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How to Develop Photo Galleries Using Dreamweaver

Sharing photos

Everyone is toting a digital camera these days it seems and they have photos to share with you. I'm sure you're not one of those who want to bore family and friends with your gazillion pictures of your dog/cat/snake. Even if you are, you can now do it with some pizzazz and it's easier than you may think. You could send the photos via email but then they'd take forever to arrive and your family probably doesn't know how to open them anyway. So the best solution is a spiffy new photo gallery.

Photo galleries aren't just for displaying personal pictures but they are widespread in the business world as well. The obvious use is for photographers. But there are a lot of less obvious uses as well, such as a portfolio of products, designs, sketches etc. I've built the Flash version to display photos of office staff and to display products. They can even be used in online catalogs. The more you use your imagination, the more uses you'll come up with.

There are so many different solutions to display your images. Some involve a database and others use Flash. Most are quite difficult to build by the average user and require some programming skills and definitely code editing skills. A popular method is to have thumbnails that when clicked display larger images on the same page. This involves a lot of show and hide layers in Dreamweaver and is a bear to edit. An inexpensive alternative I've found to this is an extension sold at DMXzone.com called "Flash Album Generator". It's the easiest to build and edit that I've come across so far.

The projects we are going to build today are all free and are very easy to use and build. These tools are great when you need to build or design a photo gallery in a hurry or on a budget.

Have you seen galleries that take forever to load? How about the ones that the image displays one strip at a time? These are photos that beginners have posted without resizing and worse yet, without optimizing. The tools you'll be using today will resize and optimize-to a degree. It's still best to process your images using Fireworks before building your gallery. A link is provided in the projects for doing batch processes in Fireworks.

In the past year I've had more requests to build photo galleries then ever before and as prices continue to drop and the cameras get smaller and easier to use, the demand will only get higher. If you haven't built a gallery yet, then the time is now. Roll up your sleeves and let's have some fun.

To begin these projects you'll need some photos-go figure.

Build a quick and easy photo gallery
Sceen1: Page setup
Open a new page and save it. Be sure to add your page title now. The Web Photo Album that ships with Dreamweaver has no design templates. But this is a fine alternative if you want to place the gallery into your own designs. Select Commands|Create Web Photo Album

Screen2: Fill in the dialog box
Everything is right here in the same dialog box. Give it a title, subtitle if desired. Navigate to your photos folder and a destination folder. Select the size for the thumbnails and if you want the file names to show. Select the image quality and scale the images if needed. Scale large images and click OK.

Screen3: Batch Process in Fireworks
The thumbnail resizing is actually done with a batch process in Fireworks. If you scaled the large images down at all, then they will also be batch processed to the percentage of the scale. When the batch is done, return to Dreamweaver and click on OK to the Album has been created successfully dialog.

Screen4: The photo album
Press F12 to preview in your default browser. Notice the image names? If you are going to show file names then you'll want to either rename the files or rename in Dreamweaver. Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger view. Navigation forward and back is also provided automatically.

Boxout (mini 3 step): Editing the album
You can dramatically change this album very easily by editing the tables and images. You may want to move the taller images together or change the placement of the photos. It's nicer if you put like images together. If you are using titles, change them and alter the font properties.

box1
The first thing we will do is change the header area.

Select the top table and make the size 580 pixels wide, change the rows to 1 and name it "header". Delete the title. In the Property inspector click on "bg Image" and browse to the background image (on the CD) to insert it. Add an embedded style for the table with a height of 82.

box2
Adjusting the content area to match the size of the header table.

Now select the lower table and make it 580 pixels wide (assuming you used 100px wide thumbnails and 5 columns). The idea is to make the top and lower table the same width.

box3
Change the background color of the content table

With the larger table selected, click in the bk color box and use the dropper to sample a purple color from the flowers. Click your cursor between the 2 tables and delete the extra space. Now preview and see the big difference with very little effort.

Time it takes: 10 minutes Requirements: Dreamweaver
Downloading and installing a Dreamweaver extension

Screen5: Register at Macromedia.com
From the Help menu, select Dreamweaver exchange. Once there you'll need to create a login and password if this is your first time here. Don't worry, it's free. By registering with Macromedia, you'll also get cool updates and notices when new content has been added to the Developer center.

Screen6: Go to the Dreamweaver Exchange
Once logged in you'll see a Category menu top left. In the right column you can search by highest rated, newest or most downloaded extensions. Note all the availability, download, rating and product information of each extension. At the top right, click on the Search Exchanges link.

Screen7: Find a specific extension type
Type in "photo album", select Dreamweaver exchange and click on Search. Check out some of the extensions, some are very good. Scroll down to the Web Photo Album 2.2 for Dreamweaver MX and 2004 (by Macromedia). Click on the name for more information. Click the Download button to get the extension.

Screen8: Install an extension
Now that you have the extension, you'll need to install it. I keep all Dreamweaver extensions in the same folder using subfolders. Locate the WebPhotoAlbum226.mxp file you just downloaded and double-click on it. Accept all the screens and your extension will be installed automatically. If Dreamweaver is open, you'll need to close it and re-open it.

Screen9: Extension Manager
Let's take a quick look at the Extension Manager. You can either open it from Programs|Macromedia|Extension Manager or from Dreamweaver. In Dreamweaver select Commands|Manage Extensions. You can click on installed items to turn them off or you could install from here. Note that the other Macromedia application extensions are all controlled from here.

Screen10: Define a site
You'll need to define a site or open the one you are putting the photo gallery into. Select Site|Manage Sites|Add New|Site. Name it, navigate to the sites folder and setup remote information to upload your files. The step by step instructions for defining a site can be found in last months article or from the Dreamweaver Help files.

Time it takes: 20 minutes Requirements: Fireworks 8, Dreamweaver
Build a Photo Gallery with a Dreamweaver Extension

Screen 11: No page needed
With your defined site open, select Commands|Web Photo Album 2.2. The dialog window that opens gives you 2 different layout options. The first one is like the one we just built so select the "Create a Photo Album that includes only navigation pages" option. Click on Next.

Screen12: Choosing a design
Select "Create Page from Template" and check out all the options. I'm selecting Floral Yellow. You can even select to go to the Exchange for more templates. Click Next. Click Add Folder and navigate to your photos folder. Select and remove any images you don't want. Click Next

Screen13: Finishing the album build
Browse to the destination folder, give it a title and select the navigation style you want. I'm going to scale to 30% since they are large images. You can choose to add captions or not. I'm not going to. Click Next then Finish. The images will again process in Fireworks. Click OK, isn't that a nice gallery?

Screen14
Try another variation. Repeat only this time select the first option with the thumbnail page. I used the green floral and changed the navigation to no loop. Click on any image to see the larger view and the caption which was added in Fireworks. Each image as it was processed prompted for a caption.

Screen15: Check the image size and resolution
I recommend if you use either of these two extensions that you batch process the larger images yourself using Fireworks. The extensions resize the images but do not change the resolution. Camera resolution may be 300 dpi which is far too much for the web.

Screen16a: Batch Processing in Fireworks
Open File|Batch Process and navigate to your folder of images. You can then add some or all of the images and click Next. Follow the instructions throughout the wizard. You can size, optimize and even apply commands to an entire folder of images.

More info: If you are new to batch processing, I have a movie tutorial here: www.joycejevans.com/tutorials/Fireworks/FWMX/Batch/batch.html

That will demonstrate step by step how to do it.


More Stories By Joyce Evans

Joyce J. Evans is a training veteran with over 10 years of experience in educational teaching, tutuorial development, and Web design. She has presented at conferences such as Macromedia MAX 2003 and TODCON. Joyce has authored books including Macromedia Studio MX 2004 Bible, Dreamweaver MX 2004 Complete Course, and others. Joyce is a Team Macromedia volunteer and her work is also featured in the Macromedia Design/Developer center. Her Web site is www.JoyceJEvans.com.

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