DigitalFusion is a digital photographic rental and post-production facility based in Los Angeles, California. Their goal is to help professional photographers evolve from conventional film photography to digital photography by providing a digital replacement to the typical photographic workflow.
Pleased with the results of those two web sites, DigitalFusion invited me to be a part of a very exciting project: the third incarnation of their flagship software application, DF Studio. DF Studio is a web-based program designed for professional digital photographers as an editing and job management application. It creates a powerful and collaborative workflow for the photographers and their clients.
In April 2006, I started working on the new version of DF Studio as part of a small web development team. My role in the project was a major overhaul of the UI (user interface). This visual upgrade involved realigning the web application to use modern web standards since the new design required a solid foundation of valid HTML markup. For example, where the previous version used tables for layout, the new version sports a CSS-only layout. These changes opened the door for new user-specific features such as background color choices, layout sizes, and much more. The power of the CSS-based design is that these various flavors and ways to view images inside the application are all drawn from the same source code files.
Besides all the technological changes, I aimed to improve the readability and usefulness of the application by providing better typography, icons, layouts, and color choices. One of DigitalFusion’s requirements involved a CSS-driven layout that would correctly display on anything from a typical laptop screen up to a 30″ Apple Cinema Display. The end-result is a collection of flexible and usable layouts that focus on the images. After all, it is a program for professional photographers…
The meat-and-potatoes of the application is image management. The post-shoot workflow includes uploading images, selecting images, communicating selections and edits to the client, and receiving feedback. I dedicated a large amount of time and energy to this part of the application, and I feel that it shows the power of CSS-based design. People viewing and managing images can change layout size and type, background colors, and toggle on/off different features. In the previous version, the only background color was white; now the default is black, but white and several shades of grey are just a click away.
Image selection and management can also happen in full-size image mode. Changes to this part of the application included minimizing the header/footer areas to show more of the main image, and the addition of a thumbnail row across the bottom. The row helps navigate the current collection of images, rather than just moving back and forth with arrows and seeing each large image one at a time.
DF Studio version 3 was featured in September’s Picture Magazine (see DF Studio: The Best Next Thing), and received attention at the 2006 Photokina convention in Germany where DigitalFusion shared a booth with camera giant Hasselblad. Look for the public launch of DF Studio version 3 in early November at PhotoPlus in New York City. Here’s the official announcement from DigitalFusion:
“DigitalFusion is pleased to announce the release of DF Studio version 3 on November 2, 2006. Version 3 features a completely redesigned user-interface and extends DF Studio to users worldwide through DF Studio Link, a new easy-to-use upload tool.”
Along with DF Studio version 3, the DigitalFusion development team is launching new upload tools and a plugin for Apple’s Aperture software. My talented friend and colleague, Sam DeVore, is responsible for those two projects (with more to come).
Launch Date: November 2, 2006 at PhotoPlus.