Dropbox buys Pixelapse to add version control for visual designers

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Credit: Ian Lamont via Flickr

GitHub for designers for Dropbox?

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Cloud sync-and-share company Dropbox, never one to shy away from an acquisition, has snapped up startup Pixelapse, which provides a GitHub-like version control service for "tens of thousands" of visual designers. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"Our new development efforts will be focused on bringing the same kinds of collaboration and workflow experiences that you’re used to in Pixelapse over to the core Dropbox product," said the company's traditional "hey we've been acquired" blog post about the deal

The way Pixelapse works is simple and familiar to anyone who's used a version control service like GitHub before: Visual design project files get stored in a dedicated folder. Make a change to a project asset, and those changes get synced to the cloud, where they're viewable from a cloud interface. There's even an activity feed to see who worked on what within a team.

If you or anybody else (the client you've shared the project with, the boss in charge of the project, or just the rest of the project team) wants, they can go back and view the entire history, comparing revisions and rolling back changes if necessary. You can even show off the history of a project to the public with an embeddable code widget. 

If that sounds a lot like Dropbox's existing version control, just tailored to a very specific vertical -- namely, designers -- collect your prize at the door. From Dropbox's perspective, this is a shrewd move that enhances the platform's appeal with a project management feature that developers love but designers could never access. The startup's origins stem from co-founder Min Ming Lo's time as a design intern at Google, where nobody had any idea what assets belonged to whom or how to give feedback. 

For existing users, never fear. Pixelapse promises on its website that the service is safe for at least another year and that it's still accepting sign-ups, which is a good omen given that so many similar deals of this type see immediate service shutdown.

This, as ever, plays straight into Dropbox's endgame: More people putting more data into Dropbox's cloud means it gets its tentacles into more and more enterprises, whether the CIO knows it or not. Pretty soon, either the user needs to buy more storage or, more likely, the CIO ends up giving Dropbox his or her blessing and makes a purchase.

Either way, Dropbox gets paid.

The Dropbox-Pixelapse deal comes as Box's IPO is heating up Wall Street.

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