March 23, 2015 at 12:33 am #22246
I’m going to be your Symbiostock liaison from now on so don’t hesitate to throw me questions if you have any. We’ll be updating you as releases are made but I wanted to let you all know that me and Leo are extremely excited about some of the things we are doing with Symbiostock.
We’re hoping that with your continued support and involvement, we will be able to not only enhance Symbiostock’s current offering, but really expand its reach so that you can even use the system to generate sales and find customers at a level that competes with large microstock companies.
I have been a contributor for a long time, but am still somewhat new to the Symbiostock community so I’ll be relying on you guys for a little guidance at times. I will keep you updated on release dates as we near launch, and again, throw me any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them.
All the best,
Robin.March 23, 2015 at 9:38 am #22377
Thank you for introducing yourself.March 23, 2015 at 11:11 pm #22387
I have confirmed; Robin is human. Nice to meet you Robin!
Actually Robin is a great addition to this project. There is much to say, but all the better – the results will prove this. He is quite qualified and motivated in the way we presently need at the core level.
Thanks for joining us Robin.March 27, 2015 at 9:23 am #22511
As we get closer to finishing the first component of the fully realized Symbiostock system, I’m going to explain some of the new features and how they are different from the old version (note that some of this information has already been roughly shared in the Symbiostock forum, so if anything is redundant, I apologize).
One of the largest problems encountered with the previous version of Symbiostock was that it was encoded directly into the theme. This made it difficult to personalize, including severe limitations on being able to use third party wordpress themes on your Symbiostock site. All business related functions, including checkout, had to be developed from the ground up and implemented within Symbiostock in order to add features for contributors.
All in all, however, it still serves to be a fully functional solution for contributors, albeit with the limitations listed above.
The new Symbiostock has been built not as a theme, but as a plugin that extends woocommerce. Woocommerce is a feature-rich plugin that converts your wordpress site into a fully functional ecommerce store. As a result of integrating Symbiostock in this manner, not only will you be able to make use of the plethora of fantastic woocommerce functions (multiple checkout systems, different payment methods, carts etc.), but you will be able to personalize your Symbiostock store using woocommerce compatible themes.
Upgrades, as well, will be easier since the isolated plugin is all that will need to be updated. Your themes will skin the new version automatically.
This, in itself, illustrates the night and day difference the new version will have on the old one. Although installation will be simplified in many ways, contributors will still need some technical knowledge to self-host the new Symbiostock. We will be developing a fully documented installation guide for this purpose.
Now I will get into some really new and exciting stuff that introduces some cool offerings to the project.
Firstly, for those of you that don’t want to go through the trouble of learning how to install wordpress, woocommerce, Symbiostock, then tweak a theme for it, in addition to offering Symbiostock for free download for self-hosted contributors, we are going to offer a paid hosting solution directly with Symbiostock. This hosted solution will be as easy as signing up for an email account and will come with Symbiostock pre-installed, with an entirely new theme exclusive to our hosting solution. You will be able to use our self-hosted domains (yourname.symbiostock.com) or point your own domain to your store (yourname.com). You will have a personalized control panel just for Symbiostock and won’t need to learn anything about Linux, woocommerce, WordPress, or PHP. Just sign up, personalize your store, and start uploading.
In addition to there being no installation issues, as you will be hosted directly through us, your version of Symbiostock will come with full technical support, upgraded with the newest features and options, and you will also get access to premium themes for your Symbiostock store that will have been developed specifically for Symbiostock.
Our goal in offering this hosting solution is to provide a seamless method for busy contributors to quickly and easily start selling their media independently without having to worry about installation or debugging.
Next – the Symbiostock plugin will now be completely 100% free. There will be no paid upgrades as any and all upgrades to the core software will be made part of the open-source release available to everyone. We are hoping that through our hosting solution and premium themes we will be able to maintain a sustainable project full of development.
Thirdly – any contributors that previously paid for Symbiostock upgrades will get credited for past expenditures towards any future services from Symbiostock. Currently this includes our hosting option and optional premium Symbiostock themes.
Finally, as we are trying to get this off the ground soon, the system will initially be released with a certain set of features. As we continue development, more and more features will be added.
This outlines the first aspect of our plans with Symbiostock. There are going to be a number of benefits (specifically related to marketing your media) that will be exclusively available to Symbiostock users as we develop more of the rest of the project. For now, however, our goal is to create a rock-solid, easily customizable and upgradable solution so you can host all of your images in a beautiful interface for customers.
That’s it for now! Let me know if you have questions, and I’ll do my best to address them.
Robin.March 27, 2015 at 3:31 pm #22517
Thanks Leo and Robin! I am so excited!
Snap VectorsMarch 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm #22524
Nice to meet you!
I really appreciate the further development of this project. Thanks!
Although I am unfamiliar with woocommerce I like the idea of SY as a plugin of an ecommerce store and the ability to use other existing plugins. Use what has already been created!
ElianMarch 30, 2015 at 2:13 am #22525
I checked out your site – looks great! I saw that some images you don’t sell on your site but direct people to an exclusive agency for you – that’s really cool.
Woocommerce has a lot of features that will be totally useless for the average stock contributor (settings like kg vs lbs, shipping settings etc). Due to the limitations on how plugins are applied to wordpress, we are being very careful not to break any aspect of woocommerce, and accordingly in the standalone plugin won’t be removing the unnecessary settings and features.
The hosted solution, however, will be a streamlined version of wordpress and woocommerce, so it will be readily simplified just for the microstock contributor. All those bloated features will be removed so the control panel looks a lot easier to navigate.
We’re testing a prototype right now, and estimate that our initial release is not too far away.
Robin.March 30, 2015 at 7:36 pm #22527
Thanks Robin! I sell some of my pictures through this agency with a RM license. I find this hard to implement on my own site and refer any traffic to this site.
I can understand what you meant by this unnecessary features in WooCommerce if you use it solely for selling images. But it sounds that you have a solution for different types of users. For those who do not want any technical challenges this hosted solution would be perfect! I myself, however, find it’s great to be working on my own site. As I’ve already offered Leo; if I can be of any help with testing, for example the conversion/migration tool of the current system, let me know. I have a test site running.April 5, 2015 at 4:57 pm #22540
Sounds really great and thanks Robin for joining this project!April 6, 2015 at 5:57 pm #22545
Great news here — thanks for being here, Robin, and nice to meet you. I am a long-time WP user but a total noob to SYM as I happen to have discovered it only a short while ago (where have I been)! So the remaking and streamline efforts for me come at a time when I am only starting to figure out the overall-SYM (theme-based) situation, but I fully appreciate all the upsides of moving it to “simply” be a Plugin. Great work, and I’ll keep watching and possibly participating here while starting my initial SYM steps.
AP/V camera guy; view this, if you're a drone video nerd, too..April 8, 2015 at 4:20 pm #22553
Hey guys – so just keeping you updated on what’s going on.
A week or so ago Leo left the project to pursue another endeavor which as he has told me is more focused on illustration and 3d animation. Since his departure, I started the plugin from scratch and am pleased to say it is coming along fantastically.
All of the previous announcements and features are still effective, and even though Leo is no longer a part of Symbiostock all previous patrons of the Symbiostock software will get credits towards future offerings.
As for the plugin itself, I am coding it in such a way that it breaks no aspect of Woocommerce, and in my testing phases have found that nearly any theme you use that is compatible with Woocommerce will pretty beautifully skin Symbiostock as well.
That being said, a custom theme focused on the microstock market will be superior in regards to marketing and sales, but at least you have options now.
I am working with another contributor on a full time basis on this. I can’t provide an ETA yet but it is looking very exciting. Once the plugin is more complete, I will let you know if/when I need some guinea pigs for beta testing.
Thanks for the support guys – means a lot.
PS: I apologize about the forum being a bit buggy – as Leo installed it I am not really sure where to start with fixing it and will get to it once we are closer to relaunching Symbiostock with the new plugin.April 8, 2015 at 8:22 pm #22554
thanks for the update and your efforts are appreciated by us.April 9, 2015 at 2:56 am #22556
Thanks for the update, Robin. When Leo started talking about a major change in Sym many months ago, I stopped updating my theme (I think at the point that I would have had to abandon my customizations), waiting for things to settle down. It looks like things are still very much in the air. I have not a little trepidation over the new plugin, but I think I’m willing to try switching over to it if there is plenty of documentation and support, since I won’t be able to have you host it for me (I do have the pro version– would that credit toward a premium theme?). Maybe a summer project. If it is all getting things working better, and more likely to generate sales, then all the better. Would the new plugin still network other Sym members together?April 9, 2015 at 6:43 am #22557
Yes, trying to hack the theme to ensure that nothing breaks is a real problem. That is the main flaw in the previous incarnation of Symbiostock. When you have functional code embedded in the theme – even a little bit – it becomes a big hassle to change and upgrade.
When the entire plugin is embedded in the theme, you’re pretty much stuck with the design, or the hacked version of the design that you end up using. Then, once you’ve made personalized changes, you can’t upgrade the theme/plugin because then it will reverse all your changes!
The new plugin will have brief documentation because I am coding it in a manner that is seamlessly integrated into wordpress. That’s why it is quite difficult to do. Here, I’ll explain some aspect of development so that everyone kind of understands where I am coming from:
Wordpress is not a linear system – it basically encloses the entire website in a built in infrastructure. So if you want to, say, change some link from underline to bold, you have two main choices. You can go right into the theme and hard code the bold tag where you want it, or create CSS that overrides the CSS that is already there. The second option, which is more difficult, is to find out exactly HOW wordpress is making that link underlined, and using their own built in mechanisms, change that to bold.
The benefit of using the last option is if wordpress gets updated, and the CSS or hard-code gets changed, your link will stay changed because you are programmatically altering it through their infrastructure. On the other hand, if you hard coded the bold tag it will likely vanish once the code/theme is updated.
This is a tiny example – as WordPress is still being developed, sometimes you find portions of code that cannot be changed without breaking WordPress. So then you have to find an alternative way of accomplishing what you want.
I am being extremely strict in my development to ensure that there isn’t even one line of code you have to stick in your wordpress/woocommerce install to ensure Symbiostock works. Because of this clean implementation, you are going to be avoiding about 95% of the issues you will encounter with a theme embedded plugin, which is what the previous version was.
If you have a pro-version you will get credit towards a Symbiostock theme, or hosting if you prefer. We’re definitely going to be developing multiple themes so people have choices, and make each theme very robust so you can personalize it dramatically. Again, you will not have to go into the code to do this – we are going to develop it so the forms for changing the major elements are built right into the WordPress GUI.
As for networking Sym members – that is a definite part of the plan. But as I’ve hinted at previously, I don’t just want to provide a system for linking media together. I aim to create a system that will dramatically change the landscape so that Symbiostock contributors (hosted and standalone) will get sales that compare to the large agencies. I have a lot of the planning in that regard finished but will only start development on it once I have released Symbiostock.
It is very crucial to me that contributors have the freedom to distribute their media in beautiful manners with as little headache as possible which is why getting the plugin finished is the main priority right now.
Thanks for the questions.April 14, 2015 at 10:41 am #22560
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