Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, December 09, 2010

PictoBrowsering again as my photo gallery stopped working, and 8 alternative Flickr photo galleries

Back in the dim and distant mists of time (ok, March 2007), I wrote about how I'd used Pictobrowser to deliver a photo gallery of some of our Flickr photos.

Wind the clock forward to June 2008 and I managed (briefly) to get the PictoBrowser gallery to be W3C compliant HTML, until a week later when I discovered that the PictoBrowser <object> rendering didn't work with Firefox 3 and Adblock so I ended up reverting back to the original HTML.

Well the world (and browsers) move on, and to my shame I noticed a little while ago that PictoBrowser wasn't working at all on my website, but didn't get the chance to investigate why, nor more crucially to fix the issue.

So as if I have any time on my hands, I made myself put some effort into looking at the problem.

A bit of Googling later and I turned up an article on the Flickr help forum entitled why did Flickr disable the PictoBrowser API key, which was basically my problem, that Flickr had identified problems in the way that PictoBrowser was integrated to Flickr and had disabled the application API key - hence my PictoBrowser was no longer recognised as being acceptable to Flickr and had stopped working.

The help article concluded with the good news that the PictoBrowser integration issue had been resolved by the PictoBrowser author, Diego Bauducco, and a new version of PictoBrowser was launched.

Simples to go to the PictoBrowser homepage, run through the handy 'PictoBrowser builder', and create the new HTML to download and fix my photo gallery.

Along the way of investigating the issue I did come across some alternatives:
  • FlickrSlidr which creates a simple rolling slideshow of tagged Flickr photos ... but doesn't seem to have a mechanism to change the background colour of the slideshow from black to white. At first I thought it didn't show the photo titles/descriptions, but I later discovered that clicking on a photo causes the photo to reduce and the description to be shown. Still no way to show the title or change the colour though.

  • SlideFlickr which is very similar, and has more configuration options (no black background), but the photos always seem too small and I didn't like the way that the 'I' button displays the photo description in a too-large font right across the photo

  • FlikrShow is one that shows promise, it's a JavaScript based solution that quite surprisingly doesn't rely on underlying frameworks like JQuery, so comes in at a tichy 7kb in size. FlikrShow is "currently in public beta testing, and will be released properly in Spring/Summer, 2010" (Hmm, a bit late), but looks definitely worth exploring more. My only concern is that it appears to load all the pictures up front before starting the slideshow, so if you have a lot of tagged pictures it could be slow to load. The current demo page is quite slow.

  • Flickr themselves of course have a slideshow feature, the new version of which was launched showing a sample Flickr slideshow in July 2008.
    Full screen the Flickr slideshow for my PictoBrowser photos looks really good, but if I want to embed it into my website then the only customisation option for Flickr slideshow is to set the size of the photo, there is no customisation of background colour (black again), show of title/descriptions, etc

  • Alternatively Visual SlideShow and Flikr-Gallery which both appear to be the same piece of software go down a different route, they are full PC or Windows applications to allow you to select your photos (including from Flickr), size and style them and the transitions as you wish, then to publish a complete standalone Photo gallery application. Under the covers the built website uses Mootools and JQuery (so that's a 100Kb overhead to the page), but the results produced are quite impressive; take a look at the demo page for VisualSlideshow and visuallightbox.

  • Slideoo provides a horizontal slideshow of Flickr pictures, but there's only the option to select photo sets, not tagged photos, and I didn't like the resultant slideshow either

  • BigHugeLabs (cute name) have a whole load of free tools and utilities you can use with your photos. I made a BigHugeLabs slideshow of my Flikr Gite photos; it looks quite nice but the selection of photos is a one-time import from Flickr so if you add new tagged photos you have to re-create the slideshow all over again. No good.

So after all this, where did I end up?

Well I decided to take the easy route and stick with PictoBrowser, the latest version now uses SWFObject to render the flash object so someone else has sorted out ensuring full W3C and cross-browser compliance (hurrah), and I do still quite like the interface.

My only minor upset was that I couldn't find a way to make the slide show automatically start so ended up emailing Diego Bauducco the author, who was quick to respond and unfortunately tell me the news that he'd had to remove that feature from Flickr slideshows because there is a limit imposed by Flickr to the number of queries that PictoBrowser can make so he had to remove that feature.

If I'd used Picassa (owned by Google) for my photos then an auto-start slideshow feature is available, it's not documented, but if you need this, just add one line to the PictoBrowser HTML:

so.addVariable("slideshow", "on");

So there we are, a newly completed and updated French Holiday-Home photo gallery page; enjoy!

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  • You realized there was a problem and fixed it. Unfortunately some gite websites go very unfixed for a time and I suppose many of us looking for places to hire will just move on to the next site. In the times of a buyers market it must pay to check regularly and often. Thanks for all the 'techy stuff' - it all went over my head!

    By Anonymous Lesley, at December 11, 2010  

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