Zooomr Adds Photo Trackbacks… In Less Than An Hour

Zooomr Trackbacks.JPGZooomr Trackbacks.JPGHosted on Zooomr

Photo sharing newcommer Zooomr implements trackbacks… while chatting with me… in less than an hour!

Earlier today I was chatting online with 17 year old wunderkind Kristopher Tate who I blogged about the week before last as the force behind the new online photosharing service called Zooomr. Mike Arrington dubbed his new site Zooomr “Flickr on Steroids” and he’s gotten a lot of buzz over it since. So while we were chatting today the most amazing thing happened. I got to watch a major software product feature develop before my very eyes. And instantly Zooomr now has photo trackbacks.

It started as we were chatting about feature improvement and development for Zooomr. I was lamenting the fact that there have not been any serious feature developments on Flickr since Explore/Interestingness. While I do love Flickr of course (very, very, much) we haven’t had anything excitable in a while. Flickr’s Community Manager Heather Champ addressed this fact a few weeks back in a thread over at Flickr Help by explaining:

“We’re working towards completing a rearchitecting of the backend servers (what worked for 20,000 is not so special for over 2,000,000 members).

It’s not been possible to release any new major features while this has been underway, but I know that we all are chomping at the bit to do so when federation is complete.”

Massive fame and growth does have it’s price, which is understandable, but disappointing still.

So while I was chatting with Tate he asked me what kind of a features I’d like to see at Zooomr. One of the things that I’ve always wanted, and frequently mention, for Flickr is the ability to track where your traffic on Flickr is coming from. Bloggers are naturally curious animals. Most of us have stats packages (I use Sitemeter) that track where our traffic is coming from. We also frequently frequent places like Technorati, Google Analytics (for which I’d LOVE to get an invitation code, hint hint, if anyone from Google reads my blog), sign up for PubSub searches and are generally overall obsessed with our traffic. Although Flickr is super blogger friendly, an issue with Flickr is that while Flickr tells you how many times your photo has been viewed, they don’t tell you where your traffic is coming from. Was your photo blogged outside of Flickr? Did someone find your photo in a certain group? Did the link in come from a friends contact list, or someone’s favorite bucket? Although you can set up Technorati feeds that are ok at getting some of your Flickr traffic, Technorati doesn’t show you any of the internal traffic and misses a lot of the external traffic as well.

So while I was chatting with Tate about trackbacks at 10:32 a.m. this morning he wrote me, “yes, one big thing that I want to do is a sort of photo “trackback.” We then chatted a bit more about it and at 10:53 he wrote “Hmm, I think I’ll add the trackback feature in now,” adding, “Haha, it shouldn’t be hard to code.”

he then typed me back this string which will mean something to some of you but which is Greek to me:

“class photo_refers(SQLObject):
hash = StringCol(length=255, alternateID=True)
url = StringCol(length=255)
count = IntCol()
photo = ForeignKey(‘Photos’)”

adding, “it’s that simple.” That simple, yeah right. Technorati built an entire business on the trackback concept.

We chatted for a while longer, about more features I’d like to see, about other ways to improve the site while he worked some more in the background. Then, less than an hour later at 11:24 a.m. he let me know that it was up and running and now Zooomr has trackbacks.

Ok, this is pretty hot donkey like amazing. Here is a major feature that I and many others have been asking Flickr for for a long time and Tate implements it in under an hour. First it’s amazing because well, trackbacks are amazing. Technorati has become one of the hotest Web 2.0 companies based on nothing more than trackbacks. But then it’s also amazing that Tate was able to just whip something like that out in under an hour. It was also amazing that Tate said that the feature I watched being developed live went slower than it should have. “That went slower than it should have, but you get the gist of how fast it is to work in bluenote — the framework I made for zooomr.”

Ok, again, I don’t know a thing about programming, and couldn’t tell you the difference between a bluenote and pinknote, but if these are the types of feature innovations that Zooomr can pull together this fast then I’d say Zooomr is a heck of a lot more than just Flickr on steroids. This is going to be a one hell of a fun ride.

Zooomr’s also recently added a bunch of other new features that you can read about at the Official Zooomr Blog including something called Zooooomr^3 (ok, an April Fool’s joke),
more taggasist goodies, and something called “Inspector,” with their 2.0 rollout.

Ok, and again, let me again declare my undying love for Flickr, but with Flickr still in beta and Tate cranking out Version 2.0(?!?), I’d say you’ve got a bit of a horse race here and this is going to get super interesting real, real quick.

All this from a 17 year old kid essentially working out of his garage. If I were Google or Microsoft or some VC guy I’d be on the next plane out to see Tate, and quick. Of course the other thing that I found amazing today was that Tate apologized to me for his English (which is quite good) saying that since he’s learned Japanese he’s begun thinking in Japanese these days instead of English. The guy started programming at five years old and he’s had time to learn and think in Japanese? Just remember folks when you see him profiled someday on 60 Minutes that you read it here first, well not really first (Arrington always gets to be first), but well, at least second.

Ok, now I’m seriously impressed.

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14 Comments

  1. Hey Thomas, thanks for the write-up!

    It was sure fun talking with you this morning.

    Enjoy your day,

    -Kris

  2. That’s pretty awesome! Nice work Tate in listening to your users and getting features they want up ASAP. My guess is that this was able to happen because it didn’t require group approval, like in most large companies (so inefficient).

  3. Ade says:

    Clever stuff, Kris. I’ll give Zooomr a go.

    Good luck with everything, you’ll go far!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’d be even cooler if he fixed that bug that doens’t let you stay logged in. I’ve been bitching about that one for like six months now.

  5. Kiltak says:

    You also convinced me to try zoomr.. :)Great things comming for this service if the developper is that talented.

    Kiltak
    [Geeks Are Sexy] Tech. News

  6. Anonymous says:

    That’s not “trackback”, that’s listing referers.

  7. I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t all that impressed until I saw that he not only set it up so that it lists who’s linked to the photo, but also it records the number of hits from each source. That is pretty cool.

  8. what about the bug that crashes safari at sign-up?

  9. john says:

    Am I the only person for whom Zoomr is unbearably, unusably slow? Every time I’ve tried it it takes a good 30 seconds whenever I click on anything in the interface.

  10. Albert says:

    This was posted in Mark Evans’ blog, but I figured i’ll be lazy and cross post this. ;)

    For what its worth, I think Kris is amazing. I met him on various occasions, and I’m proud to say that I even had the opportunity to “sponsored” him to go to a couple of events (well, I sponsored one, and drove him to another since he didn’t own a car, and I had my rental).

    Kris is arguably one of the most amazing people I’ve met (and umm.. i guess that’s actually means since its been well blogged now that I had lunch with BillG). You only THINK he’s amazing because people have read about him. I met him. He is better than amazing. =)

    However, what is important to point out is that while Zooomr has way more cool stuff than flickr in many ways, its important to note that Flickr had to pioneer a lof of the ground work that we take for granted. That’s not to say that’s its not amazing for Kris to pull of all that he has, regardless of age and resource. I want to make sure credit is given to the amazingly creative Flickr team that trail blazed a lot of the concepts we take for granted today.

    Its my hope that we’ll keep learning from each other’s ideas (I have Kris on my IM list) and keeping each other on our respective toes. Its great to see all the competition and innovation. But at the end of the day, the “rivalry” I think is a healthy one — and I for one look forward to Kris’s further innovations. Kris is a great testament of how great software can be built by ONE person, and the benefit of “zero overhead” software development.

  11. Since I’ve read your original articale on Zooomr I’ve become more and more interested in that site. I do love me some Flickr and the community that I have built and become a part of there. This Zooomr does seem to be something special. The one issue that I have presently is the speed. At certain times it just seems to take forever to get into the site. I don’t think it is local network issues on my end causing this performance problem.

    If Flickr ever does lose my business I would bet it will end up at Zooomr!

  12. Dan G says:

    Yes, Zooomr is darn slow. Too much attention before it was ready for it?

  13. Mark says:

    Kristopher, I also wrote a piece about Zooomr for iDrone.net. I used to hate attention due to my age when I went to college early, so I hope you don’t mind me making an issue of your age. It makes for an awesome story, though. Have you ever read Hackers and Painters by Graham? Just a couple of super productive coders can sometimes out do entire organization, and you’re proof!

    So… are you guys buying more hardware so you can support all of us new users? :P

  14. 3739 says:

    I am a Zooomr user. But I have problems with it. I don’t want to embed pictures one by one and I would like it to be embedded as thumbnails (the one you see when you click sets)

    Do you happen to know the fastest way?

    Zooomr is the best I could stay so far, but I can’t last long without this feature.