One thing I wasn’t expecting to see when I check my emails this weekend was one from Bluprint, the online ‘crafting’ website, announce its imminent closure. Bluprint is what Craftsy came to be following its takeover by NBCUniversal.
Bluprint had received a lot of criticism from instructors and users alike, for poor communication and treatment of instructors and for the new content being aimed at more lifestyle promotion than skill development. Apparently the original Craftsy platform was great to work for, something that Clara Parkes also elaborates on in one of her essays in Knitlandia, which very quickly took a turn south with the new owners.
I think for many people Bluprint’s demise won’t come as much of a surprise. Craftsy never made any money but at least people would speak positively of the content and there were more options to pay for things to ‘keep’ as a one-off payment rather than subscribing. Although there were more areas and topics covered on Bluprint, the courses were stripped down to the lowest common denominator and felt more like they were about waxing lyrical than sharing any skills.
Part of the statement posted from the CEO about the upcoming closure is as follows:
“I am disappointed to inform you that Bluprint will be closing over the next few months. Like so many customers, instructors, designers, and employees, I am devastated by this news. Please know that our team is working quickly to finalize details, and we will provide more information soon.
For now, I wanted to let you know that we are looking at various options to allow those of you who have purchased individual classes to receive a copy of your classes. This includes individual classes purchased with own forever credits. We are also planning to issue prorated refunds for paid subscribers based on the last day our service will be available, which will be communicated when that date is finalized in the near future.”
The big question of course is, for those of us with ‘own forever’ classes now is ‘how long is forever’? How can we ‘keep’ what it feels like we have paid for? This is one of the nightmares of digital content is the question of who owns what and what happens after the lifetime of the company when the content is streamable and not easily downloadable.
At the moment the best ‘official’ suggestion is to download the app (only available on Android/iOS) and download the videos there. There are ways of finding where the files are stored locally on the phone and transferring them to another device for most of us who don’t have hundreds of gigabytes of storage on our phones… A word of warning, if the app ends up being depreciated, which given Bluprint will no longer exist seems likely, it’s not clear how ‘secure’ this will be as a storage method. The other problem is that you will need to download each lesson of each course you have individually which is already a pain when you have three or four classes, let alone a far more extensive library built up from their fairly impressive sales.
While Bluprint have promised a ‘solution’ to keeping videos, another patch option would be to use some sort of screen recording tool. Windows 10 has a very well-hidden one as part of the ‘Xbox Game Bar’ you can find from the Start Menu search that works well and there are third-party options too. Again though, this means you’re going to have to run all those videos and record the screen in ‘real time’ and good luck if you have a big collection. Another option is to use a ‘video downloader’ tool – you can get these as extensions to web browsers and through other means, but be very wary as they can be stuffed full of malware and other computer nasties.
Time will tell whether Bluprint themselves release a ‘direct download’ option for courses and if you’re (reasonably) worried about keeping access to what you thought you were paying for – lifetime access to classes – then I would recommend keeping an eye on the site. I think though, unpopular as Bluprint was though, the death of it/Craftsy is a sad thing from both designers/teachers and for potential students. That’s a lot of content that is most likely going to become inaccessible and I’m not sure there will be a ‘replacement’ anytime soon. There is something called Patterns and More that maybe designers want to keep an eye on but at a time when online tuition should be thriving this seems like a sad step, as well as the redundancies for over a hundred people employed at Denver.
If anyone has any more information, video downloading advice, updates, or alternative sources for online craft videos, please do share in the comments.