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  Octoboxy Project History

All years and dates should be read with a prefix of ‘circa.’


2010 - 2014

It all began when we wanted a custom photo gallery.

Towards this goal, we rebuilt the same site once each year for five years:

  1. Hand-coded HTML
  2. Adobe Lightroom galleries
  3. Drupal
  4. Wordpress + premium theme
  5. Wordpress + our theme

Making money is good, so on the side we built three versions of an eCommerce site, for a company that made t-shirts:

  1. Wordpress + free theme
  2. Drupal
  3. Wordpress + premium theme

By this point we'd seen that we were solving the same problems on both sites. We started thinking about a digital asset manager that could directly support our web properties.

First Versions

2014 - 2015

We called our project "Moonrise."

v0.5 "Moonrise" - 2014-03
  • 2.5K lines Python
  • rendered photo assets using Photoshop
  • indexed those rendered assets

The first working version was a glorified asset index. At the time we still thought exporters/importers to move assets into a Wordpress front-end was the way to go. But then it hit us: we were already using Django -- a web app platform -- for the developer interface on our glorified asset index. Why not build the whole frontend out of Django too?

We had no idea what sort of a monster project we were getting into.

v1.0 "Sunrise"
  • 12K lines Python
  • photo gallery website

Some experimental projects happened here:

  • Interlude: photo galleries for handoff to a publisher
  • Interlude: color identity explored via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
  • Interlude: Lightroom plugin to maintain collections in our index

Making Ends Meet

2015 - 2016

The frontend and backend individually worked, but under the hood shared few connections. The next version was all about bringing them together.

v1.5 "Unity"
  • unified codebase: workstation and website
  • taxonomy data structure

After this we began making smaller, feature-add versions, as opposed to megalithic redesigns.

v1.6 "The Doctor"
  • integrity testing
v1.7 "Plug n’ Play"
  • more generalized model for a digital asset
v1.8 "Feature Creep" - 2016-04
  • first version with wallpaper art
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v1.9 "Prose" 2016-05
  • documents are now assets

Starting with v1.8 we have a better idea when versions launched because each release got new wallpaper art, and image files have timestamps built in!



We were tasked to build a new, photo-based app to run lost-and-found operations at Burning Man.

The lost-and-found problem gave us opportunity to explore an excellent real-world use-case. Many parts of our system, most especially our taxonomy models, grew in complexity as a result.

Fiindex went through two versions:

  • Fiindex v1 -- branched from Moonrise v1.9
  • Fiindex v2 -- refreshed with Moonrise v2.1

Now Do It Better

2016 - 2019

Version 1.10 started out as a brush-up on the visual look of the system. Code-wise, it never deployed, but blurred seamlessly into a v2.0 where we rebranded the project.

Project Moonrise was now Octoboxy!

v1.10 "Skin" / v2.0 "Duality" - 2016-12
  • 28K lines python
  • website layer redesign
  • branded: Octoboxy

Our system still had a lot of room to mature in every existing component.

v2.1 "Enchantment" - 2017-08
  • standardized cloud deployment
v2.2 "Shadows" - 2017-12
  • multiple web properties on the same server
v2.3 "Meta" - 2018-01
  • improved background processing
v2.4 "Continuity" - 2018-03
  • better sandboxing of faces
Curecanti Narrow
v2.5 "Crucible" - 2018-05
  • new user model

At this point the core was more or less stable. It was time to tackle some bigger problems:

v2.6 "Kjahiit" - 2018-08
  • eCommerce
v2.7 "Serendux" - 2018-11
  • off-schedule improvements
v2.8 "//~;~//" - 2019-01
  • replication between deployments
* - pronounced: sky
v2.9 "Firmament" - 2019-06
  • performance and stabilization

Third Time’s the Charm


To kick-off the next arc of our story we set out to fix every long-standing annoyance we had with system architecture.

Some of this was simple module renames with few semantic changes. But on another level, some whole modules got rebuilt. This became a megalithic redesign version, perhaps our largest one ever.

v3.0 "Illumination" - 2020-09
  • a purifying light shown to every aspect of the system
  • 36K lines python

New codebase was alive!

Now it became time to move in and try out the new features.

v3.1 "Honor" - 2020-12
  • "cloudshop" app: devguide and domains for sale
v3.2 "Void" - 2021-06
  • new deployment strategy with OctoBase as a separate component
Dante Looks Back

Check out our open-source spin-off: “OctoBase”

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v3.3 "Dream" - 2021-10
  • Private app commission we can't talk about yet.

That brings us to present time, present space -- v3.3 is what's running this site.

Thanks for walking this journey with us!

~ the Octoboxy crew