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Building Attractive Web Photo Galleries

Good News and Bad News

  • December 20, 2004
  • By Carla Schroder

The good news is all kinds of non-geek computer users have discovered digital cameras, and how to share their pictures on Web sites. This is a great way to share stuff: post once for many people to look at. The bad news is many of them have not discovered selectivity or image editing. They simply pour the entire contents of their cameras onto a Web page, creating multi-megabyte monsters with no thumbnails, no indexing, no captions, nor nuthin'- just a big mess that no one wants to spend half a day downloading, let alone look at.

If you really want visitors to come to your Web photo gallery and look at your pics, make it well-organized, attractive, and fast-loading. You don't have to spend wads of money on fancy software for creating nice user-friendly photo galleries, or wads of time either; the Linux world offers a multitude of excellent image-editing and gallery-creation programs. Today we'll look at ImageMagick and Album. ImageMagick resizes photos to a manageable size, and Album creates attractive photo albums with a minimum of fuss. Installation should be easy, odds are you can glom them with your fave dependency-resolving installer, such as apt-get, apt-rpm, Yum, urpmi, or Yast. And of course sources are available as well.

This is the general scheme for assembling nice user-friendly attractive Web photo albums:

  • First, select the best photos. Do feel free to omit mistakes and redundancies. (Special note to newlyweds: it's not necessary to post all dozen photos of the same event, like lighting the candle or cutting the cake. No, really. Just select the best one of each.)
  • Second, re-size the photos to a Web-friendly size and file format. JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), which has the file extension .jpg or .jpeg is best for Web photographs. Keep in mind that half of the Internet-connected population in the US is still on dialup. In other countries it varies: some have lots of broadband, some don't. Overall, the percentage of dialup users is still high, so be kind and make your images lean.
  • Third, have pages of thumbnails.
  • Fourth, have links on each thumbnail page to the previous and next thumbnail page, and a home page link.
  • Finally, link one photo to the next, so visitors can jump directly from photo to photo if they wish.
Album and ImageMagick make doing all of this easy.

ImageMagick is a suite of image-editing utilities:

  • animate
  • compare
  • composite
  • output-image
  • conjure
  • convert
  • display
  • identify
  • import
  • mogrify
  • montage
Read ImageMagick (1) to learn what each utility does. We're going to use mogrify to prepare photos for the Web.
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