July 29, 2015

Artisteer & Themler - Everything You Wished For

It's been a while since we had significant news to announce and we apologize for the long delay. We actually didn't anticipate it could take this long and we owe you an explanation, while wanting to make it up to you as well.

We wrote the FAQ below which hopefully provides answers you've been waiting for. The FAQ will continue to be updated as more information and more questions come in.
In the upcoming days we will also send an email announcement to our customers, pointing to this information.

Let's start with info about our past hiccups, then move onto the good news about what we can do to help with your web-related efforts:

Why there were no major Artisteer news and releases in a long time?
We've got caught up in a few failed efforts to implement features in Artisteer that we just couldn't finalize due to limitations of such a desktop product, and possibly our own. And frankly, we've been embarrassed to write news about our failures, or promising you more things we may not be able to deliver, as well as simply not wanting to bother you with spam, trying to sell you minor upgrades, etc.  Basically we don't like to be sold fluff and we don't want to sell it to others.
At the same time we undertook major R&D efforts into solving some of the Artisteer's limitations and creating new products that we were hoping to release within a year, but which actually took three...

So what happened to Artisteer during that time?
As some of you may remember, a few years ago we've been offering Artisteer Beta version for Mac which was dragging for a long time and we couldn't overcome technical limitations to port the Windows version to Mac, thus ultimately neglecting the Mac version altogether.
You may also remember us talking about e-commerce features within Artisteer, which would support creating templates for e-commerce systems like Magento and PrestaShop. Unfortunately after investing considerable efforts and another year of time into this undertaking, we couldn't make sufficient progress in this area as well. We've discovered that many e-commerce features and other features you've been asking for, could not be implemented without major restructuring of product's architecture. However, even with attempts of major rewrite of Artisteer, the result would be a new bloated and complex product that may be slower to work with while still not being flexible enough to allow us to continually extend Artisteer.  We've realized that one of major problems is that Artisteer as a desktop application is separated from the CMS like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, and we simply cannot guarantee that templates will work in WordPress/Joomla/Drupal the same way we display them in Artisteer.  We could only generate templates without knowing how they will later interact with the actual system, the plugins you may have installed, other themes, etc.  Another obstacle was displaying template output inside Artisteer with variety of features that your CMS or e-commerce system may generate inside the template.  For example an e-commerce system is a program that reads information from a database and displays it on the page, including shopping buttons, cart and other features. And to be able to display the same output inside Artisteer, we'd actually have to duplicate or load that whole e-commerce program with all its features and plugins into Artisteer and make it work inside Artisteer, so that it can display and show you how the final design will look like.  This just wouldn't make sense and wouldn't be possible at all.  Some of you also asked for supporting Bootstrap framework, shortcodes, drag-and-drop from the menu, and various dynamic features which would slowly turn Artisteer into a web application to work correctly.  Some things just aren't possible and although Artisteer was a wonderful desktop product for creating great static designs and converting them to themes and templates, we were stuck with limitations and time wasted on things that in the end couldn't work.
However, we've seen an influx of various customizable WordPress themes, which could achieve amazing levels of customization right within WordPress, thanks to being integrated directly with WordPress and working inside WordPress. Using those themes you could make various customizations and instantly see the look of your website. We've realized that this is the most powerful and most flexible approach to designing themes and templates, at least for CMS and e-commerce systems. And to be able to compete with those powerful themes or even simply move forward and continue working on great features, Artisteer would have to become a different product.  Such product would need to become a type of a web application, and it would need to look and work differently from Artisteer, therefore it would need to be a different product... And thus our new product was born: Themler.
Themler would need to work fully online, whether on a local desktop with web server or an external website. It would need to fulfill advanced tasks and allow us and you to go beyond any design limits.  Part of our team moved onto working on Themler, but as the time went by this turned into a tremendous undertaking that required more and more time, and more resources. We decided to put more of our resources into Themler, assuming we can finish it within a year or so, just in time to become a possible upgrade for Artisteer users as well.  Unfortunately only now, three years later, we're nearing the finish of this project.
Though to put this in perspective, a game like Grand Theft Auto IV took over 1000 people and more than three and a half years to complete, without other upgrades in between. And you can play GTA for couple of weeks, while spending months or years saving or making money with Artisteer and Themler!

What if I don't want to use WordPress or Joomla, just create standard HTML websites?
Artisteer was and continues to be a lightweight, easy-to-use product that can automatically generate nice templates, provide design suggestions, and generate themes/templates or HTML pages. And we realize that Artisteer is also used by many people for creating basic HTML websites without a CMS. These users can continue utilizing Artisteer as they always did and there is no need to move to Themler.  However, Themler can act as a bridge to learning variety of template systems, from HTML to CMS and e-Commerce. Therefore we've decided to also support HTML website design within Themler and you will be able to design individual pages inside Themler and export complete HTML websites.

Is Artisteer still being developed?
Artisteer is not going away and continues to be supported, and we continue updating the templates it generates, especially whenever WordPress and Joomla are being updated. But we've decided not to try to make a different product out of Artisteer.  Artisteer is great at generating web designs and letting you create great HTML websites and medium-complex WordPress themes and Joomla templates. And Artisteer was never meant to be a full-blown WordPress/Joomla theme development platform, but a web design generator and web design software that then allows you to export your design in a few different formats. And Artisteer continues to have such capabilities, while there just aren't many more features that can be added to such product, except those that would require changing its architecture and turning it into a different product. And we too have been using various desktop products for many years without needing or wanting to purchase new versions, because those products simply work as they should, just like Artisteer does its job.  However, we may be able to bring some of the new experience from Themler back into Artisteer in the future, therefore we may create larger updates when possible.
Our current goal for 2015 is to make Themler work as good and similarly to Artisteer as possible, so that you will be able to use both products and choose each one for different tasks, as well as help us decide later which product to focus on.
Our goal is also to guide you into not only using Artisteer and Themler, but helping you create the designs you have in mind and those you haven't thought of yet.

I looked at Themler and it doesn't look anything like Artisteer or an easy to use desktop product!
We realize that Themler looks and feels differently, it also works slower when working within a CMS, and generally can have steeper learning curve than Artisteer. However, it really can work very similarly to Artisteer, it is quite fast when creating HTML websites, and we're doing everything possible to make it even easier to use.  We are also working on a series of videos that will show you how quickly and easily you can create new themes and templates using Themler. We want to guide you and you help you use Themler, therefore please feel free to contact us with any questions.  For now, here is a video demonstrating how we've created one of our themes using Themler: https://vimeo.com/133549765 (the video shows a quick 1 minute preview followed by a slower 10 minute demo). You can also view the final WordPress theme created in that video at http://www.billionthemes.com/Themes/Detail/1871333/Soccer-Club

And for those of you who love creating static HTML websites, we've created a few videos showing how to design a few sample HTML websites using Themler.
Sample videos showing how to create HTML websites are available here: http://answers.themler.com/articles/15767/html-websites-and-artisteer-projects-artx-support-22-jul-2015

We are also working on letting you export your Artisteer projects into a special theme/template format that can be imported into Themler, and we have a Beta version for WordPress users, which requires this small Artisteer 4.3 update: Artisteer (Artisteer 4.3 license is required). We'd appreciate your help with testing this WordPress theme export into Themler. By end of August we will also have Artisteer updates for exporting your Artisteer projects into HTML and Joomla template formats compatible with Themler.
Please note that projects exported from Artisteer to Themler may look a bit differently as both products use different HTML structure and responsive standards. Therefore you may need to perfom minor adjustments after transferring your project into Themler.

So what's so great about Themler and what can it do that Artisteer and other themes cannot?
A beta user of Themler, Shaul Hadar of Israeli based web development company S.H Media already created over 200 websites for his customers using Themler! Shaul told us: "Themler allowed us to quickly create a large number of standards-based, responsive websites for our clients. I cannot believe such software actually exists, a bootstrap based theme builder which integrates with the most popular CMS's. Themler made my life much easier and the support is just astounding."
Here is why Themler can be so great:
First, Themler is the only product/theme/template in the world that can be installed into WordPress, Joomla, Magento, wooCommerce, VirtueMart or PretaShop.  Themler can be installed and work directly on your local or remote website. This will allow you to design websites for almost any of your clients, regardless which product they use. And just like in Artisteer, you can continue saving and exporting your themes and templates, which you can sell to your customers. Themler can also be installed on your Windows desktop, and has a good chance to work on Mac and Linux desktops later.  If you install Themler on your Windows desktop, it will automatically install the website hosting environment for you (WAMP), which will allow you to work directly with WordPress, Joomla and other CMS's on your desktop.
Second, Themler has no limits.  Either for us or for you.  Now we can continue extending it as much as we want, while you too can extend your themes and templates as much as you like, while using Themler and having it continually updated.
Third, Themler offers advanced features that you will not find in any other products or customizable themes. Starting with supporting multiple templates for multiple page types within a single theme, which also wasn't possible in Artisteer, as well as supporting hundreds of elements and options that allow you to customize every part of a fully responsive theme. While various other customizable themes out there are always limited to customizing only some areas of that theme.  Themler also supports Boostrap, viewing your data and content live within the theme while designing it, custom shortcodes for any controls, while with a little coding knowledge you can create popping visual effects like transitions, animations and parallax. Take a look at this example theme that could never be possible with Artisteer: http://i2162320.wordpress.4.preview1-live.billiondigital.com/. For the list of main Themler's features refer to http://themler.com/Features.
Fourth, Themler may be the lowest priced customizable theme/template on the market, as it is a combination of a theme/template and a visual web design and theme development tool that allows you to create as many themes as you like and sell them. In fact, this makes Themler the only theme that pays you! (as much as you collect from your customers)
Lastly, Themler allows us to work and make progress, rather than getting stuck with some limits we were encountering in Artisteer, therefore we will also be able to communicate and be proud of brining you new features and visible progress again. We do strive to have better communication with our customers and want to help you use our products better.

What is missing from Themler and what can I expect in the future?
Themler supports creating HTML pages/content for static HTML websites but doesn't support yet creating content for CMS's like WordPress and Joomla. Theme/template is the overall look and feel of your website, while content is what goes inside the theme/template to display the full page. Therefore Themler currently lets you customize every possible part of a theme/templates around your content, while we're also working on helping you design the page content with drag-and-drop features for adding text and images within your WordPress and Joomla pages.

OK, so what now? Do I need to buy Themler in addition to Artisteer?
The good news is: you will receive Themler Business for free if you've purchased an Artisteer Standard upgrade within the last year and still qualify for free upgrades.  Therefore instead of getting just Artisteer Standard upgrades, you will receive both Artisteer Standard and Themler Business.
And there is more, when using Themler you will also be able to utilize any of our 150,000 images from www.BillionPhotos.com, within your Themler themes. Note: the images cannot be included in templates that are mass-distributed via the internet.  You will also receive full access to BillionPhotos photos website until end of August 2015 to download images for any of your other projects (resolution depends on your product level/edition).
However, if you did not purchase an Artisteer upgrade within the last year, you'd need to purchase Artisteer/Themler upgrade for $59.95 to obtain the latest version of Artisteer, Themler and BillionPhotos access within Themler.  This will also extend your free upgrade period for another year.
If you'd like to use the e-commerce features, you'd need to purchase an upgrade to Themler Pro version, for $99.
You can also try Themler for free by downloading it from http://themler.com/.  You just won't be able to export a theme without purchasing it or using your active Artisteer license.

Is Themler a service or a subscription-based product?
Just like Artisteer, Themler is a one time software purchase that includes one year of free upgrades.  Please note that this is not a subscription, but we simply don't want to nickel-and-dime you with every upgrade. We remember paying for products and then finding that a new upgrade is available couple months later at an extra cost.  In case of Artisteer and Themler we offer free upgrades for a year as a way to assure you that you will not be charged for another upgrade a month after your purchase. In fact, you can use our products for years without purchasing upgrades.  However, after a year of your use of the products, we feel it's fair to charge an upgrade fee for any new/additional upgrades and our continual support, research and working on new versions and products, even though it doesn't always seem we make great progress.
Due to our bad past experience with software cracks both Artisteer and Themler utilize an online licensing system to allow us to verify that you are a valid license holder. We hope you understand that this is for your benefit because both Artisteer and Themler would no longer exist if they were distributed for free.

I see that Themler is in Beta. When will it be officially released?
Themler is 99% tested and ready for release, but we are watching for any additional possible issues and plan to quickly resolve them. You can already start using Themler, while the official release is possible in the first or second week of August. It's quite possible that we will simply remove the "Beta" label after confirming that the current version works as well as expected.

What is BillionPhotos and another product I heard about: Createer?
We work with investors who also invest into other startups/companies that are working on products related to web design. BillionPhotos is a stock photo company and now our photo division that produces photos for web designs, mainly Themler, while also providing them to stock photo companies like Adobe Stock (formerly Fotolia), Shutterstock and a new low-cost subscription based stock photo company LifetimeStock.  BillionPhotos recently became #1 contributor to Adobe Stock, therefore you'd be receiving the same top images that Adobe offers. We are also the main contributor to LifetimeStock where you will find more great images. If you, your organization or your friends have additional graphics and web design needs outside of Artisteer/Themler, we would like to recommend taking a look at LifetimeStock (currently in Beta) that provides 250,000 amazing stock images (including ours) for only 10 bucks per month. You can also receive 40% discount until end of August 2015: gH3S9Z

Createer is our other investment and it is an online product for visually creating great documents, sales pages, flyers, ads, posters, invitations and web content. It's a bit similar to Microsoft┬« Office and Adobe┬« tools, but works fully online.  Createer also provides WordPress and Joomla plugins that allow you to create great content directly within your CMS.  Createer is developed by a fully separate, independent team, located in the US and Poland, which doesn't take any time away from Artisteer or Themler.
You can check out Createer at www.createer.com and use the following temporary coupon for a 40% discount until the end of August 2015: ART1-40

We welcome your feedback and will utilize it to learn how to make both Artisteer and Themler easier, better and more fun to use. Because working with Artisteer and Themler should be fun.
Lastly, we'd like to thank you and our families for the long wait while we design and code, so that you don't have to.
We appreciate you reading this message and hope it was worth the read and the wait!

Remember that you can check your eligibility for free product upgrades at http://www.artisteer.com/?p=license_info

Artisteer/Themler Team

Submit Artisteer questions, fedback or license recovery requests to Artisteer support.
Submit Themler related questions and wishes to Themler forums and support.
Purchase a new Artisteer/Themler license combo here: http://www.artisteer.com/?p=purchase

And of course don't forget to tell your parents or troll your friends!: