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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums Apps
The macosxhints Rating:

[Score: 9 out of 10]
Related to last week's pick of iBlog for web updates, I was also looking for a new tool to create online photo albums. I spent quite a bit of time checking out the various options, and was getting frustrated that none did quite exactly what I wanted. Although I have a .mac account, and hence access to Apple's free photo album tools, I wanted more control over the input and output. After too much digging around, I stumbled onto JAlbum, and was nearly immediately hooked.

I'll start with the negatives -- JAlbum is written in Java, which means it launches a bit slowly, and doesn't have 100% of the traditional Mac application appearance. However, that's about the only thing I can fault JAlbum on. In every other sense, this seems to be the perfect tool for my needs regarding web-based photo albums.

There are four tabs in the JAlbum interface - Main, Edit, Publish, and Advanced. In the Main tab, you control things such as the input and output folders, size of images and thumbnails, image order, and (coolest of all) the skin and style of your album. There are twelve included skins (the basic layout of the page), each of which could have two or more styles (CSS files that determine the look of the chosen skin). The real power of JAlbum, though, is that both the skins and the attached CSS files are completely customizable. JAlbum uses ".htt" files (HTML templates) that allow you to completely control the layout of your album, and you can then customize the associated CSS file to your heart's content. I started by duplicating an existing appearance folder and then applied my customizations to wind up with exactly the format I wanted.

On the Edit tab, you can apply comments to the photos, and do some basic manipulation (rotation, mirror, flip). The Publish tab allows you to specify an FTP server (the only supported transfer method), but I just used Transmit after creating the local pages. The Advanced tab provides some additional power tools, with the use of user-defined variables to do things like set the title of the album, and add headers and footers. You refer to the defined variables in the .htt files to place data on the pages.

There's a bit of a learning curve to JAlbum, given all that it can do. However, there's a great set of online help on the JAlbum homepage to help with the learning, and it's very easy to experiment with different layouts to find exactly the look you want. Between iBlog and JAlbum, I now have a simple set of tools that will make keeping our family site updated a much simpler proposition.

Note: There's no icon for JAlbum that I can find, so there's no icon posted with this story -- it runs with the default Java "Run Anywhere" installer icon.]
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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: Midnightbrewer on Jul 07, '03 10:39:52AM
I'm currently using Gallery 1.3.3 (and the 1.3.4 update just came out, with version 2.0 in the works.) It's amazing, and all browser-based PHP. Handles things such as automatic thumbnail sizing, multiple albums, hidden albums, and multiple users with permissions. Even includes optional connections to online printing services if your users want to receive hard copies of your gallery items. I highly recommend it.

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Gallery 1.3.4
Authored by: ryangreenberg on Jul 07, '03 11:17:43AM
Gallery works like a charm. It was fairly simple to install; the configuration wizard helps you troubleshoot problems really well and gives good advice on how to fix the config problems.

The system itself looks clean and is moderately customizable, although you do have to keep the grid layout that gallery uses.

I just use the web transfer, but there is a Java Gallery Remote client that helps with picture uploads. I'm waiting to see what other handy features Gallery 2.0 incorporates.

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Web vs. local
Authored by: robg on Jul 07, '03 11:52:22AM

I was looking for a local tool with image previews, an easy to use interface, etc. I installed gallery, and it would clearly be my choice if I were trying to create a huge online gallery. It has some amazing features with the indexing, searching, thubmnailing, etc.

But I'm not looking to create a huge image collection online. I just want to put up a few albums, and I don't want to have to rely on PHP, Perl, or Java to create or view the albums. Also, working through a browser in gallery really slows the process; I much prefer a local app to a web app (another reason I like iBlog as a blogging tool, and why I edit all the macosxhints stories in a local text editor instead of the online editor). Web browsers make lowsy application front ends.

Don't get me wrong -- gallery is amazing for what it does. But it really requires more work to install and use than is required for my simple needs, and it requires a certain level of hosting that not everyone will have. Since the JAlbum albums are 100% HMTL, they can be hosted anywhere you can serve a web page...


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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: bservo on Jul 07, '03 12:22:47PM
I ran into the same problem a while back. Many of the web album software packages didn't provide the flexibility that I wanted in creating my own albums. I then found BetterHTMLExport. It's a shareware plug-in for iPhoto that lets you define your own template files similar to JAlbum (I haven't used JAlbum yet, but I'll have to check it out when I get home from work). It comes with two templates plus there is a web page where you can download templates other people have created and a tool for managing templates.

You can use whatever web technologies you want in the templates: HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS, Javascript... You can even use PHP if you want to and your web server supports it.

The nice thing about this program is you can use iPhoto to manage, manipulate, and do everything else iPhoto lets you do with your photos. BetterHTMLExport just handles the web album creation task.

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BetterHTML Export 2.07
Authored by: mrgerbek on Jul 19, '03 11:32:27AM

I couldn't agree more about how cool BetterHTMLExport is. Its what I use in conjunction with my digital camera and iPhoto. I was able to create a template very quickly that fit my site, though I had to use some regex (ok, I used BBEdit :) to change some links after the fact.

I highly recommend BetterHTMLExport for people who don't have .Mac, and want a no-hassle publishing tool. Now if only there was DB support. :)

Be Green

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: Fofer on Jul 07, '03 01:36:20PM

No review of online photo albums would be complete without mention of the excellent myPhoto:

It seems to address the finest points of BetterHTMLExport (that is, works directly from your iPhoto library) and Gallery (that is, it's a PHP program that allows visitors to browse, resize, etc.) In a sense it's better than Gallery, in that it integrates direcly with your iPhoto library and albums.

But -- it does require a complex setup, and a stable/fast enough connection to be able to host it locally of your own machine. The author is very responsive and helpful when it comes to setup, and it's fully donation-ware. I am using it share pics with my family, and now that its set up, the best part is I don't have to do anything except import my pictures into iPhoto! I share certain albums and block the "private" ones. It works very, very well.

I'm hoping the author integrates some of the better "Gallery" features into myPhoto - namely the ability for visitors to order prints from an online printing service.

Yes, this is a far different solution than a simple HTML/thumbnail generator. But I maintain that for some people, it's the wiser solution.

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: TvE on Jul 07, '03 04:17:50PM

I'll definetely have to look very much more at both myPhoto as well as Gallery - both of them looks very(!) interesting.

I wonder if it's easy (w. myPhoto - or I guess iPhoto) to seperate the iPhoto library (that is residing on my TiBook) and my webserver (that is located in my basement).

It would be cool (for me) to export my iPhotos albums from my TiBook and have them hosted on my webserver - and kind of getting the best of both the worlds...

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: Fofer on Jul 09, '03 11:11:16AM

My circumstances are similar. I use my 12" PowerBook to collect and arrange my photos, so I always have them with me on the go. But I also have them on my G4 PowerMac in the office, viewable in iPhoto, and webhosted by myPhoto. Works great!

In the past all I've done to accomplish this is hook up my PB in (FireWire target mode) to the PowerMac, and copied over the "iPhoto Library" folder, about once a week or so.

Now I am looking for more automated ways to accomplish this, like via Retrospect or Folder Synchronizer.

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: bignumbers on Jul 07, '03 10:38:15PM

I was going to mention myPhoto as well. It's concept is wonderful - automatically share all (or selected) iPhoto albums directly from your Mac. Make a change in your library, and it's automatically reflected on your site. I think it needs a fair bit of work before it's really ready for the mainstream, but it's a fantastic start.

The biggest problem I'm having with it is speed - my library is 1500+ photos, and it's just dog slow in recreating all the cache files - and it wants to do that after almost every iPhoto launch. It also makes mistakes, such as placing photos in libraries where they don't belong. But it's so simple (once configured) it's worth it for sharing photos with friends/family/etc.

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: igor on Jul 07, '03 09:09:59PM

So what is wrong with exporting from iPhoto as a web page ?

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Authored by: magir on Jul 10, '03 03:06:04AM
I was searching for a similar tool on sourceforge and found singapore. A collection of PHP-Script which also supports themes. You just upload a folder with your pictures and it automatically creates the thumbnails and the album "on the fly". Really easy, really cool :-):

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: sinjin on Jul 15, '03 01:06:55PM
Just to throw another option into the ring, if none of the apps mentioned so far does "just what you want", check out Curator by the now defunct Caffeine Software. It is free, has a lot of options, extensive documentation and is a lot faster than iPhoto for large libraries. And it is a cocoa app.

You can download Curator from Caffeine Software's website (although it is a link to a temperamental ftp site) as a disk image containing all of Caffeine's products (56 MB). Otherwise, if there is enough interest, I could try to upload it somewhere for redistribution (volunteers welcome!). I have the latest version (Curator 3.2.1) and it is >4 MB with documentation.

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: sinjin on Jul 15, '03 01:13:25PM

Oops. That was supposed to be <4 MB with documentation!

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JAlbum - A flexible tool for creating online photo albums
Authored by: paulallan on Feb 15, '09 08:58:27PM