If you're a visual artist or someone who collects a lot of images, you may have a need for a custom web gallery on your website. There's more than one way to go about creating one - you can hand-code it, you can use a plugin for a content management system (CMS), or you can use dedicated gallery software. Piwigo, formerly known as PhpWebGallery, is a particularly nice, open-source photo gallery software that you can install on your website.
Piwigo is written in PHP and is highly extensible; there are many user-contributed plugins that you can install to augment your gallery. This article will walk you through installing and setting up a custom web gallery with Piwigo.
Before installing Piwigo, you must create a database on your server. If your site uses cPanel, go to the MySQL Databases section to do so:
Make sure to add a user to the new database and to grant the assigned database user all privileges on the database.
After you've set up a database, installing Piwigo couldn't be easier. Your Web hosting provider may offer an automated installer, but I recommend getting Piwigo straight from the official download page to ensure that you get the latest version.
For the simplest procedure, download the NetInstall image, a single PHP file named "piwigo-netinstall.php". Use your FTP client to put this file on your website in the directory to which you want to install your gallery.
In your browser, navigate to the location of this file on your website. Remember to type in the full URL - for instance, "http://mysite.net/piwigo-netinstall.php," not "http://mysite.net." You will see an installation wizard.
Follow the wizard and fill out your database information.
Now you can navigate to the directory to which you installed Piwigo (for instance, "http://mysite.net"). You will be prompted to log in and add some photos to your gallery.
When you click "I want to add photos," you'll be taken to the administration page for your Piwigo installation, where you can manage various aspects of your gallery.
Getting Started Using Piwigo
Creating albums and uploading images from the Web interface is self-explanatory, as shown here:
You can also get Piwigo-compatible uploading apps for various devices, including all the ones listed in the "Applications" tab of the upload form. Some of these are pLoader (Linux, Mac, Windows), Piwigo for iOS, Piwigo for Android, and various Piwigo plugins for Adobe Lightroom, Shotwell, digiKam, iPhoto, and Aperture.
Once you've added at least one album, you can visit your Piwigo URL and view the gallery. A new gallery will look similar to the following example:
You'll probably wish to change the generic site title. To do so, go back to your administration page (for example, http://mysite.net/admin.php). Go to the "Configuration" section in the left sidebar and click "Options."
If you want to change the theme, too, go to "Configuration->Themes". You'll see that the default theme is "Elegant," while you can also choose from Clear, Dark, Smart Pocket (mobile), and Sylvia.
While full instructions would go beyond the scope of this article, you can also create your own themes using CSS. This is my gallery after I cloned the "Clear" theme and made changes to the CSS:
There are two ways to install plugins.
Method 1: Go to your administration page and click "Plugins -> Manage" in the left sidebar, then visit the "Other plugins available" tab to list and install certain plugins.
Method 2: Since Method 1 only works for some plugins, you can also search for and find plugins at the official plugin page. To install a plugin, just download it, connect to your server via FTP, and unpack the plugin archive into the "plugins" directory of your Piwigo installation. Now go to your admin page and visit "Plugins -> Manage -> Plugins" list to activate the plugin.
The following are some plugins that I find particularly useful.
You might be used to uploading your own favicon to a website and seeing it show up automatically in your browser. Unfortunately, this doesn't work in Piwigo. To use your own favicon in Piwigo, install the PersoFavicon plugin. Once activated, it will show up in your sidebar under "Plugins." Click on it to upload a favicon in .ico format.
Embedded Videos lets you embed videos in addition to images in your gallery. It supports embedding videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Wideo, and Wat.
To use this plugin, access it from your admin sidebar. The plugin interface lets you add one video at a time by URL.
Note the option to "add film effect" to the thumbnail; check this if you want filmstrip bars to show up on the sides of the thumbnail, which is a nice way to visually inform your viewers that they are about to view a video rather than an image.
Advanced Menu Manager lets you add extra modules to your gallery's menu, including a block to display a random photo from your albums, a block containing personal links, and more.
FacebookPlug is one of several social plugins available for Piwigo. It lets you easily add a Facebook "like" button to your main page and to your individual images. You can configure the type of button and its positioning on each page.
More social plugins:
I have used Piwigo for a couple of years, and it is my favorite Web-based photo gallery software. Managing a custom web gallery with Piwigo is simple, from setting up photos and albums to upgrading your installation.
What do you think of Piwigo? Do you have any favorite plugins you'd like to share with us? If you have your own Piwigo gallery, tell us about it in the comments!
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