Long due, I finally managed to switch my galleries from SimpleViewer to NextGEN Gallery, and in the process I decided to consolidate some of them and update the menu structure. I am not totally satisfied with the outcome yet, so there will be most likely more changes in that area.
For any photo website, the gallery is the one part that should be well taken care of. The default wordpress gallery is not a very powerful tool for not even medium complex tasks, so that unfortunately forces you to look somewhere else. I have tried several solutions, none of which managed to be what I would expect them to be. Initially I was looking for some flash-based solution that would display nicely. Unfortunately, management did not prove to be simple; you have to create a new flash file for each of the collections, and any time you want to update them; and it is not generally free. The other option, to which I resorted to, was to use SimpleViewer, which works fine. The free edition, though, has some limitations on its customization options. Moreover, you have to manage the image list manually by editing an xml file. If you want to pay, there are plugins and tools to do that for you.
Being somehow a web programmer myself, I did what I had to do, and wrote a simple gallery manager in php for SimpleViewer. And it worked and works fine, managing pictures from image upload to gallery creation, down to thumbnail fine tuning. Unfortunately, after a recent change in my posting style, it all started looking off; as I was looking for a replacement to SimpleViewer, the only solution that seemed somehow convincing was NextGEN Gallery.
The transition was not too bad. Except for some bumbs on the road, due to lack of memory – the symptom being thumbnail creation failed, and the solution being to (temporarily) disable few memory hungry plugins – I was able to import, rename, fine tune the thumbnails and create the pages with the new galleries in few hours.
Although not too satisfied, it is proving its value, and most likely I will be able to pull much more out of it.
Go check the new gallery if you wish, here a quick shortcut.