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After a rather long break we finally have jAlbum 12.2 out. I’d like to share some of the highlights with you. As always you’ll find the full list of enhancements in our release notes.

New full screen slide show

jAlbum has a rewritten full screen slide show that simplifies the process of approving images. The slide show mode is not just convenient for local album presentation, it’s foremost intended to help you approve and reject images. The previous slide show allowed you to rate and flag images using your keyboard, but that was rather hidden. We now display UI controls for rating, flagging, excluding and deleting unwanted images. To hide these controls, just move the mouse to a side of the screen. The new slide show also simplifies navigation by providing first/last buttons and displaying the current position.

Zoom support

You can now zoom into your images using jAlbum’s edit panel to further assist you in your image approval process. Either use the mouse wheel or the zoom slider to zoom in and out. You can toggle max/min zoom by double clicking the image. Use the zoom control panel in the lower right of the image to pan or simply drag the mouse inside a zoomed image. To hide the zoom control panel, simply move the mouse out of the image area.

Sub directory chaining

jAlbum is a great tool to present loads of images organized in hierarchical folder structures. While this is great for keeping things organized, you may still want to allow your visitors to navigate the album in a sequential manner.

This means that clicking the “next” button of the last image in folder A will take you to the first image in folder “B” etc. To enable this feature, select “Chain directories” under “Advanced” album settings. Here’s an example of the same album presented without and with chained directories so you can compare.

Note: It is currently not recommended to use directory chaining on an album where a folder contains a mix of images and folders. You will end up with a confusing navigation.

 

Improved TIFF reading

 

Now running on Java 8

 

Experimental JavaScript support

Upon reports that some TIFF images weren’t rendered correctly (showed up as grey snow), we’ve switched the preferred library for TIFF reading from Apache Sanselan to Sun’s (now Oracle) Advanced Imaging Tools. Please report to us if you encounter any problems reading TIFF images that you didn’t have previously. To switch back to the Apache Sanselan library, simply delete the file jai_imageio-1.1.jar from jAlbum’s “lib” folder. To locate jAlbum’s “lib” folder, select Tools → Open directories → Program directory.

 

jAlbum 12.2 is approved for Java 8, the latest version of Oracle’s awesome cross platform software environment. The Windows version now runs on a bundled Oracle Java 8 instead of Java 7 and is therefore more performant than ever. This bundled Java engine is local to jAlbum only and therefore does not present any potential security risk. The security problems reported in the past have mostly been related to integrating Java in the browser.

 

jAlbum skin developers have so far been required to master a rather rich set of skills, which has narrowed the potential developer base. On top of the “must have” skills for web developers, which are HTML, CSS and JavaScript, they have also needed to understand Java or BeanShell (scripted Java) to create the user interface for skin settings and for some skin logic. We will soon allow skin developers to use ordinary JavaScript for these tasks too. jAlbum 12.2 currently allows you to play with this brand new and super fast Nashorn JavaScript engine inside jAlbum’s system console window. We’ve measured speed gains up to 6000 times (!) The future will tell how much this turbo charged scripting engine will impact album generation time...

 

Your comments on this are welcome!

Regards,
/David

Download jAlbum 12.2 now! »

I guess you've all seen theme images that gets cropped like this in the Turtle skin:
Bad crop

Now, we've made a plugin for jAlbum 12.1 and onwards that helps you set the desired crop focus, so your theme images or folder thumbnails will look like this instead:
Good crop

The Crop Focus plugin in actionGet the plugin here, then right click an image or folder and select "Set crop focus" and take it from there.

Here's how the plugin looks in action. Just use the mouse to position the crop focus. Note: The plugin lets you preview the cropped region using a couple of sample shapes but it doesn't let you set the crop shape. This is usually controlled by the skin.

 

We encourage you who are Java developers to contribute with smart plugins for jAlbum. Our plugin API is documented here and you can get the full source for the CropFocus plugin at GoogleCode . CropFocus is licensed under the liberal Apache 2.0 license.

We’re excited to tell you about the improvements that have been added to the long-awaited v12 release of our desktop software. It’s been a year since the last major release, where we added support for 164 video formats. This version focuses on improving the user experience:

  • It is faster than ever, including both the user interface and the underlying album making engine.
  • It has a professionally looking, more intuitive user interface
  • It has an embedded web browser that updates the album preview as you play along with settings.
  • Adding effects like logos, watermarks and artistic filters to your images is now easier than ever using the new “Effects” panel

Faster

Opening an album over a network drive

 

Resuming an interrupted build

 

jAlbum 12 is significantly faster in dealing with images loaded over network drives. A typical project that took 15 seconds to open over a network drive now opens in 3 seconds (SAMBA mounted network drive on Windows). The painting of thumbnail images has also been improved so you can browse through not-yet-loaded images with less lag.

It’s however when making albums you will notice the most significant improvement. Previously, if an album build was resumed after an interrupted build (user aborting the build or an error), then jAlbum sometimes had to re-process each image and video again. This is now a thing of the past. Each image and video keep track of their build settings so unnecessary rebuilds are avoided.

New user interface

jAlbum’s user interface has undergone the biggest change since jAlbum 7. It now has an embedded web browser that lets you quickly preview changes as you play along with settings. This is the main reason for the somewhat larger window. Let’s go through the changes to the main window from top to bottom:

General

  1. New notification center: Helpful information coming from us or the skin developer can now be accessed from this icon even if a notification has been dismissed.
  2. Clearly indicated view mode tabs
  3. View mode specific toolbars. Each view mode has a unique toolbar with the tools relevant for it
  4. Clearly indicated label types: Easily see and control whether you’re editing file names, titles, captions or keywords
  5. New skin information window giving you an overview of the currently selected skin and offers easy management for it
  6. Large settings button next to make album button
  7. Preview local album button next to make album button
  8. New view final album button next to upload button.

Edit view mode

  1. Image tools moved to custom toolbar
  2. Image properties now occupy the whole right-hand-side offering more simultaneous information

Preview view mode

  1. Toolbar offering the classical browser functions + work-flow related functionality like uploading and sharing
  2. See and control whether you’re viewing the local or published version of an album
  3. Web browser for previewing a local album and viewing the final published album. Updates the local album in the background and reloads the display as you play with skin- and style changes. (Skin changes and general changes need a click on the “Apply” button to trigger an update)

Note: The browser we’re using is Chromium. It is a modern open source component but it currently has two flaws:

  • Currently No support for mp4 video format (aka H.264) that jAlbum is using. Use an external browser to view video powered albums instead. Hint: Alt-click the preview buttons to open the album in an external album or inactivate the embedded browser under jAlbum preferences.
  • Missing Flash support for Mac. Flash support in general can be added by downloading Flash directly from Adobe

Share view mode

  1. Buttons to easily share your album using different social networks. All sharing options, including sharing with jalbum.net is now opt-in meaning no sharing will be done unless you explicitly choose to share

New Effects panel

New “Effects” settings tab allowing easy and detailed control of album-wide image effects like watermarks/texts, logos, grayscale, auto-correct and artistic filters via an easy to use interface. (Effects applies to all images unlike their “Image tools” counterparts). (Advanced users: The chosen effects are synched with the user variables panel)

New license

jAlbum 12 requires a new software license. For those who have purchased a v11 license, we currently offer a 50% upgrade discount. This means you only pay €14.50 ($19.50) for a Standard License upgrade and €34.50 ($44.50) for a Pro License upgrade. Make sure you sign in first though. Those who have purchased a license after February 17th already have a version 12 license. If you instead have a Premium or Power account, you also got a license valid for v12, so you don’t have to buy a new license. To know what license you have today, just select “About jAlbum” from within the software.

New model

With jAlbum 12 we go from ad-supported freeware to a fully functional 30 day trial. This means that you can make fully functional* ad-free albums that continue to work after the trial period has expired, (given that you host the albums yourself). After the 30 day trial has expired you can no longer make new or update existing albums.

* During the trial, the albums may have discrete credit links and you cannot use the shopping cart feature.

Miscellaneous

  • Rewritten change detection. No more spurious “Do you wish to save changes” warnings
  • Safely deletes unused slide and original image files from album folder
  • Warns and guides users who haven’t set up their ftp settings right
  • Thumbnail specific information is now only displayed when hovering the mouse over the small “info-i” status icon
  • Speed-up to deleting directories over SAMBA mounted network drives
  • Implemented performance of files linked to SAMBA mounted network drives too
  • Added multiple logging levels to ease debugging
  • New icons and images
  • Bundled with updated skins (HTML5 instead of Flash)
  • Splash screen now displays license type
  • Fix for broken “Repair all links”
  • Various bug fixes

We’re excited to tell you about the improvements that have been added to the long-awaited v12 release of our desktop software. It’s been a year since the last major release, where we added support for 164 video formats. This version focuses on improving the user experience:

  • It is faster than ever, including both the user interface and the underlying album making engine.
  • It has a professionally looking, more intuitive user interface
  • It has an embedded web browser that updates the album preview as you play along with settings.
  • Adding effects like logos, watermarks and artistic filters to your images is now easier than ever using the new “Effects” panel

Before running through the changes in detail, let me say that we’re running the last stages of the beta testing for jAlbum 12 now. The beta is available for Windows and Mac. You can install it in parallel with your existing version in order to safely evaluate it. We appreciate feedback to our beta forum section. The currently known issue is that the embedded browser has been reported to sometimes cause jAlbum to hang.

Faster

Opening an album over a network drive

 

Resuming an interrupted build

 

jAlbum 12 is significantly faster in dealing with images loaded over network drives. A typical project that took 15 seconds to open over a network drive now opens in 3 seconds (SAMBA mounted network drive on Windows). The painting of thumbnail images has also been improved so you can browse through not-yet-loaded images with less lag.

It’s however when making albums you will notice the most significant improvement. Previously, if an album build was resumed after an interrupted build (user aborting the build or an error), then jAlbum sometimes had to re-process each image and video again. This is now a thing of the past. Each image and video keep track of their build settings so unnecessary rebuilds are avoided.

New user interface

jAlbum’s user interface has undergone the biggest change since jAlbum 7. It now has an embedded web browser that lets you quickly preview changes as you play along with settings. This is the main reason for the somewhat larger window. Let’s go through the changes to the main window from top to bottom:

General

  1. New notification center: Helpful information coming from us or the skin developer can now be accessed from this icon even if a notification has been dismissed.
  2. Clearly indicated view mode tabs
  3. View mode specific toolbars. Each view mode has a unique toolbar with the tools relevant for it
  4. Clearly indicated label types: Easily see and control whether you’re editing file names, titles, captions or keywords
  5. New skin information window giving you an overview of the currently selected skin and offers easy management for it
  6. Large settings button next to make album button
  7. Preview local album button next to make album button
  8. New view final album button next to upload button.

Edit view mode

  1. Image tools moved to custom toolbar
  2. Image properties now occupy the whole right-hand-side offering more simultaneous information

Preview view mode

  1. Toolbar offering the classical browser functions + work-flow related functionality like uploading and sharing
  2. See and control whether you’re viewing the local or published version of an album
  3. Web browser for previewing a local album and viewing the final published album. Updates the local album in the background and reloads the display as you play with skin- and style changes. (Skin changes and general changes need a click on the “Apply” button to trigger an update)

Note: The browser we’re using is Chromium. It is a modern open source component but it currently has two flaws:

  • Currently No support for mp4 video format (aka H.264) that jAlbum is using. Use an external browser to view video powered albums instead. Hint: Alt-click the preview buttons to open the album in an external album or inactivate the embedded browser under jAlbum preferences.
  • Missing Flash support for Mac. Flash support in general can be added by downloading Flash directly from Adobe

Share view mode

  1. Buttons to easily share your album using different social networks. All sharing options, including sharing with jalbum.net is now opt-in meaning no sharing will be done unless you explicitly choose to share

New Effects panel

New “Effects” settings tab allowing easy and detailed control of album-wide image effects like watermarks/texts, logos, grayscale, auto-correct and artistic filters via an easy to use interface. (Effects applies to all images unlike their “Image tools” counterparts). (Advanced users: The chosen effects are synched with the user variables panel)

New license

jAlbum 12 requires a new software license. For those who have purchased a v11 license, we currently offer a 50% upgrade discount. This means you only pay €14.50 ($19.50) for a Standard License upgrade and €34.50 ($44.50) for a Pro License upgrade. Make sure you sign in first though. Those who have purchased a license after February 17th already have a version 12 license. If you instead have a Premium or Power account, you also got a license valid for v12, so you don’t have to buy a new license. To know what license you have today, just select “About jAlbum” from within the software.

New model

With jAlbum 12 we go from ad-supported freeware to a fully functional 30 day trial. This means that you can make fully functional* ad-free albums that continue to work after the trial period has expired, (given that you host the albums yourself). After the 30 day trial has expired you can no longer make new or update existing albums.

* During the trial, the albums may have discrete credit links and you cannot use the shopping cart feature.

Miscellaneous

  • Rewritten change detection. No more spurious “Do you wish to save changes” warnings
  • Safely deletes unused slide and original image files from album folder
  • Warns and guides users who haven’t set up their ftp settings right
  • Thumbnail specific information is now only displayed when hovering the mouse over the small “info-i” status icon
  • Speed-up to deleting directories over SAMBA mounted network drives
  • Implemented performance of files linked to SAMBA mounted network drives too
  • Added multiple logging levels to ease debugging
  • New icons and images
  • Bundled with updated skins (HTML5 instead of Flash)
  • Splash screen now displays license type
  • Fix for broken “Repair all links”
  • Various bug fixes

Try the beta!

JAlbum 12 is available as a beta release for Windows and Mac. You can install the beta in parallel with your existing version in order to safely evaluate it. We appreciate feedback to our beta forum section.

Known issues

  • The embedded browser has been reported to sometimes cause jAlbum to hang.

 

Eddie Clayton runs a successful business as a pro photographer.

-> Take a look at his photography (http://www.eddieclaytonphoto.com) and you'll understand why the word successful is in the above sentence. Eddie is a new jAlbum user, but quite familiar with photo and website services.

How did you get in contact with jAlbum?
I have created websites using many methods. Everything from scratch html, standalone apps, expensive Photoshop plug-ins, and Lightroom webmodule extensions. Although these methods all created professional looking websites, they were all difficult to tailor to my taste and tedious to maintain. Just as I was becoming extremely frustrated while trying to update my site (with a well known Lightroom extension), I came across the jAlbum article in Shutterbug. I previously thought that jAlbum was just a photo-hosting site like Flickr or Shutterfly, in which I have no interest. The article excited me and I went immediately to your website and downloaded the jAlbum trial. Well, it took me about 10 minutes of experimentation to realize that this was just what I had been looking for. I re-connected and purchased the Pro version immediately.

How does jAlbum help in your work flow?
I spent maybe 6 hours with jAlbum generating my site. I then spent another 10 hours refining my photographs to look the way I wanted them to look for the site. I am ecstatic. My site has a professional user-friendly interface and appearance. I am currently reviewing additional photographs I plan to add to the site. I get to spend my computer time tweaking photos instead of fighting with site software. Bravo jAlbum!

Tell us about your customers
I make a substantial portion of my income selling prints. I have discovered that my best customers are Doctors, Dentists and other professionals with "waiting rooms". Its important to have a professional and user-friendly site to service these buyers.


-> IF you would like to purchase Ed's amazing photos to hang in your office or at home – please check out his website (and feel free to comment below what you think!)
http://www.eddieclaytonphoto.com

Thank you Eddie for this interview and most of all for using jAlbum!



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