This days everybody and his grandma goes to cloud. I must admit I'm scared off this move considering my photo taking habits – you know, I usually take some 20 thousand photos every year in RAW format. It's not only about the price, but I feel my photos safer in my own hands.
So I chose to save my photos to an 1 TB external drive and back up regularly to my desktop's internal drive. This way I can easily move between my work and home PC and pick up the photo work where I left off. (I use Lightroom to develop my RAW photos, which costs around €100, but it definitely worth this price if you are serious about photography.)
First I have created a folder called “Pictures” in the root folder of the external drive.
Using right-click » Properties » Optimize in windows explorer you can designate the folder to be optimized for “Pictures”, so Windows 7 will display that neat “pictures” icon on it.
You can also include this folder in your Libraries. Just select the folder and roll down the “Include in library” box to select “Pictures”. This will make it easier to find your photos from any Windows app.
Then I created a new folder on the external drive called “Albums” for jAlbum to store its files, and output albums.
Now in jAlbum on the Tools » Preferences » Albums tab I relocated the “My albums” location to point to my external drive. I’m using the “When adding files” = Link option to spare with space and facilitate the Lightroom workflow. I don’t mind if the album is not self contained, because using both “Albums” and “Pictures” on the same external drive makes it possible to carry over the albums between PC’s with no fuss.
With this setup I am able to work on both my PC's and pick up the work where I left off on the other. This is my “cloud in my pocket” solution.
Please note, jAlbum will fall back to its default “My albums” folder if it can't find the external drive, so don't forget to hook up the device before you launch jAlbum. About setting up Lightroom to work on an external drive please research the internet. Basically it's just creating a new “Catalog” on the external drive and “Import”-ing the previous database if you've had one before. (The same steps could work using a NAS, but I haven't tried. I was put off by the slow performance when I tried one.)
When using jAlbum you should feel that you're in full control of how your images are managed. Some software titles that handle images give me gray hair! This is because I don't know what they are doing to my images - some just start indexing my hard-drive collecting all the images. Hey, I didn't ask for that! Others copy my images to some unknown location and soon my whole disk is completely fragmented with images all over the place. With jAlbum you get the choice to work with images your way.
Enabling the alternatives
Before continuing, open jAlbum preferences and switch to the "Album" tab. Now ensure that the "When adding files" setting is set to "Ask". This will make jAlbum pop up a dialogue window when adding files so you can decide on how to work with those files.
Makes copies by default
jAlbum defaults to copying the images you add to a project folder located under a "My Albums" folder (the location for this folder can be set under Preferences). This has the advantage of creating "self contained" album projects. That means that they don't rely on where your original images are located and deleting images within jAlbum doesn't affect any files outside of your album project. This is what most users expect, but there are more ways.
Work directly on existing images (default)
Let's say that you don't like copies to be created for sake of disk usage, or that you already have a huge folder structure of images that you wish your album project to "mirror", so that changes, like rearranging folders and adding images outside of jAlbum automatically makes it into the final album on the next album build. In that case you should drop an image folder onto an empty project window and use the "Use folder" method. jAlbum will now move into that folder and use it as its "image directory" (its image source). Any change to the contents of that folder, or its sub-folders will show inside your new album project and vice versa: Any change you make to images (moving, deleting, renaming) within jAlbum will affect the real files under this folder. This way of working enables you to use jAlbum as a file manager for your existing images. You just need to hit "Make album" to have your web album updated.
(To manage custom file ordering and metadata like captions and ratings, jAlbum keeps a couple of support files and a ".jalbum" folder under the "image directory". Don't use this option if you're concerned about not having these support files added to your existing image directory.)
Work with links
This option strikes a middle way between copying files and "Use folder". A project folder is created under the "My Albums" folder, but it is filled with links to the images you add instead of being filled with copies. This has the advantage of saving disk space and keeping jAlbum stuff separated from your existing files. Links are simply references to the original location of the images you add, so jAlbum will rely on them being present.
Please refer to this table for a better understanding on the effects of these options:
Adding picture(s) a copy is created in the project's folder will link to the original image – Adding a folder folder and contents is copied a link to folder is created will use the whole folder as is Self conatined
(everything is in a single folder that you can carry / backup)
yes no yes Disk use 2x 1x 1x Deleting a file in jAlbum deletes the copy no effect on source files deletes the original Renaming a file in jAlbum renames the copy renames only the link renames the original file jAlbum support files added in source folder no no yes After changing the original (e.g. in Lightroom) you’ll have to add the picture again
(you’ll lose the comment)
processed automatically in the next “Make” processed automatically in the next “Make” Same file in multiple albums yes, new copy will be created every time yes, using the same source image no Using the OS’s file manager to organize albums yes, but only the copy no, might break links either yes
You can use combinations of the SHIFT, ALT and CTRL keys as you drag folders and images onto jAlbum to automatically trigger a "Use folder", "Copy" or "Link" behavior. You can observe the mouse arrow to know what behavior will be triggered. (Mac users use combinations of SHIFT, ALT and CMD instead).
I hope this blog post has explained the pros and cons of the different ways jAlbum can handle images. Now you probably have enough information to make use of jAlbum in the way that suits you best. For more reading, please see this blog post.
Here is the magic switch that decides between these modes in jAlbum, called “Make slide pages“:
Turn it on for the “Separate slide pages” mode – the default is still the dynamic mode.
In the traditional – separate slide pages – mode, the HTML page loads all the page components and all the widgets (like Facebook, Google +1, etc.) every time an image is loaded. Every page has a separate URL address, so you can bookmark or share images separately and can use external widgets which rely on the page address, for example Facebook commenting. The downside is inherent in the web technology which doesn’t allow transitions between web pages, nothing can remain from a previous page (like background music), and need to build every page from ground, loading and rendering everything on a page again and again. This is why Turtle skin was originally made dynamic. A dynamic album is capable of making smooth transitions between the images, loading only the necessary components, an rendering a full folder only once.
Separate slides mode
You might ask why did then Turtle introduce the traditional mode at all. It’s because there are several scenarios when the separate slides mode is still beneficial, e.g. achieving better search results, being able to comment images through Facebook separately, using several hundreds of images in the same folder, to name a few. It’s a fundamental change in the structure, every part of the code had to be rewritten to work in both modes. I tried to find the best match between the two modes, still there are tons of differences. See the table below.
|Dynamic mode||Separate slides|
|Number of HTML pages||One per folder||Number of images + 1|
|Can bookmark? |
using hash, see below
|Search bots can find individual images||Less probably |
and they’ll link to the gallery
|Continuous background music||Yes |
in the same folder
|Thumbnails strip |
above the image
|Only max. 15 |
5 previous – 10 next
|Maximum number of images in a folder||< 600 |
to avoid memory leak in poorly written browsers
|~ 1000-2000 |
the number of page elements (thumbnails) is still limited
|Like, Comment, +1, PinIt, Share complete folders||Yes||Yes|
|Like, Comment, +1, PinIt, Share individual images||No||Yes|
|Tweet, Tumblr, Email individual images||Yes||Yes|
|Google Maps show all placemarks||Yes||max 15|
|Can skip index page and auto-start slideshow||Yes||No|
|Can retain full screen mode||Yes||No |
in most browsers it falls back to windowed mode with every page change
|Image-sensitive jAlbum widgets||Partial |
Commenting widget works, the others ignore it
|Traffic browsing through an album||~ 120 kB |
|~ 180 kB |
|Server requests||the least possible||cca. 10x the amount as in dynamic mode|
|Page load time||Only index page |
images are loaded as fast as can
|Every image is rendered on a separate html page|
|Google Analytics||Per folder||Per image|
Both modes have its ups and downs – which is better boils down to what you are using the album. If you want to showcase a small number of images in a smooth (even full screen) presentation with optional background music then go for the Single page mode. If the possibility to individually Like or Comment images is paramount, would like to showcase a huge number of images in the same folder, or prefer to have individual search results for the photos the separate slide pages mode might fit you better.
It is now as easy to make video galleries as image galleries. jAlbum 11 can adopt over 160 video formats for the web - re-encode, compress, scale rotate and trim your videos!
Videos - a natural next step
A picture is great for story telling. Everyone know the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". We have the saying "an album is worth ten thousand words" as an album consists of several images ;-). Now jAlbum just got even better at telling a story cause you can now mix videos with images with ease. Most cameras have been delivering a mix of images and videos for over a decade, so making jAlbum adopt those videos for the web too was a natural next step. Enjoy this album showing my attempts at the big jump taken with my point-and-shoot Canon camera a couple of winters ago.
Used to be hard
Adding videos to jAlbum albums has worked in the past but you'd had to manage the many technicalities of different video formats and video players yourself. While all web browsers can display JPEG images perfectly, the same is not true for video: There are zillions of video formats generated by your various cameras and while browser "A" perfectly handles one format, it doesn't handle another, and vice versa is true for browser "B". Popular services like YouTube and Vimeo use a host of techniques to navigate this minefield so you don't have to bother - it just works. I'm now happy to tell that video now "just works" with jAlbum albums too!
Note: Most skins will need to be updated to fully support video: For videos to work no matter what web browser users are using, skins need to use an embedded video player that has the capability of using either the browser's built in support for playing the MP4 video format or Flash if the browser doesn't support MP4 (which is the case for Firefox due to license politics). Currently, our embedded player is being used by the Turtle and Base skins and skin developers are currently adopting their skins as we're speaking.
Making a video album
Making a video album is as easy as it can be: Drop a mix of video files (and images if you want) onto jAlbum and press "Make album".
The original videos you drop onto jAlbum may be very large, so if you don't wish jAlbum to make a local copy of them, use the alt, ctrl and shift qualifier keys on your keyboard as you drop in order to link the original videos instead. (See this blog post for more on linking files into jAlbum). jAlbum will indicate that an image or video is linked by placing a small arrow in the bottom left corner of its thumbnail.
Adopting video files for the web is a CPU intensive task so making the album the first time can take some time, but it's as easy as that.
Before making the album you may wish to adjust things like video dimension, trim the start and end of videos and select what images should represent them in the album. A new Video tab has been added to the album settings window. Here you control aspects that applies to all videos of your album project, like dimension and compression. Advanced users can go deeper here and directly specify parameters to the underlying ffmpeg video transcoder, however, we believe that most users will be happy with the default settings that have been carefully chosen to produce videos compatible for the web.
Choosing video thumbnails and trimming
jAlbum will automatically pick an image a second from the start of the video to represent it. If this isn't the best pick, just hover the mouse over the video thumbnail within jAlbum and select "Edit", then use the new thumbnail chooser slider that is located above the caption editor to choose a suitable image. There is another slider above the thumbnail chooser which has two knobs. Use this one to trim (cut) the start and end of your videos so your viewers don't have to spend time watching dead sections. This also helps reduce the size of your final video.
Note: As always, jAlbum never touches your original files. All these operations apply to the final files in the album, not your original files.
Correctly oriented videos
I doubt this is an issue with ordinary video cameras, but with today's mobile phone cameras, videos can be oriented in any of the four possible ways (normal, left, right, upside down). jAlbum tries to detect the orientation and ensure that the final video is correctly oriented, but if that fails, just use the rotate buttons in jAlbum's toolbar to orient the videos correctly.
Skins supporting video
To be able to guarantee that your videos will play on any web browser, the album skin needs to play them with an embedded player. It's not enough to rely on whatever player a particular browser may have attached to the destination video format (.mp4). There are currently a handful of skins like "Turtle", "Base", "Matrix" and "Slide Show 4" that have been adopted to use an embedded video player and more are coming. If your favorite skin isn't supporting an embedded player, ask the developer to add it. We're working on ensuring that all skins we bundle with jAlbum are supporting an embedded video player.
The best of all
All users holding a license for jAlbum 10 can freely upgrade to jAlbum 11! Admit it's a great deal :-). Please spread the word about jAlbum, share video albums and consider donating to us to support future development. Download jAlbum 11 and get started with videos today!
This post puts the spotlight on an often overlooked gem in jAlbum – the seach feature of the Turtle skin. Many people and organisations use jAlbum to present huge amounts of images, whether it is catalogues of vintage cars, handicraft or event images for the local sports club. It's not uncommon to see albums consisting of tens of thousands of images presented in hierachical folder trees.
With jAlbum's Turtle skin, you can add a search box that will simplify finding the images your viewers are looking for. It will search through all images of your album, looking for matches to the search terms within the file names, titles, descriptions, keywords and even face tags of your images! If you search for multiple words, Turtle will find all images that's matching any of them. The matching images are immediately presented in a thumbnail list and are now only one click away.
Have a play with this sample album of stock photos to see search in action!
To enable search in a Turtle based album, simply open Settings → Turtle → Site and tick the “Use search box” checkbox, then make and upload the album again. Search works no matter where the album is being hosted. It even works for albums stored on CD-ROM, memory sticks etc.
Please note: when you preview an album locally the search functionality will not work before the album make has completely finished!
David and the entire jAlbum team