Last month I said I was going to be working on the Brush Ninja gallery, and that’s exactly what I have done.
I also spent some time working on some smaller bug fixes and improvements. These are all tiny things that you hopefully won’t notice but they should reduce the amount of problems you may see when using the app. For a little more information you can check the Brush Ninja changelog.
So what changed in the gallery? I wanted 2 main things with the Gallery updates; I wanted to make the gallery a single thing that you could browse through, and I wanted to make it easier for me to add new content.
Previously the gallery was 2 different content types, that were managed in 2 different ways. This meant that when browsing the main gallery page the content was divided. There was no way to see all the content mixed up together to see what was new.
This website is built on a content management system (often shortened to CMS) called Jekyll. All of the content is stored in markdown files (a text file format that uses punctuation to describe the content formatting), which is then run through a convertor, and inserted into templates to generate the HTML that you see when you load the Brush Ninja website.
I know this sounds quite complex but for web designers this sort of thing is quite common, and there are a number of benefits for a project like Brush Ninja. Many websites use a database and a CMS like WordPress; I’ve built WordPress things for years - this is how I earn a living. But for me using Jekyll for Brush Ninja is much better. It means less technical things to maintain, fewer bugs, cheaper runnings costs, improved security and privacy, and a faster website.
Curating the Gallery
Combining the content types has simplified the gallery creation and curation. In addition I’ve written a short program that helps me add the new content even more quickly.
But why do I curate the gallery? Many websites will create user accounts and let users publish their content publicly. Technically this is possible with Brush Ninja, but it would take a lot of additional development work, and require expensive servers, and extra bandwidth. It would also mean I need to store user details, in turn reducing user privacy and opening me up to all sorts of legal regulations that I do not have the resources/ knowledge to deal with.
Previously the different gallery types were stored in separate “collections”, one for cartoons, and one for educational things. Now they’ve been merged into a single collection and given different categories. This allows me to list them all as one stream of artworks. It also made it really easy to add emoji art as a new category.
If I were to open the app up to allow anyone to publish their animations then there would be no filters, anything could be published on my site and I don’t want that to happen. This means I would have to moderate all of the content, which could be a lot of work. I want to make sure that all the content on the Brush Ninja site is age appropriate and so I cherry pick the best content from Twitter.
Recent Gallery Additions
There’s been some emoji art shared! Yay! I really like the emoji art app but I’m not sure how useful it is. I do find it fun though so hopefully other people like it too.
Unfortunately Emoji art doesn’t seem to work properly embedded in emails so either check out the gallery or view the tweets themselves to see the artworks properly.
There’s also been some top quality educational use going on!
Just discovered Brush Ninja and students created animated GIFs for 1920s culture and I’m obsessed. 🥰 pic.twitter.com/JdezSWqrIn— Amanda Baer 🍎 (@MrsBaer1) March 22, 2022
If anyone is interested I’d love to see more cartoons made with Brush Ninja! Please do share them with me on Twitter.
I’ve been thinking about making a Brush Ninja ebook. It would be full of tips on how different things you can do with Brush Ninja and how I like to make animations. This has been on my todo list for a long time and I think this might be the month that I finally make a start. I’ll share some of the tips in this newsletter, and all of them on Patreon.
Thanks a lot! - Ben