Posts Tagged "monkey-album"

Monkey Album Updates

Published on December 1, 2007

I have made a few changes to the way individual entries are handled in my photo album. The URL for a specific image no longer uses the image filename, which should help the Google bot better index my photos. I noticed recently that none of my images were being found by Google’s indexer, and I’m pretty sure that the filename in the URL was the culprit. If you spot anything that’s broken, please let me know.

Monkey Album Bug Fix

Published on June 7, 2007

I have fixed a bug in the navigation links in Monkey Album here at the site. Some of the links used to navigate photo albums with multiple pages were pointing to the wrong location. If you happen to spot any other problems, please let me know.

A new photo album (possibly my best one yet) will be posted within the next day or two, so stay tuned.

Photo Album Upgrade

Published on February 25, 2007

I’ve rolled out some upgrades to the software I use here at the site for my photo albums. Here’s the list of improvements:

  • Clean URLs are now used through the magic of URL rewriting. I think I’ve gotten most of the kinks worked out with this, but WordPress feels like it should control everything on the site. I’ll be making a post later this week on what I had to do to get things to work.
  • HTML is now supported in all my photo captions. I’ve added a few links to a few of the photos, and I’m looking forward to using this feature on future albums. I hope to add this functionality to album descriptions eventually.
  • The header image is no longer shown on photo album pages. This reduces the height of the page, reducing the need to scroll down.
  • Extended photo information is now shown in a table using four columns instead of two, again reducing the height of the page.
  • A new database backend is being used (the MySQLi extension instead of the raw MySQL PHP calls).
  • A photo gallery title is no longer shown on each album page.

I want to add comments eventually, but there’s more effort involved in doing that than I want to spend right now. If you notice any problems, please let me know about them. I’m aware of a minor bug in my rewriting code (no regular users should encounter it), but I hope to fix it in the coming days.

One to Throw Away

Published on January 11, 2007

In his seminal book The Mythical Man-Month, Fred Brooks devotes an entire chapter to one particular idea in software development: plan to throw one away. Though I failed to complete the planning part of his recommendation, I do intend to throw away the current version of my photo album package, Monkey Album, which I employ here at this website. There are a number of improvements I wish to make to the package:

  • Allow user comments for each photograph.
  • Use cruft-free URLs instead of the ugly query strings currently in use.
  • Improve captioning capability, allowing URLs and HTML formatting.
  • Other, behind the scenes improvements.

All of this is in the concept stage at the moment, so what suggestions might you have for improvements? Are there things you dislike about the way I present my photos here at this site? Feel free to comment.

Improving Accessibility in Monkey Album

Published on November 11, 2006

I am in the process of improving the accessibility of my photo album here at the site. My primary goal is to make the alternate text representations of each image something worthwhile, instead of the filename cop-out that I chose a while back. Each image now has an associated alt-text data record, and entering these by hand one at a time (there is no mass-update capability at the moment) is taking quite a while. As of this writing, I have provided alt-text values for six of the ten albums that I have posted. I hope to have them all completed by tomorrow.

You will find that the alternate text for the album thumbnail is rather weak at the moment (‘Thumbnail for album XYZ’). This is due to the unfortunate way I constructed the various database tables. I essentially cannot obtain the alternate text record for the album’s thumbnail image, since I store the filename for the thumbnail, not the corresponding image ID. Later on I may improve this text, but I’m going to leave it as is for the moment. The alternate text for each full size image, along with each image’s thumbnail, has been greatly improved, and that was what I set out to do.

Introducing Monkey Album

Published on October 21, 2006

The Photography section here at this website is now open! I have switched from Plogger to my home-grown photo album solution: Monkey Album. Not only does it look better than Plogger, it’s much faster as well. There’s still some work to do on it, but please let me know what you think. I hope to add searching functionality at some point, and other goodies might come along at later times (such as per-photo comments). All of that is well down the road, however, so enjoy what I’ve got for now.

To help celebrate the new software, I have a brand new photo album to share: a trip to the North Carolina Zoo. A number of the photographs in this particular set turned out extremely well, and I hope to offer several of them as desktop wallpaper sometime in the near future.

Reinventing the Photo Album (Part 2)

Published on August 29, 2006

I would like to expand a little on yesterday’s discussion of the photo album software I am in the process of developing. Specifically, I’d like to talk about the server side changes that I’m planning on making in relation to the Plogger software that I currently use. Suggestions and additional ideas would be super great, so please suggest anything that comes to mind.

Plogger allows users to add images to an album in two ways: either by uploading an image one at a time, or by importing a number of images at once. I never use the upload feature, opting instead to import one or more albums at a time via SFTP. Plogger handles this process via an upload folder on the server side. One may either place images directly in this folder, or create sub-folders to better organize things during the import process. I tend to do the latter step, creating a sub-folder for each album that I create. At import time, Plogger scans the upload folder for items to be added, presenting the user with a list of the folders containing items to be imported. After selecting the desired folder to import, the user is given the opportunity to caption the pictures and move them into an album. Physically, the files get moved from the upload folder into an images folder. The resulting file structure looks something like this:

images/
 +-- collection_1/
      |-- album_1/
      |    |-- image_1.jpg
      |    |-- image_2.jpg
      |    +-- image_3.jpg
      +-- album_2/

There are a few problems that I can see with this system. First, thumbnail images aren’t placed in the images folder, but in a thumbs folder instead (which is up at the same level as the images folder). Unlike its sibling, the thumbs folder has absolutely no organization whatsoever. All of the thumbnail images are simply placed in this one folder, ad hoc. I’m not entirely sure what happens if two different images in two separate albums have the same filename. I wouldn’t be surprised if the name collision is not resolved cleanly.

The second issue is that the sub-folders one creates within the upload folder don’t get cleaned up when the images get moved during the import step. As a result, a bunch of outdated, empty folders build up over time. Highly annoying for an obsessive-compulsive organizer like myself.

Finally, what happens if two albums have the same name? Again, I’m not sure that the collision is handled cleanly. The results could be potentially disastrous. Separating two intertwined albums in the database would most likely cause a great deal of headache, and is something I’d rather not have to deal with.

So here are the changes that I am proposing for my new, custom system. First of all, thumbnail images will be placed with each corresponding album, in a nested “thumbs” folder (to keep the root album folder as clean as possible). Second, the upload folder will be properly cleaned out when importing images. Empty albums will be discovered and removed as necessary. Third, albums will be date stamped. For example, if I uploaded an album today using a folder name of “eno_river”, the resulting album name in the images folder would be something like “20060829_eno_river.” This would help prevent name collisions on the album level, and would provide a nice chronological ordering on disk (not that that really matters).

This is how I am planning on proceeding with my new album package. Thoughts? Suggestions? Both are most welcome. This project is still in the early stages of development, and things are still quite malleable.

Update: I want to emphasize that I will not be using the filesystem to do logical organization and naming for each album and image. My album package will use a MySQL database to accomplish this, storing caption data, album data, and EXIF data as necessary. The organization on disk is simply a convenience, to help keep things orderly. Kip makes some good points in the comments in this post, some of which may result in modifications to my current plan.

Reinventing the Photo Album

Published on August 28, 2006

I’m slowly working on a replacement for the Plogger software that I’m employing here at this site. Plogger works well enough, but there are enough bugs and “misfeatures” in it to motivate me to write my own package. In the process, I’m learning how to manipulate the file system through PHP, and make use of various cryptographic techniques (for security purposes), both of which are new PHP topics for me. Thankfully, PHP makes all of it very easy.

Here are a few things I’m planning on changing in my new photo album package:

  • Albums will be sorted based on date, providing a better chronological ordering.
  • EXIF data will not be hidden by default.
  • Photos will be better organized on the server side.
  • The old “slashes in the photo captions” bug will be fixed.

Progress is slow, but I hope to have something working within the next month or so. I’m also working on a new theme for this site, which is also coming along nicely. It might debut along with the new photo album software, so keep your eyes peeled.

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