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Flash Photo Galleries - Free


Rocky

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There are heaps of flash photogalleries to choose from these days, so I' decided to try a few out and see which is the best. To do this I used the same 9 photos in each example, to see which was easiest to set up, and which gave the best end effect!

TILT VIEWER Live Example.

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TiltViewer has a free and a pay version. The only difference is that the pay version has extra customisations for colours etc, the free version is perfectly suitable for most applications.

TiltViewer has a couple of options for image location, you can have it pull images from Flickr, or from your web space, which is the option I went for.

I only had to check the instructions once briefly before I had my gallery online and working great, so TV is a quick way of getting a flash gallery online easily. It's xml driven, so it's a simple case of editing the sample xml file and changing the filenames, and file descriptions, and that's pretty much it. You don't even need to create thumbnails, just have a folder full of the images you want to use, and you're good to go.

The full upload package is less than 150Kb, so this is a lightweight system.

As far as configuration goes, you can change all the colours (borders, background, text etc), and the descriptions support html. In fact the xml file is very similar to slideshow pro. On the plus side the author does permit users to download the fla file, so if you know a bit of flash, you can customise the effect all you like.

It's a pretty clean cut layout in use, but still instinctive. You click an image to expand it, click it again to reduce it, or click the bottom icon to flip it over and find a description and option to link to another webpage, which could be the full uncompressed image is you like.

So, TV is good for quickness, config, and useability :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

FLASH GALLERY Live Example.

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Next up is the top Google result, Flash Gallery. This is a TINY system that will take up only 15Kb on your server, plus photo's. The swf file is a tiny 10Kb compared to Tilt Viewers 120Kb.

There is more work required than with TV though, as Flash Gallery needs thumbs to work, so you have to create thumbs yourself. There is free software available to download that will batch process thumbs for you though, so no biggie really.

The presentation is virtually identical to SlideShowPro, with a row of thumbs to select from lined up beneath the main image.

Like Tilt Viewer there are a couple of icons, one to go full screen, and one to link to the actual image. In Tiltviewer you can set the link to go anywhere though, with Flash Gallery it only links to the actual image in the gallery, not even a full size version of it if you so wished.

Where Flash Gallery falls down is two threefold.

1. There's been no updates from the developer since summer 2007.

2. It has a watermark on the bottom left.

3. Lack of customisation.

I guess the tiny 10Kb size has something to do with complaint number 3, but when weighing up against a 120Kb TiltViewer with more options, it's a bit of a no brainer. Unless you are deadset on this kind of layout and want a very small footprint, there isn't really much to recommend Flash Gallery. It works fine, but the limitations and watermark put me off. Shame really, to command the number spot on Google for flash photograph galleries is an opportunity to say the least.

CAROUSEL Live Example.

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Initially I thought Carousel was going to take a little more time to get set up, as the download didn't come pre-stocked with a sample gallery that could be easily substituted with my own pictures. You even had to create the xml file that holds the image data from scratch! Luckily there is a wiki to assist!

Eventually I found that the author's website had template downloads that were easily edited to create a new gallery in seconds. The whole thing is under 300Kb, so it's another lightweight system.

As the title suggests the layout here is different from most other photogallerys as it presents the photo's in a rotating circle, the further the mouse moves left or right, the faster it rotates. Click on an image to have it open in a new window, or indeed open anything you like in a new window as the link is fully customisable. There's quite a lot tat can be customised, so if you like the basic premise, this is all free so dive in and have fun.

The example I have linked above uses Lightbox technology for the very cool image popups. This required editing in two files, the xml file and also the html file. It only takes a few minutes and care to make sure you reference the images correctly. The simpler templates do not use this effect and simply link to the image in a new html page. Simple Example.

The only downside is that all the Carousel shows have a small watermark link in the bottom left.

FLASH PHOTO BROWSER Live Example.

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This is a neat presentation that stacks your photo collection up as if it's a pile of photos on a desk, lying askew to show just a little of each of the photos below. As you click on the top photo it makes its way to the bottom of the pack and the next next rotates slightly as it comes to the front. There's a button top right to switch to a more conventional layout of rows and columns.

Getting this online and working is about as simple as it gets. You don't even need to edit any files, just have a folder of images, and a folder of thumbs (only used for the alternative rows/columns layout). There is not really much customisation that can be done, hence it comes in at an incredible 17Kb in total, including the readme lol!

This is a great way of getting a gallery online fast!

POLAROID FLASH GALLERY Live Example.

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Here's another very fast way to get a flash photo gallery online, Polaroid Flash Gallery. The interface here is laid out like a batch of polaroid photo's scattered across a surface. The photos can all be clicked and dragged to any location on the screen as if shuffling around the table, and expanded by double clicking. I'd have really like to see the blow up image a bit larger, or an option to see the full size image, alas this is not an option with the current version at least.

A neat way to display images, and although it allows for a text description for each image, that is about as far as customisation goes.

To get up and running you just have to edit a simple xml file with your file names, and upload the sub 400Kb suite of files to your webspace. No need to create thumbs, it could hardly be any easier really!

SIMPLE VIEWER Live Example.

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From the same developer as the cool Tilt Viewer comes the more reserved Simple Viewer flash gallery. This is a row and column gallery with the main image being displayed to the right of the thumbs. No special effects here, just a nice clean layout. The free version has a small image link bottom right, back to the author's website.

You do need to create thumbs for this gallery though, so a little more prep is required than some of the other flash galleries. As usual there is an xml to edit with the filenames for each photo, with a few colour options available too.

Each photo can have a description (caption) associated with it, which is displayed beneath the thumbs and can be formatted with simple HTML tags. A bonus here is that the description can contain a link, to another site or even the full image, it's up to you.

A simple design, piece of cake to install.

AND THE WINNER IS

To win this little group test the gallery needed to show custom text for each photo, and have a nicely sized blow up photo when the thumb was clicked. Less important but taken into consideration would be the ability to have a hyperlink for each photo, a nice effect, and no watermark/logo.

Flash Gallery was a bit Plain Jane.

Flash Photo Browser and Carousel were both a nice effect but not very practical.

Polaroid Gallery was neat, but the clicked photos were a bit small.

Tiltviewer and Simple Viewer both managed to pass almost all those requirements easily, the free versions have a small logo present, but apart from that these are the best and it's hard to choose between them. In the end the nice big photo's and additional sound effects make Tiltviewer just that little bit more attractive and it wins the day, with Simple Viewer a very close second.

Hope this helps someone select their next online photo gallery!

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