“Justified Image Grid” and “WP Real Media Library” were two successful CodeCanyon plugins in their own right. Coming from the minds of two creative young coders, they each solved a separate part of a similar problem when it came to managing WordPress media in the backend.
But in November last year, the idea to bring them closer together was floated for the first time.
“Firsh was my first “target” on CodeCanyon, if you will.” responds Matthias, 20 based in Germany. “I really wanted to create the perfect combination of a very nice frontend gallery and media organization tool for WordPress. So I decided to contact him. I’m very glad I did.”
They figured out that by pairing their products together, they could offer a combination of features only meaningful to the user when both plugins were installed.
Improving the WordPress media gallery
The initial idea for Firsh’s “Justified Image Grid (JIG)” came from the frustration photographers had with their photos being cropped into square thumbnails, ruining their compositions in the WordPress media gallery view.
“People and faces would get cropped automatically…” Firsh tells me, “…and you couldn’t tell a panorama shot from a portrait by glancing at their thumbnails.”
After doing some research Firsh was amazed to find it wasn’t a plugin already.
“With “JIG I had a monopoly for quite some time. Although now some competition has arrived, which I think is healthy.”
Fixing the WordPress media library
Matthias began even more humbly, creating a plugin for himself that allowed him to search the whole backend of WordPress with a single tap. He tried to sell it on CodeCanyon, but it never took off.
However, while setting up a company’s website, he noticed the way WordPress media was organized and found it very unstructured. So he tried some plugins to help categorize the media on the backend.
“This method turned out to be very strange to use. If you had a lot of images (500+) it would simply require too many clicks to move.”
He was pining for a solution that was more user friendly, with drag and drop functionality and a real folder structure, look and feel.
So he started developing “WP Real Media Library (RML)”.
“I developed and developed and developed. And now it’s available on CodeCanyon with around 1800 sales.”
Bringing the two together
With both WordPress media plugins a success, and both containing a feature set the other could compliment, pairing them up was a no brainer.
In March 2016, primarily using Skype and Slack, the two started collaborating.
Matthias talked Firsh through how the API of RML worked and they fixed some initial issues of compatibility. Matt built a couple of new features for RML and then they were on their way.
“You usually can’t approach Facebook or Flickr and say you need something implemented in their API. But together – as two equal-level authors – we communicated our needs and both plugins now have many lines of specific code just for the other.” says Firsh.
Thanks to the collaboration with JIG, customers that buy RML now have the ability to create galleries from a folder. Website owners can now manage all their galleries in the one place (the native media library of WordPress) and JIG generates galleries automatically.
Both plugins have done extremely well on CodeCanyon. “I saw many people leave other plugins behind and get RML instead, which helped it rise up the weekly top sellers list from about 20-30 sales a week.” says Firsh.
And he attributes a lot of that success to their partnership.
“I like to think we made that happen by adding mutual compatibility.”
Customers love the paring so far, though they have provided some constructive feedback.
The first update (JIG: 3.0, RML: 2.3) launched without custom image order functionality, meaning the WordPress media gallery showed a set of images ordered by date or name.
“The customers commented and asked for a more complex solution to order the images.” says Matthias. “So Firsh and I thought about a custom image order with drag and drop.”
Just two weeks later they released a new version of JIG and RML which was fully compatible with custom image order for galleries, and customers have been delighted.
“I think the customer defines the added value and individuality of products because they bring a lot of ideas to the table.”
And both authors promise that the improvements won’t stop there.
“If you think about a product as a one off thing with no substantial updates, it’ll only sink down into oblivion.” says Firsh.
“For me it’ll never be good enough or totally complete…I could do this for the next five years and never be quite done with it.”
“I want to recode some of my old code.” says Matthias.
“I have a document where I organize a wish-list containing all the suggestions and ideas from customers for the plugin. It is very important to me that my product brings a smile to the face of my customers.”