Ember: An Online Design Scrapbook


Back in May 2008, I reviewed Scrnshots, a great web-based service enabling designers to share their inspiration and a kind of “social network for screenshots.”

Along with its desktop uploader, Scrnshots has become a regular part of my own workflow, keeping a public articulation of the digital designs and elements that inspire my work elsewhere. Scnrshots has been ticking over nicely, though few features have been added recently, and the Mac (s aapl) edition of the desktop app isn’t compatible with Snow Leopard.

So when I recently came across Ember, a service similar to Scrnshots but with more contemporary features, a smarter interface and cleaner design, I was keen to try it out.

Like Scrnshots, the basics of Ember are really all about uploading images, and adding some descriptive metadata for future reference. However, Ember offers a few extra capabilities:

  • The ability to flag an uploaded image as private.
  • Every metadata element of an uploaded image’s page is directly editable with a simple click.
  • Images can be added to collections, to help theme and organize related imagery.
  • Every page has an integrated URL shortner that generates URLs such as http://embr.it/gW — handy for the integrated Twitter support.
  • Integration with desktop and iPhone tools such as LittleSnapper for offline use and mobile capture respectively. Though these don’t appear to be as sophisticated as Scrnshot’s desktop app.

However, unlike Scrnshots’ free offering, Ember is a tiered service, with both free and paid service plans. The free plan allows thirty uploads a month and up to three collections, but to get the most out of the service, you’ll need to upgrade to the $25/year option.

As a long-term Scrnshots user, I find it unfortunate that there’s no way for me to export data as a single batch from one service to the other. Indeed, both Scrshots and Ember illustrate a pressing need to include data portability by default in all web applications.

Ember’s a great service that’s actually pretty good value for money, though I find it hard to invest time into another app that doesn’t let me at my data without resorting to using an API.

Where do you keep images for digital inspiration?


Imran Ali

@Ryan no problem – though it’s worth checking out Scrnshots too.

@Jorge thanks for the tip about imgspark.com…looks very polished with some interesting tools, though with 100+ images in Scrnshots, it’s tricky for me to migrate!


That sounds quite interesting… i think will go for the free one initially and then if like these better will go for the paid one. Thanks for the info :)


I’ve been wanting to try out ember for weeks now, preferring the interface/design a bit over what I currently use: imgspark.com. But ember’s upload options are lacking. Basically either you do it via the website, or you pay for LittleSnapper (which is great, don’t get me wrong, just not free).

Image Spark is a really good competitor here. And it has a free desktop app and a handy bookmarklet.

Without export ability, however, I may be tied into Image Spark already.

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