Thmbnl: Effortless (and Vowelless) Screenshot Thumbnails

Friends Todd and Larry (along with Cindy Li) have just launched Thmbnl, a utility for web developers. What does it do?

Thmbnl is a compact utility for showing thumbnail-style images of pages linked from your website or application. Developers can sign in, grab our code libraries and samples, write some code and you’ve got thmbnl in your app!

That’s a great idea, and will no doubt prove handy to people building web apps that require thumbnail functionality. I see it as a kind of purpose-built tiny chunk of Flickr’s functionality. Where I manually upload a screenshot to Flickr so that I can grab a screenshot, they’re doing it automatically. And, obviously, marketing it to web app builders. It’s not super-exciting, but in my experience, it’s often the Internet plumbing concepts that really take off.

Designers and developers will be interested in Todd’s comprehensive and enlightening discussion of the development process for Thmbnl. Here’s an excerpt in which he discusses their choice to rely on OpenID as their user management system:

The most concrete benefit of the OpenID-only strategy in its impact on feature design is that it’s allowed us to support webmaster and enterprise teams who need to work from the same thmbnl account without adding weight to the account management features. Although we don’t have the permissions gradient that corporate software often provides, we have a simple, one-field interface for attaching OpenIDs to an account. OpenIDs for those people who leave the team or no longer need access are removed from the same place. Under a traditional user name+password approach, we would have had at least one or two more pages to manage multiple users on the same account.

Good luck to the Thmbnl team. Or should I say Gdlck?

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