I have been running a family photo gallery, using the Menalto Gallery software, for a couple of years now but recently my provider updated their server software to PHP 5.3, including Zend Guard and their software isn’t compatible. It’s actually a problem of the framework they are using but in the end it boils down to the fact the gallery isn’t working anymore.
So it was time to search for some new software, or actually go to a dedicated service like Zenfolio or Smugmug.
As the dedicated services costs money and I have no fear of getting my hands dirty with new software the choice was quickly made to host my own gallery. I looked into several packages, and to be honest there isn’t really a lot out there. It came down to three choices, Coppermine Gallery, Piwigo (anybody that can enlighten me about this name?) and Zenphoto.
It’s not my intention in this post to give a full review of these packages. A way for me to determine which software I would go for is first impression. Things like install the software, add some galleries, some photos, how does it look, how quickly can I tweak an existing theme.
In this case it wasn’t all that easy, not one of the three really stood out. With Coppermine my problem was the GUI, just not what I was looking for, Piwigo didn’t import the keywords I had set on my photos and that is a major problem for me, Zenphoto just didn’t give a good feel with their default theme. I finally choose Zenphoto and mostly because I really didn’t like the look of Coppermine, and as mentioned before, the no import of keywords was to big.
The nice thing about Zenphoto was that I quickly found some themes that were better than the supplied ones and I was quickly able to tweak the themes to my liking. I started creating my own theme and through that process I started to like Zenphoto more and more. Sure there were some quirks when developing a theme, especially coming from WordPress where you have an abundance of filters, action hooks and functions you can call, but it wasn’t something I could overcome.
While developing my theme I proposed two features to the core of Zenphoto, one was shot down for a good reason I might say, the other was implemented after they changed my patch a little bit. The core of Zenphoto is held in a SVN repository which I used for a little while but I really don’t like SVN. Luckily git has the SVN module as well, so it was time to pull the SVN repository with git.
The Zenphoto SVN repository was at revision 10800, give or take a few revisions, so yes that will take a while with git-svn. But I would just let pull it all in overnight and have a nice repository that I can browse with gitk. The next day I noticed the pull had stopped on a time-out around revision 5000. Argh I had to start all over again, I started my pull command and nothing until it timed out. Uh wait, what the …, hmmm maybe the site is down, this had happened before. Yep site is down, I’ll wait. An hour later the site still wasn’t up, hmmm. I remembered a time while I was working for a client that same thing had happened, I had to many FTP connections open and the firewall automatically blocked me. I started my iPad, used the 3G, instead of the LAN and sure enough I could browse the Zenphoto site, switch my iPad back to LAN and nope, no site.
With my iPad in 3G mode I contacted the people at Zenphoto through their site, explaining what happened and asking them if they could remove my IP from the blacklist. Well that was 4 days ago and I’m still blocked.
So here I am, I have an almost finished theme, which IMHO look pretty decent, several ideas of plugins I could write for Zenphoto, willing to work on bugfixes but no way to update the local Zenphoto SVN repository, heck I can’t even download a new version should one come out.
So I don’t really know what to do now, part of me says to switch over to Piwigo or Coppermine, some part of me says to pay the money for Zenfolio or Smugmug, and then there is the part that believes my IP will be taken of the blacklist sooon and things will be OK again.