Johan Vromans > Album-1.50_08 > Album::Tutorial

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NAME ^

Album::Tutorial - How to use the Album program

SYNOPSIS ^

This tutorial describes the basic use of the Album program to create and maintain browser based photo albums.

DESCRIPTION ^

Getting started

To get started, create a new directory and cd to it. Create a subdirectory 'large' and put some pictures there. If you have installed the 'album' tool in your execution path, you can now execute it as follows:

  $ album -v
  No info.dat, adding images from large
  info.dat: Cannot update (does not exist)
  Number of entries = 7 (7 added)
  mkdir index
  mkdir icons
  Creating icons: first-gr.png first.png ... sound.png movie.jpg
  im023.jpg: thumbnail OK
  im024.jpg: thumbnail OK
  im025.jpg: thumbnail OK
  im026.jpg: thumbnail OK
  im027.jpg: thumbnail OK
  im028.jpg: thumbnail OK
  im029.jpg: thumbnail OK
  Creating pages for 7 images
  (Needed to write 7 image pages)
  Creating pages for 1 index
  (Needed to write 1 index page)

Your results will vary, but be similar to this example run. What you can see is that 'album' found 7 images in the 'large' directory, created index and icons directories, created thumbnails by resizing the images, and finally created the HTML pages. You can inspect your first photo album by opening file 'index/index001.html' with your favorite browser. You can click on any image to see the larger version. Navigation buttons are provided to the left of the image. You can also navigate from the keyboard: space (next), backspace (previous), enter (larger image), and 'd' (index).

It is interesting to run 'album' again:

  $ album -v
  No info.dat, adding images from large
  info.dat: Cannot update (does not exist)
  Number of entries = 7 (7 added)
  .......[7]
  Creating pages for 7 images
  (No image pages needed updating)
  Creating pages for 1 index
  (No index pages needed updating)

'album' tries to avoid doing unnecessary work as much as possible. In this case, all thumbnails and image and index pages are up to date. The line of periods shows progress, one period for each image processed.

Protecting your work

'album' not only tries to avoid doing unnecessary work, but it is also very careful to not destroy your original images, nor any other changes you may have made.

In general, 'album' will never overwrite or modify:

Adding medium sized images

The purpose of medium sized images is easy browsing by having a consistent and convenient size. The default size shows normal 4:3 images completely on an 1024x768 screen in the browser's full screen mode.

To add medium sized images (and also specify an album title):

  $ album -v --medium --title "My First Album"
  No info.dat, adding images from large
  info.dat: Cannot update (does not exist)
  Number of entries = 7 (7 added)
  mkdir medium
  im023.jpg: medium OK
  im024.jpg: medium OK
  im025.jpg: medium OK
  im026.jpg: medium OK
  im027.jpg: medium OK
  im028.jpg: medium OK
  im029.jpg: medium OK
  Creating pages for 7 images
  (Needed to write 14 image pages)
  Creating pages for 1 index
  (Needed to write 1 index page)

Again, 'album' only does the work needed, re-using the work already done.

Adding image descriptions

As can be seen from the example runs, 'album' looks for a file 'info.dat'. This file can be used to:

The format of 'info.dat' is simple. Empty lines and lines starting with a '#' are ignored. Data lines contain the name of an image file, followed by its description. Control lines start with an '!' mark.

'album' can fill 'info.dat' for you. To obtain this, create an empty 'info.dat' file, and run 'album':

  $ touch info.dat
  $ album -v --medium --title "My First Album"
  No info.dat, adding images from large
  Updating info.dat
  Number of entries = 7 (7 added)
  .......[7]
  Creating pages for 7 images
  (No image pages needed updating)
  Creating pages for 1 index
  (No index pages needed updating)

Upon completion, 'info.dat' will look similar to:

  # album control file generated by album 1.19, Tue Jun  1 22:39:41 2004
  !title My First Album
  !medium
  # New entries added by album 1.19, Tue Jun  1 22:39:41 2004
  !tag 
  im023.jpg  
  im024.jpg  
  im025.jpg  
  im026.jpg  
  im027.jpg  
  im028.jpg  
  im029.jpg  

You can now add a description for each image following the file name, for example:

  !tag 2004/06/01
  im023.jpg  Sunrise
  im024.jpg  Overview
  im025.jpg  Across the lake
  im026.jpg  Catch of the day
  im027.jpg  Fishermen
  im028.jpg  Swimming cows
  im029.jpg  Moon over Clew Bay

Re-run the program (no need for --medium and --title anymore):

  $ album -v
  Number of entries = 7
  .......[7]
  Creating pages for 7 images
  (Needed to write 14 image pages)
  Creating pages for 1 index
  (Needed to write 1 index page)

There are no complaints anymore about a missing 'info.dat', but there's also no message 'adding images from ./large'. In other words, the only images shown are the ones named in the control file. New images added to the 'large' directory will be ignored. We'll see later what to do about that.

Summary of 'info.dat' control commands

The first line can be used to designate a coding system, in case the information needs to contain non-ASCII characters. For example, to designate that the data is in ISO 8895.1 (Latin-1) encoding, use:

  #    -*- coding: iso8859-1 -*-

Most settings can also obtained with command line options, as shown.

!title XXX

Sets the title to XXX, override with --title.

!home XXX

Provides an 'up' link on the index pages. Override with --home. Note that this link is relative to the location of the index directory.

!page NxM

Sets the layout to N rows (--rows) and M columns (--columns).

!thumbsize NNN

Specifies the desired width for thumbnail images (--thumbsize).

!medium

Includes medium sized images (--medium) of default size.

!mediumsize NNN

Specifies the desired width for medium sized images (--mediumsize). To enforce this width, even if the original image is smaller, specify ! after the size.

!tag XXX

Sets the tag line for all subsequent images. Cancel with an empty !tag command.

!caption

Sets the caption code for index pages (--caption). It must be a sequence of f (file name), s (size, WxH), c (caption), t (tag line). If no !caption has been used, the default value is fct.

!dateformat XXX

Sets the default date format as used for the tag lines for new images. XXX must be a valid strftime(2) date format string, for example:

  !dateformat %a %e %B %Y
!icon

Produce a file icon.jpg to be used as an icon for this album (--icon). The icon is of thumbnail size, and contains a small lookalike of the first index page.

!icon may be followed by a something true or false (--noicon). Default is true.

!locale XXX

Set the locales for sorting and date formats to XXX.

album can read values for settings from configuration files. Settings can be set as in info.dat, the leading exclamation mark is optional in this case. By default, the configuration files used are .albumrc in the current directory, and .albumrc in the user's home directory. The order of precedence is:

1. command line options
2. info.dat
3. user config file .albumrc in current directory
4. user config file .albumrc in the home directory

Environment variable ALBUMCONFIG can be used to designate user config files. It should be set to a colon-separated list of file names to be processed in order of precedence.

Importing new images

An important feature of 'album' is importing new images from an external source. For example, you can import new images from a CD-ROM, or from a digital camera.

Assuming you mounted a CD-ROM with new images, execute 'album' as follows:

  $ album -v --import /mnt/cdrom --update
  Updating info.dat
  Number of entries = 9 (2 added)
  .......[7]
  im030.jpg: copy medium thumbnail OK
  im031.jpg: copy medium thumbnail OK
  Creating pages for 9 images
  (Needed to write 18 image pages)
  Creating pages for 1 index
  (Needed to write 1 index page)

Two new images were found on the CD-ROM, copied to the 'large' directory, and processed as usual. 'info.dat' has been updated with the new entries. Note that images found on the CD-ROM that already exist in 'large' (i.e., have the same name) are skipped.

Using EXIF information

When importing images from a digital camera, 'album' can use the EXIF information that is present in these files:

To enable EXIF processing, add the --exif command line option, or specify the import directory with --dcim instead of --import:

  $ ls -l /mnt/camera/dcim/101msdcf
  -rwxr-xr-x 1 jv jv 2347808 Jun 25 12:08 /mnt/camera/dcim/101msdcf/dsc00052.jpg
  -rwxr-xr-x 1 jv jv 1327475 Jun 25 12:05 /mnt/camera/dcim/101msdcf/dsc00053.jpg
  $ album -v --dcim /mnt/camera/dcim/101msdcf --update
  Updating info.dat
  Number of entries = 11 (2 added)
  .........[ 9]
  200405171843310052.jpg: link medium thumbnail OK
  200405171845030053.jpg: copy rotate medium thumbnail OK
  Creating pages for 11 images
  (Needed to write 22 image pages)
  Creating pages for 1 index
  (Needed to write 1 index page)

The file 'dsc00052.jpg' has now been imported as '200405171843310052.jpg'. 'album' tries to link to the image, if that is not possible, the image will be coped. File 'dsc00053.jpg' must be rotated, so it will always be a copy.

If you hover the mouse over the file name in the index page, or over the title on the image pages, a pop-up will show a selection of information from the EXIF data.

Embedding other albums

In the file 'info.dat' you can also enter names of HTML documents to refer to arbitrary other information you want to include in your album. You can use this to embed (more precisely: refer to) other albums. For example:

  20040910/index.html  Pictures of an exhibition

This will store in the album a reference to another album. If at the given location a file 'icon.jpg' exists, this will be used in the album as thumbnail image. To generate a sample icon for an album to be included, run the album program with command line option --icon.

The reference will only be present on the index pages. When following the 'previous' and 'next' links of image pages, these references will be skipped.

Note that when you click on an external reference thumbnail, a new browser window will be opened to show the referenced information.

Journal mode

Warning: Journal mode is still under development and may change in future versions.

Journal mode is enabled with the control !journal in info.dat.

When journal mode is enabled, the data from info.dat is considered to be a series of paragraphs. Paragraphs are separated using one or more empty lines.

The first line of a paragraph may contain image info, preceeded by an asterisk and whitespace. For example:

  !journal

  !tag 2004/06/01

  A bright, shiny day.

  * im023.jpg  Sunrise
  This morning, we were surprised by a fantastic sunrise like
  we have never seen before.

  * im024.jpg  Overview
  This picture shows an overview of the area.

This way it is possible to attach extended pieces of text to a images.

An additional series of pages is generated, the journal pages. Each journal page contains the extended text and thumbnail images of all entries that belong to a single tag. The idea is that the tags are dates, and each journal page contains the text and images of a single day.

If the extended text starts with < it is assumed to be HTML and included literally.

The medium and large image pages have an additional icon to jump to the journal entry for an image. The extended text can be also viewed on the medium and large image pages when the mouse is placed over the info at the right side above the image, e.g., My First Album: Image 1 of 9.

Note that journal mode can not be mixed with normal mode.

External formats and style sheets

Warning: External formats and style sheets are still under development and may change in future versions.

Internally, 'album' uses formats (templates) to build the generated HTML pages, and cascading style sheets (CSS) to specify how the browser should show the pages. Formats and style sheets can be exported (written to external directories), and 'album' will then use the external information. So you can have ultimate control over how pages must look like.

External formats

When 'album' is run with --extformats it will create a directory 'formats' and, in this directory, the HTML templates for all types of pages that 'album' will generate. Existing files in this directory will not be overwritten, so it is safe to change the templates to your liking. When 'album' is run again to process images, it will use the templates from the 'formats' directory if they are available.

The templates are plain HTML and contain variables that will be substituted with actual values. Some of the variables are:

$title

The title of the album.

$css

The code to get the style sheet of this page. This can be in-line specifications, or a link to an external stylesheet.

$ltop

Index and image pages only: The text above each image, left.

$rtop

Index and image pages only: The text above each image, right.

$vbuttons

The navigation buttons, arranged vertically.

$hbuttons

The navigation buttons, arranged horizontally.

$jscript

The javascript for keyboard navigation.

$image

Image pages only: The actual image.

$lbot

Image pages only: The text below the image, left.

$rbot

Image pages only: The text below the image, right.

$contents

Index pages only: The table with all the images for this page.

$tag

Journal pages only: The tag for this page.

$journal

Journal pages only: The journal for this page.

External style sheets

When 'album' is run with --extcss it will create a directory 'css' and, in this directory, the css style sheets for all types of pages that 'album' will generate. Existing files in this directory will not be overwritten, so it is safe to change the templates to your liking. When 'album' is run again to process images, it will use the external style sheets if they are available.

To obtain good results, the style sheets must match the formats. 'album' will try to verify this by reading the first line of the style sheets and the formats, and verify that it contains a version indication of the form

  ALBUM-FMT-VERSION: <major>.<minor>   (for formats)
  ALBUM-CSS-VERSION: <major>.<minor>   (for style sheets)

For all style sheet - format pairs, the major numbers must be the same.

Older versions of 'album' always created external style sheets. As a consequence, if you upgrade to the newer version, you'll get a fatal error the first time you run 'album'.

 *************************************************************************
 Existing style sheet ... is not compatible with this version.
 It has probably been created by an older version of this program, or it
 has been modified manually.

 If you did not change any style sheets, just remove the css directory and
 try again.

 If you did modify the style sheets move them away to a backup location,
 run the program with '--extcss', and apply your changes to the new style
 sheets.
 *************************************************************************

We apologise for the inconvenience.

Keyboard navigation

While browsing the album, some actions can be performed from the keyboard.

The Enter key will go to an enlarged version of the image, if available.

The Space key will advance to the next page.

The Backspace key will advance to the previous page.

Key d will go to the index page.

Key u will go up, i.e., the reverse of the Enter key.

Key j will go to the journal entry of the current image.

Additional notes

The --clobber command line option will force regeneration of all medium and thumbnail images, and HTML pages. It will not force re-import of the 'large' images. To completely rebuild everything save info.dat, remove all the files in the album directory (including .cache), restore info.dat and re-run the 'album' program.

The digital camera import is designed for cameras that adhere to the ISO DCF standard. Handling of MPG movies and voice images is probably specific for my Sony DSC-V1.

When importing images from different camera's, there's an extremely small chance that the EXIF information would lead to identical file names. This can only happen if the pictures were taken at the exact same time (according to the camera's notion of time!), and have the same internal sequence number.

When parsing info.dat, Album treats anything up to a known file name extension to be part of the file name. In general, this means that you can safely enter file names with whitespace and other uglyness.

Known file name extensions are jpg, jpeg, png, and gif for images, mpg, mpeg, mov, and avi for movies, and html and htm for links.

AUTHOR AND CREDITS ^

Johan Vromans (jvromans@squirrel.nl) wrote this module.

COPYRIGHT AND DISCLAIMER ^

This program is Copyright 2004,2007 by Squirrel Consultancy. All rights reserved.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either: a) the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 1, or (at your option) any later version, or b) the "Artistic License" which comes with Perl.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See either the GNU General Public License or the Artistic License for more details.

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