Last week I took you on a walkthrough of Zenphoto, a free and highly extensible self-hosted photo gallery that should not be overlooked if you’ve got the photoblog bug. This week I’m going to show you how to get even more out of your gallery installation with the Zenpage CMS plugin.
Whilst Zenphoto at first appears to be an amazing tool for sharing photos, it can also take on a bit more responsibility than your run-of-the-mill gallery solution. The ability to theme and customize your gallery provides excellent scope for anyone requiring a media-oriented content management system (CMS).
In order to make your Zenphoto a little more WordPress, you’re going to need a Zenphoto plugin called Zenpage CMS. It is an officially supported extension for the Zenphoto platform, and as you’d expect, it works well.
You’ll find the Zenpage plugin (amongst others) on the Plugins tab of your main admin panel. Scroll down to the bottom and find Zenpage, select it and hit Apply at the top of the page. It’ll take a few seconds for Zenpage to be installed, then you’re set.
The first thing you’ll probably notice are the two extra tabs now on your main navigation panel, Pages and News.
You’ll be pleased to know that there are now Pages and News shortcuts in the admin toolbox visible on your site’s front end. News posts are split into categories, whereas Pages are simply used as static pages (e.g. contact or about).
Adding a news post is a fairly simple task, compose an SEO-friendly title, some content, pick a category and hit Apply. Hit the Published checkbox whilst composing to publish straight away, or visit the articles page at a later date.
Before you’ll notice the difference on the frontend you’re going to need to enable a Zenpage CMS compatible theme. The default theme is just called Zenpage and provides a good starting place with a fairly blank layout for you to use and abuse.
Head over to the Themes tab and choose the default Zenpage theme, hit Apply and wait for your changes to take effect. You can change each theme’s options once it has been applied with the Set theme options link next to each offering.
If you intend on using the default theme then there’s a few options on the theme options page you might want to tweak. News on index page will replace the default gallery list view with your latest news stories, whilst Use custom menu requires the menu_manager plugin but gives you the ability to construct your own personal menus.
The image view page is fairly standard, with a few nice touches. Clicking on the image will open it in a larger lightbox and there’s an Image info button that opens EXIF data in a lightbox too.
All that Zenpage really does is add news and page elements to your website. There’s a couple of good compatible themes, but you’ve also got the option of building or converting your own if you’re the patient type.
As Zenphoto is written in PHP, the Zenpage CMS uses PHP functions to call the desired elements. If you really are interested in how to go about this then you’ll need this handy list of supported functions. An easy way of customizing the default Zenpage theme is by tweaking the style.css file in your /themes/zenpage directory.
If the very thought of this terrifies you, there’s a couple of themes you can install and use right now. Download, extract and upload the folder to the /themes directory of your Zenphoto install, then choose your theme on the Themes admin tab.
A light, airy and newspaper-esque theme that still places plenty of emphasis on your photography. The menu is attractively located atop the main page, with both latest news and latest albums featured on the index.
Even if you don’t like the colours (change them), there’s no denying it’s a well-designed and easy to follow layout.
A dark theme that subtly integrates news and pages into the main menu without displacing your photos or dumbing down their impact. An excellent photo-oriented layout makes for a fantastic theme, you should probably give this one a go!
A perfect example of expanding upon the default theme, Enlighten doesn’t change an awful lot but the colour scheme. If you find light blues and pale greys more inviting than the default greens and blacks then it might suit out of the box.
For the rest of you it’s inspiration to rip up the CSS file and stamp your own mark on your site.
The Zenpage CMS plugin demonstrates what a powerful tool Zenphoto is. Adding news and pages to your site retains all the media goodness of Zenphoto whilst delivering a quality integrated blog and multimedia showcase website. If you’re not too sure about Zenphoto but are looking for a good photo blog then Pixelpost might be just what you’re looking for.
Have you tried Zenphoto? How about Zenpage CMS? Share your creations, photos and comments below.