Alpine PhotoTile for Picasa and Google Plus

Featured Image-Picasa

Proposed Features

Below are a number of features that have been suggested and will be implemented as soon as I find the time to do so.

  • Add titles and captions
  • Thumbnail pagination

General

The Alpine PhotoTile for Picasa and Google Plus is capable of retrieving photos from a particular user, a public album, a semi-private album, or a keyword. The photos can be linked to the your Picasa page, a specific URL, or to a Lightbox slideshow. Also, the Shortcode Generator makes it easy to insert the widget into posts without learning any of the code. This lightweight but powerful widget takes advantage of WordPress’s built in JQuery scripts to create a sleek presentation that I hope you will like.

Features

  • Display Picasa and Google Plus images in a sidebar, post, or page
  • Show public or semi-private albums
  • Multiple styles to allow for customization
  • Lighbox feature for interactive slideshow (Fancybox, prettyBox, or ColorBox)
  • Simple instructions
  • Widget & shortcode options
  • Feed caching/storage for improved page loading

Style and Demos

Below is an example of the plugin in action using the Cascade style and the Fancybox option (click an image and the Fancybox slideshow will appear).

The PhotoTile plugin includes 8 display styles: VerticalWindowsBookshelfRiftFloorWallCascade, and Gallery. (Click the links to preview the styles)

Quick Start Guide

  1. After installing the plugin on your WordPress site, make sure it is activated by logging into your admin area and going to Plugins in the left menu.
  2. To add the plugin to a sidebar, go to Appearance->Widgets in the left menu.
  3. Find the rectangle labeled Alpine PhotoTile for Picasa and Google Plus. Click and drag the rectangle to one of the sidebar containers on the right.
  4. Once you drop the rectangle in a sidebar area, it should open to reveal a menu of options. The only required information for the plugin to work is a Picasa or Google Plus ID. Enter this ID and click save in the right bottom corner of the menu. Please note that only public photos can be displayed, so check your privacy settings.
  5. Open another page/window in your web browser and navigate to your WordPress site to see how the sidebar looks with the Alpine PhotoTile for Picasa and Google Plus included.
  6. Play around with the various styles and options to find what works best for your site.

Additional Features

Caching

Since version 1.0.1, the PhotoTile plugin has included a simple caching function that will store the results of a Picasa feed for 3 hours. This function offers a significant performance boost as only one visitor will experience the short load delay caused by fetching and parsing a Picasa feed.

The cache time can be edited by going to the plugin’s settings page, located at Settings->AlpineTile: Picasa & Google Plus->Plugin Settings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find my Picasa User ID, Album ID, or Authorization Key?

Since Picasa has been combined with Google Plus, Picasa photo albums are also Google Plus photo albums. This also means that there are different ways of finding your ID’s depending on whether you start at the Picasa website or your Google Plus page.

Starting at Google Plus:

1. Log into Google Plus.

2. In the left sidebar, click “Photos”. From the top menu, click “Albums” and then click on one of your albums.

3. The URL address should now be something like:

“https://plus.google.com/photos/112515131248168353825/albums/5828938068968925825“,

where 112515131248168353825 is your User ID and 5828938068968925825 is the Album ID.

4. (OPTIONAL) If you are trying to show a semi-private album, the link will also show an Authorization Key (authkey):

“https://plus.google.com/photos/112515131248168353825/albums/5828938068968925825?authkey=CNrlncmrzb6MHA“,

where CNrlncmrzb6MHA is the Authorization Key. A semi-private album is not available to the public, but is also not limited to being seen by only you. See “How do I set a photo album to public or semi-private?” below for more details.

Starting at Picasa:

1. Log into Picasa.

2. From the list of photo albums, click on the one you want to show.

3. The URL address should now be something like:

“https://picasaweb.google.com/112515131248168353825/NewMexicoSummer2011“,

where 112515131248168353825 is your User ID.

4. If you click on the “RSS” link on the right side of the page, you will arrive at a url similar to:

“https://picasaweb.google.com/data/feed/base/user/112515131248168353825/albumid/5828938068968925825?alt=rss&kind=photo&hl=en_US”,

where 112515131248168353825 is your User ID and 5828938068968925825 is the Album ID. Here the Album ID is shown as a number rather than text, as in the Google Plus example.

5. (OPTIONAL) If you are trying to show a semi-private album, the link will also show an Authorization Key (authkey):

“https://picasaweb.google.com/data/feed/base/user/112515131248168353825/albumid/5828938068968925825?alt=rss&kind=photo&authkey=Gv1sRgCNrlncmrzb6MHA&hl=en_US”,

where Gv1sRgCNrlncmrzb6MHA is the Authorization Key. A semi-private album is not available to the public, but is also not limited to being seen by only you. See “How do I set a photo album to public or semi-private?” below for more details.

How do I set a photo album to public or semi-private? How do I change my privacy settings?

Since Picasa has been combined with Google Plus, Picasa photo albums are also Google Plus photo albums. This also means that there are different ways of changing your settings depending on whether you start at the Picasa website or your Google Plus page.

Starting at Google Plus:

1. Log into Google Plus.

2. In the left sidebar, click “Photos”. From the top menu, click “Albums”. Then, select the album you want to change.

3. On the left side of the page, there should be a button with a downward pointing arrow. Click that and then select “Sharing Options”.

4. Click inside the text-box below “Share on Google+” and a number of options will appear.

5. To make the album public (visible to anyone and everyone), select “Public” from the list of options.

6. To make the album semi-private, simply make sure that “Public” is not selected or delete all of the currently selected options. This way, the album will only be visible to people who have the direct link with the authorization key. If you would like, you can share the album with any of your circles and it will still be semi-private.

Starting at Picasa:

1. Log into Picasa.

2. From the menu near the top of the page, select “My Photos”.

3. Above the left-most photo album should be a link labeled “Edit Visibility”.

4. To make the album public, make sure the album you want to show is set to Public.

5. To make the album semi-private, make sure the album you want is set to Your Circles, Extended Circles, or Limited (anyone with the link). The plugin cannot display albums that are set to Only You.

I’m getting the message “Picasa feed was successfully retrieved, but no photos found”. What does that mean?

This message simply means that while no distinguishable errors occurred, the plugin found your feed to be empty.

I’m getting the message “Picasa feed not found. Please recheck your ID”. What does that mean?

This message can mean two things. First, it can indicate that the username or custom url were input incorrectly, causing the feed to fail. In this case, you should try to correct and re-save your IDs.

Second, this message can also mean that the server your WordPress site is being hosted on has prevented the feed from being retrieved. While it is rare, we have encountered web-hosts that disable the feed fetching functions used in the PhotoTile plugin. If this is the case, there is nothing we can do to override or work around the settings on your host server.

Can I insert the plugin in posts or pages? Is there a shortcode function?

Yes, you can display photos in posts or pages using what is called a shortcode. Rather than explaining how to setup the shortcode, I have created a method of generating the shortcode. Check out the Shortcode Generator on the plugin’s settings page  (Settings->AlpineTile: Picasa & Google Plus->Shortcode Generator).

Can I insert the plugin anywhere on a page using PHP code?

Yes, using a shortcode and the WordPress function do_shortcode(), you can place the plugin anywhere on your WordPress website. The code should look something like this:

<div id="alpine">
<?php   
echo do_shortcode( '[alpine-phototile-for user="u" link="l" style="v"]' ); 
?>
</div>

If you want the plugin to conform to a certain width or height, you can edit the style of the surrounding DIV tag:

<div id="alpine" style="width:500px;height:300px">
<?php   
echo do_shortcode( '[alpine-phototile-for user="u" link="l" style="v"]' ); 
?>
</div>
Why doesn’t the widget show my most recent photos?

The plugin caches or stores the Picasa feed for three hours (see Caching above). If the new photos have still not appeared after this time, it is possible that Picasa is responsible for the delay.

How many photos can I show?

As of version 1.2.0, up to 100 photos can be retrieved and displayed.

Why does it take so long for the plugin to load?

The Apline PhotoTile plugin actually takes less than a second to load. The reason you may see the loading icon for several seconds is because the plugin is programmed to wait until all the images and the rest of the webpage are done loading before displaying anything. The intent is for the plugin to avoid slowing down your website by waiting patiently for everything else to finish loading. If you are still looking to speed up your website’s loading time, selecting smaller photo sizes should always help.

Can I put captions below the photos?

No, I have not yet found a good way to add captions to the images, but I am working on it.

The plugin works in display mode but when I put the shortcode in my page, nothing happens and there is no error message. What’s wrong?

A number of users have reported this problem and unfortunately I am not sure exactly what is going wrong. However, one simple fix has been to go to the plugin’s settings page  (Settings->AlpineTile: Picasa->Plugin Settings) and put a check next to the option “Always Load Styles and Scripts in Header”.