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JAlbum is an application that I have been using for a long long time as an easy way to share personal photos on our website so that our family and friends can easily access them. I’ve been stuck using version 6 for a long time, and even though the interface was nothing to gawk at ,it got the job done, which was what mattered the most. Now however, JAlbum 7.0 brings a whole new look and some new features…

JAlbum 7

Besides for the fresh new look, here is a list of new features:

  • User interface completely redesigned. The new user interface is intended to be easier to use and more extendable, but not less powerful. Parts of the old tab-based user interface is now hidden under settings windows with only the most frequently used options (skin and style selection) on the main window.
  • Now co-developed on Mac and Windows to ensure that JAlbum should look good and work perfect on both systems
  • Completely redesigned publish section. The new publish section is also intended to be easier to use, but also more powerful. One can now visually browse a remote server using a directory tree control and manage directories like in any full featured FTP client (add, rename and delete directories).
  • JAlbum now allows you to build virtual album structures. You can pick images and folders from anywhere on your harddisk to your album. Just drag and drop them onto JAlbum!
  • Improved publishing robustness. JAlbum will now reconnect and reattempt several times if a file fails to be published before giving up
  • High quality image scaling now considerably faster
  • Minor improvements to file sharing user interface
  • JAlbum now supports variable image sharpening natively (not just via filter plugin)
  • Several languages updated. Thank you all translators!
  • Bundled Chameleon skin updated to v4. More powerful and 3 times as fast!
  • Bundled the popular Flash based BananAlbum skin (v5.0)
  • Bundled BluPlusPlus skin updated to v3.12
  • Compiled for Windows with updated Excelsior Jet 4.8 compiler
  • Packaged for Mac as a standard dmg distribution

If you haven’t used JAlbum before then you will be amazed at how easy it is. All you have to do is pick a skin that you like, and this is probably the best place to find them. After you download the skin (or use one of the included ones) you just select the folder where your images reside and it will generate another folder complete with scaled thumbnails for your image viewing pleasure.

One of the changes listed above in JAlbum 7 is the inclusion of BananAlbum skin 5 which is completely Flash based. It is the only skin that I have seen that’s Flash based and you can view a live demo here if you want to see how it works. The other skins that I have worked with normally generate static HTML pages and don’t need PHP or MySQL running on your server. Of course if you upload large galleries that also means there will be a lot of HTML files (typically one for every full-size image).

One thing that you should try to remember when looking through the skins is to focus on finding a layout that you like. Most skins will include a number of different color schemes that you can choose from or some you can even customize yourself. If a theme is really well developed, like the BananAlbum one (it’s Flash based), it will have all sorts of features included as well:

It has a lot of features; choose your own colors, select a typeface, place the thumbnails at the top, bottom, left or at the right, support for movies, browse through your images using the cursor keys, image preloading, background image (full screen or tiled), auto hide the thumbnails wherever they are, advanced positioning possibilities of all elements, improved slideshow functionality, improved download functionality (php), crop the thumbnails, possibility to create your own typefaces, etc. BananAlbum also features a high-tech hierarchical menu (the BananaTree) and auto scale functionality, which creates high quality images.

As for other themes you should checkout, I would like to point out this Windows XP theme (demo)I like just because it is simple and nearly anyone who has used a computer will be able to understand it. The one that I currently use is PhotoDawg (demo) with some personal customizations that I have done to it. It hasn’t been updated in quite awhile though so I think I’ll be switching to the cool BananAlbum Flash theme soon.

XP Theme

Of course when creating a website, one of the big things you have to think about is whether it will work in everyone’s browsers. On the JAlbum’s skin site every skin will have a list of known browsers that it works with and in the case of BananAlbum it is compatible with every browser that’s available on every operating system, so that is probably one of the wisest choices (I’m sure you’re quickly seeing why it is one of the most popular skins).

That pretty much sums it up for JAlbum and anyone who is looking to share a photo album with family or friends will more than likely find this to be the best tool to do it.

Download JAlbum 7.0 (note that you can skip the registration page by clicking the appropriate button at the bottom of the download page)