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On Aviary: An open letter to Zack & the Flickr team

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jakerome is a group administrator jakerome says:

Hey Zack,

I didn't want to pester you w/ Flickr stuff on your personal account, but I thought it would be a more effective way to communicate my thoughts than through the help forum. Then I realized I could just a post a thread here & send a link. It goes like this.

I love Flickr. I've met probably 80 people IRL that I first knew on Flickr. I want to see Flickr flourish & grow, and I want everyone to love Flickr as much as I do. I've also seen wave after wave of negative feedback flow past Flickr for reasons major & minor. Some seem wholly out of proportion (adding video), others made the best of bad options (no restricted images in Germany) and some simply trivial (moving testimonials to the bottom). Certainly the volume of Help Forum feedback isn't a good metric for determining if a decision was well made.

So new features come (galleries, collections) and go (that live chat thing). I get that. But the Picnik/ Aviary switch is fundamentally different. This was a feature that stretched what it meant to be a photo sharing site by integrating photo editing. Certainly it's nothing that was required of a like service at the time, and the integration was ahead of the game. I think Picnik packed a lot more punch than most anticipated, and it's acquired thousands or tens of thousands rabid fans.

As do many Flickr features. But these folks, I think are among the most engaged. The folks that treat Flickr as our primary place to keep photos-- after all, if we keep everything on our home computers, why would we ever edit on Picnik? Like many others, I have perhaps hundreds of photos that exist only on Flickr, in the sense that elsewhere only the RAW exists but not the jpeg (same thing goes for my iPhone & Pre pics... seldom do they make the move to Aperture but hundreds live on Flickr).

And Picnik features, while they may have been above & beyond at the time, are almost expected among serious photo sharers. Truth is, I don't know what SmugMug or 500px or Snapfish or Shutterfly offer... because I live on Flickr. Certainly G+ has good tools now. OK, I'm getting closer to my point. And that's this: The biggest fans of Picnik are the people most engaged with Flickr. Perhaps that was a minority of members, and it's not just that they're passionate. It's more that it made just so much sense.

That's why Aviary in its current form is so disappointing. It appeals not at all to those deeply engaged with Flickr as home base. Now, I know there were many reasons why Aviary was selected, and given the same constraints (that are unknown to Flickr members) I may well have made the same choice. And hopefully it improves. But if it's just baby steps, you're going to disappoint most the people who are most committed to the vision that Flickr has always strove to promote. www.flickr.com/about/ "1. We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them." Smart refrigerators. Photos that live in the cloud. Flickr was 8 years ahead of the whole cloud thing.

And Flickr needs to stay 8 years ahead. I know the Flickr API enables millions of tools and it's the template that Facebook & others have used to embrace & extend. But not everything should be shuttled out... some features are so compelling, so crucial and so complementary to Flickr's fundamental vision that the only sensible option is to integrate those features, and to make them best of breed. Integrated, powerful photo editing was such a natural extension of Flickr, in hindsight so obvious. So to backtrack on that feature of all that have been added to Flickr the past half decade seems inexplicable at best and self-destructive at worst.

So that's where I'm at on Aviary. Speed is nice, but the ability to easily revisit any old photo with a powerful editor is far more important, and so very beneficial to all in the Flickr community that enjoy sharing & viewing photos, even if they never once used the feature.
Originally posted at 11:46PM, 11 April 2012 PDT (permalink)
jakerome edited this topic 52 months ago.

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poppelus says:

My thoughts exactly, Jake.
I only ever used Picnik for editing, have no other editing software, I am gutted now, I have tried the Aviary, and I am massively disappointed..
52 months ago (permalink)

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Anthony Posey SIR:Poseyal Kinght of Desposyni says:

agreed
52 months ago (permalink)

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chloe & ivan says:

Well said, Jake.

May I add?
One of the reasons the Picnikers are so passionate, aside from the product, was the Picnik community. It was (is!) a warm and friendly place where every level of photographer felt welcome. There was a tremendous amount of information freely shared.
There was very personal involvement by staff and long time Picnikers.
Any question, whether from me, or a kid using a computer at school, was quickly answered with tips and tricks.
It was fun.
I am wondering if there is any way to warm up Aviary,
besides the additional basic tools we are asking for.
52 months ago (permalink)

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​eyebex says:

coles notes anyone?
52 months ago (permalink)

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Edson_Matthews is a group administrator Edson_Matthews says:

That was pretty long, so I skimmed it. Did you mention the super-secret and generally super-fluous beta project?
52 months ago (permalink)

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jakerome is a group administrator jakerome says:

I have no comment on the possible existence of a hypothetical "beta" project.
52 months ago (permalink)

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teh resa says:

When I had a smugmug account for a few years (2007 I think) they had piknik and the premium features were free for pro accounts (that being the most expensive smugmug account available)

I really don't get the controversy about Aviary. I never used picnik because it was slow and the filters were silly. Aviary is even more useless but at least its fast.

I use picasa for minor editing before uploading.

Beta project? There was no real beta project (that I know about). The released the Aviary features in waves so some people got to try it before others. If there was a beta project there would have been actual testing and tweaking based on feedback.
52 months ago (permalink)

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​eyebex says:

there is a controversy?
52 months ago (permalink)

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Edson_Matthews is a group administrator Edson_Matthews says:

That last paragraph is like a Yukon to Virginia thought-theft. You've plagiarized my gray matter.
52 months ago (permalink)

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chloe & ivan says:

Silly filters were fun.
52 months ago (permalink)

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andertho says:

Other than one exploratory foray, I have never used Picnik or Aviary.
52 months ago (permalink)

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ponzü says:

I was big on Picnik, especially after they opened up pro features. Aviary -- not so much.
52 months ago (permalink)

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Still The Oldie is a group administrator Still The Oldie says:

I used Picnik for final colour tweaks once I'd seen how the Flickr upload algorithm had altered a given shot. Picnik helped optimize the end result for onscreen display in Flickr...
52 months ago (permalink)

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​eyebex says:

what andertho said
52 months ago (permalink)

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babyruthinmd says:

I used some of the features in Picnik and it was really useful for the last minute tweaking...cropping to proper size, rotating a horizon, etc. And it was especially useful when I wasn't on the machine that has all my photoediting software on it. Aviary...is terrible...no matter HOW fast it may be. It would need alot of updating to be even close to what Picnik was. PicMonkey has become my new go to for quick last minute edits.
Originally posted 52 months ago. (permalink)
babyruthinmd edited this topic 52 months ago.

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j / f / photos says:

a picnic in an aviary with Zack and the flickr team...sounds nice
52 months ago (permalink)

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teh resa says:

why is this addressed to Zack? Zack is the community manager isn't he? He's not the boss is he? editing features are probably not even in his department.
52 months ago (permalink)

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teh resa says:

Markus Spiering is the Head Of Product.

I'm not quite sure....aren't WE the product that is being sold?
52 months ago (permalink)

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j / f / photos says:

no wonder Yahoo is losing money...we kinda suck
52 months ago (permalink)

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Zack Sheppard says:

Hi Jake,

Thanks for your heart felt and well thought out post.

I agree that the people that are passionate about this issue are the ones that are very engaged and that there are a lot of people that have some photos that are only on Flickr. As I take more iPhone shots I'm one of them. The Aviary tool does need more features to meet more people's needs and we're working on that now. I think we underestimated this when launching it and maybe the messaging should have been better and talked more about how this isn't the last iteration. But I am always wary of over-promising what will come and that's usually the right thing to do when you are giving your word to literally millions of people. It's also worth noting that we had to get a brand new solution together on a very short timeline (as far as software development cycles are concerned) with a hard deadline.

I think Aviary is still the best choice for Flickr now and in the future, especially because it's written in HTML5 and not Flash. HTML5 has better compatibility with a variety of today's devices and it will have a better compatibility in the future as the web moves away from Flash. If we have to move on to a different editor now it's better to invest in the best long term solution and Aviary is the best choice for all of these reasons.
52 months ago (permalink)

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Lucem~Ferre says:

High 5's for HTML 5 !!!!
52 months ago (permalink)

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chloe & ivan says:

Thanks, Zack.
Here, have a donut.
Donuts. It's almost time. April 17.
52 months ago (permalink)

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-william says:

I did enjoy using picnik in a bind ( mostly as a result of subtle monitor calibration issues ) That said, today I tried Aviary and did not enjoy it as much... That said, I can understand Flickr's position on Flash and support of HTML5...

Now if I could just calibrate my monitor...
52 months ago (permalink)

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JordyR says:

This reminds me very little of the time I wandered into the last chance saloon, and ended up shooting Billy Baroul.
52 months ago (permalink)

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davensuze (Seriously, I'm not Ted Raynor) says:

Yeah that program does suck.
52 months ago (permalink)

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Still The Oldie is a group administrator Still The Oldie says:

It was a shooting that had to happen...
52 months ago (permalink)

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jakerome is a group administrator jakerome says:

Thanks Zack for the thoughtful response. Hindsight is easy, but I wish Flickr had started working on a replacement as soon as Google bought Picnik. I'm a bit surprised to learn Flickr didn't get any advanced notification.

I'm hopeful Aviary will improve, but uncertain it will ever be useful as a real photo editor the way Picnik was. The powerful, integrated photo editor was a tangible benefit for Flickr fans.
Originally posted 52 months ago. (permalink)
jakerome edited this topic 52 months ago.

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'SeraphimC says:

I laughed, I cried, this thread was better than Cats.
52 months ago (permalink)

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teh resa says:

Bah, the whole controversy is lame.

Zack says: . The Aviary tool does need more features to meet more people's needs and we're working on that now.

Features smeatures. Use photoshop if you need high fallutin "features"
Make do with what you've got I say. I'd rather work within limitations than have too many toys to chose from.

 by teh resa


and so on...

 by teh resa


 by teh resa


 by teh resa


p1140265 by teh resa

52 months ago (permalink)

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RyanMacLean says:

I like Aviary, but have never used it as part of flickr, and only used picnik once.
Prior to having Aviary on flickr, was there not a period of "no editor"?
Now that there's an editor in flickr, should we not rejoice?
I shall drink a homebrew and rejoice.

Furthermore, I really came here to say tldr, but unfortunately I did read it all and Caleb is bang on.

edit: apparently unable to spell the word read
Originally posted 52 months ago. (permalink)
RyanMacLean edited this topic 52 months ago.

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RyanMacLean says:


52 months ago (permalink)

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RyanMacLean says:

Somebody's on a roll.
52 months ago (permalink)

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Just Jonno23. Nothing more. Nothing less. says:

My only Aviary experiment......

Fuck Yeah
52 months ago (permalink)

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RyanMacLean says:

Is this the home bar?!
JELLY!
52 months ago (permalink)

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The Official Holly Ferocious® is a group moderator The Official Holly Ferocious® says:

Donut be jelly!
52 months ago (permalink)

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RyanMacLean says:

Tonight, playing the part of the man in the red shirt...
52 months ago (permalink)

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