Panda Snap was a 'design capture' service that enabled users to take and store snapshots of beautiful websites. It featured an extension (Chrome & Firefox) that provided a convenient way to snapshot full landing pages or specific elements on the webpage itself.
Sadly I shut down the Panda Snap service in 2023 and built this page to showcase how it used to work. Check out the following demo pages:
- Landing page - The fun and interactive landing page explaining what Panda Snap is all about
- Collection - The page where you browse your saved snaps. This features some snaps I personally captured using Panda Snap.
- Extension - A demo of the UI used when snapping a page with the extension.
- Upgrade - An experimental page I used to guage demand of possible PRO features.
Panda Snap was a side project I built in July 2020 during lock down whilst stranded in Guatemala. It was one of my '12 start-ups' projects which I built for enjoyment, learning, and as potential businesses.
Panda Snap was my most successful project at the time and led me to meet some amazing people and even future clients.
Ultimately I did not grow Panda Snap into a business but I learnt a ton about what building a start-up entails. This page summarises the life of the project.
I started the project to solve my desire to design beautiful interfaces. I often looked to others for inspiration and decided to make a 'design capture' tool.
Here's one of my earliest tweets showing the early UI of the project.
Not a bad view from the office 🌋— Scotty (@kanga_bru) July 31, 2020
After I built an early version of the product I followed some advice and pre-launched on Reddit. I got 300 sign-ups within a couple of days and had more attention than I knew what to do with.
Woah my Reddit thread blew up a little last night too. Almost 150 signs up this morning! Stoked 🤙— Scotty (@kanga_bru) Aug 16, 2020
A few days ago you might recall that I openly shared my playbook to acquire the first 100 customers for your product
Today I've learned that @kanga_bru
took that advice and ran with it fantastically
Check out his success story. I'm so stoked!— KP (@thisiskp_) Aug 18, 2020
Technical Deep Dive
This was one of the more interesting technical issues I had to solve. Posting issues like this on Twitter led me to meet great people.
Yesterday I fixed a major issue I've had with Panda Snap 🐼
A key feature is snapshotting elements which I do by injecting a custom UI.
The problem is that page styles sometimes broke my UI!
Here's how I fixed it (a thread) 👇— Scotty (@kanga_bru) August 29, 2020
One of the big challenges with building an extension is supporting more than just a server and front-end. I wanted to support Chrome/Firefox and potentially mobile too, but these all add complexity and require separate codebases, authentication, and UIs.
Testing that all of these components worked together was a challenge.
One feature I'm proud of was how I built an end-to-end testing suite using Selenium. It made sure everything worked together by loading the extension at runtime, logging in via the server, then testing flows in a unified way. This took some work upfront but once it worked I could build quickly without breaking stuff.
Long time, no post. Been converting Panda Snap for Firefox but it's been tricky...
😁 webextension-polyfill is awesome. It exposes the same APIs in Chrome/FF + uses promises over callbacks 👌
🤕 APIs/permissions differ subtly. Went a little mad fixing them...
Getting there!— Scotty (@kanga_bru) Oct 11, 2020
In an effort to do marketing via side projects I built a spin-off site to spice up screenshots. I had a blast filling it with fun animations and integrations to give users a unique and memorable experience.
I decided to open source it and overall both users and developers seemed to like it.
I think she's ready 😁 Check out Pretty Snap and make your snapshots look awesome!— Scotty (@kanga_bru) Nov 22, 2020
During those few months of building in public I had met a surprising amount of smart and talented people. I was even recommended to companies quick frequently and I ended up taking on contract work with numerous start-ups in New York, San Francisco, and Australia. I never expected posting on Twitter to be such a rewarding experience but I'm glad I gave it some effort.
Sadly though, my ability to maintain Panda Snap and other project slowly waned...
After two years of operation I decided to cease operating the Panda Snap service. The extensions had become outdated due to changes in browsers, and I no longer had the time to add features or even maintain them in a changing technical landscape.
In order to showcase what Panda Snap was like I decided to make this website where I host a demo version of some Panda Snap features. My hope is that other can take inspiration from it to build their own products in future!
If you were a user of Panda Snap and would like to access your data, please email me here.