Cloudinary Blog

Archive for 2012
In a previous post we've shown how you can easily manage your Ruby on Rails image uploads with CarrierWave and Cloudinary. Many of our Rails readers found this very useful, as it depicted a powerful image management solution that is trivial to integrate - use the popular CarrierWave GEM together with the Cloudinary GEM, add a single 'include' line to your code and that's it. All your images are automatically uploaded to the cloud and delivered through a fast CDN. Better yet, all image transformations defined in your CarrierWave uploader class are generated in the cloud by Cloudinary. No need to install and setup any image processing library (goodbye RMagick, ImageMagick, GraphicsMagick, MiniMagick, etc.). You also don't need to worry any more about CPU power, storage space, image syncing between multiple servers, backup and scale.
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This blog post is not like our regular techie oriented blog post, this blog post is about you guys, our users. Call it the holidays' spirit, but lately we have been having a strong urge to say thanks. Thanks to our awesome users.
 
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Graphic designers often contemplate whether to add borders to their website elements. The decision of whether to add borders around frames, buttons and text elements really depends on the feeling the designer is trying to convey through the design. 
 
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When images are involved, web developers have a large set of relevant tools at their disposal. You can display images in your web sites and mobile applications. You can manipulate and transform such images using image editing and manipulation software or cloud-based solutions like Cloudinary. But there are other types of data embedded in image files that can add unique semantic information to the images and are hardly ever used.
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Since Cloudinary's launch, at the beginning of 2012, we have enjoyed watching many fascinating companies use our service in new and creative ways. Of these companies, many are early-stage startups. These startups are a pleasure to accompany and we enjoy watching them grow with us and with our ever growing list of capabilities and features, many of which were suggested by these companies themselves. 
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Back in the 1990s, websites mainly comprised of static textual pages dashed with a few images to make them slightly more appealing. You could even disable image downloading in your browser to make pages load faster, quite unthinkable in today's websites.
 
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Different online services, websites and mobile applications have very different image management requirements. Despite the differences, the image management pipeline boils down to the same basic formula - upload the images, normalize them, store them and manipulate them to create derivatives (thumbnails, effects, watermarks, etc.). Afterwards, prepare them for delivery and make sure they are accessible to your users quickly and efficiently when browsing your website or using your mobile app.
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Different web applications have very different requirements when images are involved. A dating website will focus its image-related attention on normalizing and delivering his user uploaded snapshots. A pinterest style service is focused on retrieving external images from around the web and fitting them to its cool layout. An eCommerce website is focused on the effective delivery of the many product thumbnails it depicts.
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Where do you host all of your website's assets - still on your own web servers? 
 
In modern websites, images alone contribute to more than 50% of a website’s load time, and recent studies show that even a 1 second delay in a page's load speed can result in more than 5% loss in conversion. The impact of correctly delivering your website's images to your viewers is staggering. Luckily, Cloudinary offers a simple way to offload your website's images to the cloud, automatically transform them according to your needs and deliver them optimized through a fast CDN employing industry best practices.
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When we first started developing web apps with Ruby on Rails, some six years ago, we struggled with finding a good IDE. We settled for Eclipse with RadRails (still developing on PCs at that time...), but kept our eyes open for new and promising IDEs. At late 2007, a very surprising contender caught our eyes, it was called ‘Heroku’ and it offered an amazing concept - a fully featured IDE for Ruby-on-Rails that was completely online, available through your favorite browser.

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As a website owner, you know the importance of having a robust web-based service. When a downtime may result in lost revenues, you strive to keep a highly available online solution.
 
A major part of having a robust service is a good contingency plan, that ultimately depends on regular backups of your website’s data. Your website’s code is probably backed up regularly, and so is your database, but have you given thought to backing up your dynamic website assets, such as your users’ uploaded images? 
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If you Google for “Hello Cloudinary”, you will find some intriguing articles claiming that Cloudinary is a Photoshop replacement. Well, although the comparison is very flattering and we do believe that Cloudinary is a fantastic service for web developers, we never thought of our service as a replacement for Photoshop. However, some image manipulation features of Cloudinary allow web developers and web designers to dynamically modify the look & feel of their website’s images in an extremely easy way without manually processing their images using an image editing desktop software. In this blog post we wanted to describe some of Cloudinary’s newest features - applying effects and filters on images.

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Several years ago, a good friend of mine showed me a cool graphic design concept for his new web-based startup company. It looked pretty great. What really caught my eye was the designer’s unique use of visitor profile photos. You see, when a visitor registered to the service and uploaded his photo, the designer envisioned a large, faded, B&W, slightly rotated version of the same profile photo being used as the background image for the visitor’s personal home page. I thought for a minute and told my friend to let this one go. 
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Most web sites enrich their graphics by embedding pictures and photos of their model entities - users, articles, movies, etc. The graphic design of such web sites assumes that all these entities have associated pictures, otherwise the result will not look as satisfactory as intended. The graphics designer will not like it and the developer having to handle the boundary case of missing images won’t enjoy this either.
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Adding watermarks to photos is a common practice used to make sure that photos aren't circulated without their owner's authorization and that no one takes undue credit for their creation. Watermarks are common practice at major news outlets and breaking-news blogs. It is also a must for stock photo sites that show you previews of premium images before purchase. Image manipulation that includes embedding the photographer’s name to photos or crediting a source is also a commonly used practice. 
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As web developers, we closely monitor the shifts in today's modern web applications architecture stack. We find the client vs. server-side HTML rendering debate particularly interesting.
 
In the past several years, we’ve witnessed the enormous rise in popularity of client-side JS/CoffeeScript MVC & MVVM solutions. From popular libraries such as Backbone.js that strive to add basic structure to client-side apps, all the way to feature-rich libraries that manage your entire client-side stack, with data-binding, client-server model sync, dependency tracking, templates and more. The involvement of high-profile companies and individuals in this market is also fascinating, between KnockoutJS contributions from Microsoft, the Google-backed Angular and Yehuda Katz's Ember, the heat is definitely on. 
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When we conceived Cloudinary, our vision was to help websites manage all their assets (images, Javascripts, CSS, etc.) in the cloud, easily and effectively. Our initial focus was on image management in the cloud since we've felt that this particular area was significantly underdeveloped. We figured that every web developer would be happy with a solid solution for image uploads, applying image transformations in the Cloud and getting their website's images delivered through a fast CDN.

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Twitter and Facebook. One adds rounded corners to their user’s profile pictures. The other doesn’t. Can you recall which service is the one adding rounded corners?
 
At the moment, the right answer is Twitter, though if you guessed Facebook you weren’t far off. Both services have on-and-off relations with rounded cornered images, and Facebook tried different designs before backing out of rounded corners for the time being.
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When we set to develop Cloudinary’s Rails integration Gem, it was obvious to us that we’ll base it on CarrierWave. Here’s why.

Photos are a major part of your website. Your eCommerce solution will have multiple snapshots uploaded for each product. Your users might want to upload their photo to be used as their personal profile photo. What’s entailed when developing such a photo management pipeline, end-to-end?

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Cloudinary’s roots go back to when we needed to embed users’ uploaded images and profile pictures for web projects we’ve developed.

We had to show people and faces of users in various dimensions and perspectives, and the process proved cumbersome.

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Welcome to the Cloudinary Blog

By Cloudinary Team
Hi everyone, and welcome to Cloudinary!
 
We have a long history of developing web-based products. In fact, our main line of business is helping early stage web-based startups code their web applications. 
 
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