With the discontinuation of Windows Live Spaces the attractive “entrance page” and easy to share web address to SkyDrive albums is gone. None of the popular photo sharing sites, Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, or Windows Live Photos (on SkyDrive) have neat and customizable “front pages”.
So what to do? I am reminded of the German saying “Not macht erfinderisch” – I will render it in English as “necessity fosters innovation”. WordPress, Blogger, and other blog sites, allow you to set up static pages.
Windows Live Writer is an excellent tool for setting up and for maintaining such pages. This way you can create your photo gallery page, or pages, just the way you like. What is more, the pictures can be sourced from SkyDrive, Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, Shutterfly, and many other free photo sharing sites. You can also incorporate links to specialized sites like Zoom.it and Photosynth. Here I will describe WordPress pages since this blog is at home on WordPress.
First, of course, you need a blog account. All the blog sites make this an easy step-by-step process. If you have a blog module on your Windows Live Spaces site, you can migrate right over to WordPress (prior to March 2011 when Spaces shuts down). For some guidance on setting up a blog on WordPress see “How to set up a WordPress blog”.
For a gallery page you probably have a certain look and feel in mind. WordPress offers many “themes”, in fact over a hundred, so there is likely one that fits your bill. Set up your blog to your liking. On how to customize your WordPress blog see “How do I customize my WordPress blog?”.
In Windows Live Writer the process to connect to a blog account is also straight forward. For details see “How do I connect Windows Live Writer to my WordPress blog?”.
Setting up the gallery page
Here is how to go about setting up the static page. Open Windows Live Writer. It will offer a blank blog post window. You can tell by the prominent “Enter a post title”. This is not what you want.
For this demonstration I will use “Gallery Ludwig” as the demo blog site.
Click New post.
In the right pane click New Page.
Now you get “Enter a page title”. This not only allows you to put pictures and text on a page, but it sets it up and adds it to your blog.
Enter the title you want for that page. Be careful, make sure of the name and spelling. For this demo I will call my new page “Gallery 1”.
There are some other setup tasks to complete the static page, so add some text, maybe a picture in the main area and publish the page. You will be able to add to and modify the page later.
Click the Home tab. Click Publish.
The page will be uploaded and your browser will be opened to display the blog.
Configuring the blog
Next to configure the blog so visitors to your blog will see the static page first. Admire your initial effort and close the browser.
Click Dashboard. The browser opens and takes you to your WordPress blog dashboard (you may have to sign in).
Here there are two things to do: To set up another page that you will use to show your blog posts, and to set the static page as the landing page for visitors.
In the left pane click the down arrowhead next to Pages. Then click Add New. This opens the editor for a new page. In the field showing “Enter title here” type the title for the blog post page. I chose “News” for mine. Scroll down and find the Publish button. Click it to add the page to your blog.
In the left pane click the down-arrow next to Settings. Then click Reading.
On this page you see this:
Here you select what the front page, the one visitors see first, should display. Click on the second choice, “static page”.
Then you specify the page that is the front page and the page on which blog posts are to be shown. These are selected in the drop-down selection boxes. The page names will be available there. Here is my setting for the “Gallery 1” page to be first and the posts to be shown on the “News” page.
Now you will also see why you set up a new page for the posts: so it will show in this selector and you can specify it correctly.
Scroll down and click Save Changes.
Your blog is now configured for a static “landing” page and a separate blog post page. There are still some details to clean up.
Close the browser. In the Blog Account tab on the Ribbon click View site. The browser opens again and shows your blog site. Notice that you see your newly created static page. On the menu you can also see the newly added post page. In my case the menu line looked like this:
It shows “Home”, “About”, and “News”. I thought long and hard before I selected the title “Gallery 1” for my front page, and here it is called “Home”. Furthermore the “About” page is listed next. It is common for Internet sites to show the “About” page as the last item in the menu.
This can be changed as well, but not in all cases for all themes. If it is ok with you the way it is, leave it alone. If you want to change the menu this can be done with a custom menu. Click: How do I install a custom menu on my WordPress blog?
Maintaining the page
After publication of your page you can modify it, add to it, make any edit changes with Windows Live Writer. If you are running Windows 7 you might be able to open the page right from the Start menu: Click the Start button, move the pointer to Windows Live Writer then to the right to see the jump list. Click on the name of your page.
The other way is to open Writer, click File (upper left tab), Open recent post and your page should be shown in the right pane. Click on it to open it.
You can now modify the page: add to it, make any changes you wish. To refresh the modified page online just click Publish on the Home tab.
In another post I discuss some of the ways of showing material on your gallery page from other sources.
Good luck and much fun with your gallery!