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Mon, Dec 5 2011 23:47:14 UTC

Interview with creator of Fatpaint

Today we have an interview with Mario Gomes Cavalcanti, the founder of Fatpaint, a web based graphics design application.

Could you briefly describe yourself?

I'm a software developer/architect and have been programming since the age of 13, and the era of Commodore 64 and Amiga computers. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and currently live in Copenhagen, Denmark. I make a living doing freelance consultancy work.

What is Fatpaint and what are some of its features?

Fatpaint is a full featured, web-based graphic design application, with features so you can edit photos, draw, paint and create pages, illustrations and logos, both vector and pixel based images, using 2D and ray traced 3D technology. It is integrated with Zazzle, so all the images created by the user can be purchased or sold on merchandize. All these features are accessible from within a single, small (860 kilobytes) Adobe Flash application.

Simply looking at the interface, it seems like a very feature-rich product. Did a lot of development work go into it?

Yes, I have been developing Fatpaint since 2005. The project consist of around 500,000 lines of Actionscript and 30,000 lines of Java code. So it is a huge project, a lot of hardcore coding. I would never have started making this project if I knew back then what it would take. Specially after seeing that in general, people and the media don't appreciate this work. So far it has been a financial disaster, but we will continue fighting to make a living out of this. And I'm very proud of the work I have done.

What was some of the initial goals behind the site?

The goal has always been to make the best web-based graphic design application in the world.

What is your business model for the site, does it make money?

The website is not profitable, the income barely pays for the server expenses. Currently, the business model is displaying advertisement, selling Pro subscriptions and merchandise. Actually the only business model that is currently working out, is displaying advertisement. Just based on the Google advertising income, Fatpaint will be very profitable in a couple of years, when it will have a couple of hundred thousand users.

What is your main target audience for Fatpaint, why would someone use your site as opposed to a 3D modeling program?

In the coming months we will try to make Fatpaint more useful for businesses, because our initial focus on consumers, did not payoff. So now, our main target audience is businesses and we are just in the beginning of this transition.

Fatpaint is currently the only web-app where users can make ray traced 3D graphics. I just began this work and lots of new things will be added in the coming months. I'm not trying to compete against existing 3D modeling programs. I just want to put some of that power online, wrapped inside easy to use interfaces, so anyone will easily be able to make great looking 3D graphics. So if you want to make ray traced 3D graphics the easy way, without spending countless hours figuring out how to use 3D modelling software, Fatpaint.com is the place to go. Currently there is only support for making 3D text, but I'll soon add a bunch of other features. Online tools for making ray traced 3D graphics is something completely new, we are the first company doing this and we are very excited.

The site offers both Java and Flash. Are these identical? Why two versions?

The site only offers a Flash based interface. Java is only used for doing background work that is not possible to do with Flash.

One cool feature seems to be the availability of hundreds of fonts, how do you manage that many fonts and do you add new ones?

I picked up the best free fonts, clip-arts and public domain images I could find on the internet. To make graphics you need these things, so I figured it is a must to have.

What are some of the latest features you've added to Fatpaint?

The latest feature is ray traced 3D text. Ray traced 3D graphics will be the foundation of all coming features the months ahead. I see a lot of potential there, and it's a great opportunity to be the first with an online product offering this kind of features.

What kind of user feedback do you get, and do you know what the typical use case is?

I'm not getting much feedback from our users. I'm basically doing things the way I feel things should be, with little input from users... I guess that is not optimal, but that's how it is. I will try to put more effort on changing this going forward.

You know, I'm the only person doing all the work, so it's far from optimal. Imagine all the things I have to do... Develop new stuff, fix bugs, take care of the business and so on... I would be much better off partnering with Corel, Adobe, Google or some other big company within the graphics design industry, so I hope that will happen one day. In the meantime, I'll keep adding value to the product, and make it easier to use. I'm trying to do the best I can on this project, it's very hard being alone on this, but I think things will turn out alright.

Fatpaint has around 24,000 new unique visitors per month, growing at an healthy pace of 15% a month, so I guess I'm doing some things right , but our users don't bother to pay for the software nor write on forums, report bugs or anything. I'm quite disappointed about that.

I see that many of our users, are making graphics to promote their business. Our users spend on average 30 minutes on each visit, many are spending hours, so that is great. It means Fatpaint is being useful to thousands of people from all over the world.

Are you working on anything new you can talk about?

We are working on more ray traced 3D features.

I would like to say thanks for the opportunity of having this interview.

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