Nextgen Gallery 2 Beta

nextgen2
NextGen Gallery image using ScrollGallery plugin

One of the better gallery plugins for WordPress has been Nextgen Gallery which uses the WordPress database as a source of information on the images stored and used in a WordPress blog. Users can create dozens of galleries and combine galleries into albums for display purposes. Plugin vendors have started to support the 7.5 million download users of  Nextgen with over 30 added plugins. In June of last year Photocrati bought Nextgen Gallery and promised a major upgrade.

The list of desirable features would distill down to 3:

1)Better shortcodes for filtering and displaying photos contained in several different galleries. Currently on can search on a specific tag across galleries; but with dozens of galleries – that can be quite cumbersome and performance limiting.
2)Allow users to make simple edits to images – crop, resize, rotate, brightness/contrast are the most often needed. Currently users must download and retouch images and then delete the old image in its gallery before uploading the corrected image. Short-cutting this tedious workflow would be quite helpful.
3)Finding an image among  hundreds if not thousands typically stored in a well-used Nextgen Gallery is often tedious. Yet there are descriptions, unique names and tags stored for each image. Nextgen’s Manage Gallery function would be considerably enhanced with a better Find/Search option.

Sure there are other key features and improvements but these are the most important for this heavy Nextgen user.

The 2.0 Beta

So a year later the new beta 2.0 for Nextgen was of high interest. The good news is that the beta promises  better and more flexible shortcodes .  So issue 1) is neatly handled. As the screenshot below shows, issue 2) on image edits within Nextgen galleries is much more mixed Manage Gallery showed how shaky this beta is..
nextgen2
First, I was unable to either create a gallery or load images using the Add Gallery/Images command. Instead using Manage Gallery one could create a gallery and then load the images directly into the subfolder[in this case named tester] . But though the images were loaded and seen by the Manage Gallery command, the  thumbnails were not created nor could they be created by use of the Bulk Action – Create new thumbnails. In short there were major problems in creating and managing Nextgen Galleries

Also it appears much of the old gallery management interface is retained with only minor improvements to image direct edits in evidence. Ditto for finding images within the many galleries and albums.

Finally, despite the problems loading up a gallery, the display of images from a gallery within a post was tried. Unfortunately, using both old shortcodes like [ singlepic …] or the new shortcodes like [ ngg_images gallery_ids=”1″ image_ids=”1,2″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” ] resulted in major error-code vomits in both Windows 7 and Windows 8 using  Chrome and Firefox browser Tests. Nextgen Beta 2 display features were still non-operational.

Summary

In sum, a year later and the Photocrati update to Nextgen Gallery is seriously challenged. Meanwhile Automatic, the people behind WordPress, have also started to make major improvements to the gallery features for media – images, videos, and even animations. In sum, there is a horse race on now for a critical aspect in WordPress – support for image and media galleries and their effective display.