Earlier today, Photocrati Media – one of the world’s leading providers of WordPress solutions for photographers – announced in a blog post their acquisition of NextGEN Gallery. NextGEN being the single most popular WordPress plugin for managing photo galleries. The reason for this acquisition the blog post goes on to state, is an ongoing effort by Photocrati to “consolidate the best WordPress solutions for photographers under one roof.”
This acquisition is a big boon for Photocrati who, while not struggling in their own right, certainly stand to gain significantly from further cementing their status as a leader in WordPress solutions for photographers. All while absorbing one of their biggest competitors. Not to mention, this acquisition comes with over 5 million NextGEN Gallery users and a current download rate of about 75,000 per week. Implying massive growth potential for the Photocrati community as a whole.
What This Means For Users
Anytime a sale like this is made it’s only natural for users on both sides of the equation to wonder what’s in store for them. Thankfully this is far from a blocking move on the part of Photocrati and it appears they have a lot of exciting plans that they believe will provide their existing users and the users of NextGEN the best of both worlds. What exactly does that mean?
Well, for Photocrati users it means that the next iteration of the popular Photocrati WordPress theme (version 5.0) will be equipped with a new hybrid of the current Photocrati gallery management system and the soon to be new and improved features they’re building into the NextGEN Gallery plugin.
In their blog post Photocrati describes the combination like this:
NextGEN will act as the underlying engine for gallery management in the theme. That means Photocrati users will automatically have access to lots of new functionality, including centralized gallery management, the ability to custom crop thumbnails, and the ability to apply watermarks to images, all of which have been popular feature requests within our community. In addition, you will be able to display images using NextGEN-style galleries.
But what about the users who want to stick solely with the free NextGEN Gallery plugin they’ve come to know and love? Not to worry, Photocrati plans on keeping the NextGEN plugin free and available via the WordPress.org repository. In fact, it’s getting some impressive updates too.
According to the official NextGEN website, the following improvements to the free plugin are in the works:
- Improving and streamlining the existing back-end interface
- Adding an interface to create and manage galleries directly from posts and pages
- Working with Automattic to make NextGEN’s architecture compatible with the WordPress VIP environment
- Making a range of small fixes and security patches
There’s also a “pro” version of the NextGEN plugin on the way which will offer everything mentioned above plus:
- Alternative slideshow displays
- Alternative filmstrip displays
- Alternative thumbnail displays
- Caption and filmstrip skins to adjust styling
- And fully-featured ecommerce for all gallery types – including print and price options, digital downloads, and shopping cart/Paypal integration.
As of now the timeline for these changes is far from set in stone. While excited and ambitious, Photocrati is wisely avoiding hard launch dates for Photocrati 5.0 and the new updates to NextGEN since they “just don’t know how long certain components of the project will take.” Fortunately for all us users out there, they’ve already had their software engineering team working on these updates and fixes for months, with the goal of transitioning into a testing phase sometime in mid-summer. We here at WPMods will certainly let you know if these estimates become more concrete.
Expansion & New Opportunities
Along with this new acquisition Photocrati Media has need of expanding their team. Along with the acquisition announcement today they also noted they will be “hiring for a range of positions over the coming six months, including software engineers, happiness engineers, a systems administrator and a webmaster.” More information is available at their jobs page.
To the best of our knowledge there has been no official explanation released as to why Alex Rabe, who created and maintained the NextGEN Gallery plugin from 2007 through 2011, decided to sell to Photocrati. We’ll certainly keep our eyes and ears open but the important thing seems to be that millions of photographers using WordPress appear to be in very capable hands who are excited to take both Photocrati and NextGEN to the next level. Not only does Photocrati have a lot of changes, improvements, and fixes planned for the coming months, but it seems they desire a close relationship with the NextGEN community all along the way. This is evidenced in part by the creation of several new social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) dedicated to keeping a finger on the NextGEN pulse.
To me, this seems like an overall exciting and positive development. But what do you think? Are you excited about the future of Photocrati and NextGEN? Any concerns or disappointments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.