What's new on the skin development front?

While we often communicate what’s new with jAlbum, only a few of you follow the advancements in skin development by reading those hidden skin update logs. Here you are some of the most interesting new skin features.

It all started with Story skin, which made custom pages even more useful, by allowing them holding just any (textual) content. This combined with the ability to mix them into the images allowed authoring complex, blog-like webpages, that barely resembled the conventional, square thumbnail grid galleries.

This change, however, made custom pages look broken after changing skins. I realized this when I made a modern sample album, but it turned ugly playing with skins. I guess this is what most new users do too, and might hit user experience badly.

So I revisited all of the bundled skins and modernized them. Tiger skin is still to be done, but Animatics, Lucid, Photoblogger, Projector and Story has received substancial updates recently. Besides changing the custom page layout a lot of other improvements were implemented. Some of these were deep changes like an organ transplant. Hopefully this will result in up-to-date skins, matching modern browser design, that will be also easier to maintain in the future. Here are some of the highlights:

Instant preview on the User Interface

After discovering small browser windows can be embedded into the user interface, I started adding this component to my skins. This makes the effect of certain skin settings instantly comprehensible, saving a lot of guesswork for users.

Custom pages

Embedding custom pages into the index page is now possible with Photoblogger skin too. In the future this possibility will also be added in Projector and Tiger skins.

Embedded custom pages in Photoblogger (embedded). See the same in Story skin!

New custom pages: Calendar and Newimages are now available with all these skins. Calendar collects all images into a calendar-like layout with links to the original folders, while Newimages collect all images created (or modified) within a timeframe. Let me remind you these custom pages work the best placed at the top level, and instead of renaming the file, it’s much better using Title to provide any text as title, e.g. “New images”, which is grammatically correct.

Calendar custom page (embedded)

New images custom page

Optimizations

Such complex pages are hard to load for the browser, so the new updates brings optimizations for quicker and device-specific loading of gallery pages. For instance the skin now preloads the icon fonts and the folder image, so it loads the page with less “Flash Of Unstyled Content” from now on. The thumbnail layouts got also optimized so they don’t jump aroud while loading in Story and Photoblogger skins. I fixed the progressive load function too, which also makes the page be ready much earlier.

Cross-skin translation tool

In order to have more skins receive the most localizations I made a handy tool that gathers texts from other skins, so it saves time for translators. Also helps me finding all the texts used in the source files.

Comments are welcome,

Laza

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Wolfgang Uhlig

Wolfgang Uhlig il y a 2 mois

Many thanks for your efforts. Although not being a developer, I appreciate the work you are doing :-)