I’m doing the legwork to build a new website for my illustration portfolio, in the hopes that I can make it more of a weekly (or even daily) endeavor. My dream is to have a site where I post sketches and finals of my work as well as other articles and sites I’m looking at, and have a place for comments and an RSS feed. Because I’d like to make it as easy as possible, I’ve been looking at a lot of photoblog software, which is a more specialized version of traditional weblog software—the emphasis is on ease of uploading and immediate posting, as opposed to the hassle of adding a photo to one’s Flickr account, hunting down the URL, and pasting it into a Movable Type window, repeat, repeat. In essence with a lot of these apps, the photo is the central unit, and the title/caption becomes secondary, almost metadata.
I started with some of the lighter applications, and looked at Folderblog, which has ease of installation and lightweight footprint as two of its key features. Instead of a true content management system, it acts as a PHP script running in the background, processing photos as they are added to a central folder and tying them to text files with metadata. Some of its drawbacks are that it has no allowance for .GIF files (which are central to the work I do), it has a gloopy UI, it has questionable support, and it has a very small community. I was able to modify the templates to get a layout that was more in line with what I wanted, but it’s not perfect. I’m shelving this one for the time being.
The next application I’m looking at is PixelPost, which (shudder) requires a MySQL database backend. Having navigated the myriad websites to find the information I need and the link to the required file (a binary installer, thank CHRIST) I got it installed and running under OS X last night. I then found a handy utility called Navicat to administer the database, something I’ve only been able to do previously with arcane command-line jujitsu found buried in pages of lousy open source documentation. And speaking of lousy documentation, how about providing a screenshot, people? Or simply a better website, that, um, lists some of the features of the application? I’m going on reviews here, and looking at other websites for an approximation of what I might get, and that’s just not enough. I do like the database backend, and there seems to be a healthy community building helpful tools (captcha, clean URL, and ratings, for example).
As I continue with the experiment, I’ll keep writing about it here. I’m hopeful I’ll find a robust enough application that I can use for a real-world website, and finally get the site I want running.