photo gallery flux

Ok, I’ve been doing a lot of research on web-based photo galleries (way too much, in fact)…

Based on the simple criterion of “free” and “easy”, I arrived at two possible solutions of many, many options:

Coppermine

Gallery2

Both of these are database server-side applications, meaning that you have all the power of organization, searching, categorizing, at your fingertips, not to mention a host of ways of presenting the gallery.

In my case, I had a few other requirements to make this fly:

  • seamless uploading with iPhoto on my Mac, including all titles and description fields I’ve already entered
  • ability to post photos to a blog entry from the photo database
  • display the photo gallery seamlessly from inside the blog theme, making for a transparent design (the user wouldn’t be aware of two separate databases running behind the scenes)

So to recap, that’s: iPhoto -> photo database -> WordPress
Well, there are two good full solutions out there:

OPTION 1

Coppermine Integration — This is a really nice plugin that ties your WordPress database together with your CPG database. On the Write admin page of WordPress, a new toolbar appears with all its functions. It also includes a popup window to visually drop photos into blog posts. So it’s very easy and intuitive to add pictures.

CopperExport — This is the iPhoto exporting plugin for iPhoto. It’s based off the Flickr export plugin which was open-sourced, so if you’re familiar with that you’ll be fine. It’s a very nicely made piece of software. Absent in it though (and the Flickr plugin original) is the ability to make an umbrella limit on all exported photo sizes. For instance, say I want to set an upper limit of 800×600 for all the photos I’m exporting at one time, and some of those are cropped at odd sizes. It’s not apparent in this plugin if the size you apply to all will be forced on each photo or if that’s an upper limit.

Limitations

I found Coppermine to be very deficient in its theming and overall design out of the box. The them structure is very cumbersome. If you’re used to the fairly straightforward design principles of WordPress and elegant layouts available, you’ll be as frustrated as I was with CPG.

CPG creates copies of all images and resizes them as needed (for thumbnails, etc.). This makes for storage drain eventually.

CPG has no watermarking capability built in. There is a plugin that exists but it’s very difficult to install. I was never able to make it work.

Not exactly a fault of CPG, but it wreaked havoc my WordPress theme Blix caused strange articfacts on the Archives page.

OPTION 2

For Gallery2, there’s no such problems with my particular theme. That alone is a nice relief. But more importantly, Gallery is a very robust, cleanly designed, and elegant photo database. As with CPG, there are plugins to make it work for me.

WPG2 — This is the Gallery2 integration plugin for WordPress. It’s much more transparent than the CPG equivalent. There’s no added toolbar. You must manually use tags in your post, so that means you’ll have to log into Gallery to find the album and image names first, then go back to WordPress to insert the tags by hand. Then you’ll have to remember the syntax too!

However, there is a really nice plugin to workaround this and get back the functionality that the Coppermine plugin has inherently: Gallery2 Image Chooser for TinyMCE Version 1.2. Here’s a demo of the plugin where you can log on and try it yourself. I have to admit, it’s actually a nicer live integration of thumbnails than the Coppermine integration. There are a couple more features like being able to insert a text link to an album, and the album hierarchy view. Also, I like the slimmer feel of having it represented as just another button on the TinyMCE (WYSIWYG) toolbar that ships with WP2.0. Slick.

iPhotoToGallery — This is the equivalent iPhoto export plugin. It’s not quite as slick looking as the CopperExport, but it too has one better feature. It has the upper size limit on multiple photos.

Impressions

Watermarks are built into Gallery2. It’s very intuitive to use on a per-image basis, but there’s no bulk watermarking feature yet.

I love the directory structure of Gallery2. Only the original image files exist on the server. All thumbnails and resized intermediate images are created dynamically. The database creates them on the fly which is very cool. You can even custom crop each image with an overlay reticle. Way cool.

Unique themes can be applied per album.

The user forums & codex are a big help.

The “embedded” mode of Gallery2 is beautiful. Literally as easy as typing in a website address, and the entire gallery can be viewed inside your current blog theme. The CPG world does not have this advantage. You’re forced to create two themes, one in CPG (not an easy task!) to match the work you’ve done in your WordPress theme. With the WPG2 plugin, not only do you have access to your gallery photos from within WordPress (with tags and the Image Chooser), but you also have full embedded access to your entire gallery. It makes for a much richer integration in my opinion. Check out my gallery here {1}

And in my case, where I impatiently jumped the gun and installed Coppermine first and uploaded a bunch of albums worth of pictures, there’s even a script to migrate from it to Gallery2 (script link is dead).

The entire Gallery2 experience is a much more pleasant one. It’s a more robust and logical arrangement of control in both the admin and the user panels. That equals easier, more intuitive navigation.

Footnotes:

  1. UPDATE: I have since switched (yet again!) gallery software from Gallery2 to a more integrated WordPress plugin called NextGen Gallery. []

24 Replies to “photo gallery flux”

  1. Nice informative article.

    My issue with Gallery is that it does not automatically support multiple levels (folders & subfolders etc). I exchanged email with the creator about it and basically it’s not going to happen. That’s a dealbreaker for me.

    So I still use JAlbum from datadosen.se . Though I need to rebuild my custom templates for it, as I lost them at some point during a system move. (forgot to copy them over)

    1. Oh, but Gallery does Iceman. You made me double-check, but I do indeed have nested albums. The nice thing about Gallery2 over Coppermine (in keeping with the post) is that Gallery retains the human-readable file hierarchy which exactly mirrors the web presentation of those albums.

      For instance, I have the following nested album setup on my gallery:

      Projects | Matrix | Mirror Upgrade

      And looking at the server, the file structure is exactly the same, with only the original image files in all those directories. No excess clutter or thumbnails. Very, very nice. Coppermine has one big flat root directory for all albums. Blecht!

      Maybe with Gallery2, your desired feature has already been implemented?

      1. Rob, you’re right.

        I was absolutely incorrect with the Gallery comment. That comment applies – actually applied as in 5.1 it now supports multi levels – to Galerie.

        Gallery =! Galerie

        My apologies. My bad.

  2. I have quite a bit experience with Gallery and CPG. I’ve dealt with the developers of both and I can tell you that the Gallery team is much more accomidating and interested in customer support.

    I’ll never use CPG because of some poor experiences I’ve had with the developers.

    I used G2 at Julie’s blog and I like how the images are actually stored off of the web.

  3. after spending a day trying to get the wp-gallery2.php plugin working, I’m giving up. Gallery2’s installed. iPhotoToGallery installed and all of the pieces are working on their own, but the WP integration is eluding me. It’s most-likely something funky with the url-rewrite rules but that stuff is making my eyes bleed.

    I will attempt more later…

    1. Yep, that’s the page. There’s a lot of good help at those forums too! Hmm, did you make sure you validate your settings in the WPG2 plugin options?

      1. I did. Ultimately it was because gallery2’s default URL structure was conflcting with WordPress’. I made the patterns a little more specific and that cleared it up.

        Thanks for all your help! I’m going to document the process (the pain) so hopefully others won’t waste a day trying to get their plugin working.

        Now that it is working though, it’s very slick. The iPhotoToGallery plugin is awesome.

  4. I’ve played with both gallery and cpg. I wound up with cpg because of what seemed to be better permission control. I have a personal family site and for the life of me I could not find a way to make my gallery private (login in only). My only isse now is being frustrated with coppermine’s theme layout. I also use a modified version of blix and would love to intergrate my wp theme with my photo gallery. Gallery just seemed to have alot less control and not as admin friendly as cpg. If i’m wrong, I would love for somone to show me how.

  5. Rob, this is a great post. Shame I discovered after giving over an evening and half the night to do my own exploration!

    I have Gallery 2.1.1 installed with the WPG2 plugin activated and function. I want to embed some albumns at http://www.bioneural.net/photos/ — as you have at http://www.electrolund.com/gallery/. However, so far I can only create a link to http://www.bioneural.net/wp-gallery2.php. So how did you manage this?

    Also, what theme ar you using? Stuart at http://craggiemore.com put me onto the siriux theme which so far seems the most compatible with my layout (most themes break out of the page container) although my footer still ends up mid page!

    Thirdly, I’ve installed the iPhoto2Gallery plugin for use with iLife 06, and installed the “Remote” module, and although I’m sure of my Gallery URL (as above; I also tried http://www.bioneural.net/gallery2/main.php) I just get a “No gallery found at URL” error. Have you experienced this? On the support boards the only advice is to install the remote module, which I’ve done ๐Ÿ™

    1. Bruce, the remote is (as I understand it) just an alternate uploading mechanism. I believe it’s java-based too. It won’t help what you want to do.

      You need to turn on the URL rewrite rules. Take a look at Boolean’s discussion above. Also, make sure you check out the WPG2 forums where there are whole threads on the matter.

      But here’s the quick bottom line for what you want to do: make certain that you Gallery2 install directory name is different than URL rewrite rule that you ultimately want (“/photos”)

  6. Thanks for such an informative post. I learned quite a lot from your article and I’m looking forward to trying these things out by myself. Gallery2 sounds like the thing for me. Wish me luck!

    1. Good luck, Sabrina! Although I’ve moved on from Gallery 2 to NextGen Gallery. Always in flux, I guess. You can see its galleries on my /Photos tab.

      NextGen is a WordPress native plugin, and quite full-featured. It uses the same WordPress database, so it’s just a LOT easier to manage. Check it out, it might be all you need.

  7. I wound up with cpg because of what seemed to be better permission control. I made the patterns a little more specific and that cleared it up. Thank you for your article.

  8. I learned quite a lot from your article and Iโ€™m looking forward to trying these things out by myself. The file structure is exactly the same, with only the original image files in all those directories. The iPhotoTo Gallery plug-in is awesome.

  9. Iโ€™ve dealt with the developers of both and I can tell you that the Gallery team is much more accomidating and interested in customer support.I also use a modified version of blix and would love to intergrate my wp theme with my photo gallery.

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