Thursday, November 24, 2011

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Link to Envato Notes

Welcome BuddyPress to ThemeForest

Posted: 24 Nov 2011 08:58 AM PST

BuddyPress logo

We’re happy to announce the addition of a whole new category to ThemeForest – BuddyPress!

BuddyPress is an open source social networking software package that can be installed on WordPress. It basically transforms WordPress into a full on social networking system. It’s a amazingly handy community tool.

Lance, our Growth Team Manager, recently posted on ThemeForest about how things are looking with the new category. Here’s what he had to say:

Recently we discovered that not only are BuddyPress themes selling like crazy, they’re also one of the top searched items on ThemeForest. Naturally we decided to give BuddyPress its own category. Categories improve browsing and, in turn, sales so I’m guessing we’ll see a spike here soon.

If huge sales isn’t enough of a motivating factor to get you making BP themes, here are a couple other advantages.

  1. BuddyPress items will be price $10 higher than an equivalent WP theme
  2. You are allowed to have a BuddyPress version of your existing theme
  3. Over the next couple weeks we’ll be giving this category some extra promotion
  4. Thousands of people search for this file type on TF every month

I look forward to see what you guys can come up with. I’m always amazed at the incredible work you do. Good luck with sales!

Pets of Envato Part 4: Fish, Birds, Menageries and More

Posted: 24 Nov 2011 04:45 AM PST

It’s here. The final episode of “Pets of Envato”. While most of the Envato team have cats or dogs (mainly dogs), some of the team are a bit different. Some have pets that fly or swim. Some have collections of pets that make you shake your head and wonder how the household survives. And some have pets that are a little bit different. Envato different.

So let’s get started. As usual the pets are described in the words of their owners.

Fish and birds are sensible pets. They’re fun, but easier to maintain. And they’re usually enclosed in a space that’s easier to clean. Scott and April are the sensible pet owners.

Scott, Marketplace

Lily is one week old! My wife got her from the pet store only last week! [Editor: this was back in October.] She’s cheap, she takes up very little room and she never answers back. Every man’s dream! ;-)

April, Admin

I thought I’d give you something for all the bird lovers These two boys are Pepe and Fernando and they are Fischer’s Lovebirds which are originally from Tanzania. They are both around 3 years old and they enjoy screeching, cuddling and eating my plants.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who spend lots of time maintaining their pets: the ones with small menageries. Amanda and I fall into that category. Pity us or envy us – that’s up to you.

Amanda, Rockable Press

Here’s my furry crew and photos:

Morgan, Neurotic Guard Spaniel

Morgan’s a spaniel mix, about six years old, and her favorite game is making sure none of the other animals are having any fun and/or trouble. She takes her job quite seriously and is the Hackwith house chief security officer.

Mei Mei, Troublemaking Ewok

Mei Mei is our four year old dog and is the typical spoiled little sister. She’s half Shih Tzu and half Shiba Inu, which means she kind of looks like an Ewok from Star Wars.

Loki, Puppy-cat
Loki is eleven years old and pretty much the most dog-like cat in the world. He’s an old man, but he still takes his duties of following me around and hindering any real work very seriously.
Pixel, grumpy kitty
Pixel is a two year old tortie cat who is pretty much my husband’s cat. He’s the only human worthy of her attention, though she will bless me with her presence if my office window happens to be the warmer spot.

Adrian, Audiotuts+ and Envato Notes

Having lots of kids, it’s pretty hard not to have lots of pets. Over the years we’ve had almost every pet imaginable. They just keep on coming.

The dogs – Bella and Chuck

Our dogs aren’t really ours. They moved in with other people. Bella is a cross poodle. She moved in with a troubled teenager who stayed with us for six months last year. But when the teenager left, Bella stayed.

Then earlier this year one of my sons moved back home. Shortly afterwards he bought Chuck, who is part dalmatian and very excitable. But when my son moved out, Chuck stayed. I think there’s a moral to this story somewhere.

As you can see in the photo, both dogs are very excitable. I couldn’t get a decent photo of them both being still. They’ve recently taken to destroying out outdoor furniture.

The cats – Tommy and Luna

Earlier this year I noticed that my daughter-in-law was asking for advice on Facebook about where to buy kittens. I gave her some tips having no idea that she was buying the kitten for my daughter’s 18th birthday. I probably would have given her very different advice if I knew! The kitten was named Tommy.

A couple of days later my wife bought a second kitten for some reason, and named her Luna. They get along well together, but have opposite personalities. Tommy loves to laze around the house, while Luna loves to climb and play, and goes outside at every opportunity.

The birds – cockatiels

My wife Sonya loves birds. She had to buy some new ones recently. Chuck worked out how to open the cage, and let the old ones out. Unfortunately I found a small pile of feathers in our yard.

These are the new cockatiels, who feel more comfortable in their large cage now that it has been moved far away from Chuck’s reach. If all goes well, we’re hoping for lots of little cockatiels.

The guinea pigs

Guinea pigs also don’t have a great track record in our house, partly because my three-year-old loves to get them out of the cage and watch them run around. We’ve recently adopted a couple of new ones, and put the cage somewhere harder to reach. So far they are very happy!

The chickens

We haven’t had chickens for a while. It’s great to have fresh eggs every morning. Here are our new arrivals. They’re just kids at the moment, but they’ll have to work for their keep eventually. It’s good that the dark one cheeps very loudly. I’ve rescued her from the Tommy’s mouth a couple of times!

What’s this? Another dog? I couldn’t finish the series without Ibby’s new Golden Retriever. That dog was the inspiration for this series. Unfortunately Ibby was sick when we started, but he’s more than made up for it with a video and bunch of photos.

Ibrahim, Support

Burbuja (Bubble in English) is a two year old Golden Retriever that we have recently adopted. She is so quiet and cute, she is demanding love all day long. She loves scratching her face with her paws and she also gets crazy in the park. We call her ‘Bur’, ‘Burbu’ or just ‘Burbuja’.

Untitled from Ibrahim Rodríguez on Vimeo.

And finally, we finish with the strange pets. You’re probably imagining snakes or goannas or billy goats. No, these pets are strange in a way that only the Envato team could come up with.

Carmen, Community

Exciting news, I have gotten myself a Pet this very day! (So I can participate.) His name is Jacob and he is 18 years old (in dog years). Jacob enjoys being around other people and he is very artistic! He makes pictures with his food all the time.

Lance, Marketplace

When we started to put this series together I received a short but polite email from Lance: “Fun idea, though I have no pets.” I started to feel a bit sorry for him.

But Josh Sprague emailed me with a completely different story, and some strong photographic evidence:

Hi Adrian, I’m not sure if you know, but Lance has been super busy this week getting ready for his big trip to Australia.  As a result, he didn’t have any time to get his photos out to you of his precious lil’ angel, so he asked me if I could put something together for you.

Apparently Lance has a little two-year-old dog called Lady, or Lady Gaga. Josh quotes Lance as saying, “Many of you may know me as the ‘Tuff Guy’ or the ‘guy with the cool facial hair’ but to my precious little Lady I’m just ‘Daddy’.” Judging by the photos, Lance and Lady are very close.

So, which email is telling the truth? Who knows. I’ll just post the photos and let you make up your own mind. Do you think that Lady Gaga is real? Let us know in the comments.

Well, that’s the end of our series about the pets of the Envato team. Have you enjoyed it? Let us know in the comments.

If you’d like more of the same, we could open the series up to the entire Envato community. If you haven’t had enough yet, let us know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Finally, a huge thanks for the cooperation and interest the whole team had for this series. It’s been fun!

Envato Sponsors Inaugural Course from The Intro

Posted: 23 Nov 2011 09:42 PM PST

The Intro

As you know, here at Envato we’re right into helping people learn new things, and we’re also pretty into the local tech community here in Melbourne. With that in mind, we’re extremely pleased to announce we’re getting behind the launch of the Melbourne based training/course collective The Intro by paying for everyone to attend Ben Schwarz‘s inaugural course Practical HTML5 for free.

We think it’s pretty amazing to see something set up to help share specialist knowledge in the Australian tech community and are really glad to help out. We highly recommend that if a course from The Intro comes your way that you check it out.

See the announcement over at The Intro for information on how to attend.

Why Collaborate? Patrik Larsson and Paul Trifa spill the beans!

Posted: 23 Nov 2011 09:11 PM PST

Patrik Larsson (patrikl) and Paul Trifa (enabled) have been successful Envato marketplace authors for years now. They have recently started collaborating under the joint account SimplyPixels.

Though the collaboration is still very new, the idea is very interesting. We caught up with them recently to chat about what inspired them to work together, what projects they have in mind, and what they see the benefits of collaboration as being.

This candid interview is full of insight, experience, and great ideas. And lots of personality. It’s definitely worth a read!

Patrik and Paul, you’ve both been marketplace authors for years. What suddenly gave you the idea to collaborate?

Patrik: As Paul mentions, we’ve known each other for close to a year now and honestly, I’ve had my eyes on him and his work for a few months and finally decided to ask. However, I had a plan for quite some time, where I find another author, collaborate with him to work on really sweet products for ThemeForest, mainly.

Finally, I put out a small, quick request in the Envato group over on Facebook and got a tremendous response from many authors. More than I actually thought. As I’ve had my eyes on Paul and his work before, I was really happy to see that he said he were interested. Needless to say, the choice turned out to be a no-brainer. Something I never figured it would be. There’s no doubt that I’ve made the right choice! Paul is a great guy to work with and we have a lot of fun together.

But I feel I have made the right choice, Paul’s a great guy and he’s got talent!

Paul: Well, we’ve know each other for almost a year now, we never really “planned ” this if you may say so, it just came up one night on Skype. After reading Patrik’s Facebook post that is. As we’ve both been searching for partners for a long time now, but with no apparent match with former tries. It’s hard to find someone who can fill the others needs.

What makes the two of you a good fit collaboration? Is it complementary talents or something else?

Paul: Well, for starters, the main idea behind our partnership was, ” full featured files!” By this, we wanted to give something more to ThemeForest than it currently has to offer. That means, we will always include PSD’s, all elements and icons used in PSD format, very very detailed documentation and a few other secret features that our buyers will love. (I don’t mind sharing, I mind copycats.) We are trying to keep support as high as possible for our customers.

There is no better way to make your customers happy than to really polish a file, give it all the features possible, and make it really easy for the buyer to edit! A good team has to collaborate even if one doesn’t know what the other is doing. Having a designer that creates crazy stuff (no idea of typography, paddings, margins, unique elements) is quite bad but so is having the coder say, “I can’t do that, I can’t do that either, It doesn’t work … etc…etc.”  In the end it’s quite a delicate thing.

So I’m really happy to have this partnership up and running! I could say yes, it’s complementary talents. I can code pretty much everything Patrik can throw at me, and he can design any whacky idea I have! :D

Patrik: In short, yes, we’re more or less complementary talents. As it goes a lot into a design, like; planning, wire-framing, sketching and designing, a designer needs a good coder that understands what one are after by just looking at the design. There’s where, Paul came in. He’s a talented guy that has, at times, crazy ideas that actually works pretty well and, more or less, some trial and error runs.

Now, I’m not saying Paul is the one who has crazy ideas. I can honestly say that I think the craziest ideas comes from, well, me. Haha! Though Paul might agree in some point, we still got a lot to learn from each other.

What type of items do you plan to create together?

Patrik & Paul: Well, everything starts small. We have already started with landing pages. We’d like to make one for each top business category out there. Then we will progress to full templates – again, try to reach all categories, as complex yet simple to edit as possible. And finally we will move to WordPress and do the same.

But, as mentioned before, everything has to start out small. Rushing things never helps. We are still a young partnership, we have much to learn from each others. We are each trying to improve our skills as much as possible and to learn from buyers what they need. But, the main attack plan is the above.

Should all authors consider a collaboration? If not, who should consider it?

Paul: Well, to be perfectly honest. I’d say go for it! Just consider the benefits. We each have a particular set of skills. We either design or code. Both can coexist, but one will always be weaker than the other. So, one can stress you a lot, but can be a breeze for your partner. In my case, my design skills still need improvement. I can design, but it takes A LOT longer for me to do something than it take for Patrik.

Same goes for Patrik. He  can code, but again, it takes him A LOT longer to do something than it takes me! So a partnership makes it MUCH easier for the both of you.

Of course, there is the inevitable question of money. Money is important, but in my humble opinion, I’d rather earn less for starters, until we have a bigger portfolio, but work faster and much more relaxed.

When we started, we decided to make things simple for the both of us. Patrik designs a template. I wait for him to send me the PSD. Once I get the PSD, i start cropping, cutting, and coding it. While I am doing that, he creates another one. By the time I am done, and the template is on the marketplaces, Patrik already has another PSD created. So, I can start work on that one as well. And the whole thing repeats itself. Pretty neat.

So yes. Authors should consider a collaboration. It greatly increases productivity and it helps putting your true talent into work!

But, if you can do both, and you like designing and coding but still manage to keep the same level of quality, well, then you should not consider a partnership!

Patrik: This is a matter thought and opinion really. I’d say: Yes and no. As collaborations can be pretty hard at times, one disagrees with things, got different ideas and one can argue, it’s all pretty much about compromise. If one can’t compromise, then you should really consider to stay solo.

If you think alike, have similar ideas and are able to compromise, it might be worth it in the end. Both Paul and I are strong personalities and we can disagree. But both of us are able to compromise to find something we both like and are able to work on.

How do you create a file? Being two of you, how do you decide what to go with? Do you have brainstorming activities?

Patrik: I usually play with about 10-20 ideas at a time for each design I make. Which most of the time, ends up with me throwing it away and start over again. If I’m not happy with a design I just throw it out, without any revisions, and start all over again.

This is why we speak as much as we do on Skype, to bounce things around and to see if it’s a good match for the original thought. Usually we start by throwing an idea to the other one and see if it’s something that’s possible, most of the time, we decide to get started the very next day with a quick sample from me (usually with elements all over the place), but still consistent enough to see what it’s original thought were.

There’s a reason I love to work with Paul. He’s fast, consistent, detailed oriented and very good in understanding what I go for in a design. Usually he takes a look at the design, says something like; “This is perfect!” or “Needs more polish,” or “Add this and that, remove that and add that.” I’m the same way. It usually ends up with me pulling my ideas in the design and Paul pulls his ideas in when developing. Somehow, we manage to produce a design we both like.

Honestly, I think that we did the same thing when we decided the name and logo for SimplyPixels. Something simple that still looks pretty modern but has those tiny details that matters. We had a few names in mind first, but none that sounded as good and simple as the one we have now. As we work with simplicity and pixels we came to the, pretty obvious, conclusion that our name should be: SimplyPixels. It’s easy to remember and has some punch to it.

We get together every night online. We tweet each other, e-mail each other with progress statuses, peaks, news,  inspirational links. Once that is done, we talk on Skype about concepts, designs, styles, then we discuss resources, what images with the template fit best. Then Patrik is off to designing. After he finishes the design, we again, study it, check for usefulness, check for design flaws, things that can be too complicated, when coded for the buyer to use, things that are not complex enough.

Once this is done, the final question comes to mind: “If I was the buyer, would I purchase it?” If all questions have a positive response, Patrik sends me the .PSD file, I start cropping and chopping and start coding. I make most elements CSS3 compliant, but, the nightmare of mortals which has been cast our innocent souls, lurking in the darkness of the start menu… still needs graphic elements… gee… thanks IE.

The beauty of things? I code one design, Patrik is already designing the next one. We DO NOT rush things, but this is why I love working with Patrik. These things match perfectly! We’ll see how these things evolve once we progress to bigger stuff :)

You say your focus lay mainly on ThemeForest. Will you create items for other marketplaces or stick with ThemeForest in whole?

Patrik & Paul: Mainly our focus is on ThemeForest, for the moment anyway. However, we have played with ideas on producing items for GraphicRiver, CodeCanyon and ActiveDen. As Paul originally hails from the world of Flash and Patrik hails from the world of graphics, it might be quite obvious that we will try to go for both GraphicRiver and ActiveDen. CodeCanyon on the hand, has been a goal for Patrik and somewhat of a goal to Paul, therefore we have considered putting our minds together by developing good looking stuff for CodeCanyon as well as the other mentioned marketplaces.

Who knows, in the future, we might be on all marketplaces. It’s a matter of time, which we got lots of.

We also have a couple of tutorials planned for Tuts+ that we think you all would like. One can say we do multitasking in a way. It’s been a fun ride so far and we can’t wait to see what the future brings! :)

What about top authors? There are some that don’t collaborate? Why should anyone collaborate if you can do it alone?

Paul: Well, we know that there are exceptions. We love them, we follow them, we look up to them. I truly admire authors such as DS, Epicera, Kriesi but I must mention templatesquare, oxylus, Parker and Kent, just amazing colabs on the marketplaces that produce amazing files! I only have to say the top authors of the marketplaces is based on a nice collaboration by generally great guys and that should prove my point!

What tips do you have for people who are interested in getting into a partnership?

Paul: Well, it’s actually quite simple. If your first thought when doing a partnership is, “Shibby man, you can design, and uhm, I can, like code, like, let’s make stuff happen,” then you are bound to fail. There are things that need to be tested out before working.

Try seeing what the other has to offer. Sometimes, a portfolio will not say much about someone. Considering you are developing STOCK files, it’s quite hard to match the quality! When working for a customer, the code can differ, the standards may be lower or higher, depending on what’s needed. Things have workarounds, a few repairs here, a few there, but when developing stock, it’s all about the quality.

So if someone show me a awesome design they made for a client, a few things pop in my mind, like:

  • “Is it designed by him?”
  • “Did he use elements from other sites? If so, are they redistributable”
  • “Does he value copyright, or we will both get kicked off because of some resource he used?”
  • And last but not least, “How much time did he take to design that?” because, you can be the best designer out there and take ages to make it, which is no longer worth the effort.

The last and most important part of a partnership is the way money is split. I will not make our rates public, but I do have to give you guys a heads up. This goes out for real coders who don’t appreciate their partner designer’s work.

Code without design cannot exist. It’s worthless.

Does “We’re sorry but this file does not match the strict aesthetic guidelines?” sound in any way familiar?

And again, designs without code are useless. Well, they are useful, but PSD files are quite hard to get approved, and frankly, they’re not the best selling items out there.

So if you want the relationship to be a long one, don’t think ” Ahh, he’s just drawing stuff in PhotoShop!” because in the end, he’s drawing what you’re coding and you’re coding what he’s drawing.

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