Social Networking


Photos on JAlbum: A Little More Exertion, a Lot More Expression

With outlets like Flickr, Shutterfly and Photobucket — just to name a few — there’s been a considerable decrease in demand for programs for creating photo albums that can be uploaded to personal Web space.

Still, if you have an account with an internet service provider (ISP), you likely have megabytes of Web space begging to be used for something, and what could be better than to fill it up with photo albums you’d like to share with friends and relatives?

It isn’t too difficult to create an album if you have some knowledge of HTML, but it’s a lot quicker and easier to create them with an application like JAlbum.

Intuitive to Use

JAlbum, updated recently, has versions that will run on all major operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux) and a few minor ones (Solaris, HP-UX and OS/2).

Judging from its Web site, it has a robust and enthusiastic community of users and supporters.

JAlbum is very intuitive to use.

You set up the framework for your album by choosing a “skin” and a style for it.

The skin determines the overall look of the album — where thumbnails are located on the page, the kinds of navigation buttons used, background texture and so forth.

About 10 or so skins are included with the program, but many more can be downloaded from the JAlbum Web site.

Customizable Settings

After choosing a skin for your album, you can pick a style for it. Most styles change the color scheme of the skin, allowing you to add a bit more variety to the template.

In addition to skins and styles, there are a number of settings for your albums that you can tinker with.

There are general settings for determining the thumbnail grid for your index pages (four rows by four columns, for instance, or eight rows by five columns), as well as for choosing locations on your hard drive for the program’s output.

There are image settings for scaling images and controlling their quality, as well as determining the size of the thumbnails used with an album.

There are navigation settings for controlling the behavior of links from thumbnails. Clicking a thumbnail, for example, can display a larger but scaled-down version of the original image, or it can display the original image in all its glory.

There are advanced settings for determining the source of metadata for the album’s Web pages and customizing the program’s naming conventions for the files it creates.

Also, each skin’s settings can be customized in various ways.

Drag-and-Drop Ease

After you’ve set the framework for your album, you simply drag and drop photos into JAlbum to finish the project.

The thumbnails created from the images you drop into the program will automatically be arranged according to the default you chose for the album’s index grid. You can reorder the images, though, by dragging them to new locations within the grid.

Comments can be added to your photos by right-clicking a thumbnail and choosing “properties” from a drop-down menu.

When you’ve finished your album, you can publish it directly to the Web from within JAlbum.

After clicking Publish, a window will pop up asking you for the server address where your ISP stores your personal files, your user name and a password.

Armed with that information, JAlbum will connect with your ISP’s server.

Express Yourself

However, when you try to upload your album, the application will try to upload it to the server address used with your log-in information.

In my case, it was trying to write files to and producing errors. By selecting and clicking the “mark as root web” button, I could rename the default location for uploading albums. Once that problem was corrected, publishing was a snap.

Although uploading photos to an online photo-sharing service may be easier than creating albums from scratch, it’s only marginally easier than creating them with JAlbum. What’s more, if you have any expressive blood in your veins, working with JAlbum is a lot more satisfying.

John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].

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