Image management is perhaps one of the strongest features of the NextGEN Gallery plugin compared with other image plugins, although until you learn a few concepts it can be a little difficult to use.

Definitions
  • Gallery – A collection of images.  Think of a gallery as a collection of images that are related, e.g. vacation photos or photos taken on a particular day.
  • Album – A collection of galleries.  An album is a good way to present multiple collections of related images together, such as photos taken on different days of your vacation.

Once you get these concepts straight, the user interface will fall into place.

Add Gallery

The first thing you will want to do is upload some images.  Before you can do that, you have to create a gallery.  You do that on the Add Gallery page.  Galleries are created below the path specified on the General Options page, typically wp-content/gallery/.  Creating a gallery actually creates a new folder on the server to store the images.

Choose the name of your gallery very carefully as once it’s been created it is very difficult to change it.  You’ll have to rename the folder on the server’s disk and then modify the gallery record in the database – not for the faint of heart.  I’d like to see the plugin modified to support this feature from the admin UI.

Adding Images

Once you’ve created a gallery you can add images to it.  There are four different ways to add images to a gallery, two by uploading them and two by copying them to a location accessible by WordPress and then scanning the directory.

Note that when uploading images, check that the php.ini file for your sever sets the maximum file upload size high enough.  Alex (the author of the plugin) recommends at least 16MB.  I set mine to 20MB.

  1. Upload images one or more at a time.  This is done from the Upload Images tab on the Add Gallery page.  (It seems like there should be a separate page for uploading images rather than on the Add Gallery page.)  From this page you can select which gallery and also whether to add metadata stored in images to the alt/title text field of each image.  With the latest versions of the plugin, you can select multiple files to upload and see progress of each image as it is being uploaded.  This is a huge improvement over previous versions which could even timeout if it took took long to upload.
  2. Upload a zip file of images.  This is done from the Upload a Zip-File tab on the Add Gallery page.  This can be useful when the link to your site is slow.
  3. Import a folder already on your web site.  This is done from the Import image folder tab on the Add Gallery page.
  4. Import images already in your gallery folder.  This is similar to the previous method but the images are already in the gallery folder.  To do this:
    1. Go to the Manage Gallery page.
    2. Click on the Edit link for your gallery.
    3. Click the Scan Folder for New Images button.
Managing Images

Once you get images into a gallery, you can perform a number of different operations on them.  Probably the first thing you’ll want to do is to annotate them.  While you’re at it you may as well add a description to your gallery.

The Manage Gallery page provides a lot of flexibility and allows you to make a lot of changes at once.  One thing you’ll want to be careful of, however, is to avoid doing to many operations that take a lot of time, such as regenerating thumbnails.  Doing so can cause the operation to timeout.

Here is a summary of the operations that can be performed on images on the Manage Gallery page.

  • Specify a description for each image.  This text can be displayed under thumbnails as well as in slideshows.
  • Specify alternate title text for each image.  This text can be displayed under thumbnails as well as in slideshows.
  • Exclude images from being displayed on gallery pages.
  • Specify tags for images.  Specifying a tag allows it to be displayed as a related image for posts that use the same value for its category or tag.
  • Delete an image.  The image file itself will only be deleted if the Delete image files option is enabled on the General Options page.
  • Set a watermark on selected images.
  • Generate (create) new thumbnails for selected images.  This is especially useful when you change the thumbnail options.
  • Resize images.  This is useful when you set resize parameters on the Images option page.
    • It would be nice if resize parameters could be specified at the time that images are resized or as part of the gallery rather than in one place for all images.
  • Import metadata (e.g. EXIF, IPTC, or XMP data) from images and set it in the alternate title text field.
  • Scan the folder for new images as described above.

Here is a summary of the operations that can be performed on the gallery on the Manage Gallery page.

  • Edit the name and description of the gallery.
  • Edit the path (although this only changes the path, it doesn’t rename it).
  • Link the gallery to a page which can be displayed when the gallery is clicked on when viewing an album.  I mistakenly linked the gallery to the page displaying the album.  The correct thing to do is to link it to a different page than the page displaying the album.
    • Note that this page is only used if the Deactivate gallery page link checkbox is unchecked on the Gallery Options page.
    • In order to display the contents of the gallery on the page you specify, you need to specify a shortcode, like this:
      [gallery=#] where # is the ID of the gallery.
  • Specify a preview image that will be displayed when albums to which the gallery belongs are displayed.  By default no image is displayed.  You can select one of the images in the gallery.
  • Create a new page for displaying the gallery.
  • Delete the gallery.
Albums

An album is a nice way to display a list of galleries.  To create an album

  1. Go to the Album page.
  2. Type the name of your new album.
  3. Click the Update button.

Note that there isn’t any way to rename an album through the UI once you’ve created one, which is unfortunate, although I haven’t seen any place where the name of the album is actually displayed.

Once you’ve created an album, you can drag galleries from the Select Gallery box to the Album Page box.  The UI also allows you to rearrange galleries in the album by dragging and dropping.  This is a very nice interface and easy to use once you figure out that you can drag and drop.  Yes, there is some text describing that, but every time I teach someone how to use it I end up having to show them how to use this page.