🎁 Unsplash Release: Earle

This is everything the Unsplash team created in 6 weeks from April 23 to June 1st. We hope you enjoy it.

We decided to name this release in honour of one of Unsplash’s longest and most awarded contributors, Joshua Earle. He’s an incredibly gifted photographer, known for his signature style of appearing in his own awe-inspiring photography. You’ve no doubt seen his work, as his photos have become some of the most viewed photos in history. To Joshua, this one is for you and for inspiring us to create 🍾

📱 Unsplash for iOS adds photographer profiles

After launching Unsplash for iOS in April, we followed up the release with the most requested feature: photographer profiles. You can now view all of the beautiful photography from your favourite Unsplash photographers quickly and easily by jumping into their profiles from any feed.

Olivier, Kirill, and Charles took extra care to make the transitions between views as seamless as possible—completely rebuilding the feed and photo views to support more native gestures. If you look closely, you’ll see that every profile looks unique as it features the photo you were previously viewing as the blurred header image to add a little visual flair and context to every profile.

🔍 Unsplash Search adds the fastest autocompletion you’ve ever seen

Over the past year, we’ve slowly been moving away from our old Instant Search to a more traditional search experience—similar to what you’d experience on Google or Pinterest. While our Instant Search was technically impressive, it provided a lot of complications, especially for users on slower connections.

Bruno, Tim, Kirill, and Sami collaborated to integrate a lightning fast autocomplete experience into our search. While it may look simple, it required a lot of heavy backend and frontend work to generate and display the data quickly regardless of your location or search term.

We’ll be improving upon the suggestions in a V2 shortly, while also looking to open it up to the Unsplash developer community so all applications can benefit from it.

🎂 The Unsplash community turned 5

It’s hard to believe but it’s been 5 years since we released the first ten photos on Unsplash. We’ve since been joined by over 85,000 other contributors and over 500,000 photos. To put that in perspective, there are now more photos released every few hours on Unsplash than in that entire first year. Over double the number of photos downloaded per day than any other platform, enabling more creators to create freely than ever before.

There were so many amazing things that happened in the 5th year of Unsplash. Check out Mikael’s post that covers the best moments.

🤖 We overhauled the API Platform to be easier to use

Since creating the first version of the API Platform, we’ve added more than 500 API partners and 30,000 developers. The original version was hacked together by our backend team (a polite way to say it looked like s***), so it was overdue for some attention from our design team.

Kirill, Charles, Aaron, Tim, and I overhauled the marketing, onboarding experience, and application dashboard to make it easier for developers to understand the API, the possibilities, and the guidelines. We also added live stats so that every application developer can now see how many photo views, downloads, and requests their application generates.

⚡️ We enabled much faster loading for logged out users

Olly and Sami have been progressively migrating the Unsplash web app to support server-side rendering for the last year. After completing the migration in late March, they tackled something they’d been waiting to do since starting the project: enable distributed HTML caching for all logged out users.

For all logged out pages you’ll now see a much faster and more reliable initial load time, especially if you’re located outside of North America (where our servers are). The biggest change we measured was in the Time to First Byte metric, which saw a 17x improvement.

This was the first in a few big changes you’ll be seeing on Unsplash over the next few months, as we’ll be tackling more loading improvements and scrolling performance in next roadmaps.

🔬 We began building the next generation search system

This has been a long time coming. Our original version of our search system was built almost 3.5 years ago. Since then we’ve improved it to include a lot of new metadata, algorithms, experimentation, and engagement loops, but we’ve stretched the system about as far as we can.

In March, Tim, Roberta, Aaron, Bruno, and I met and we decided that we needed to fundamentally change the architecture of the system in a way that wasn’t backwards compatible with the previous system. While we can’t reveal too much yet, we’re taking everything we’ve learned from building search at scale over the last 3.5 years and we’re rebuilding it using all of the most modern techniques around learning, engagement, and performance. We’ll be sharing more as we make progress over the next few months.

🤦‍ We fixed some embarrassing things

During the previous months, we had two severe technical issues. For the better part of March and April, our engineering team woke to alerts of increased server failures and authentication errors across the API and site.

As Aaron, Roberta, Sami, Olly, and Bruno dug deeper, they identified a number of issues where our servers were having difficulty coping with the increased load, and in one case, discovered a rather embarrassing issue involving shared state that resulted in the mystery 401s.

To make a long story short, we’ve since patched these issues, caught up on sleep 😴, and are continuing to rollout improvements to performance to ensure that we don’t have similar issues in the future.

👫 More from our team

Nº3 Rich Warmth from Unsplash Presets Volume 1

⭐️ Join our team

If you like creating and want to join us to help build a creative movement, we’re hiring for a few really important roles right now 👉