Here I am one again scratching my head about an image gallery for a tool that would seem to me should have one out of the box. This time I’m talking about WordPress and not Drupal 6 or Drupal 7. I got back from the big Saab rally ready to post all my pics…to realize that I’ve never posted a big pics gallery on a WordPress blog…and guess what…it is a total PITA! How can this be? Should I be using Drupal??? Deep breath…let’s find a plugin and see.
What am I Looking to do?
This is pretty simple stuff. Every once in a while I like to publish a few pics together – its a pain to manually create a big blog with a lot (that’s 10 or 12) of pictures: formatting the tables, dealing with width, dealing with sizing, etc. That’s pretty much it. I’m fine with uploading the pics to WordPress, but another interesting idea would be to access my pics from galleries and albums in my Picasa account.
What’s out There?
I did a quick search on wordpress.org’s plugin area. Hmmm…one tool has 4.5 million downloads and the next most is 400K.Seems pretty simple so far for images galleries in WordPress. I think I’ll go first with NextGEN Gallery to manage pic galleries in WordPress.
Ok – easy – download, install the normal way. Configuration is thru a set of panels in the admin. Created a gallery uploaded some pics, ew…no workie. My images are off a camera and are generally 3-5 MB in size. The first thing you shuld do is check your php.ini file’s max upload file size parameter. Default is 2MB – you won’t get any kind of error message when you try to upload pics that are too big. I could upload small images, just not big ones.
Once that is solved I can upload some images – nice seems to work ok. You need to play around with the thumbnailing functions. At first scaling seemed to chop and crop images rather than scale them, but now it seems to be working ok. I do still see somem chopping, but that could be because I’ve got the dimensions messed up. You can fiddle with all the options (there are a ton of them) – make sure you follow the prompts to regenerate pictures and thumbnails when necessary.
Optionally you can install the JW Image Rotator flash widget to spruce up your slide shows. There’s no mention of where to put this thing except the little note in the options screen for NextGEN – you need to stick this in wp-content/uploads. You need to put the actual files there if you want the auto find function to work. I did the autogen thing to see the path it would generate, but then I created a subdirectory for the files. I posted the setting below for you to see. Once you install it, don’t forget to enable it under the Slideshow options tab for NextGen.
Not 100% sold on this right now – I would prefer a lightbox type deal, but this is ok. the navigation bar is ok – but a simple back and forth would be better, and ditching the jwplayer rollover thing would also be nice. I’ll have to look around for some different things.
Galleries are pretty easy to assemble – then you can add multiple galleries to albums for display. For figuring out how to display things in pages and posts, this FAQ page pretty much says it all: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/nextgen-gallery/faq/
There’s a ton of options and features for controlling your galleries – really quite nice (drupal-ites should be jealous). The ones that seem the most useful to me are the check boxes to include/exclude specific pics from a slideshow and the options to re-size things and re-generate thumbnails. You can also bulk move pics from one gallery to another.
Pretty darn happy with this – nice job to the developers of NextGen!
What about that Picasa Thing?
There’s a few sparsely downloaded plugins that mention Picasa:
- Picasa Express x2 – this is the most downloaded and sounds promising
- Picasa Album Uploader – this is an add-in for Picasa desktop to upload pictures to WordPress…so not interested in that
- Picasa Web Album Widget – this is a widget to add “random” pictures from Picasa to WordPress…so not interested in that.
- Google Picasa Viewer – this sounds promising.
I’m not too hopeful about these – less than 10K downloads for each means a relatively untested plugin. For testing I’ll be using my local dev instance of WordPress – if you are messing around with plugins I highly recommend setting up a separate dev instance rather than using your main blog server.
Picasa Express X2
Installation is via the usual process. configuration as well – pretty straightforward. I can add basic images and galleries using the tool. Here’s a shot of a post and of the tool to add the images. The UI is a little quirky. You can add single images or galleries. To add galleries hit the gallery button, pick your images, and then hit insert. To get a gallery actually work you will need to install a viewer like ThickBox or LightBox.
I couldn’t get a gallery to actually work however – I have thickbox installed, but still no dice. This got me looking more closely at this plugin – see the screen shot. See the URL…WTF is that? Mypics are getting extracted and stored somewhere else. I don’t like that at all…now I’m wondering where my google password is ending up…I’m out. I would say definitely use this polugin with caution…for me – no thanks…now I’m going to go change my google password.
Google Picasa Viewer
Here’s another lightly used plugin so use with caution. Download and install is pretty straight forward – this does seem to be one really nice thing about wordpress plugins so far. I got an album selected and loading in a page, but no album. I need to install Fancybox I think to get a gallery actually working. Well – this is not working right either – I can’t get Fancybox to work. No clue why. I installed the plugin, but no workie. I’ll have to study this. Even if I had got this working it does not look like you have a lot of control over what pictures are actually displayed – its all or nothing.
So in the end it looks like NextGen is the best choice for me – although I have to figure out why I can’t get a light box effect working because I would like this with NextGen too. I’ll post an update if I figure it out.