Media enhancements

Hi, this is the geek section on how to setup WordPress for rich photographic sites.

WordPress Media Library

The WordPress media library has very limited capabilities for media management, specifically it doesn’t have any facility to tag or categorise media or organise images into folders.  Also any album like display options are very limited and ‘uncool’ compared to modern sites.

What the media library does do however is allow images to be attached to a page (or post) so if you think of a post as the key organisational unit this will help you understand the native features.

It does also already handle searching, image cropping and scaling with regeneration of thumbnails and gets a big +1 for being a built-in module, therefore highest compatibility, support, possibility of new updates, so…

Recommended solutions

We are recommending a set of libraries which enhance rather than replace the WordPress media library, which gives us maximum compatibility with the different functionality available.

  • Enhanced Media Library: this enables categories and tags to help manage the media library: because it is an enhancement of the standard media library, it is fully compatible with the rest of the site.
  • Robo Gallery – allows easy selection of images from [Enhanced] Media Library and display them how you want!
  • Imsanity :  If you upload pictures directly from a camera, they are far too big to see on a computer screen, will slow down your website and use up network and disk space.  Insanity plugin is a defence to automatically intercept and shrinks excessively large images as they are uploaded, just in case somebody forgot to do that before uploading the pictures…

Tips, Tricks and Gotchas

Translations

You have to decide whether you create separate images for each language or not.  Tip: you  almost always do not, due to the amount of additional work and extra images required. But if you enable ‘Media translation’ in your translation tool, this is what you get – if you think your pictures have disappeared or there are no pictures available when you switch languages, this is what has happened!  (if you really can’t find any at all, run Run Settings, Languages, Set Default Language to ensure the existing images are associated with a language).

So we just have one image for all languages, what about the image names, descriptions, captions?    Let’s assume that you are normally adding images in the same language as you are writing:  in this case when you create translated pages, the captions etc will be translated at that point.

Albums displays are a separate issue since they are generated dynamically and not part of the translated page content: the solution here is to create a separate album for the other language, the album is just another container that can have it’s own translated captions.

Alternatively you might decide to either not translate the captions or to add a single multi-lingual description to the image when uploaded.

Others

If you are switching themes you may end up with a build of up duplicate images since different themes use different sizes, in which case you might want to investigate  ‘Force Regenerate Thumbnails’.

There’s some more good and only slightly outdated tips here.

Rejected solutions

Jetpack is a subject in itself since it is produced by wordpress.com which claims to run over 25% of all websites..  However for our media management it is quite limited and tied into the wordpress.com site.  This also means the various features rely on being able to connect to various other websites and content distribution networks, some of which are unfortunately also not available to 641,000 China internet users, though well supported in other respects as a wordpress.com core product.

NextGen gallery was a must-evaluate since it does claim over 1 million active installations and indeed first look is pretty cool:

  • good  management of galleries and also Albums (intended to be based on an Album page which can contain multiple galleries)
  • has ability to tag images and add links to tag cloud, e.g. on sidebar to show images with related tag to page
  • a number of options for adding a gallery viewer to a page (although none of them perfect)

on second look, meh, not so good:

  • built-in gallery viewers are not cool, you need to write your own or purchase extras
  • the translation mechanism via string management is poor and difficult to maintain
  • the module is a little heavyweight
  • there is no ability to share or transfer images between NextGen and built-in media library, also means any other features or tools based on built-in media library don’t work with NextGen gallery

Envira

Just as an example, one of many tools, which operate as

  • separate image library and therefore not compatible with the rest of the site.
  • you can’t add pictures from Envira to a page for example – though you can copy images from WordPress media library to Envira…
  • lots of advertising for additional tools and Pro versions (which are unlikely to correct the design issues of the basic version)
  • not multi-lingual compatible
  • no image management features
  • no tags/categories / tag cloud feature  (for displaying related images etc)
  • limited display options at least in free version
  • display bugs – e.g. multiple image popups on top of each other

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