WordPress Photo Galleries: State of the WordPress Images War

Update 08 November 2010: We've actually finished our own plugin for WordPress photo galleries since a long time. Foliopress WYSIWYG. You can do long image posts like these (business, arts) with built-in lightbox and perfect SEO (alt tags, title tags and captions) in minutes.

I'm on a professional WordPress mailing list and this interesting question came up:

I'm using WordPress 2.2 as a CMS to create a site for a client with a small business. My client wants a portfolio page (not necessrily a WP Page) with a list of thumbnails that will each link to its own "gallery" page which will include multiple photographs with some descriptions. My client is a non-programmer who will need to update and add to the portfolio page on her own.

I've been looking at WPG2 and wondering if this will accomplish my needs. I've seen you can put photos in posts, but can you link those post photos to a WP Page that contains more photos from that category in a gallery style (such as the embedded WPG2)? I will also need descriptions about those photos on that Page. I've looked at other sites that have WPG2 embedded within Pages, but their Pages don't contain photo descriptions beyond the photo title.

Does WPG2 seem a good fit? Or is there another plugin that works better? Or will this not be possible?

Alas, Tracy, all of the galleries in WordPress stink. Both Gallery 1 and 2 are way too top heavy on their own. Mixing Gallery with WordPress would be a fatal PHP cocktail, capable of choking the most powerful server and confusing the most adroit programmer.

We've spent whole days at Foliovision playing around with what's out there in terms of WordPress image plugins and there's nothing I would recommend.

The closest thing to what you want are (listed in order of least amount of work to get something passable):

  1. NextGEN Gallery
  2. ZenPhoto
  3. WPPA
  4. Duh Gallery

All have huge problems with URLs and reliability. ZenPhoto is by far the best in terms of simplicity and clean URLs, but it's not well integrated into WordPress just yet.

If you can make any of the above work, without clunkiness and/or very ugly URLs, please comment below. If you find something better, let us know.

At Foliovision, we are currently doing some work on an images plugin but it won't be for larger galleries but for embedding images directly into posts in a simplified workflow. As soon as FV Images is ready, we'll be posting it here.

For the moment, if you want something clean, I'd have to recommend doing it by hand (uploading all the images in both full size and thumbnail and linking and embedding them).

Ecto (available for Windows and Mac) can also be a great help when you have a lot of images to include in a post. The quality of the thumbnailing is poor on Typepad (I have one weblog over there still) but could be handtweaked on WordPress. It can be tricky to get Ecto to play nicely with WordPress built-in XML-RPC.

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3 Responses to WordPress Photo Galleries: State of the WordPress Images War

  1. kc

    the worst thing about both gallery and wordpress is that you have to work too hard to edit stylesheets.

    however, the best thing about these two programs is that wpg2 integrates them better than any other blog/media serving solution does.

    if there is a better solution you need more plugins/combinations of settings. having said that, start with wp, g2, and wpg2 as to have something working asap.

    btw, pretty permalinks with embedded gallery does work. set your gallery admin control panel to use the rewrite/permalink rules, tell wpg2 its on, then refresh g2’s admin control panel to set your modules up properly. set your settings right in the right order and youll get a clean url to an image of gallery while on a wp post or page.

    also theres a plugin now that embeds swf in your posts or pages. its been out for a while. it requires you to type in the uri to your file, but it works.

  2. Hello KC,

    Thanks for your comment. Our own Foliopress WYSIWYG is up and running now and is much the easiest way to create properly labelled embedded galleries within posts that I’ve seen.

    Totally SEO friendly URLs and titles.

    Not a solution for huge galleries, but a great solution for images which should be properly titled and labelled.

    If you get a chance to download, let me know how it goes.

  3. Perry

    Just found your site and really love your advice and perspective on things.

    This post was written a long time ago though.

    I’ve built over 20 successful sites on Thesis and with NextGen Gallery. Undoubtedly, both have made major strides since this article was written.

    Do you still stand by your points that the best option is to develop your own theme and not use a baseline theme (Thesis or Genesis)?

    And regarding NextGen, what clunkiness or ugly url structure do you mean? I’ve never had any problem with the url structure (although uploading images can be clunky sometimes :)

    Finally, I love your WYSIWYG editor. It looks fantastic.

    Do you have any recommended jquery slideshow plugins that work flawlessly with what you’ve designed?


    ~ Perry

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