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Show HN: Github for Designers (pixelapse.com)
409 points by lominming on Feb 9, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments

I've been thinking about how a GitHub for designers would work. This doesn't quite seem like "it" to me. Don't take that remark the wrong way, I like what's been done here. It's well designed and I could see a use for it.

But that's just it, I have to find a use for it. It isn't immediately obvious to me. I'm not the typical designer as I don't have clients and my job isn't 100% design but I have been designing everything from packaging, to print advertisements, to websites for ten years. I don't know why I would use this. If I need alternate versions of files I just save them with version numbers. The poor man's version control. But I don't need anything more than that - do other designers?

The power of Github I believe is that it allows programmers to share their work with their colleagues, learn from others, and work together with others.

I like Dribbble because it allows designers to do what they want to do with their colleagues. Show off their work and get inspiration from other designers. To me, Dribbble is the closest thing to a Github for designers.

What's missing from Dribbble is the collaborative part. Coders working with coders, designers with designers. But that's the problem. Coders have to work with other coders all the time it's the nature of the beast. Designers do not in the same way. In my experience.

So if it's not designers with designers then it's designers with coders. And a place for those who (like me) both design and code to both showcase our work and to work together with others. If you could turn this into a Dribbble + Github I think that would be interesting.

> If I need alternate versions of files I just save them with version numbers.

As a designer/programmer, I completely agree.

As a programmer, the idea of saving multiple copies of a file with different versions numbers just sounds awful.

But when designing in photoshop, theres rarely a need for a full version control system since I usually only have 5-6 PSDs of each iteration per design (or logos/sites/etc) and at that scale its easily manageable.

If version control was built into photoshop, it would be nice but the important thing is its not a need I have and I wouldn't necessarily seek this type of product out.

* But when designing in photoshop, theres rarely a need for a full version control system since I usually only have 5-6 PSDs of each iteration per design (or logos/sites/etc) and at that scale its easily manageable.*

I feel like the word "version" means completely separate things to a programmer talking about (d)vcs and to a designer talking about mockups. To a programmer, version control is more likely to mean revisions of the same file as it evolves and is changed. To a designer, a version is a distinct mockup that represents a new look.

(Sure, a programmer may rewrite something, and a designer will tweak something. But, even then. Different words are used to describe what took place.)

Man, this space is filling up so fast. We're working on a similar product, we're funded and a little further along (shameless plug: http://www.revisu.com). When we started working on this, there was no one in this space. Now there are a ton of offerings!

I think you hit the nail on the head with regard to what designers need from version control. We bill ourselves as Dribbble + Github for creative teams exactly for the reasons you describe.

Friendly advice:

I would really like to find out what revisu does and how it works without signing up. An intro video would be ideal, or at least a much more detailed feature list and screenshot walk-through.

Thanks for the advice. We've been fortunate that we've had a huge user base to test with initially, so we haven't put very much work in to our public-facing stuff. More to come on this...

I agree with joemoon, and I also advise you to annouce what are the OS supported. So I didn't register.

It's a web app. Pretty OS agnostic.

Ah good to know, while it looks like a web app I didn't see any mention about it (did I miss it?) But then another question arises, that means I have to go there and upload the new version?

Hey Kerry,

Thanks for your feedback! We've talked to a few designers and it seems like everyone has a slightly different workflow. There are definitely people who manually save different files as you do and some more hardcore designer/developers who use git to manage versioning. We think there's a middle ground in between where you don't have to think about versioning and it just happens in the background.

We've hidden it in the demo but we've baked in collaboration as well. You can create a group for your team or even show it off publicly, a bit like Dribbble. The benefit of using Pixelapse is that you can learn how a design was created from start to finish. Like you said, not all designers necessarily work with other designers, but there's definitely collaboration and conversations with managers or developers or other stakeholders who may not be design/tech savvy. We want to save you from the cycle of exporting the psd, emailing the copy to a bunch of people, getting feedback and having to repeat as you incorporate the feedback. We're still thinking about different ways to expand and move forward and doing a Dribbble + Github may well be where we ultimately end up. :)

The functionality that you've outlined in your second paragraph wasn't obvious to me and I'd be interested in hearing more about that. I've been considering using GitHub:FI (I think it's called something else now) for a while now and their image diffs are helping to swing me in that direction. My first reaction to your service was that it was a nicer version of that without the rest of GitHub and I assume a designer friendly upload interface.

Sounds like you're aiming at teams and small ad agencies? Is that correct? I do like the idea of being able to share the versions as it progresses with other stakeholders. That is valuable. I didn't grep that from the demo. Admittedly I didn't poke around too much, I spent a few minutes on the site.

Is this for web design teams or mostly traditional media teams (Packaging, branding, print)? If the former, how do the developers work with it? If the latter, I like the functionality you've described.

I apologize if these questions and my critiques are too early in your dev cycle, I realize that you just released this (And it does look well polished!). I really just have an interest in this space and would like to see something work for my needs.

Your feedback is great! Our initial goal is to focus on web design teams because that's what we have the most experience with. As a designer, I can share a permalink either to a particular revision or all the revisions with a developer and he can pull the assets and incorporate them back into the codebase. We don't have too much experience with traditional media teams so we're not sure how the workflow is different but we'd love to learn more. Please email me: shravan@pixelapse.com and I'd be happy to chat more.

I've been somewhat involved with the development of http://halftoneapp.com - they focus on collaboration amongst team members and getting feedback from clients.

I agree with you on the collaborative part. Add in a "deviantart" component, and you got a killer product for designers.

I'm trying to come up with something more interesting to say than "Wow". I've wished I had this a few times.

I think the only thing that you lose here is access to an actual "diff", but visually, you get most of it.

Grats on a fantastic achievement.

Thanks for the kind words, Andrew. I'm not sure if you found it but you can compare multiple revisions side by side and also overlay revisions to see what's changed.

I think Andrew might mean the ability to see changes in a non-visual fashion. IE: Layer 2 removed, Layer 3 Blending mode changed.

Someone was working on a .js PSD file parser, which may be of interest down the line but it was in early stages.

Great product, I love the idea. Well done.

It took me awhile to find it, because in FF 10 on Windows, the X|Y button is showing up as an FL (it looks like it might be a sprite issue? the buttons on the bottom have the same problem) but once I found it, I liked it a lot.

We have fixed the problem for Firefox. It should look great now!

Oh cool, just last week got the same intent to do this, after someone mentioned layervault.com in the comments.

Version controlling for design is great but if you want to differentiate from layervault or pixelnovel.com then you should try and see if designers would collaborate in an opensource fashion, ala github. (I am really curious about this, as that's the real reason people use github AFAICT) So I would go and add some social aspect for it, make it a bit more like dribbble, behance, flickr (portfolios, inspiration) as these are the sites that designers use. Also adding stockphoto/illustration selling and job board features would probably make for the best designer platform ever. (not mentioning the business options...)

And after this feature suggesting madness, I would like to point out that if you want to keep this simple and stupid, then still please get a designer and work on the ux.

Keep up the good work!

Nice to see others in this space. Kelly Sutton et al run the slick http://layervault.com which comes to mind. "Simple version control for designers"

layervault is very slick - this does seem to take a different approach to seeing all the revisions next to each other.

While I like the look of it, the mac only is an instant close and forget for me, and I know of a few friends who would do the same, some because they don't like macs others because they cant afford them. (Honest comment I don't want to start a flamewar here)

A windows version is in the pipeline. We'll have more info soon!

Love it but I fear it's not the right solution and I even don't think it's the right problem it's trying to solve.

When a designer is working in photoshop they are not actually part of the development process yet. They are still in design mode, they are for the lack of a better word sketching.

Not until they start to actually output assets for developers do the github concept start to make sense.

Designers often have different versions of the same design inside the document in the layers and groups and smart objects.

They will for instance have a couple of version of a header or some styling on their elements, perhaps different layout for main content.

So for this to be useful it would need to create a kind of master psd that save the state of which layers and groups are turned off and on.

This way you can sketch away and not have to worry about creating a billion different versions inside the documents that just make them bigger.

But that is a different problem.

Why do I buy this instead of Layer Vault?

We think LayerVault is great and they're doing some stuff that's similar to us. There's a few things we're doing differently.

When we first came up with this idea, we really needed a good way to comment & annotate and keep all that feedback inline instead of it spilling over into email. The second is that we provide an easy way to diff revisions side by side or overlay them to see what has actually changed. Behind the scenes, we actually work quite differently from LayerVault, particularly on large files. I'd love to talk to you more to see how we can help you. Please email me shravan@pixelapse.com.

Clever of them to show a custom welcome message for Hacker News visitors. I love how it jumps you right into a demo app with no login or registration steps.

The functionality and usefulness of this service is fantastic, but I wonder how hard it would be for github itself to compete; they've shown that they can do simpler binary versioning and comparison with PNG/JPEG images, so all they'd have to do is add support for previewing PSD files as well. Whether that's a simple thing to support is not something I'm qualified to answer though :)

I think psd versioning is outside of github's core competency. We've used distributed version control for design files, and it really doesnt support a natural workflow. Background syncing just seems much more natural as a solution to the problem since the files tend to be very large, and are compounded by rapid generation and disposal of many many versions.

Good point.

Another issue that might be how integrated the version control system could be into the graphics app. Github will never aim to integrate itself deeply into Photoshop, so designers would be forced to visit a browser to see changes.

Something like OS X Lion's file versioning system might actually be perfect for this.

Very cool. Is especially like the automatic syncing. Getting designers to actually upload things to a server, or got forbid have to type in commands to git is just not going to happen.

I did find a small bug: in the X/Y view, your scrollbars are draggable, so if you scroll the image, then release the mouse button the view panel gets stuck to your mouse. (Chrome win7)

Gorgeous app and well done! I really like how all the images scroll together when you are comparing multiple images.

This is a great idea! Often when doing work for clients I've wanted to show them something more than just the finished PSD. They've hit upon the idea that with design the through process is often as important as the final result. Pixelapse will definitely will help me extract more value from my time.

Really liking this. I'd be curious to hear how you've approached the storage problem?

Are the full files for each revision saved? Or have you developed a way to store only the differences?

With large PSD files, the former could get expensive quickly, which makes me wonder the same thing as ARolek asked, what will pricing be based on?

Hey Michael, We only store the differences between subsequent saves so the actual impact on bandwidth & storage is pretty small. We're still playing around with pricing but there will be a free tier with more options depending on the space used.

Thanks for the reply Shravan, that's awesome to know. Definitely sounds very promising, I'm looking forward to seeing the subscription plans when yous are ready.

Looks cool; nice job!

Some notes:

When playing around with the |X|Y| functionality

BUG - Dragging the slider on a compare window beyond the container and releasing the mouse causes the window to follow your mouse around. Your drag and drop "sorting" functionality seems to kick in.

BUG 2 - Adding multiple versions to the compare frame works well, however it was initially hard to tell how to remove a given frame. Some ability from the frame would be nice, but that wasn't the bug. When you add multiple versions to compare you see them highlighted below. Then when you go to another view (i.e. the single revision view) and back to the |X|Y| compare view the frames you were last comparing are still there, however they are no longer highlighted.

Again, this looks great, just keep going! :)

So...as an indirect competitor...let me just say...well done. This is pretty awesome!

This is something I have thought about doing for a while, but to be honest, I never had the technical chops to do it at the time.

Sure, parts of this still needs polishing - got some quirky JS issues with the comparison of the two images side by side in Chrome on Windows.

But you guys have done and awesome, awesome job!

Edit: Btw, this is the quirky issue I encountered - http://i.imgur.com/MOY9c.png To replicate this, in Chrome on Windows 7, click on the 'X Y' side by side icon and then just try scrolling the images up and down, or side to side, and then moving the mouse. It moves the entire DOM element.

Congrats on the launch.

Nice idea.

Try and chose a 2 syllable or a less tongue twisting name.

Now that I think about it, if I said "Pixelapse" out loud, I bet most people would hear it as something like "pixel apps" or "pixie laps".

My informal testing reveals people think it’s “pixel apps” or “pick slaps”. I’m guessing the creators don’t have “dark” (velarised) L in their dialect, because it’s a lot clearer when pronounced with a non-velarised L.

For some reason we have a real problem hanging on to previous design iterations and we often want to go back and try incorporating things from previous iterations. This is going to be really cool, especially for distributed teams.

I think you might be onto something here. However I'd focus heavily on the designers who don't know github. Because hackers 'round here are going to tell you to just use github, because it make so much sense for them.

I've always thought, in a working environment, it would be best for everyone involved if designers got up to speed with git. I know git is hard, and I know designers are not necessarily command-line junkies.

Rather, my point is simply: it's worth it.

So for me, downloading a client that syncs, while useful, is not the _answer_.

The answer is for designers to embrace git and also for developers to make git easier to use. Whether that requires a better UI, better documentation, better tutorials, etc.

Git has the power to do all this and more, there just needs to be an intuitive wrapper for the workflow maybe?

Yes, Git does. For text files. Not for something like a PSD. A PSD absolutely requires some sort of visual diff tool that can interpret a diff of a binary PSD, just just a binary file.

Bingo. Git workflow/collaboration needs to be made simple for everyone involved. Shameless plug: http://gitpilot.com is our attempt at solving the problem. But, I think you hit the nail on the head that developers need to make Git easier to use.

GitHub have a fantastic Mac App which makes git significantly easier to use for those less technically inclined.

It's sort of fantastic. I love that it's not just a remapping of git commands to buttons. It really is simple and easy to use.

The big problem with that is that its extremely buggy. It seems to choke on merge conflicts most of the time and it can get into some really weird states. I've had it undo changes on completely different files than what I told it to and lose hours of work.

How do I fork a design? Can I make another layer and merge it into the PS file so that others can tweak my changes?

Just ideas that popped into my head looking at this. It's pretty awesome, great job!

I think this is the key part of git's workflow that improves on older simple versioning systems. the fork and merge model is really needed in other spaces too.

I wonder if it would be possible to turn design files into something textual to leverage git's builtin merge capabilities?

I'm still cracking up: They make you sign your name in Comic Sans on the invite page. :-)

Also, really neat concept overall. Can't wait to try it!

I store all my designs in dropbox. This has worked pretty well. If I need a design I just go into dropbox and grab it and make changes to it. It works, but I'm guessing their is a better way. And when I need feedback I use a combination of droplr and instant messaging. Their is definitely room for innovation.

Cool idea but I suspect by the end of this year anyone who seriously uses Photoshop will be using Adobe's Creative Cloud solution to solve the same problems.

Granted, Creative Cloud isn't fully released yet, but it will be soon and it is basically this plus Dropbox plus full native integration into all the Adobe apps.

You should allow this technology to be deployed on a local server. Many companies consider their design to be confidential information, and they do not allow storage on an external server, especially in U.S. where their data can be subject to warrantless interception (Patriot Act and all).

One problem is that your average designer will not know what versioning is, never mind have an opinion as to whether it'd be useful or not.

I see this as a case of applying a successful model from one field to another without consideration around whether this is actually a problem in the first place.

The usefulness of versioning and other successful models in other fields/contexts is an interesting thing to think about. It could be that some applications of these models are not solving existing problems so much as creating new opportunities. Versioning for art and design could create new opportunities for collaborative creation even if it doesn't solve the problems of existing artists and designers. I don't know how well this can work, though.

For me the biggest thing about Github is the ability to learn for other programmers. I am a CS grad student though so I recognize that for others collaboration is the secret sauce. Provided this solved my problem of trying to learn something about design, I'd use it frequently.

I went into the demo expecting more of reapplication of git workflow (with some sort of staging area equivalent) for design, but after playing around with the demo it's clear the combination of auto-saving and milestones is both simpler and more elegant. Amazing work guys!

Is this only for Photoshop? What about Fireworks or Illustrator?

When I click for an invitation, I get an Application Error (An error occurred in the application and your page could not be served. Please try again in a few moments.

If you are the application owner, check your logs for details.)

Hey dsawler, Pixelapse works with Fireworks and Illustrator as well & we're looking to add new formats. Is there a format in particular you'd like to see?

Re: the app error. We underestimated the load on the site. :) We just scaled up so if you refresh and try again, you should be able to sign up.

Oh, that's great. Those are the only two I use :) Excited to try this out!

I would be interested in fooling with this, but I'm an Illustrator addict! Photoshop used to be basically what hosted my scanner drivers, and now that I do most of my work direct in AI, and TWAIN seems to be a dead standard, I don't even use it for that.

Hey there! We didn't mention it in the demo but Pixelapse works with Illustrator files as well.

If you like this you might also like my friends at http://revisu.com. Can't quite tell where the features overlap or diverge. Would love to know more.

Congrats on a sharp looking launch, Pixelapse!

Great work. I can really see a use for this kind of thing for designers.

My favorite is the side by side view. Speaking of which there is a bug in latest chrome on win where the side by side panels get dragged when using the scrollbar.

A few months ago I made http://artevolve.com pretty much to mimic github for graphics/art... but doesn't seem like designers or artsy folks were that interested in it.

Just a word of warning - the site's broken when viewed in FF 9.0.1 on Linux: http://i.imgur.com/Y24CX.png

Anybody else see the resemblance between the logo and that of http://www.premiumpixels.com?

Really cool idea. We could use this everyday. Have you thought about what the price is going to be? Will it be per doc, or per GB of storage used?

Hey arolek, We're still playing around with pricing but it will probably be based on storage.

Awesome! But.. why comic sans in the signup?

Because the font-family for the input is set to "'Tangerine', cursive", and for some reason 'cursive' defaults to Comic Sans on Windows.

Very slick (which is important, because designers by nature have high standards). Quite a lot of potential I think.

Instant utility, nice UI, good workflow that came from people scratching their own itch.

Fuck it, I'd fund this.

Is it just me or is the server very slow? I guess it's getting hammered to death right now.

Yeah, we didn't anticipate this making it to the top. We just scaled up so it should be faster now.

Have been in private Beta and I love it! Keep up the great work!

How is this helpful? On projects I've worked on, I've been able to teach the designers how to use github for Mac and they picked it up really easily and felt good learning something programming-ish.

What technologies do you use on client side?

This is fantastic -- looks great, guys.

Great work guys.


The web site repels me as a GNU/Linux user. It seems to be designed only for people who own iProducts and own a license to adobe photoshop.

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