Image presentation using Macromedia Flash

Recently I’ve been looking around the net to find a good solutions for displaying some photos in a online gallery using a flash movie to do the job. There are some good reasons to do that.

  • Flash is good for presentation. It can offer nice looking transisions between images using different slide and/or fading techniques. Using flash you can avoid writing a buch of HTML/scripting to generate a nice looking gallery with intuitive navigational elements.
  • Flash scales images satisfactory. Using flash, your images can be scaled automatically to suit any browser setting. Doing this with server/client side with scripting could get messy
  • Images presented in a flash movie is harder to steal. Of course not impossible, but harder. You can also easily apply a watermark to all your images quite easily.
  • Flash enables asynchronous loading of images. Your page can get big and loading everything around the gallery for every image shown can slow the user experience down. Flash can load images without reloading the whole page. Its the same ideà as for AJAX.
  • Flash facilitates the creation of enhanced navigational GUI elements. In addition to the usual HTML elements such as text links, images and form widgets, theres basically no limitation for what can constitue a navigational element in flash. Beware though of too imaginative solutions.

Im not a Flash creator myself. I’ve played around with it, but some of the key concepts are lost on me. Stealing Using other peoples stuff is for that reason my only option. I have some requirements to a Flash image gallery movie:

  1. It must be customizable. I cannot use a “wedding” theme with my images when they are images of sharks. No sharks have been engaged in wedlock for a long time. It must be possible to change basic stuff as colors, paddings, positions og elements and so forth.
  2. It must read the images from an external file. Some require you to actually open the Flash movie in the Flash editing IDE. Thats not dynamic. I must be able to dynamically genenerate the image gallery.
  3. It should scale well. Websites vary in size. So the Flash gallery should adhere to me, not the other way around.

These are some of the best ones out there that I’ve been able to find. (in no particular order)

  • http://www.bananalbum.com/ – Nice featured. Customizable to a certain point. Preloads thumbnails and loads large version of images on the fly. Calls javascript functions for popups and so forth. Bad documentation though. There are some nice features that I only found mentioned in a forum and not on the official site. Some of the GUI elements (like the dragbar) looks not quite as good as it could. There are possible to download PHP and other scripts to handle upload, but prepare to do quite a bit of customization of those.
  • http://www.flashimagegallery.com/ – Super fast gallery. Nice navigational elements. Good looking loaders. Really good PHP scripts for administration of galleries. Really sad that it handles scaling badly. It just gets bigger, magnified. If you expand the flash so it would have room to display one more thumbnail it doesnt. It simply scales up the thumnails already there. Same goes for text. I really hope the developer fixes this at some stage. No obvious customization options either.
  • http://www.airtightinteractive.com/simpleviewer/ – Nice gallery. Very good customization options. Preloads images (the large ones). Nice fading transitions. Available PHP scripts were not satisfactory for me. However my first choice at the moment. Recommended. You can also use JAlbum as a GUI client (Java program, runs on all platforms) to create albums really quickly.
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