Monthly Archives: March 2007

Changes a brewin’

Sorry for the slow week, everyone. We’ve been hard at work finishing updates to Worldwide Fido. We’ve also been polishing up the core Tumblr functionality, so we can spend April focusing on the what I’ll loosely describe as Tumblr’s upcoming “community” features — codenamed “Andean Mountain Cat“.

Mobile Text (beta)

We’re gearing up to launch Mobile Text posting next week. We just need a little help to make sure everyone’s carriers are supported. So please grab your phone and shoot an SMS message to If your carrier supports “Subject” lines, please try sending one with, and one without. Thanks everyone!


TumbletHere we thought we would quietly launch the Tumblr Write API before the weekend. Little did we know the excellent folks at Download Squad would use that very API in a feature on building Dashboard widgets with Apple’s Dashcode.

The apps we’ve started to receive are already looking slick. A few of the stable ones are linked to below. Everything we’re seeing so far is OS X flavored. Where the Windows developers at?

  • Tumblet – The first toy we whipped together to test the Tumblr API. This Dashboard Widget lets you quickly post short text blurbs to Tumblr.
  • Tumble on Quicksilver – A great add-on to the OS X app, Quicksilver. Released impossibly quickly by Andrew Lilja.
  • Tumblr Widget – A great Dashboard Widget for posting Regular Posts to Tumblr.

Automated Support for Custom Domains

One feature that’s proven very difficult to support is Custom Domains. Letting you bring your own domains to Tumblr really offers an amazing level of integration and personalization, and we’re thrilled to already be hosting more than 2500 of your domains!

The problem surfaces when users who aren’t experienced with the tricky process of setting up a domain buy their first domain for use on Tumblr. Although certainly doable, this can be a very confusing process for the uninitiated. And even worse, it’s a very tricky problem to support, as most domain registrars have proprietary configuration tools.

Check Domain

To help with this process, we’ve built a simple domain test to help users who are having trouble getting their domain working. Now, just enter your domain to see its current status, along with an explanation that should help when contacting your domain registrar’s support.

Please give it a spin and let us know how it does.

“Pro” features, and other flattery

I’m not sure everyone realizes just how flattered and honored we are to be receiving questions and feedback on Tumblr’s “Pro” features. Outside of a few email responses, I don’t believe we’ve made a public announcement regarding Pro accounts. And yet we’re getting several emails and blog comments each day, asking for a hint of the new Pro features to come.

It means so much to us that you guys are not only excited about what we’re doing, but excited to support our projects going forward. It’s really a privilege. And we’re incredibly grateful.

So let me just say officially that Pro accounts are on their way. We won’t be divulging any specifics yet, but we do want to announce our promise to use “Pro” as more than just a chance to capitalize on what we’re already offering.

We’ve been very frustrated with services treating their free accounts like baby users. We want to look at Pro accounts as a chance to offer features that would otherwise be too expensive to develop, and as our opportunity to invent features that are truly unique to this form. We also want to recognize that these will be some of our most engaged users, and with perks, like early access to new features, we’ll try and significantly enhance the Pro experience without impeding the rest of you.

Many new things to come as we continue exploring the very cool tumblelog form. Thank you for your support along the way.


IridescentYou guys continue to blow us away with some incredible custom themes. Just a few here:

And some bugs have been squashed:

  • A formatting bug has been fixed that was causing inline links in Link posts’ descriptions to look wacky.
  • We’re also now sending the variable {PostID} in every post block. Its value is the integer that appears at the end of the post’s permalink (“/post/123456”).
  • One oversight on our part: because the HREF tag for Link posts is being defined in the theme, it is not respecting the “Open links in new window option”. To fix this, all stock themes now incorporate a variable, {Target}, in the Link block. It either renders nothing, or the full string: target=”_blank”

Also, I just wanted to apologize to anyone who’s gotten a slow response, or is still waiting on a response to an email. We’re now receiving over one-hundred emails every day, many of which take 5-10 minutes to thoroughly answer. This is, of course, a tremendous privilege, and we really appreciate your understanding while we continue to grow. Hopefully, we’ll be shifting some of the questions we receive into a Tumblr Forum in the very near future.


Totally apropos, within 30 minutes of sitting down to chat with Digg CEO Jay Adelson (who we just learned is a native New Yorker), we hit the Digg front page. The story is actually a link to a very cool in-depth Lifehacker article on Tumblr. We’re long time fans of Lifehacker (they broke the story on Channel Frederator when we launched in ’05) and we were thrilled to read Gina Trapani‘s thorough account of her experience with Tumblr. It just so happens she runs the second most popular tumblelog,, just behind Leo Laporte.


In other happenings, posted a scan of the Chicago Trib article that mistakenly captioned them as being powered by Tumblr. We made it very clear in our interview that was our inspiration, and stole our hearts about 14 months prior to developing Tumblr. Oh well — the folks took it in good spirit, and were kind enough to give us a shout-out :-)

Despite the torrent of recent attention, we have actually managed to get some work done. Some of the changes to look out for early next week:

  • Write API is done.
  • Bookmarklet is using rich text editing again in all fields.
  • now features “Today’s Popular Tumblelogs”, refreshed nightly.
  • You can now change your account email address from the Settings page.
  • The Tumblr RSS crawler now sends the “If-Modified-Since” header to play nicer with cached feeds. (Thanks for reminding us, Nelson M.!)
  • HTML filtering no longer strips H-tags (H1, H2, H3…).
  • Mobile photo uploads are getting smarter and should be stripping more of the junk text that cell carriers send. (Mobile Text posting coming very soon!)
  • And some other big things should be hitting beta for you guys to play with very soon.

Let’s hear it for Marco for keeping the site up during the storm of Digg users without so much as a hiccup! You never fail to amaze me.

Chicago Tribune: “Is small talk the next big thing?”

We got some very cool coverage today. Eric Gwinn at the Chicago Tribune was kind enough to cover Tumblr in an article about the movement towards short-form on the web.

Eric asks “Is small talk the next big thing?”. I really enjoyed this interview. Eric is a seriously sharp guy.

“Short form is here for the long haul”

Read the full article here

We almost had nice weather

Hey folks! Sorry for the slow week. I’ve been battling the flu. But Marco’s been holding down the fort and we did get a few cool things out the door today.

Link Descriptions

Add a description

Probably our second most requested feature. You’ll now see a link to “Add a description” when adding a new Link Post from either the publisher or bookmarklet. This will pop open a field to edit the link’s description.

To anyone using custom themes, you can add the descriptions by putting this inside the Link-block:


Quote Size Tweaks

After some great feedback, you guys steered us to thinking that explicitly applying a span-class to Quotes is pretty inflexible behavior. It also doesn’t account for things like adding quote-characters (“) to the beginning/end.

So instead, we now send a variable {Length} inside the Quote-block. It uses the same values we had been sending as the Quote’s span-class. So {Length} will be set to either “short”, “medium”, or “long”, depending on the length of the Quote.

If you’ve already applied dynamic quote sizes in your custom theme, the easiest way restore them is to wrap the variable {Quote} in a span like: <span class=”{Length}”>{Quote}</span>

Sorry to waffle on you. We hate making operating changes to theme rendering, but we wanted to nip this in the bud and implement quote sizes gracefully.

New Import TypesNew Ways To Import Feeds

If you check out the Import Feeds panel, you’ll now see two more ways to import posts.

Links with descriptions” imports RSS posts as Links with the new description field set to their body contents. Works great with Delicious feeds.

YouTube Videos” will grab tagged YouTube videos, or videos belonging to a YouTube user, and import them as embedded videos for playback on your tumblelog. You can learn more about YouTube RSS feeds here.

Bookmarklet V3

Thanks to tons of great feedback and suggestions, today we were able to make the Tumblr Bookmarklet a whole lot cooler.

Bookmarklet V3

The most apparent difference is the ability to change which type of post you’re creating. Now if you want to link to a photo instead of posting it, you can click the “Link” tab. Or, if you want to use the selected text inside a Regular Post instead of a Quote, just click “Regular”. This also lets you do things like enter Photos or Video embeds from any site on the web. Auto-detect still works the same, and the bookmarklet will automatically grab Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Quotes, etc.

There’s also a really nifty new interface on the “Photo” tab. Now, if you click “Photo” on any page where we’re not sure which image you want, the bookmarklet displays a thumbnail of EVERY image on the page. Just click the one you want and save.

Some of the new things you can do:

  • Post a video embed from any site on the web
  • Select text on a page to appear inside a Regular Post
  • Add a description to Link posts
  • Link to a photo or video instead of posting it directly
  • Post a photo from any page on the web (no need to open it in its own window)

We’ve also added auto-detect support for Metacafe videos.

Have a great weekend everyone! Marco’s headed to Long Island, and I’m snowed-in watching Casino Royale.

Some new things before the weekend

First off, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Nic Williams‘ wicked Tumblr Syntax Highlighting hack. Nic, you’re our hero!

We are currently testing an integrated solution that doesn’t require client-side JavaScript or disabling Rich Text editing, but we’re not quite there yet. Hopefully, Nic’s solution will satisfy anyone itching to throw some pretty code snippets up on Tumblr.

Tumblr API

We’ve been happily surprised to find that one of the most requested feature additions is a Tumblr API. So in the spirit of being an open-platform (and because, frankly, we can’t wait to see what you guys do with it) we’re rapidly rolling out a simple-but-robust API (Application Programming Interface).

This will be implemented over standard HTTP requests, so just about any application that can connect to the web can interface with Tumblr.

We’re only launching the Read API today as we continue to test and polish the Write API. Look for an update and, hopefully, the live Write API early next week.

Please check out the Tumblr API documentation, and let us know what you’re building (or thinking about building) on top of Tumblr.


LitewireThe new theme, “Litewire“, went up yesterday. Waddaya think? We’ve also been tinkering with some designs that veer far from the single column blog layout we’re all used to. The tumblelog form is so interesting – we really want to accentuate its uniqueness.

On that note — we’re getting ready to start soliciting theme submissions. We’ve already received some interest from some terrifically talented people, and we’re just about ready to set up a formal (and public) submission process. If you’re interested, or you have any thoughts on this process, please drop us a comment.

Dynamic Quote sizes

A few users noticed something cool has been doing with their Quote posts. Depending on how long (or short) a quote is, the size of the font changes to display it nicely.

Totally cool. And something really unique to this format. So — as of today, depending on the length of your Quote, Tumblr now wraps the text in either:

  • <span class=”short”>…</span>
  • <span class=”medium”>…</span>
  • <span class=”long”>…</span>

This will let you use CSS to adjust the font size between Quotes of different lengths. You can see this in action in the new “Litewire” theme. If you integrate this into your custom theme, please drop a link in the comments.

Now previewing: Radar

The biggest hole in Tumblr at the moment is the inability to discover any of the incredible tumblelogs people are creating. There are a ton of ideas we’re incubating, and all sorts of things we want to do to spotlight the brilliant things people do with Tumblr.

One of our favorites (and one that’s hardly perfected yet) is called “Radar“. It grabs snippets of every post that goes up on Tumblr and drops it on one page for easy scanning.

As an early preview to our blog readers, you can now check out Radar at

This is barely tested cross-browser, and is only known to work in Firefox, Safari, and IE7. Please use your discretion in using this tool, as we have no content filtering in place.


Note: Radar will only feature posts by users that have “Promote me in the Tumblr directory” checked off on their Settings page.


  • We’ve started tinkering with our Mobile Upload processing. We’re getting closer to ignoring all the junk text that cell carriers attach to messages. This should start to prevent mobile posts from using default text in captions.
  • We think we’ve figured out Sprint, and will hopefully be accepting Sprint messages soon.
  • Text SMS is in the works.
  • Welcome Sarah Lane to Tumblr! (I’m a big fan =p)

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Bugs squashed, some new toys, and some very creative users

Lots of stuff happening this week, and your feedback has been overwhelming! Please keep it coming.

Today we’re pushing some bug fixes, and a new Beta feature for you to play with.


  • Permalinks are now incorporated in all stock themes.
  • Timezones are now being correctly reflected.
  • Feed importing is now MUCH faster thanks to Marco’s brilliant parallel RSS crawler. Note: We are still respecting each feed’s individual TTL. feeds are being updated on 30-minute intervals per their request.
  • Newly added feeds are now crawled as quickly as possible for instant feedback.
  • We’re no longer adding line-breaks to imported posts that are already HTML-formatted. This is retroactive and should make some imported Regular Posts look nicer.
  • The {Permalink} tag can now be used much more flexibly in custom themes. This is a fix for users that were having trouble putting Permalinks in the “date” block.
  • The “Dreamscape” theme now displays the tumblelog’s description.

Now in Beta

We’re ready to start testing a new feature that should make it even easier to post to Tumblr. You’ll now see a section on your Settings page labeled “Mobile Uploads“. This will give you an address to send photos (text posts coming soon!) to your tumblelog directly from you phone.

Each address is unique, so don’t share it. Just add it to your address book and use your phone’s built-in messaging to send a photo to Tumblr. If you want to send a caption along with the photo, just type it in the Subject line.


A reminder that this feature is still in beta. We’re hoping to work out any remaining kinks this week. So please pass along any bugs to

For more information on sending photos from you phone, please visit your cellular provider’s support page.

Interesting Tumblings

Nothing’s been more exciting to us than seeing all of the incredibly clever ways you guys are using Tumblr. We’ll try and feature the cool things we find as often as we can.

If there’s anything cool you’d like to show off, please drop it in the comments!

Also, we wanted to let you know that we’ve heard your requests for importing feed excerpts and Link Post descriptions. We’re playing with some things.

We hear you!

Every week we’re going to set aside a post to answer your questions and feedback. If there’s anything you’d like to throw into the fray, just leave a comment. Thank you!

Sometimes I upload 20 shots of products or a particular photo shoot [to Flickr], but I don’t necessarily want all 20 of those to appear full-sized in Tumblr.

Lots of Tumblr users have been using Flickr’s built-in tags to mark photos for import. Just tag your desired Flickr photos with something like “tumblr”, and subscribe to that tag’s RSS feed.

I was wondering if Google Adsense ads are allowed to be added to Tumblr?

We haven’t formed an official policy on advertising. But since our philosophy is building Tumblr into a complete tool, we certainly don’t want to alienate any of our pro-users. Ads are a-okay. We’ll update you if our Terms of Service changes.

Could you show more featured tumblelogs? I’d like to see what others are doing.

We’re working on some VERY cool ways to explore tumblelogs. Check back soon!

I’d like to communicate somehow. Maybe blogs with comments and trackbacks are just different than tumbelogs, but I want 2-way communication. Any recommendations?

We absolutely understand the value of a web site being an interactive experience. That said, we, and many of our users, don’t believe “comments”, as they are currently being applied on blogs, will enhance the tumblelog experience. That’s not a cop-out though. We’re staging several experimental interfaces for user feedback. Lots of neat things to come. We promise!

I’m having trouble getting posts from before the date I added the feed to import…

When you add a feed to be imported, we grab the latest post, and then every one posted after that.

The only thing missing from Tumblr is tags and a tag cloud to make navigating older posts easier.

Tags are in development as an OPTIONAL feature that can be tucked away and disabled if you don’t care for the clutter. Look out for this soon.

I know you want to keep Tumblr as simple as possible, but I would love to see a feature for scheduled posting.

We’ll be adding the ability to set the date and time of posts, as well as forward date them for scheduled publishing.

[It would be great] if it could have a “VIDEO” type in the feed imports. I have an RSS feed of my favorite youtube videos and I would LOVE it if it worked the same way as directly posting a video (seeing the video preview and play button instead of just a link).

Totally agree. We’ll make this happen.