Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Marriage of Heaven and Earth

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Photo Credit: David July — Roman god of freshwater and the sea Neptune in the Marine scene of Constantino Brumidi's fresco 'The Apotheosis of Washington' (1865) on the dome of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) from the center of the rotunda floor, Washington, District of Columbia: 01 February 2014

Roman god of freshwater and the sea Neptune in the Marine scene of Constantino Brumidi's fresco 'The Apotheosis of Washington' (1865) on the dome of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) from the center of the rotunda floor.

First Street SE, Washington, District of Columbia: 01 February 2014

part of the United States Capitol album


After the developers of Gallery 3 — the software I was using to host my photographs — decided to walk away from the project in June, I knew that I needed figure out a new solution. For better or worse, a subsequent technical issue encouraged me to find that solution more quickly than I had first planned.

There were fewer options available than I had expected, no doubt as many people now use third-party hosted services for their photography. I decided to look at Coppermine, Piwigo, Zenphoto and WordPress as potential alternatives.

WordPress X

As I already use and develop with WordPress, it seemed like a good place to start my reviews. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that it would not meet my requirements. The built-in media features are probably fine for managing post content but would not scale or be configurable enough to serve as my gallery.

Piwigo X

Next on the list was Piwigo, which I looked at based on former Gallery project contributor Serguei Dosyukov's review and migration article. Piwigo has a lot going for it. After some experimentation though, I decided that its design was too different for me to adapt. In addition, I was not keen on the way it abstracts albums and their hierarchy.

Coppermine X

As I was reminded in July 2013, I had used Coppermine for a time in the past. The fundamentals are all there but the package seems dated. Beyond some security patches, Coppermine has not really been updated since the first time I used it. Wanting to move forward and not backward, I left this one behind.

Zenphoto Tick

I was initially reluctant about Zenphoto because of the recent departure of a key developer. After observing an active community and finding that most of my needs were already accounted for in some way, I settled on Zenphoto and set out to develop a custom theme.

Designing how the theme would look was the easy part; I already had a model to go off in the form of my Gallery 3 theme. The basic look would remain the same but improvements would be made and annoyances fixed. With these details in mind and the user guide in hand, I got to work.

At first, the structure of things seemed awkward and I did not understand several design choices. The process of learning the core functions and coding the theme completely changed my initial impressions, however. I discovered that theme development for Zenphoto was actually easier and its structure more intuitive.

Implementing specific features was mostly accomplished using available plugins, although I did modify a few of them as well as write several custom functions. In addition, I had to update three core extension files to force the interactive map to use HTTPS and two other core files for other reasons.

Within a few days, I was uploading previously published photographs and tweaking the theme as I went. That process was completed earlier this week and I have but a few minor items remaining on the checklist.

Conclusion

Even though outside circumstances necessitated the change, I think that the Mount Sutro Gallery is better than before running on Zenphoto. Not only does my custom theme look and function as desired, but I completed it ahead of schedule due in part to Zenphoto's logical architecture.

I am pleased to be able to get back to processing and publishing photographs, not to mention slowly continuing work on the original migration project.

Photo Credit: David July — The center of the rotunda floor beneath the dome of the United States Capitol (1811/1866), Washington, District of Columbia: 01 February 2014
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July

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