Photoblogger 2 – not just a facelift

Photoblogger was my first attempt in creating a database-driven skin. By using a database, albums receive a super power: global search, tag filtering and new image collection, so visitors can easily find the images they´re after. In the meantime a few new skins came with database support too – e.g. Tiger and Projector – with better coding and more features. Now the time has come to give some love to Photoblogger too.


Sample album

TL;DR

Flex layout

Flex layout is what web designers were always phantasized about. This makes it possible to align items within a container box (and relative to each other) horizontally or vertically whatever you like. Did you know previously there was no proper way of aligning an image vertically and horizontally centered within a box? Crazy, isn´t it? The new flex layout even makes it possible achieving the so-called “masonry layout” (horizontal tiles) without a line of code. Feels like we´ve skipped to the 21st century. Today more than 99% of users has flex-capable browsers, and although Internet Explorer 11´s implementation is buggy, MS Edge works well.

Javascript instead of BeanShell

The coding language of the skin – originally BeanShell (a Java-like language) – has changed to Javascript. Apart from being much easier for me to code in Javascript, it is good for the users too, as it runs much faster under jAlbum. And besides this, makes easy to develop and fix bugs in these skins parallel. Perhaps too much tech detail here, but I wanted to bring this up because this has been the hardest part of the upgrade. :)


What´s new

  • User interface

    The user interface has been totally redesigned. I know those who has accustomed to the old organization might feel lost finding a particular setting in the new one. The new layout tries to sort the settings according to where they appear on the page: Header, Sections, Side bar, Footer, Lightbox. I hope existing users will easily accustomed to this, and Tiger or Projector users will find it already familiar.

  • Thumbnail layout

    You can choose from 4 different thumbnail layouts: Fixed shape grid, Grid, Masonry (horizontal) and Cards (vertical)


    Grid

    Fixed shape grid

    Masonry (horizontal)

    Cards (vertical)
  • Header type

    Instead of the plain header now you´ll be able to use a background image too. If your album doesn´t have an appropriate, toned-down image, you can download one from Unsplash – e.g. here or here – for free.

    PRO TIP: if you want the header image only be used in the header, first drag´n´drop to the right panel´s “Theme image” area, then right-click → Exclude

  • Page title placement

    Once you chose a bakground image instead of the plain color, why not give a try to the new, centered folder title? Naturally, the old – left aligned – title still exists, moreover you can align it vertically too.

  • Mosaic folder thumbnails

    Want to see more images from a folder? Now you can. The “endhanced” folder thumbs gets 3 more images – chosen randomly – next to the folder thumbnail you picked. And now you can have all the folders made “enhanced” if you wish.

  • Feedback

    A popular feature inherited from Tiger, pimped up. With this tool you can ask feedback through email from users. In this skin users can choose if they want to open the email app directly or just copy the email content to the clipboard for later use in a web mail. This feature is also good for putting up a simple kiosk.

  • Custom odering of sections and sidebar boxes

    Folders come first, the custom pages maybe the map? You decide. You can reorder the boxes in the side bar too.

  • Sidebar position

    Previously the side bar always meant a side bar on the right. In this version you can place it to the left too.

  • Navigation placement

    Quite a few users asked if they can move the top navigation to the top bar – sharing space with the social buttons and search. Now you can. Not only to the top bar, but to any corner of the header.

  • New styles

    Some old styles has been removed, like Fresh, Military, Material, Sage, Turqoise, while 3 new styles added: BlackAndWhite, Eggshell and Simple. I tried to make more of the simple layouts – users prefer.

    If you still prefer one of those deprecated styles, just download the 1.x version, rename to ZIP, and copy the appropriate files from the styles folder into the same folder of the new skin (press Ctrl-Shift-S in jAlbum).


Before you upgrade albums made with v1.x

Please note, this is such a fundamental change in Photoblogger skin, it should have named v10.0 or something. Some of the old features got removed, and many more has been added. (E.g. the fancy caption animations on thumbnails got retired.) Before you install the skin I suggest to save the settings with the "Save project settings as..." command. Give it a name you remember, e.g. jalbum-settings-1.jap and reopen jalbum-settings.jap to be updated.

Avoid importing unwanted settings

When you switch to Photoblogger 2 many settings from the old version will be imported. Some are useful, others just mess up the layout in an effort to match the old look. If you´d prefer giving the new default look a fresh try (see above) you´ll have to reset all the settings. Just select “Photoblogger” again in the Skin and style box! (This will trash the old settings, but perhaps it´s the easier way around.)

If you want to go back to the previous version, download Photoblogger 1.9.7 from here, (double-click) and let jAlbum install the skin. Now open the saved jalbum-settings-1.jap which holds the old version settings.

Custom pages might trigger errors

As the programming language has changed in the skin the custom pages might carry improper code, which will stop the Make process. If you stumble upon this (in About.htt, Contact.htt or Contents.htt) download the “Update project templates” tool from here, (double-click) and allow jAlbum to install it. Now you can use: Tools → External tools → Update project templates. This will update all the project templates to match the new version. Sorry for this inconvenience! The new version was made to survive skin changes – at least within the same skin family –, so hopefully you will never have to do this again.

 

Your feedback is welcome!

Laza

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