Skin development news 2021/02

It seems whatever might happen around us, we never stop bringing new features to jAlbum and our bundled skins. :) Most of these ideas came from our helpful community which is a tremendous help for us, the development team. Here are a few new things added recently:

Continuous zoom, zooming into the original image

When you aim to show the finest details in a photo the web-optimized slide images are often too small. With this new continuous zoom tool the skin can load the high resolution version on the fly when the visitor zooms enough into an image. However, loading a sizeable image (e.g. a 64 MB panorama image) can be hard for both the graphics system and also regarding the load time. So you might want to optimize (downsize) such images beforehand you add them as “original”.

This function has been made available first in Story skin, but Photoblogger will follow soon. You can use Ctrl + mouse wheel and Numpad + / - buttons too, besides the slider handle below the zoom button:

Skip between levels with previous / next folder links

Originally my skins only jumped to the next folder of the same level. Consequently an automatic slideshow has always stopped at the first time when it didn’t find an adjacent folder. Now the “Skip folder levels” option allows jumping levels up and down. This happens also when you go beyond the last image in a folder (in the lightbox), this way the slideshow won’t stop at the middle of a complex album.

Ask permission to enter a folder

If you’d like to showcase photos not suitable for children, it’s good to have a popup that asks the visitor to confirm his/her age. To make this happen all you have to do is adding a variable, called askPersmission in Edit mode’s right side “Variables” panel. See below!

Select the folder → Edit mode → Variables panel

This is what pops up in the album. (default)

You can also customize these texts by adding value to the variable (right to the name). Format: TitleText::QuestionText::AllowButtonText::DisallowButtonText.

Of course kids can simply click “I’m over 18”, but this is at least a decent attempt to detour them. If you need to set up a strict policy, the only way to do this is by adding password protection to folders through the server’s Control panel. A web page cannot provide any such protection from inside, because anybody can read the folder's URL from the source code.

Better support for media files and practically any file format beyond JPG

As a starter I always design my skins for regular JPG’s – as that makes up 99% of the albums. However, jAlbum albums should be capable of handling videos, PDF’s, moving GIF’s and such, which not always work out-of-the-box, or at least doesn’t work optimally. To test different file formats, and different image types I have set up a test album – you can also peek into:

Related: Using THM files for media (as poster image)

THM files were invented at the early days of jAlbum to provide poster images for video files. Ever since jAlbum is capable of recoding videos and extracting thumbnails, this feature has diminished in importance. Unless you’d like to use an external image, like a real movie poster, or with audio files, which do not have visual representation otherwise. All you have to do is to add a JPG file renamed with the same base name as the media file, use the extension “thm” (e.g. sound.mp3 → sound.thm) and place this file into the Image directory’s appropriate folder. Note, if the media file is linked (i.e. not copied directly into the Image directory) you still have to use the Image directory (Ctrl-Shift-I) – due to historical reasons – otherwise jAlbum will not pick up the THM file.

Related: Using sound clips

Sound clip support is a special feature of some skins (Tiger, Story and Photoblogger for example) by which you can add sound to an otherwise silent photo or video. You should add the mp3 file named the same as the image or video but keep its original “mp3” extension. You need to place this file in the file’s original (linked) folder, otherwise if it’s placed in the Image directory jAlbum will add as separate sound file.

In case of videos sound clips play independently, although the skin tries to synchronize their start/stop events. Here’s an example of such a video enhanced with a sound clip.

In order to check out this sound clip you’ll have to start from the index page; go down the page bottom, and click the “expand” button on the video’s top right corner!

Many users ask why videos (or the background audio) won’t auto-start in their albums. The bad news is, this is by design. Browser makers started to block video auto-start (with sound) in 2019, in order to silence obstrusive ads. This means visitors have to click the “Start/Play” button the first time, even though the gallery author has asked the skin to start videos automatically. Once the visitor has started any video in the album, the next will auto-start, fortunately. The browser maintains the “engagement index” to know which sites the visitor trusts in this regard. You can read more about this “feature” here.

Hiding GPS location

Showing off GPS location publicly might raise security concerns. For instance I wanted to mask my flat’s location in the sample album. Unfortunately, mobile photos do almost always have this GPS data embedded, it’s not enough to trash it through the Edit mode’s Location panel alone. So there is a new setting in Story and Photoblogger skins in the “Image data” panel (above the mentioned Location panel) - called “Hide GPS location”. By using this you can avoid placing the GPS location of a photo on the album’s map.

... and one more thing

We are aware how popular our Chameleon was amongst our users. Unfortunately, Chameleon skin was based on the – since outdated – “table design”, which made the further development practically impossible. Now – due to massive demand :) – I decided to rewrite Chameleon from ground to make it modern and responsive. It’ll take a few months, but hope you’ll appreciate the effort.

Comments are welcome,


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Laca Molnar

Laca Molnar 29 days ago

@spat: Mouse scroll is already assigned to picture change, so Ctrl + mouse scroll works for magnification. Anyway, this is how zoom used in most applications, like Photoshop or the browser itself. Numpad + and - are also assigned to this function. Displaying the zoom slider permanently would be distracting in my opinion, and mobile screens are already crowded. Perhaps I can add a user option later.


spat one month ago

Just had a look at zoom in sample album and would like to make a suggestion. I did'nt read far enough :-( in annoucement to see how you used zoom, so when I looked at sample album, I could'nt work out how to use zoonm. Mouse scroll in full size image did'nt work and I did'nt think about using magnifying glass as my first thought was that was a search button. Perhaps you could include an option to include the maginification slider at the bottom of the image. Nice feature!!