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Creating a Photo Gallery - Thu, 31 Jan 2008

With Photoshop Elements, I expected it would be able to create a photo gallery from the 300 pictures and 15 videos I took from my Nashville trip that I could put on my website to share with my relatives. It can, but only as a Flash-based gallery. I didn’t want that, but I wanted a gallery that my relatives could download the pictures and videos from via right-clicking. PE didn’t seem to provide that. I know there are online photo gallery sites, where you can put them up. But I really didn’t think it would be difficult to set up my own.

After a bit of searching, I thought I found a wonderful tool. JAlbum is a free program to create your own photo album written in Java that has “endless customization”. That sounded just like what I wanted, since I like to customize things and I’m quite particular.

The basic setup was quite easy, and it has lots of different “skins” you can choose from. I looked through many of them, finally settling on one of their most popular and most customizable called BluPlusPlus. But like the rest, I found it very bloated with too many features. I turned many off and was still left with a few things I wanted to get rid of, such as an unnecessary middle gallery layer, that couldn’t be removed by the options. The only way was to change the Java programs themselves.

Now JAlbum supplies the Java code. I’ve never worked with Java before. Looking at the code, I would have to say the language is uggggg-ly! Java compilers for Windows are free, but I had no desire to get into that just now.

So I did the next best thing. I built the gallery using what I had customized so far. Then I manually edited the HTML produced to get rid of that middle layer and make other changes that I couldn’t in the program. This worked out pretty well.

… until I discovered a few things that needed changing. I could no longer rebuild the files with JAlbum, or I would lose the manual edits I made. So now it became tedious. I wanted to remove 2 pages, which entailed manually changing the links on the previous and following pages, changing the count of pages in that section in the index, and changing every page in the section from “7 of 64″ to “6 of 63″, “8 of 64″ to “7 of 63″ … well, you get the idea.

Finally I was done, until I discovered to my horror that the dates and times for every picture were off by one hour. My camera was on daylight saving time. In Photoshop Elements, I can easily change the time stamps. If I could have then used JAlbum to regenerate the pages, it would have been easy. Fortunately, the dates were in the format “Fri 18 Jan 2008 10:32:39 AM” so I could change all “2008 1:” to “2008 0:”, “2008 2:” to “2008 1:” … up to “2008 12:” to “2008 11:” and then the “2008 0:” to “2008 12:”. Finally I’d check all the “2008 11:” to change the AM to PM and PM to AM and possibly change the date. Lot’s of fun - NOT!

So here it is, a week later, and I got the album up, and it looks great (sorry it has private photos, so I can’t link you to it). But it did zap a week out of me, after I thought a few hours would be all that would be needed. Another case of this programmer’s extreme optimism.

Oh well. Now I’d better finish the Behold site customization, get the new site up, and get an interim release of Behold out. Beta is pushed back maybe until March, unfortunately.

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