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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

The Photos index gets a new look

January 16, 2008

When I launched the Photos section of this site in September 2007 (wow, time flies) I had said that I wanted to spruce up the index page once I thought I had published enough photos to make it look nice.

“The index page is no where near completed but I wanted to have at least a dozen posts published prior to me working on it. It will be a page showing off the title and thumbnail of the photos that have been published. Nothing too fancy but definitely a little nicer than what is currently there.”

Over the last four months I’ve managed to publish more than “a dozen” photos, so perhaps this small update is a little overdue but I wanted to get something out because, let’s face it, the old index page was absolute bleh. Although I have even more plans for what the Photo section should include, I think this version should serve its purpose until I have at least a few hundred photos up and tagged.

Old and New Photo Index

Left: Old Photo index. Bleh. Right: New Photo index. Yay!

How it works

For those of you that will no doubt end up asking me how I pulled this off, here is the incredibly boring and simple details. The Photos section is still running a fairly vanilla version of WordPress – it is just that I’ve now added a custom field value to each photo post (namely: thumbnail) and created a thumbnail for each photo (about 45 at the time of this indexes launch) I’ve published.

A side note about creating the thumbnails: I had a ton of fun creating the thumbnails for each photo. Each thumbnail is not just a smaller version of the photo, it is a re-cropping of the original photo. In some cases, I’m actually happier with the way the thumbnail came out than the photo itself. It is like having a second crack at editing the photo – with only your distance from subject changing. Anyway, I’m showing my photo geek side.

There really are no secrets behind the new index page except that I’ve managed to produce some custom HTML output for the Photos category on this blog and am obviously pulling in the thumbnails accordingly and styling them differently.

Known issues

As with this Photo section’s history so far, there are a few things that I want to change over time. Being that this isn’t the final version of the index itself, I’m looking forward to sprucing it up again in four to six months.

There is also the question of beating WordPress into submission regarding the URL for the second page of photos. I’m having trouble not having the word /category/ in the URL (if anyone knows a work around, send it my way). Once I fix that, I’ll be much happier with the index pages.

The second main thing I hope to fix in the coming days/weeks is the fact that the thumbnails on each page show up a little oddly due to the fact that I’ve chosen to show the most recently published photo a little larger than the rest. Being that I’ve made that decision, and I’m sticking to it for now, I will have to play with the number of photos show per page in order to pull off the grid properly.

So, that’s all for now. I am hoping now that when people come across my Photos section they aren’t turned off by its appearance quiet so quickly and actually take the time to explore some of the photos. Let me know what you think!

Update: So I had to make a few adjustments already. But one thing I want everyone to be sure of – if you are using Safari, be sure to hit refresh once or twice on the Photos section. For whatever reason Safari does not love to show you the latest version of the page without forcing it to do so.

If only Safari’s over-zealous caching would trickle its way onto the iPhone’s mobile Safari.