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Welcoming Make.cm into the world

Written by James Lee

Published on Feb 16, 2021

After 9 months of ideation, planning and development and a further 5 years of umm'ing and ahh'ing, we're super excited to be releasing Make into the wild.

Want to check out the beta?

Try it now for free!

Like most things, the idea behind Make wasn't a eureka moment, nor did the lightbulb magically turn on. It was a slow burn.

Starting in mid-2015 we created a platform called Outfit.io in sunny Brisbane, Australia. Outfit was (and still is - check it out!) a brand management platform serving some of the biggest global brands. We set out to solve large scale brand dilution and distribution problems for larger enterprise organizations through robust templating and reviews technology, which the likes of big tech, banks and universities loved! Productivity win, brand compliance double win.

What is now Make.cm, all started with Outfit.

A quick aside,

I'm sorry if this is coming across as a bit "pitchy" or off-topic, I'm just trying to lay some foundation here! But if you (like me!) have the attention span of a goldfish with ADHD, jump down to the So what the hell is Make.cm?! section.

- James


Our success at Outfit was in how our customers built their templates, which were essentially mini-websites (HTML/CSS/JS). The same code could be repurposed for a range of marketing and business materials. Even the most challenging of aesthetics and strictly prescribed brand rules could be enforced with code. We built the template system with the web in mind so that they were flexible, dynamic and ultimately able to be locked down depending on the audience. We spent the ensuing years chasing edge-cases. Getting to new mediums under new contexts meant testing the limits of our generation stack.

As we, at Outfit, grew rapidly over the next five years our generation engine became the unsung hero of what made Outfit tick and what made it successful. For every new need we were able to add capability, with scale and quality.

A big turning point for us was when the frequency of our developer friends saying to us, "Man.. if we could've used your generation tech we would've saved ourselves a tonne of time," got to the point where the chorus of devs became too loud. You remember that slow burn I was talking about at the start of this post? Yeah, that started roaring right about then 🔥

Through Outfit we were intensely focused on solving user centric problems for brand owners through a SaaS offering, but what about all other the experiences and software - materials that needed to exist but required no turn-key human intervention or no learning for an end user? How can we serve the developer here and help them achieve the same quality output with limitless potential?


So what the hell is Make.cm?!

Make.cm is a creative media generation API, but that description is only good for SEO 🙃.

To put it in plainer terms, Make allows you to:

  1. Develop and import templates (Made your way with React, Vue, Angular or plain old HTML/CSS) into Make.cm.
  2. Perform a POST or GET request to set dynamic content and optionality then generate that template into a PNG, JPG, PDF, Video + ).
  3. Test, observe and track requests as they come through

Why would I need that?

You're probably sitting there thinking, "Wait can't I do this already?" To which the answer is a resounding, "Yes, for sure!".

There are dozens of ways of instrumenting these generation workflows. The canvas API has been around for years and the likes of Headless Chrome and services like Puppeteer made it infinitely easier to generate and render a PDF, but instrumenting an end to end flow is still a hard task, with rabbit holes galore. These tools take time to set up, are opinionated in terms of both the input and output and depending on your background, can be downright diabolical to maintain.

We know all of this because we've been through it. We leverage Headless Chrome for parts of our tooling with Make and Outfit alike. We supercharge what the conventional stack allows us to do so that we can scale to meet any request demand. With Make, the output is of a quality that some of the biggest brands in the world endorse and we commit to improving it continuously

While simplicity is the main driver for Make, we've learnt a lot throughout our journey with Outfit and have built Make in a way that addresses those learnings.

  • Scale: Make will scale for thousands of requests at the same time, yet still retaining fast generation speeds.
  • Quality: What you see is not always what you get when converting web content into another format. We've worked hard to try and reduce that margin of error to (almost) zero.
  • Customizability: Make can offer an abundance of preparation and post processing features on your generated assets..

What we're offering is a way to do all of the above in one single API, with a low barrier to entry and a surface area the size of a simple POST request.

const config = {
format: 'PDF',
size: 'A4',
data: {
headline: 'Hello World',
},
postProcessing: {
optimise: true
}
}
const response = await fetch(
'https://api.make.cm/t/as34rd/make/sync', {
method: 'POST',
headers: {
'Content-Type': 'application/json',
'X-Make-Api-Key': 'aSdhu86dfg51jhi90'
},
body: JSON.stringify(config)
});
return response.json();

Or even simpler, a GET request.

https://api.make.cm/make/t/d78aedd1-bac2-4882-9c3d-0761c7f3ecff/k/d32d7c5a-3ba1-4af0-958a-df9ea3b478a8.4b4f5f5451715b7f95e79b3235086bc0/sync?size=A4&format=pdf&postProcessing[optimize]=true&
data[headline]=Hello%20World
Copy and paste this into your browser if you don't believe me... Change some values around while you're at it.

What's Next?

Make.cm is in public beta right now and we'd love for you to check it out.

With the Make.cm beta you can:

  • Create and convert JS based templates (React, Vue, Angular) into Make endpoints
  • Creating POST (sync & async) requests and GET requests to generate PDFs, PNGs and JPGS from those endpoint
  • Logging all requests made against those requests

By creating Make, we're aiming to reduce the barrier to entry by a lot, so even the most junior front end developer who knows some HTML, CSS and JS can give their designs a powerful generation API.

Get making,

James & the Make team


Make.cm is a product by Outfit, the brand management platform for some of the worlds largest brands.

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