Cooliris is one of the most popular 3D photo gallery solutions online. Damien shared how using Cooliris can enhance the photo browsing experience on the iPhone, and Jackson covered the desktop version of Cooliris in some detail. Since then, Cooliris has expanded its offerings and now provides a useful 3D photo gallery plugin that you can create and embed anywhere on the web.
Creating Your Embeddable Cooliris Photo Gallery
The cool thing about embedding a Cooliris photo gallery is that instead of acting as a static photo gallery, it actually serves as a feed that updates each time you add new photos to your photo stream in services like Flickr or Picasa. This is one of the easiest ways to distribute photos to multiple blogs – just embed your one photo stream to however many websites you like, and when you upload photos to your one photo storage account, the updates distribute wherever your Cooliris photo gallery is embedded.
Setting up your Cooliris embeddable photo gallery is a very simple three step process, and it is customizable enough to easily match the theme and appearance of your site. The first step is to visit the Express site, and click on “Create your own 3D wall!”
The first step of the process is to choose what source you’re going to use as your photo stream. In my example, I’m going to use a Flickr account that I’ve used as a bucket for all sorts of photos, from family photos to Ebay products I used to sell. All you have to do is select the content source, and then paste the URL for your photo stream page.
Keep in mind that each source has different configuration options, so your particular screen may look a little different than this one. Cooliris used to be somewhat limited in the number of sources you could use, at least back in 2008, but today you can use just about any major source of photos, including any media RSS feed. This means that you don’t have to use your own photo gallery. If you want to embed images from someone else’s photo stream or website, just select their source and paste their photo stream URL.
Once you’ve got the photo source configured, it’s just a matter of customizing your theme to match your website. You can choose from a small selection of premade background themes. If none of those suit your site, just click on “Advanced Options” and use a background image URL of your choosing. The ability to use a background image lets you basically create any background theme that you want, so your choice is unlimited. The Advanced tab also lets you modify little details about how the gallery appears and behaves.
On the final page is where you copy and paste the embed code. If you’re using a specific service like Facebook or Blogger to post your dynamic gallery, make sure to select the button for that service, as the embed code will be a little bit different. Otherwise, stick with the default embed code because it will work on just about any blog that lets you embed standard HTML code.
In my case, I’m going to create a specific page just for my images, because my blog is set up to assign a tab at the top of the screen for each unique page I create. I’d like to offer visitors a quick and easy link to my photo gallery, so creating a “My Photo Gallery” page is definitely the best way to go. This is how it appears once I’ve created the page.
This is how my WordPress theme is set up, but if you have a different setup, you may want to just embed the photo gallery into a new post, or maybe you want to embed it into the sidebar. Any option will work because you can just embed the code into the post or into your sidebar widget, and your dynamic Cooliris photo gallery will display right within your blog. It embeds into the page just like you’ve coded a photo gallery onto your site. Your visitors won’t even know that the images and the gallery source comes from another website.
Best of all, the cool features that you’ve come to expect from Cooliris, like 3D scrolling and pop-up image view windows, all work perfectly within the self-contained, embedded photo gallery. Click on a photo, and it’ll zoom and display right within the embedded window. Click the scroll button, and the entire gallery tilts and scrolls in 3D right within your own web page.
Of course the feature that I like the most is the thing that I’ve mentioned the most in this article – the dynamic nature of the photo gallery. No longer do you have to upload and manage a photo gallery that you’ve programmed into your website or blog, now you can simply update your source – in my case, my Flickr account – and the page automatically displays your new photo stream with those updates. For example, I decided that I wanted to remove my kids’ photos from the image stream, since I’m making it public. Here you’ll see that the stream automatically updated to reflect those changes.
Best of all, within the embedded photo gallery, there are links where your visitor can share the photos via Facebook and Twitter. Or they can click to maximize the display – which, by the way, doesn’t take them away from your website. Once the click on minimize, it returns them right back to the page on your website where they started.
Have you ever tried Cooliris as an embedded photo gallery? Do you like the dynamic update ability and 3D features? Do you know of any alternatives that you like better? Share your insight in the comments section below.