And so I have finally decided to take the plunge. Actually it was more of a push rather than a voluntary plunge, when my brother asked me to take a look at his photo blog and help him fix a plugin that he wanted to use. That is when I realized that building photo blogging functionality is not as difficult as it seems, because Suffusion already has a lot of the pieces in place. And in minutes I had built a “Mosaic layout”, just like the Excerpts, Tiles and List layouts.
I have been looking around a bit and I figured this would be a good starting set to provide for basic photo-blogging. Feel free to pitch in with your suggestions:
- Support for YAPB:
Johannes Jarolim’s plugin is by far the most popular photo-blogging solution, hence this becomes a shoe-in for photo-blogging support.
- Other types of images:
Let’s face it – the last time YAPB got an update was in December 2009, more than a year back. If you were to switch on WP_DEBUG on your site you would get catastrophic failures with YAPB (so would you with a lot of plugins, but that is besides the point). Since then WP has evolved significantly and so has our thinking of how to deal with images and other content. So additionally, the following types of images should also be handled in photo-blogs:
- Embedded URLs: The oldest way to embed an image in any HTML content – WP or otherwise. Suffusion does detect embedded URLs for the purpose of thumbnail generation, so if your post simply has an image URL, it will be picked up for display.
- Attachments: The oldest way to associate an image with a post in WP, this is also the way to build a gallery within your post.
- WP 3.0 Featured Images: This really elevates one image to a featured status in your post, so if you have a blog where you have a featured image associated with a post, that image will be the key image in your post.
- Image Custom Post Format: This is the new kid on the block. WP 3.1 introduced something called “Custom Post Formats”, which you might have seen in your admin panels as something that shows up on the right side of your post when you are editing one. Currently Suffusion just lists the post formats, but does nothing special with them. I am planning to dovetail support for the Image and Gallery Custom Post Formats with the photo-blogging features.
All the above (except the custom post format) has existed in Suffusion for about a year now. The point of listing it here is to tell you that if you have a blog that follows one of the above patterns and you are looking to make it look like a photo-blog, Suffusion will have you covered.
- New Widgets:
I have already finished developing a widget for Flickr. One more for Picasa is on its way. You will be able to either display a Flickr photo stream or a Picasa web album in these widgets.
- New Short Codes:
Along with the Flickr widget I also built a Flickr short code which you will be able to insert into your post to display a Flickr photo stream. A similar one will be built for Picasa.
- New Mosaic Layout:
This is where the image types in point #2 come in handy. Strictly speaking, though, this is just a listing of one thumbnail per post for each post in a category / tag / date archive etc, very similar to the tiled layout. The only difference is that you don’t see the excerpt – just the thumbnail is shown and you get a very minimalist design. One thing to note here is that whatever be the kind of image you have have in your post (YAPB or anything listed in point #2), it will be displayed in the thumbnail.
- EXIF display:
I already have code for this, which you can use if you are looking at an image attachment.
- Multiple Sizes:
Justin Tadlock provided a rather simple way to display all sizes an image is available in. I have already adapted that for Suffusion, so in the photo-blogging release you should be able to see all the sizes for a given image.
This is one area where I am undecided. Suffusion comes with a capability to navigate to the previous and next post, but users of photo-blogs like to show arrows on/beside their images for navigation. Here are some general thoughts (most of them contributed by my brother):
- Overlaid arrows are a bad idea because of touch devices (where you cannot hover).
- Pressing the keys for the right and left arrows should help you navigate right and left. These can be mapped to swipes on touch-screen phones.
- Of course, I could display arrows on either side of the image – that would do as well.
This is another area where I don’t really know what to do. For sure, you will be able to view multiple galleries in a post, but what are good things to add here?
- One thumbnail for the gallery, which can be clicked to launch a slideshow?
- All galleries listed out with their thumbnails? Mind you, the Flickr short code (and soon the Picasa short code) will do this.
So that’s that. Do feel free to provide your suggestions here. Also let me know of things such as:
- Do you want to have the post title displayed in the photo posts?
- Do you want to have the post title displayed in gallery posts?
- Do you want me to investigate / look at any specific layout?
- What kind of information would you like to see upon hovering on the thumbnails in the mosaic layout? Would the post title suffice?
I guess I have mentioned this before: photo-blogging is essentially the next major chapter in the development of Suffusion, and I believe with a little bit of polish this theme can then be called premium-ready (no, I am not going to make it a paid theme – that has never been my intention). After that I will have no major updates and will focus on a few decent skins. And then Suffusion can be called a closed chapter :-).