Gallery Solutions For Joomla!

Rate this item
(0 votes)

As we know, web-based gallery solutions are as diverse as their users. Well, there's nothing wrong with that. Users should be able to pick and choose when it comes to gallery solutions.

 

I manage several websites that are quite demanding when it comes to gallery solutions. The nature of these sites might surprize you as they are pre-school (kindergarten) websites. The fact of the matter is that pre-school staff is not technically trained (and there's no reason to expect them to be), they do not have all the time in the world to upload and tag photos (50 screaming children around you kind of demand attention) and they are generally too over-worked and under-paid to have any tolerance towards complex solutions.

 

Some of the solutions we have worked with are:

 

JAlbum - A brilliant stand-alone solution that creates html / css / -javascript based albums locally on your computer and the uploads it to your server via FTP.

Pros:

- Easy to use and easy to install.

- You can point JAlbum towards a complete directory structure of folders and sub-folders containing images and videos, and it creates your album in no time.

- Easy to back-up where you have a logical folder structure in your backups

Cons:

- On a large, distributed system, you tend to need to store things centrally on mounted drives. JAlbum is not all together happy with that.

- Can cause problems with special characters in folder / category names (for example some Icelandic characters).

- Another factor is that on a large system you might prefer to eliminate FTP access all together.

- No Joomla module available (for random images or slideshows). Some modules out there might allow you to pick up images from specific folders on your system, and could be useful in this case.

eXpose - A brilliant PHP / flash-based solution for Joomla 1.0 that creates numerically marked folders for each new album and links folders and album names using XML files.

 

Pros:

- Supports special characters in category names

- Interactive and simple interface to create categories and upload files

- Mass uploading of files

- Automatic resizing of files and thumbnail generation

- Drag-and-drop ordering of categories and files

- Nice, graphical front-end view of galleries

 

Cons:

- Last updated in 2006 so the PHP is outdated

- Flash (no need to say more)

- No way to lock specific galleries / folders (a sad necessity when it comes to galleries containing a lot of photos of children)

- Very difficoult when it comes to back-ups and restores due to the way that the XML files connect serialized folders to gallery names. If the XML files are damaged, there is no way to figure out the original names of each gallery. Expose seems to open up xml files the minute you start uploading into a gallery and keep it open untill you have finished uploading, which results in a broken gallery if your computer, browser, internet connection or server has the hickups during transfer.

 

TWG Gallery (Tiny Web Gallery) - A nifty, light-weight PHP / Flash based gallery. This gallery creates a folder for each new album and uses the album name as folder name.

 

Pros:

- Very simple and easy to use.

- Support is brilliant. I usually got a response from the author within the hour.

- Supports locked (access-restricted) albums

- Supports mass-upload of files

- Uses a logical folder structure to save files so backups and re-builds of the gallery are simple as pie

 

Cons:

- Last time I checked, no module for Joomla 2.5 or 3

- Does not use the server encoding for special charecters so you might end up with folder names that the server can't handle (depending on the server settings)

 

Phoca Gallery - A beautiful gallery solution, and the first one in this list specifically written for Joomla.

 

Pros:

- Supports mass-upload of files

- Supports multiple users / multiple galleries (user / gallery ownership)

- Supports front-end uploads (mass uploads as well)

- Supports locked (access-restricted) albums

- Automatic thumbnail generation and picture resize (after upload)

- Has accompanying modules containing amongst others a slideshow feature, a random image feature and basically anything you could ever dream of for your website

- Includes a plug-in to create a editor button to drag stuff from the gallery into articles

- Stores files in a logical file structure, so backup and restore is simple

- Supports recursive re-creation of the gallery (if you need to restore or move your site you just upload all your photo folders onto the server through ftp or scp and allow the gallery to scan through all the photos and re-build your gallery)

- Uses the database to link gallery names to folders, the folders have the same title as the corresponding gallery, only with all special characters stripped away and spaces converted to underscores.

- Support is usually very good.

 

Cons:

- The mass uploader tends to lock up while creating thumbnails and that locks the whole gallery up so you need a super-admin to unlock it. This kind of security is, in most cases, overkill, and should be settings-based.

- The mass uploader solution (last time I checked) was either an old Flash uploader or an even older JavaScript uploader. Neither one works correctly on my current browser unless I actually downgrade my javascript.

- Front-end uploading does not support a master-user that can upload to all galleries. No matter the users access level.

 

Ignite Gallery - A very nifty, and extremely robust gallery solution built for Joomla.

 

Pros:

- Supports mass-upload of files

- Supports drag-and-drop mass uploads

- Extremely simple to use

- Supports front-end uploads (mass uploads as well)

- Supports locked (access-restricted) albums

- Automatic thumbnail generation and picture resize (before upload)

- Supports special characters in gallery / album names

- Has accompanying 'build it yourself' modules containing amongst others a slideshow feature, a random image feature and basically anything you could ever dream of for your website

- Includes a plug-in to create a editor button to drag stuff from the gallery into articles

 

Cons:

- Saves category / album names in database, but creates a numbered folder structure, storing 100 photos in each folder, independent of the gallery involved (so you might end up with files from several galleries sharing a folder). This can be a bother to reconstruct from backups.

- The front-end of the gallery itself does not look as 'nifty' as Phoca Gallery, so you might want to fiddle around with the CSS a little bit

 

ZenPhoto - A simply brilliant, stand-alone gallery management system that we have started using for our pre-school websites

 

Pros:

- Can be installed as a sub-folder of your Joomla website (http://mywebsite.org/gallery/)

- Supports locked (access-restricted) albums

- Supports any character encoding scheme. During setup you choose what suits your server setup.

- Uses the database to save gallery / album names

- Supports multiple user / gallery instances

- Supports FTP mass uploads of files directly into the album folder, the Zen Photo system recursively rebuilds the album each time it finds new folders

- Automatic resize and thumbnail generation

- Stores files in a logical file structure (even allowing spaces and special characters). This is just brilliant when it comes to backups and re-builds.

 

Cons:

- No Joomla addons available. ZenPhoto is a completely independent system

 

Here's the kicker.. due to the fact that ZenPhoto supports any character encoding that you want to use, and can re-build the gallery each time it finds a new folder you can create a brilliant and user-friendly solution for your joomla website by installing ZenPhoto in a sub-folder of your Joomla website (http://mywebsite.org/gallery/), installing a nice file management environment such as the JCE filebrowser and creating a symlink (if you have that kind of access, otherwise ask your server manager to do it) inside your /images folder that points to your /gallery/albums folder. Now you have a nice file management environment to create new folders (remember, ZenPhoto automatically creates albums from the folders) and mass-upload (JCE filebrowser even supports drag-and-drop). Once the folders are in place and the files have been uploaded ZenPhoto does the rest of the work, resizes files and creates thumbnails.

 

So, the bottom line. For simple web galleries where you need a nice, sleek way to manage your images through Joomla with a minimal of fuss, but still want to be able to create slideshows or random image modules or drag images, albums and slideshows into articles I would (and do) use Ignite Gallery for its robustness and simplicity.

 

For bigger web galleries where I might need to use access restriction in part or whole, need to keep logical backups of the gallery without being dependant on the database backup, and need to allow users that are novice Joomla users to create galleries and mass-upload images in the simplest way possible. I use ZenPhoto in conjunction with the file browser of my choice (JCE).

Read 2917 times