Flash galleries allow you to show off a little with your work, and why not? Functional loading bars, crisp animations and a clean interface means Flash ticks a lot of boxes for many looking to exhibit their work on the web.
If you’re searching for a lightning fast public Flash gallery generator with all the above, then SimpleViewer is all you need. It’s free, and works with a myriad of imaging applications including Photoshop, Picasa and iPhoto.
If you’ve not got any of the above (or would rather use a lightweight solution), fear not for there is a dedicated GUI for SimpleViewer called Porta. This software will allow you to input the parameters you desire to customize your gallery without the need for trawling through an XML file and fiddling with code.
For the benefit of this demonstration, I will be using Porta. If like me you’ve got hundreds of ready-to-go processed images, then this is a speedy solution that “just works”. You can download the Windows version here, and Linux (and possibly Mac) users who are interested will be pleased to know that the generator will work with the aid of Wine. You won’t need to download SimpleViewer seperately if you are using Porta, all you need to get started is included.
SimpleViewer works by creating a folder containing your images, thumbnails, script files and an index page. When you visit this URL within a web browser (e.g. mydomain.com/holiday2010/) the gallery will be loaded in its entirety, making SimpleViewer ideal for quick sharing solutions.
Creating A Public Flash Gallery With Porta
Once you’ve downloaded and installed Porta, locate it in the Start Menu and open it up. You should be prompted straight away to select a folder to use for your gallery. The images within this folder will be added automatically to the list of images in your gallery, though you can re-arrange and remove images later if you wish.
Select a folder in the dialog box that appears, you may want to take some time collating your images first. Once you’ve chosen your desired images, Porta will return you to its default state and provide a couple of options to fiddle with.
First of all name your gallery and customise the footer if you want.
Change the destination of your eventual Flash masterpiece by clicking change and specifying a location (it will default to a folder called album in the location you previously chose). The Edit Album”¦ button allows you to decide on the order of your images, as well as captions and micro-captions.
Drag and drop your images in the left pane to rearrange, and clicking each one will give you the option to add captions. The gallery generator also allows you to pull EXIF data as captions with the Extract Captions button.
Once you’re done arranging, click Close to be taken back to Porta’s default menu and click Options. Here you can tweak your gallery so that it appears exactly as you want it.
Ensure that Use SimpleViewer as primary album viewer is checked, else you’ll generate a basic HTML gallery instead of the fancy Flash one you desire. The rest of the settings are entirely subjective based on your requirements from the gallery, and image size and quality will depend on bandwidth and space limitations.
Before hitting OK click on Options next to the SimpleViewer check box, and choose your colour scheme and appearance options.
Once you’re set, hit OK to return to the main menu and then Start to generate your gallery. SimpleViewer won’t hang around long, and your gallery will soon be generated. Hit Show Gallery to check out your creation, not forgetting to gasp in awe at the sexy interface in front of you.
You can now upload the folder directly to your webspace, or pick apart the HTML and integrate into a webpage of your choosing.
Using SimpleViewer With Other Applications
The full list of compatible SimpleViewer applications extends way beyond Photoshop, Picasa and iPhoto. Adobe Lightroom 2.0 and Apple Aperture are supported as well as RapidWeaver for the Mac and SimpleViewerExport on Linux.
Each application package contains the relevant scripts to generate galleries, though some require manual tweaking of the galleries.xml file to set parameters such as thumbnail size and scaling options.
There is a full list of compatible programs on the SimpleViewer website, as well as download links to scripts and detailed instructions on how to use each one in conjunction with your existing software.