Creating Effective Web Applications

MovingLabs Weblog

In this weblog we write about our products and our experiences while designing, implementing, supporting, promoting and using them.

Organize Your Albums

13 07 2010, Michiel van Vlaardingen in PicturePush

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

11 03 2010, Michiel van Vlaardingen in PicturePush

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

08 09 2009, Michiel van Vlaardingen in PicturePush

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, $file)
  • getToFile($locator,$file)
  • getToTemporaryFile($locator)
  • exists($locator)
  • exists_local($locator)
  • readfile($locator)
  • filesize($locator)
  • etc.

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.

Because of this switch to S3, we can now focus on stuff that really matters:  features and speed.

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 backup

23 02 2009, Michiel van Vlaardingen in PicturePush
Although 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!

07 02 2009, Michiel van Vlaardingen in PicturePush

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 Page

30 01 2008, Michiel van Vlaardingen in PicturePush
A 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.

28 01 2009: Protect your images
24 01 2009: Updates for PicturePush
20 08 2008: PicturePush Milestone
07 07 2008: Photo Printing
20 06 2008: Account Limits
02 06 2008: Top request: password protected albums
14 02 2008: Delete Comments
04 01 2008: Growing pains
11 12 2007: Guest Passes
05-12-2007: Advertising
16 11 2007: Unexpected downtime :(
27 10 2007: New Skins
18 10 2007: More Support
12 10 2007: More Cleaning
09 09 2007: Start Your Own PicturePush?
16 07 2007: Screen Space
06 07 2007: Tag everything
05 07 2007: Win a Canon Digital Photo Camera
13 06 2007: PicturePush Uploader Beta
22 05 2007: Photo and Video Categories
26 04 2007: Redesign : part 1
19 04 2007: PicturePush Milestone: 41148
18 04 2007: Comming Soon: PicturePush Upload Tool
12 03 2007: Improved PicturePush Search
09 03 2007: How does a nerd promote a cool, feature rich, non marketed website?
08 03 2007: PicturePush Milestone
01 03 2007: Something Extra
24 02 2007: Doubles
17 02 2007: Remove the Ads
16 02 2007: Broken Special Characters
31 01 2007: Oh no... forgotten...
25 01 2007: Pictures first
21 01 2007: WebDAV support
29 12 2006: Speeding up PicturePush
17 08 2006: Moving pictures
07 08 2006: More on PicturePush
24 07 2006: Improving PicturePush