Official Photoshelter WordPress plugin review

Recently photo hosting service provider Photoshelter released their own version of a WordPress plugin, making it easier to insert individual photos or slideshows from your Photoshelter archive. Previously a plugin has been offered by Graph Paper Press, who also offers WordPress templates which integrate well with Photoshelter (this site is using it). This official plugin is a joined effort of both companies.

The plugin requires at least PHP 5.2, cURL, simplexml and WordPress 2.9 or higher. In order to verify if you have the correct PHP version with cURL and simplexml support, you can create a simple PHP page with the following code: <?php phpinfo() ?>

After entering the Photoshelter credentials the ‘Add Photoshelter photo’ button on the edit post and page screen can be used. It directly displays a list of all galleries in chronological order.

Gallery list

It is not possible to search for galleries or sort them by name but you can use the search function of the browser instead. For people with a large amount of galleries this might be an issue though.

A gallery can be embedded only as Flash based slideshow in the post or page, which is not really great for SEO and neither for visitors using mobile devices without Flash support like the iPhone or iPad. I am currently working on a Flash free Photoshelter based slideshow (you can see the first prototype already on my homepage) and with the NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery Widget it is possible to show the images of a gallery as thumbnails.

In order to insert a single image into a post or page the user can either search by keyword or display the images of a gallery. The search supports multiple keywords and by default it is an ‘any’ search. Use “&” to find images that contain both keywords and “-” to exclude a keyword.

Search result

The user can now pick an image, set the width and has two ways to embed the image in the post or page, either as regular HTML image or as flash object. Both solutions are linking directly to the image page of the Photoshelter gallery.

Embed image

When using the HTML option, the IPTC image description/caption including copyright notice is being used for ALT text of the embedded image. This is the information that Google indexes and displays on the Google Image search results page. The title or headline of the image is unfortunately not being used. The embedded image also automatically includes the Photoshelter watermark (if enabled).

Big watermark on small image

This is fine for larger sizes but is not something I like on small versions, especially since the watermark does not scale. I would prefer to have this as an option or be able to provide a smaller watermark.

Another issue is the JPEG compression rate of this image. The resized version of the 300 pixel wide image of the example is 62 KB large because it uses the highest quality settings. Of course we want provide the best image quality to our customers but photos which are being displayed on a web-page should be size optimized. In this case the image size can be reduced to at least 25 KB without a visible loss of quality.

The Flash object version includes a bright BUY button and an extra copyright notice.

Image as flash object

I thought that the icon on the bottom left looked like it might display more information such as the caption but it didn’t. Personally I prefer the html image solution but would like to see options for the watermark and JPEG compression.

In general the integration between WordPress and Photoshelter is working well and the plugin is easy to use but because of the watermark issue and JPEG compression I probably won’t be using it yet.

The plugin has been released under a GPL license and it available for free on the official PhotoShelter WordPress plugin page.

Update:

I have added the option to disable the watermark and ‘buy’ button and included the display of the image title when the mouse pointer moves over the image.

Tweaked Photoshelter WordPress plugin

Click here to get the modified php file. I have also submitted this change to Photoshelter.

One Response to “Official Photoshelter WordPress plugin review”

  1. Dave says:

    Hi,

    Tried using your modified files to remove the watermark and it just displays very poor quality unwatermarked images – any ideas?

    Thanks

    Dave

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