Archive for December, 2009

New Feature: Online List and World Map

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

The new colorillo sidebar -- world map and online listWow, the response to Colorillo was a blast. A large number of people came from StumbleUpon, Twitter and other places.

This made me curious: Where do these people actually come from? I figured it would be fun to see who is on the web page right now, so I cooked up a new feature: Online list.

Actually it is pretty tricky to do: A browser tells the server when you enter the site, but typically doesn’t when you leave it. It becomes even trickier when people leave Colorillo open and put their laptop to sleep and return later on. Despite all the trouble, I think I have figured it out and it’s working pretty nicely so far.

So now you will see a list of users on the right hand side of the drawing board. This also means that Colorillo is now more geared towards widescreen users. If you have an somewhat old-school 4:3-monitor, you might have to scroll to the right in order to see this new feature.

As a plus I created a world map so you can visually see where the people are actually coming from. Your location is determine through a technology called GeoIP. I’m aware that it isn’t fully accurate, but I think it’s working fine: this is not for tracking down people but rather for giving a vague overview where people are coming from.

After all I think it’s a fantastic new way to look at the page and to see the real value of collaboration on the internet: People are really coming from all over the world. Neat!

And there is one more thing (well, actually it is pretty obvious): You can see what color and what pen size someone is using right now. This should usually make it possible to see who is drawing what right now.

The eyes show inactivity, if someone doesn’t draw or change his or her pen during a certain amount of time (currently 30 seconds), eyes will appear, indicating that.

I hope you enjoy these new features as much as I do and wish you tons of fun on Colorillo.

Improved Drawing

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

I have been talking to Wesley Eggebrecht who held the amazing Savant x Solaris A1 event on Colorillo.

Eyedropper Tool
This has lead to a new tool: the Eyedropper which can be found under “advanced colors”.

If you’re a little into graphics I don’t need to explain much, but just to be sure: You can use this to pick up a color that already has been drawn. This can be useful to extend an area that was drawn in a certain color without having to tediously try to remember what the hex-code was.

Resembling common drawing programs, I have added a keyboard shortcut to activate the eyedropper tool: i. You can switch back to the pen by pressing the letter b. This now also cycles the width of the pen ([ and ] just make the pen smaller respectively larger).

The killer shortcut in my opinion though is the Alt key. Just while you press the key, the eyedropper is activated. This enables you to draw very quickly: draw, press Alt to pickup a new color from within the picture, let it go and continue to draw.

Second big feature is opacity.

I am not a big drawer but rather a programmer, but Wesley explained to me that he sometimes draws whole pictures at opacity 80%. I understand the concept, you can easily modify existing lines just by drawing over them. In combination with the eyedropper you can also conveniently mix colors, as if it were a painter’s palette.

Combined with these new features a big rewrite of the backend is going online which I have been working on for a long time already. Why a rewrite? Simply put: I hadn’t anticipated the huge number of people drawing on it, so the system was not designed for it.

I still use SVG in the background to generate the PNG presented to you when you open the page, but now the lines are stored in a database, which also allows for more compact storage. I won’t bore you with too much technical detail, but just let me say this: Colorillo has grown to a complexity in the background that I hadn’t expected.

I hope you enjoy the new features. Keep on drawing!

Savant x Solaris A1

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Just wow. Wesley Eggebrecht‘s project Savant Wear is an Online shop where you can buy t-shirts showing drawings by great artists. What does this have to do with Colorillo? Well Wesley chose a brilliant way to promote this new project, by getting together great artists to draw together on Colorillo.

Here is a time lapse video of this event, and I am blown away what actually is possible with Colorillo. Check it out:

The picture can be found at on Colorillo. I have uploaded a backup of the video in case YouTube goes down.

I think they made brilliant use of the means available at Colorillo: They shared the read-write URL just among the artists and let people watch on the readonly page. Thanks guys, it was an honor you.