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An impressive photo-archiving tool

Nov 21, 20054 mins
ComputersEnterprise Applications

Coppermine is a remarkable gallery system that appears to be very powerful and easy to administer. The default look-and-feel is a little clunky, but we changed our look-and-feel to be Mac OS X-like.

Last week we were discussing how we were trying to set up an online photo gallery and how we wound up writing some code to generate the XML data file that was required by the Flash-based gallery system we took a liking to for the project.

We also discussed the RealBasic cross-platform development system we used to build our XML generator. We’ve had a little more time to get to know this product, and it really is amazing and easy to use.

One of the really clever things in RealBasic becomes evident when you are designing an application and moving components around on a window: Layout lines automatically appear to show the distance between components, and highlights show their centers and edges. It can even snap components to the edges of other components.

When it comes to coding applications you can often just add a few lines to specific events, such as button clicks and “mouseovers,” and voila, an application is born. There’s support for Apple’s Spotlight, serial ports and even threads!

Our only complaint is that you can’t see the code of your entire program; you can only see individual events, which makes it a little more difficult to keep track of everything that’s going on. Even so, we score RealBasic at 9.5 out of 10.

RealBasic Standard costs $100, and $400 gets you the Professional edition, which includes cross-platform compiling, SSL support, and database connectors for Oracle, SQL Server, FileMaker Server and MySQL.

The program worked well, but with 1,000 files we’d need to do a lot more to have a really manageable system. Then we were contacted by reader Dave Morris: “Please allow me to recommend Coppermine Photo Gallery. It is full-featured, easy to use and free! It is based on PHP and MySQL and therefore doesn’t require Flash or anything else to run on any platform with any modern browser!”

He also shamelessly asked us to plug his site, Free IT, which has as its goal “to introduce excellent and cost-effective alternative solutions for your business and computing needs, with the realization that most people are not interested in the technology for technology’s sake, but the end result.” This is to say, he is all about open source and there’s some good stuff there.

Anyway, Morris is correct: Coppermine is really, really good. It is a breeze to install, and the only problem you’re likely to have is setting the correct permissions on the image directories.

Along with PHP and MySQL, Coppermine requires a Web server and the GD Library, or any version of ImageMagick.

Among its exhausting list of features, Coppermine makes it possible to organize pictures in categories and albums; allows you to bulk-upload pictures to a subdirectory and then to an album; supports multimedia; allows creation of thumbnails and intermediate-size images; lets you search picture metadata; displays a selection of last-added as well as random pictures; supports private galleries and groups; supports multiple languages; lets you add comments and ratings to pictures and send pictures in e-cards; and has a slideshow viewer.

In short, this is a remarkable gallery system that appears to be very powerful and easy to administer. The default look-and-feel is a little clunky, but we changed our look-and-feel to be Mac OS X-like. If you want to check out our gallery of favorite football shots, drop us a note with the subject “Photos” and we’ll send you the link.

Well, it will be Thanksgiving in a few days so we have to go and brine our turkey. What, you’ve never brined a turkey? Once you’ve tasted soy-brined turkey, you’ll wonder how you ever had Thanksgiving without it. Drop us a message with the subject “Turkey,” and we’ll send you the technical instructions.

Bon appetite! No eructations to Oh yeah, don’t forget Gibbsblog.