No Goddamn Sensible Photo Gallery Plugin For WordPress! WTF?

So after 7 years using Joomla Content Manager, a client decided he wanted to switch to WordPress based on frustration.

He started with J1.0 in 2008 and had a costly transition to J1.5 in late 2009, then another expensive move to J2.5 in 2011, along with numerous malfunctions due to third-party extensions erroneous coding hooks for the J2.5 framework. Now after receiving notice that Joomla 2.5 will not be supported after December 2014 and seeing the new admin GUI of Joomla 3.x.x and determined that it is much more complex than the previous versions, he figured it was time to make a switch.

He had knowledge of WordPress but feared it due to the debacle with the TimThumb hack epidemic in 2010. However after much counseling and demonstrations, he is now confident that using WordPress will be best for long term website stability.

So What's The Problem?

After successfully selling him on the WP move, the shit hit the fan! His website is primarily party photo galleries and articles relative to the party industry. The website uses the highly rated JoomGallery extensions and has over 2200 galleries averaging 300 images each, listed by date descending.

His photo gallery blog is very popular so he makes good money from the advertising on the pages. For the ads to display, the gallery images are all individual pages created dynamically by the JoomGallery software, therefore facilitating random ads per page change.

Here lies the first big problem with WP gallery plugins - they all popup a damn lightbox or some form of jQuery display, and all promote time wasting mouse over and animated javascript effects. Great for small photo galleries of 20 - 30 images but loading 300 or more thumbnails is just too much CPU load. WTF!

The next issue is automated listing per gallery entry. Non existent! The required method is to create a category then assign each new gallery/album to that category. Each new album added is listed first on frontend within the display, and similarly in the administration view. The list on both ends are broken into X count per page, navigable by auto pagination. The WP gallery plugins all create galleries with no logical sorting function, primarily because it is expected that a shortcode will be used to insert each gallery into a post. While inserting each gallery into a post will achieve the required sorting, it is entirely manual.

Thirdly, no intelligent Widget to grab and display latest images from most recent gallery or galleries, in any of many ways including: random, last X days, from user X, by highest rated, by most votes, by most comments etc.

The Reluctant Option

After 7 hours of research and testing numerous WordPress photo gallery plugins, NextGen returned the closest option but it is lacking! It serves great for users with galleries of 30 images each but it is just another system resource hog packing in loads of jQuery plugins.

NextGen does have an option called 'ImageBrowser' which creates a page per image, but there is no gallery view leading in from the 'Album' view. When the gallery is clicked from gallery view, the 'imagebrowser' just starts from the first image so the user cannot scan through and choose where to start.

Categories are called 'albums' (makes no sense) and 'galleries' are optionally assigned to albums... MANUALLY! Though users have sought an auto-add to category/album function for many years. Just imagine manually adding albums 2200 times.

There is a Widget to display images but it is severely limited. It can only show latest X count images or random images from all galleries. Does not show image title or description.

At $99 per copy of the 'pro' version and boasting millions of users, one would think the developers have made enough wealth to develop useful options instead of the focus on pointless time wasting javascript display effects. It seems they, like Microsoft, were just happy to release a half-ass application to start raking in the money. And like MS Windows OS, being popular does not mean it is good! The NextGen developers should review the great photo gallery software by JoomGallery and get some useful pointers.

Being already committed to the Content Management System change, the project has to be completed with a custom WordPress package, but with a disappointing delivery.

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