Ultimate photo gallery, customizable, simple, but powerful

Discussion in 'Website Creation' started by tropdude, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. Any suggestion where I can buy a web photo galley template from that is capable of doing ALL of the following:
    • thumb images are auto-generated
    • thumbs organized in a table where i can define:
      • rows x columns
      • thumb height or width (maintain aspect) in pixel or %
    • thumb table can be embedded into any webpage
    • thumb table colors and all other parameters are fully customizable
    Image main viewing:
    • each image page has its unique URL
    • each image page has its own custom page title, page keywords, page description, alt text
    • image height or width in pixel and/or % can be defined
    • all navigation buttons can be replaced by custom buttons or selectively turned off and positioned anywhere
    • all colors, borders, background, etc. are editable
    • caption can be on or off image
    • caption can accommodate italics text and link option
    • no third party credit or "powered by" line
    • fully responsive for all devices
    • easy admin panel interface
  2. Are you looking for a static HTML template, or are you looking for code that will run on a web server and allow you to continually add/update such galleries without having to edit the pages and upload revised versions of those pages whenever changes are made? Your request for an "admin panel" suggests that you're expecting an interactive system, probably with an underlying database server running the site.

    What you're looking for sounds more like a customized Drupal or WordPress site that allows you to use one of those content management systems to create and render such stuff exactly as you see fit. You can find themes (skins) that handle the overall site navigation and device responsiveness while crafting individual gallery page output as custom scripts/pages within those designs.

    Note that some of your requirements are mutually exclusive. You can't have pixel-size-specific thumbnails and assigned numbers of rows and columns while also having the site's design be fully responsive, especially across devices that may not have the screen resolution to support what looks nice in a desktop environment. It's one or the other, not both.

    If you're looking to avoid any sign of the system's authors or hosting company, then you need to host the system in a more self-managed way, or pay a designer to strip all such messaging from the code output, and host the content on a dedicated virtual private server where you (or your consultant) have complete control and access. That means that you're not just buying a site design (don't think "template" - that's much too simplistic), you're also paying, monthly, for some web hosting with the capacity to run the system. The more you take control over how things look and behave, the more you're also on the hook to make sure that your underlying CMS framework is patched and up to date against security issues - and likewise the underlying operating system and database components, etc. Typically, that's when you pay not just for "web hosting," but for "managed services," where someone else deals with all of that for you (including within the CMS application's area of influence), so you can just pay attention to the content issues.

    All of that comes down to your budget - in terms of your money, or (and?) in terms of your the time you're willing to put into learning about running such a system, and also on an ongoing basis keeping it running well and safely. Another option is to have someone else do pretty much ALL of that (again, managed services) so that all you need is to know where to sign in and upload more images. No free lunch, I'm afraid. And definitely no "template" that will do all of that.
  3. There's a lot to answer, which I won't because there's still a lot of questions, as noted, but a few things I noticed in the specs. First, all images have unique URL's. Images are a single file, however you hide it, or slice and recompose it, or parse the URL, it will always be a single URL, which you can always find and download them. Second, thumbnails are always auto-generated based on the script or HTML code.
    Anyway, what you've done is listed some technical specs without looking at the larger picture of what you want to do with the Website and how you want to present it for the design, organization, presentation, navigation, etc. I would put those down and start with the overall Website from the top home page to the structure, organization, files (images, blog, info, etc.) and then the presentation and design. And them bring in the technical specs.
    But that said, any good Web design software package will have or do what you want, many have or offer third-party available templates, or any good Web designer can develop the whole Website and suite of programs for it. In short, you're kinda' ahead of yourself. Use what you have and lay it out first (storyboard). That will begin to define the structure and organization in the suite of Web pages and the underlying Website files, directories, databases, etc., and then establish the technical issues to incorporate into the programs.
    Just some thoughts. Good luck.
  4. Guys, thank you for the responses.
    Any specific answer of a template/platform that is capable of doing all of these?
    (Discussing the theory and logic behind is all nice and interesting, but I am looking something that actually can do it. Also, some of the raised issues are missing the point of the original question, e.g., "First, all images have unique URL's" - a significant number of web galleries do not change the URL when advancing the images so for practical purposes they do not have unique URLs; "You can't have pixel-size-specific thumbnails" - it is stated pixel or %..., etc.)
  5. Yes, you could do all of that using Drupal, as I said earlier.

    But it's not a "template." Somebody (you? somebody you pay to do it for you?) has to configure a vanilla copy of that content management system to behave the way you describe. And you'll have to host the site and its underlying database in a suitable environment. It's not that I missed the point, it's that you asked something more complicated than you think you asked.
  6. Thank you for the further input.
    "it's that you asked something more complicated than you think you asked"

    Incorrect. I am well aware of the (relative) complexity this requires, yet also aware that nothing is really special or extraordinary in my request - a plain photo gallery where you can pick colors and font types. No e-com, no soc med, no singing and dancing thumbs or other nonsense, just a simple display. I know this can be done in drupal from scratch for $5K, but a little surprised to learn that none of the thousands of pre-made $100 or so templates are capable of doing this.
    If anyone could point me to one, that would be highly appreciated.
  7. That's the difference between a full-featured CMS (content management system) like Drupal and a cheap template. The cheap template isn't going to have all those features.
    My first web-site used a $100 template and I was never happy with it because I had to keep editing code every time I wanted to add a page or another gallery. My current website (www.guitarphotography.com) uses a full featured CMS and offers most of the features you want.
    But I agree with Scott in saying you are going about this backwards. You need to address the overall site design goals before deciding what details to include or not include.
  8. Incorrect.​
    Not really. You're misunderstanding what a "template" is. A template doesn't have a back-end database to store your data, or allow you - once the site is up and running - to simply connect to an administrative interface and interactively re-arrange galleries, upload and edit images from a location or device that doesn't need you to be able to edit stored HTML files and re-publish them, etc.

    What you're asking for is a content management system. That's a bundle of code that runs on the server, not static files you keep on your local computer, alter, and then publish. The other way to think of templates is as a collection of CSS files and other resources that are made to get along with an established CMS (like WordPress or Drupal, or Joomla, etc). Those really aren't templates (that's a mis-use of the term that marketers of those resources have given in and taken to using because ... well, because people don't know what the word means in this context). The better way to refer to these things is as "themes" - these are canned visual looks that provide an easy starting place for the customization you want. But the themes/templates themselves provide none of the actual functionality. They ride on top of the engine that actually stores, renders, and formats your content. That's a content management system.

    If you want to BE the content management system, by using an older-style workflow where you alter locally stored page files whenever anything changes, and then publish (via, say, FTP) those files and all of the associated images/thumbnails whenever you want to change things. Most people are very glad that those days are behind us.

    As for $5,000 ... I suspect you could find a good Drupal jockey to put together what you're describing for well, well under half that.
  9. I agree with what's said. I use a template for my (non-CMS) Website because I can add individual Web pages and update other Web pages with any Web design application. Content Management Systems (CMS) are, as noted, a separate beast, used by companies with signficant Website(s) and lots of people, eg. news media outlets, large retail outlets, etc. for their simplicity for users, but once begun, you're tied to that CMS company and their product/service, and they're not cheap.
    If you use a CMS, then you learn to manage and use their software to build and manage your Website, and you can't use Web design or Website management applications. It's a one-way street with no exit and no return to regular Website/page work. The templates in CMS are shells built by the CMS software which applies to create all pages linked to it, and you really need people to know the CMS package and application to keep it all together, it's why you have staff or hire a company to do the work depending on the size of the business.
  10. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Without understanding what you mean by "admin panel," you can probably get close to what you are asking with jAlbum and a skin like Mirage. Price-wise, it's not bad. However, you are still looking at the problem that Matt mentioned, which is that you will be putting up a site that requires a lot more work every time you want to make a change. That's why my jAlbum site didn't change for four years, I didn't want to bother with all the rework and uploading. And it's why I ultimately went to a CMS-based system for my new website (bangbang.photo, NSFW) using a blog structure. Mine is quite minimal though, intentionally and eschews things like thumbnails and image pages.
    However, I recently worked on a corporate WordPress-based site that was highly customized and has the functionality you want, if you can code some elements or hire someone to code some elements. While not a gallery, you can see that site here. It's amazing how flexible WordPress is - that site, for example, shows no sign of the blog origins of the software. And the admin control is amazing.
    Also, I disagree with Scott that a CMS is not inexpensive. WordPress comes with many hosting plans, so the cost is essentially zero.
  11. I'll disagree with Scott, here. Hundreds of thousands of web sites are run by amateurs and one-man shops using some of the most popular CMS packages. These are open source platforms, and are very widely supported by hosting operations and by armies of talented designers across the spectrum of cost. Things like Drupal are free. You don't have to spend a time to run a copy of it on your local computer while you get the hang of it. You can run out and get or buy (or make) a theme for it so it's as pretty as you like, and then once you're content with its behavior, you make arrangements to host it on an internet-facing real service someplace. That might cost as little as $15 a month.

    Yes, these platforms are also used by big operations with lots of users. But the vast majority of them power much, much smaller operations, and most those are things like single-user blogs (photo and otherwise), entirely hatched and maintained by the site's owner, who is all about the content, not the technology. As Jeff says, these systems are incredibly flexible. There's pretty much no single thing you'd want them to do that someone else hasn't already done, and frequently with formally maintained (also free) just-add-water modules you can bolt onto the CMS at no cost.

    Scott's concern about moving your content over to a CMS as a "one way street" is just as true of local file editing/publishing using older style editors. Any of those edit/publish engines are also a complex framework that exports browser-friendly content from a proprietary application that manages the project. Just because that complex engine runs on your desktop instead of on your server doesn't mean you're free from lock-in.

    And for what it's worth, I've been party to more than one migration from one CMS to another. There are all sorts of tools available to scrape content. But since we're talking about an image gallery solution, here, not a large corporate web site or a newspaper, etc., moving to another framework down the road is just no big deal.
  12. "admin panel"
    Adding/updating images, captions, keywords, etc. are all done in any convenient user interface (i.e, I do not have to use manually telnet/unix/vi to update the .php file in order to change the caption for an image).

    I tried a couple skins, the embedding takes away the unique URLs of the image viewing pages, I have not seen options to customize the position and graphics of the navigation buttons (arrows for next, previous images, etc.).
  13. Adding/updating images, captions, keywords, etc. are all done in any convenient user interface (i.e, I do not have to use manually telnet/unix/vi to update the .php file in order to change the caption for an image).​
    Then this is, by definition, the use of a server-side content management system. Whether it's in the form of a third-party service with a highly customizable interface (unlikely, to the degree you're looking for), or whether it's a slightly modified standard CMS like those discussed, is up to you. But if you don't want to re-publish the pages through file transfer, you are NOT looking for a template product. You're looking, by definition, for a themed CMS. A custom WordPress or Drupal style site would be the easiest way to get to what you're describing.
  14. jAlbum Mirage
    If embedded (include) into a page, then the URL is lost. Can not change the navigation icon graphics. Plus some other problems.
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Well you're going to have to give up something or pay for a custom site built with WP or something similar. I'm not sure why you're picking apart any suggestions rather than moving forward with a custom solution, which people here with plenty of experience have pointed out is the only way you're going to come close to what you want.
  16. Before shelling out 5K or so, I wanted to make sure that none of the ready-made solutions, templates or how you want to name them can do this.
  17. It's not "what we want to name them." The more you learn about how this stuff actually works, the better you'll be at finding what you need (for a LOT less than $5k, I'd say). I'm sure you're pretty specific about knowing the difference between the types of lenses you use, or are crystal clear on the differences between a tripod and a monopod. You wouldn't go shopping for a "camera holder thing," you'd shop for the tool you actually need. Someone who tosses a $5k price at you is doing so because you're not being specific enough in your descriptions of what you need (in the context of how it's actually done) and that scares the designers/programmers to death, because they worry that the project will become the worst kind of moving target as you learn more about it.

    That's not me picking on you, that's just me telling you how people on the design/consulting/hosting side of this approach projects with a client that doesn't (yet) clearly understands what's going to be useful, or what needs to go into (or not!) the effort. What number would you throw at someone who told you, "I need a camera system that ... " when the person asking seems to be very clear on some things, but not so much on others? You'd round up. A lot. Completely in self defense, knowing that the buyer is going to be learning on the fly, and that it will probably take a lot more sessions together to get the finished work in place.

    Have you considered just doing this yourself? If you have some time on your hands (say, a week?) you can probably get a lot of your Drupal or WordPress issues worked out entirely on your own. You can hire a mercanary just to step in on some of the stuff that baffles or is taking you too long to learn, perhaps for a few hundred dollars, tops. That approach is you essentially paying yourself (by the standard you've been mentioning, money-wise) several thousands dollars for a week or two's work, during which you'd also be learning how it actually all works - which puts you in an excellent position to fine tune it over time as your tastes evolve, rather than bringing in the consultants every time.

    Remember: you can experiment with this stuff completely for free. No cost, other than your time. Even if you choose not to implement it that way, you'll be in a FAR better position to talk to a designer/programmer because you'll already have a foundation in what this is all about. If you have more money than time, that changes the thought process. If you have more time than money, use it. Download the freebie frameworks, and play with them. It will enable you to spend much less money when you settle on a solution.
  18. Matt, the issue of CMS is the difference if you run Website design/management applications, eg. Dreamweaver, where you work in WYSIWYG or html code modes, or with the CMS design and content applications. It's how you work with your Website, that's all. I'm not against them, only noting the difference, especially if you have a small photography business where you may not need a CMS unless you specifically like working with it than "traditional" applications.
  19. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    especially if you have a small photography business where you may not need a CMS​

    It's not a matter of "need." It's a matter of ease of development and ease of modification. The concept of "admin panel" mentioned above is tied to CMS-based systems. Many "small photography businesses" use Wordpress or other CMS solutions. Size has nothing to do with it.
  20. Scott: You might be surprised to see some of the free plugins and design features that now provide for drag-and-drop element placing and object arranging in a modern CMS. You can likewise use a product like Dreamweaver to generate CSS that you'll just copy over to the CMS's file structure to use for styling elements.

    The OP seems interested in what it's like to LIVE with the system once it's up and running, and doesn't want to have to locally edit and re-post pages every time an image, or a caption, etc., changes on the web site. A CMS allows you to pick up a smart phone, or sit down at a friend's computer anywhere in the world, and with a web browser, change your site's look, feel, content, and behavior. Having that flexibility available for the life of the web site, for most people, completely trumps the different (not necessarily worse) learning curve that comes with applying a given look to a CMS vs. mastering something like Dreamweaver with every display device in mind.

    In that sense, a small photography business is far better off with a CMS, and thus avoids many of the "traditional" pains in the butt that come from the edit-and-publish paradigm. There definitely are differences, but the momentum - not only for small operators but especially for them - has been swinging to CMS-based sites for quite a while now. Having worked professionaly in that area for over 20 years, with clients ranging from mom-and-pop dog breeders to large national retail brands and huge membership associations, I've had a front row seat to the evolution in both the technology and the common use of it. It's continued to change dramatically in just the last couple of years, on the CMS front. I'm trying to think if I have even a single customer, at this point, that uses an an edit-publish workflow. Can't think of one. Well, one. But they haven't changed their web content for almost three years, so they don't count!
  21. I've tried a number of solutions myself. If you're OS X-based, FreewayPro 7 offers a high degree of customization and even automatically outlines bit-mapped typography for vector-based scaling. But of course, all that control comes at the cost of a lot of work. I use different tools for different sites (I have several). But for my content-delivery and portfolio display, I still think SmugMug offers the most benefits with the most customization. SmugMug takes some work to get it the way you want, but it's far less work than re-coding WordPress themes (for all of my WordPress themes I've had to custom-code snippets here and there just to support my desired typeface selections). To summarize my preferred apps:
    Ultimate typography/layout control for OS X users, but labor-intensive: FreewayPro 7 for OS X.
    Best all-around for content delivery/presentation: SmugMug.
    Here's an example of my SmugMug site: http://ralphoshiro.com/
    Ease-of-use/requires custom code to use desired typefaces: WordPress + commercial theme.
    Here's an example of one of my WordPress sites: http://nikonbasics.com/
  22. Note that FreewayPro for OS X is definitely of the create/publish (FTP) paradigm. Think of FreewayPro like Adobe InDesign for the web--it's the best WYSIWYG web development app I've tried, with the best type-control I've seen. In contrast, WordPress and SmugMug sites can be developed from anywhere you have access to a web browser.
    I forgot to mention some of SmugMug's most appealing features:
    • Unlimited uploads/file storage/traffic included with even the least-expensive plan.
    • Export images/create galleries directly from within Aperture or Lightroom.
    • Choice of four labs.
    • Excellent e-commerce component with user-variable mark-ups.
    One downside to SmugMug is that you can no longer completely eliminate the "powered by SmugMug" tagline from displaying on your site (older customers were allowed to completely eliminate any SmugMug branding, and were allowed to grandfather-in this feature). The tagline is small, and can be placed at the bottom of the homepage--still, I hate promoting others' brands when I'm only trying to promote my own. Other than that, I think SmugMug offers one of the best all-around solutions for photographers in the marketplace.
  23. I stumbled on this site by accident. I noticed some comments about the jAlbum Mirage skin. I am the author of this skin, so I would like to add my perspective.

    >> Price-wise, it's not bad.
    Mirage is free, and it works with all versions of jAlbum since 9.6.1. jAlbum was free up to version 9.6.1, and this version can be downloaded from Softonic. If you like it, consider upgrading to the latest improved (paid) version.

    >> That's why my jAlbum site didn't change for four years, I didn't want to bother with all the rework and uploading.
    When you want to change an album, drag the new photos into jAlbum, add comments, click "Make", click "Upload". That's it.

    >> If embedded (include) into a page, then the URL is lost.
    Mirage was not designed to be embedded, although some people have managed to do this. I really should consider adding this feature. It's on my to-do list.

    >> Can not change the navigation icon graphics.
    Just replace the navigation icons in the style folder. Actually you should copy one of the style folders under a different name, so that your custom files do not get replaced when you upgrade. Your replacement icons don't have to be the same size as the originals.

    >> Plus some other problems.
    I have fixed all reported problems, and some that were not reported. If you have an old version of Mirage, install the latest version (and you will also have to upgrade jAlbum to version 9.6.1 or later). If you still have problems, report them in the Mirage forum on the jAlbum site.

    If you want more information, go to the jAlbum site's "Skins" section, and open the Mirage page. Download mirage.zip, and read the documentation in the included Mirage.pdf. If it appeals to you, install it and take it for a test drive.

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