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Galleries v. Catalogs decision/analysis

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Posted
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#70225 (In Topic #14864)
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Community saint

After fighting with galleries for over a day, I have reluctantly decided to use catalogs instead.

There are some immediate benefits: I will have the required structured fields I wanted for the galleries, most importantly, title.

But I will also be giving up some features of the gallery which I will miss:
  • Clean URLs
  • Representative images
  • Gallery display/slideshow
  • Gallery embed - This would be a handy feature for me. I'll just end up having to pick the pictures for Comcode pages manually which actually might work out better.

The following are gallery features that would have been nice had they worked to my needs:
  • Personal galleries - These are useless to me as implemented. A personal gallery should show the complete collection of a member which could then be refined down using tags. For instance, on a gun enthusiast site, I want to see all the members rifles and pistols with the option to refine the view to just rifles
  • Watermarks (not quite sure if I could have made this work) Since I am not the owner of most of the pictures on the site, I would have liked watermarking to be tied to the personal gallery. Each member could then have their own watermark which would be helpful since I will have several people with over fifty pieces of art.

In addition there should be better integration between the gallery and IOTD when both are installed. In most cases, the IOTD will be chosen from pictures submitted to the gallery. I realize that I can provide the URL, but imagine the less-sophisticated site administrator who simply wants to pick an existing picture. This ties into something I think I previously mentioned  on the forum - an option to select a file from the server just as you can an upload.

Both Galleries and Catalogs lack the ability to enter an alt-image tag. This should be part of the image selection/upload process as it improves SEO and is a requirement for accessibility - something ocPortal singles out as a strength.

Catalogs do not provide a means to specify a URL as you can in Galleries. This will likely have minimal impact on me but really ought to be consistent for anywhere there is a file upload.

Additionally, I frequently run into problems with the standard uploader and have to revert to using the Simple Uploader. This isn't a big problem for me but what about my site members. If you can't make it work reliably, please either remove the standard uploader or give me an option to force use of the Simple Uploader.

Finally, something I consider a bug in the Catalogs system. One of my fields is Member name for which I used the type of "A member ID". I was logged in as the admin, but every picture was automatically assigned to "Guest". At the least, this field should be left empty if nothing is entered but a better solution would be to assign the Member ID of the user.

I appreciate that I was able to find a suitable, if not ideal, solution using ocPortal. However, I came away feeling that the Galleries are a weak area in the software in spite of the great display options.

I certainly don't know the architecture of ocPortal but I think that Galleries could be greatly improved if they were a specific catalog type that provided those great display tools atop the Catalog system - essentially delivering the best of both. This would create a dependency that does not exist with a standalone gallery system but I honestly don't see how the gallery system stands on its own when something as important as a title for each entry is missing. Again, using my gun enthusiast site as an example (and truthfully, I know little about guns so it demonstrates why this is important) I want to know if the pistol I am looking at is a Smith & Wesson, Glock or Colt.

Just my couple of cents.

Bob


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Posted
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#70226
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Community saint

I'm using catalogues for downloading MP3's and have made a php tweak so that it displays "Download" instead of the URL. That same area of code gets the URL, so it should be straight forward to unescape it.

Representative images should be doable using the thumbnail system in either a template or the above code, or maybe even a combination of both.

Let me know if you want me to dig up the details.

Do you have a Samsung Galaxy S / Galaxy S II ? If so, why not check out my ScreenFree FM Radio .
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Posted
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#70227
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Community saint

Thanks for the offer, temp. I may take you up on that.

I'm stepping away from the whole gallery/catalog thing for a day or two as I was really frustrated that the galleries proved to be a non-starter. I'm sure it will all work out okay but, as my posts over the past couple of days probably reflected, I am a bit "on edge" over this. I came close to considering a change of CMS.

On top of that, I am further behind in other areas of getting this site launched and have other work piling up as well.

I'd like to go hiking but it's supposed to be in the high 90s the next couple of days so I'll stay inside with my air conditioning and pent-up discontent.

Unfortunately, it looks like I am going to have to start digging through the code a little sooner than I had expected. I planned on launching the site using basically the Default theme so that people can start entering their content. But I need to get this stuff sorted before I expose others and have a throng of malcontents.

Bob
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Posted
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#70228
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Community saint

I know exactly how you feel.

Its taken me a lot longer then expected to get to where I am, and also a lot more pain. Its a delicate balancing act weighing up all the pros and cons of any system, but I've found ocPortal's pros winning out.

But I can say one thing for sure, and that is that without the level of support provided by Chris the chances on me sticking with ocPortal would be greatly reduced.

Do you have a Samsung Galaxy S / Galaxy S II ? If so, why not check out my ScreenFree FM Radio .
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Posted
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#70237
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The main_content block can work in as a drop-in replacement for IOTDs.

Code

Both Galleries and Catalogs lack the ability to enter an alt-image tag. This should be part of the image selection/upload process as it improves SEO and is a requirement for accessibility - something ocPortal singles out as a strength.

For catalogues, any catalogue can be templated however you like, with whatever fields you like, so it can be done.

Additionally, I frequently run into problems with the standard uploader

What problems are these?

either remove the standard uploader or give me an option to force use of the Simple Uploader.

There is a hidden option to do this. Type this into OcCLE:

Code

:set_value('no_swfupload','1');

One of my fields is Member name for which I used the type of "A member ID". I was logged in as the admin, but every picture was automatically assigned to "Guest". At the least, this field should be left empty if nothing is entered but a better solution would be to assign the Member ID of the user.

This does sound like a bug, I'll look into it now. I don't think we can default the value, it's too big an assumption. The submitter is auto-saved anyway.

if they were a specific catalog type that provided those great display tools atop the Catalog system

0000134: Tie catalogues to normal modules - ocPortal feature tracker

Unfortunately, it looks like I am going to have to start digging through the code a little sooner than I had expected.

&

Its taken me a lot longer then expected to get to where I am

I honestly don't know where these expectations come from to be honest, we try very hard to talk them down in the Setup Wizard and explain in a lot of deal in the "What ocPortal is not" page, and when we do say things are fast or easy we make sure to ground that in some way. Plus nothing else out there can do it, and it's not like the Internet is full of unique sophisticated non-commercial sites made without custom programming. Believe me, it frustrates me that people expect ocPortal to be a magic bullet as much as it frustrates people when they find it can not be.


Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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Posted
Rating:
#70248
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Community saint

Chris-

I always knew that I would have to dig into the code to get the site exactly as I want it. It's just that ocPortal checked off so many of my needs and a quick perusal seemed to confirm this (e.g., personal blogs worked perfectly but I somehow missed that personal galleries were created under sub-galleries rather than under the root gallery. For some reason, I thought the two worked the same - creating their container under the top level. My bad.) My intent was to get the site launched quickly using a "Theme-Wizarded" default template so people could start using the site and then to do a custom skin - giving me more time to dig through the code. I never expected a magic bullet.

Thanks for reminding me that I can add the alt-image text in the catalog, However, I really feel you should address the issue in your code so that it is always available when pictures are uploaded. As I said, this is important for SEO and accessibility.

As I recall, the problem with the Flash uploader is that it gets to the end of the upload and says it failed and, I think, "Try again later". These images always upload fine using the simple uploader and the problem is intermittent. My concern is for my users, imagine if someone had 20 pics to upload and got this on the first 3. I'll force the simple uploader until the Flash uploader becomes more stable. It's nice that he option exists.

I appreciate the time you have spent on addressing my issues as well as those of others - I realize that it pulls you away from other important work. And I hope you realize that many of the suggestions/changes I proposed are meant only to make ocPortal a better and more-approachable product.

Bob
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Posted
Rating:
#70252
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Community saint

One solution to whether or not to populate the Member Name with the current member's ID might be to allow some token to be entered in the "Default value" field. This would allow the site administrator to determine which approach works best.

Bob
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Posted
Rating:
#70419
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Community saint

One correction from my initial analysis:
  • Catalogs do allow assignment of a representative image.

A few other items missing from the catalog entry page (which are included in the gallery entry page:
- the "Send e-card function" which would be a little difficult to provide without some provision to manually set whether to make this option available (not a priority;
  • The "BLOCK_MAIN_SCREEN_ACTIONS.tpl" is not included on the catalog entry page.  I'll be adding it to my revised template hopefully without difficulty but I think this is an important place for inclusion of this template.

Bob
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Posted
Rating:
#70443
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The "BLOCK_MAIN_SCREEN_ACTIONS.tpl" is not included on the catalog entry page.  I'll be adding it to my revised template hopefully without difficulty but I think this is an important place for inclusion of this template.

Bug - will be fixed.


Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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