every other product we have launched has been geared toward helping small businesses thrive. So why build a photo application?
Well, when you are the leader of a company you are sometimes your own worst enemy. You have a team of people who can build whatever you want—and it’s up to you to decide which ideas to chase and which to drop. The thing is, the notion of Photomanic had been kicking around in my head for a few years. I would stay up late building prototypes, and daily I pondered how I could justify building Photomanic as a Cloudmanic product. Frankly, it was becoming a distraction. Maybe I am crazy, but I just had to build Photomanic to free my mind to focus on Cloudmanic’s core small business efforts.
The Cloudmanic Labs team built Photomanic, our new photo application for Evernote, in a month. Actually, the time from introducing the concept to launching Photomanic was less than 30 days. I am very impressed with the polished product that resulted from our hard and fast work. But why the rush, you ask? Well, on a whim we decided to enter Photomanic in the Evernote Devcup 2013 competition—a month before the deadline. Consequently, we learned a lot about building software under pressure. And as many of you know, I am not a big fan of deadlines.
I have always believed that any first release of a product requires about 500 hours of work. This estimate includes time for planning, design, programming, integration, and bug fixing. If realizing the feature set takes more than 500 hours, the plan for the 1.0 release is probably too ambitious. But we had only a fraction of 500 hours to build Photomanic, and we did not have time to explore many different ideas. In this case we deviated from our usual development process in some key ways:
I appointed myself the decider. Although we bounced ideas back and forth, I often had to cut discussion short and make a decision. Given the time crunch, the team understood the expediency of this dictatorial approach. Before the next release we will revisit those ideas we were unable explore fully.
We adopted a deadline-driven attitude. After listing everything we wanted Photomanic to do, we prioritized that list and set a deadline for each phase. Features that were not completed in time were shelved for the time being. Normally, we start with a list of tasks necessary to build a minimum value product and launch when all of those tasks have been completed.
We leveraged our existing infrastructure. One reason we succeeded under such a tight deadline is that over the past 5 years we have built a scalable platform for our products. Had we not made that early investment, we could not have built Photomanic so quickly. Even we were surprised by how smoothly things went. This experience confirmed my belief that building infrastructure should be a strategic objective of any young company.
If you are an Evernote user you probably know that its purpose is to be your external brain (and who couldn’t use one of those?). In fact, Evernote’s tagline is “remember everything.” Meaning, of course, everything you want to remember. The moments I most want to return to are often caught on camera: trips, parties, big events—including, recently, the birth of my first child. But there’s been a disconnect: that is, I store everything in Evernote except photos, which I manage with a different application.
Correction: I used to. Because I am pleased to introduce Photomanic, our new photo gallery app for Evernote. Using the simple yet robust Photomanic web interface (and soon mobile apps), you can easily upload your photos and organize them into albums in Evernote to enjoy whenever, wherever (and share, if you like).
Beyond keeping virtually all of your memories in one place (finally!), Evernote is the perfect place to store your photos for eternity (give or take). Because if you are an Evernote Premium user you get 1 gigabyte of storage per month—it’s a use-it-or-lose-it sort of thing so you might as well use it—and if you ever stop subscribing to Evernote, the storage you have paid for remains yours. With other services, if you stop paying you lose your storage space. Not cool.
I have been managing digital photos for a very long time. I am not a professional photographer—I’m like you: I love scrolling through my photos and remembering trips, parties, milestones, friends and family, what I looked like 20 pounds ago . . . and I want to be able to access these memories forever.
The problem is, I am on at least my 10th digital photo storage solution. As the technology has evolved I have switched from one software package to another, and more recently from one service to another. Switching is a pain because it entails moving and reorganizing my photos—again. Which brings me to this manifesto. Frankly, I think that all of the existing digital photo services are lacking. I have yet to find one that truly and elegantly meets my needs. Born of this frustration is the following manifesto describing my ideal digital photo service.
Paying a monthly fee to store photos adds up. After all, photos are one of those things most people accumulate over the course of their lives and then pass on to the next generation. Digital photo storage should not equal a monthly fee. I don’t need any more recurring bills.
Storing photos on a computer is risky. Many people know all too well the woe of failing to back up their photos. Locally stored photos also need to be transferred (repeatedly) from old to new computers. Photo storage should be effortless and permanent, and backup should be automatic.
Simply put, you own your photos—no one else does. End of story. Yet every photo service has different terms of service regarding photo ownership. A photo service should protect users’ photo ownership rights.
Not all photos are for sharing. Therefore, photos must be private unless the owner chooses to share them. When Google incorporated Picasa into Google+
, for example, the burden of keeping photos private was placed on the user along with pressure to share photos with Google+. A photo service should ensure that users are in complete control of their photos.