Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Adding a powerful AJAX photo gallery to your site for dabblers. (based on my experience)
I was recently found a new product from VistaPhotoGallery.com, a software company. The new product has the same name, Vista Photo Gallery and it helps users to create galleries of photos and put them online. Vista Photo Gallery is announced as the first software that creates AJAX-powered online image galleries without the need for server-side setup. It means you just upload files generated by the software to your server and it will run immediately, even if it's a free webhost without a php, asp, mysql support.
I'm not a guru of web design or html programming, so I wanted to find out how easy it is to create that "high-end web gallery applications that look and behave exactly like desktop apps". I downloaded the free trial version of software from the VistaPhotoGallery.com website and installed it on my home PC.
After running through a quick installation procedure, Vista Photo Gallery opens on your desktop - and right away you see step-by-step tips in the main program window on how to get your photo gallery ready.
In short, you should drag and drop images, add captions and tags, and then publish using "Publish Gallery" button.
Vista Photo Gallery's layout is very simple and clear. You'll see a toolbar running along the top, "Tags", "Date Taken", "Folders" trees at the left, and an image info panel that runs beneath the main window. If you ever used the standard Photo Gallery software that comes with Windows XP or Windows Vista, you’ll find Vista Photo Gallery very familiar.
I dragged and dropped some images from Windows Explorer, thumbnails appeared in the preview window and the "Date Taken" tree at the left was filled with dates of images. Then I tried to drop five folders with my recent photos, more that 300 in total - no problem, all thumbnails were displayed in the main panel and folder names were added to "Folders" tree.
I very liked "Date Taken" tree functionality. All the heap of photos I dropped to the program, were sorted by date, so I could easily navigate through years, months and days of memories and feelings :) I'm already thinking about using this software as a organizer for all my photo collection.
Vista Photo Gallery offers several options for working with tags, including the "Tags" tree and "Add Tag" field on image info panel. I added several tags and some captions for photos without any difficulties.
Ok, not bad so far. I had a photo gallery on my computer, but what about web gallery? Much to my surprise, generating the online gallery was even easier than I assumed!
I clicked "Publish Gallery", selected a folder to save, a couple of seconds, and .. WOW! The gallery was opened in my Internet Explorer, but at the first look I didn’t realize that it's my ready web gallery! Great vista-style design, the same "Tags", "Date Taken", "Folders" trees at the left with the same "on-fly" sorting and grouping, photo thumbnails with zooming in on mouseover and changing the preview mode - all looks and acts as a Windows application but inside the Internet Explorer.
Finally, I uploaded the folder with generated gallery to my free web hosting account at 50webs.com, eskolahti.50webs.com using build-in FTP client, and it ran at the first try without any efforts from my side in spite of the fact that 50webs does not support PHP, CGI or any scripting in free hosting plan.
You can see this gallery at eskolahti.50webs.com. It's not a full gallery I made, just a small part for public eye, but as an example it's very good.
Vista Photo Gallery is an excellent software that is friendly to amateur web developers, but at the same time is powerful enough to meet the needs of more-advanced users. The innovated AJAX-powered engine is the key feature that makes web galleries looks and performs great. I had some experience with other gallery makers before, but Vista Photo Gallery is definitely better in both easy-to-use and result.