WordPress recently announced updates to the way media is managed from the blog dashboard (Manage Slideshows and Galleries — All in One Place). This makes using slideshows and inserting galleries in blog posts and pages much easier.
For preparing posts and pages in a fast and easy WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) manner, nothing beats using Windows Live Writer. Live Writer also offers neat gallery access via SkyDrive photo albums.
So can both be used together?
Yes, indeed – sort-of.
Unfortunately, Writer doesn’t know about WordPress slideshows or galleries and has some editing quirks. The WordPress editor doesn’t understand the intricacies of the Live Writer “Photo Album” and tries to “optimize” the code. So between the two of them it is a delicate operation to get them to play together.
True, in the kitchen you should never use all the spices at once, and this is probably true in building a photo gallery blog as well. But my page is an exception, of course, as I am testing the gallery features of both WordPress and Live Writer.
The pitfalls and problems
Live Writer will not find a page created in the WordPress dashboard (most of the time), so to use Live Writer with a page, the page should be started in Live Writer. Besides that, Live Writer makes a mess of the gallery code generated by the WordPress editor. Example: The WordPress code for a gallery might be:
Live Writer will replace the quote marks and the “corrected” code will be like this:
You can imagine that when WordPress again gets a hold of this, the gallery won’t look the same.
Now the WordPress editor also attempts to correct and optimize code. When it gets a hold of the large set that defines the images and links of a Live Writer “Photo Album” insertion sometimes strange, and not necessarily beautiful things happen.
Especially insertions with individual thumbnails and links, like the one here, get mangled pretty badly. They get progressively more damaged on repeated use of the WordPress editor.
The strategy for getting an acceptable page or post is this: Plan ahead, minimize the use of the WordPress editor, and don’t make revisions.
Strategy and procedure
To get a post or page that combines Live Writer “Photo albums” with WordPress galleries proceed as follows:
1) Plan ahead – Sketch out your post or page, note what photo albums and galleries you wish to include. Organize the photos for the albums and galleries.
2) Upload your SkyDrive albums – Set up the SkyDrive photo albums that you wish to include in the root of your SkyDrive. Live Writer cannot find sub-folders.
3) Start in Live Writer – Start the page or post in Live Writer. Include all elements and text, and any simple insertions. Insert the SkyDrive photo albums and pick the album styles and other features.
Live Writer provides a nice selection of thumbnail layouts, “Album styles”.
4) Publish to blog – If you are working on a page go ahead and publish it. Since it is new it will not be included in a customized menu. If you are working on a post, select “Post draft to blog” so it will not be published immediately.
5) Edit in WordPress dashboard – Once the page or post has been uploaded the next step is to add the WordPress features – slideshows and galleries – that are not available in Live Writer.
The WordPress Media Library is one huge shoebox with all your images. The new features that make it much more user friendly really do not yet go far enough. Selecting the photos for a gallery or slide show is easy in principle, but messy in practice. Here is why:
When you click “Add Media” you are taken to a beautiful page like this:
Pretty nice. Click a thumbnail to select it. Only problem is the identification of the thumbnails. You can’t tell which image you are dealing with until you click it. The pane on the right gives the details. Since the Media Library will be filled with many thumbnails and full images, the selection process is a bit cumbersome and time-consuming.
The procedure to get a gallery onto the page requires Create Gallery > Update Gallery > Update (page). The options for the type of gallery, Default, Tiles, Square Tiles, Circles, Slideshow, is a bit temperamental, and the interaction between columns and type – it it exists at all – is not obvious.
Re-arranging the pictures within a gallery is a quick drag-and-drop.
Still, WordPress galleries are nice. The slideshow works but the window size is not adjustable. The neatest gallery arrangement is “Tiles”. There is no control over the arrangement, but it is always pleasant.
For all galleries (but not Slideshow), clicking leads to a black-framed large image. A good way to view the pictures.
Updating the Mixed Gallery
Updating the mixed gallery can get tricky. If Live Writer is used the WordPress Galleries are messed up. If the WordPress editor is used the photo albums inserted by Live Writer may get spoiled.
Editing in WordPress editor
The WordPress galleries can be easily maintained and modified in the WordPress editor.
Clicking the Edit Gallery link in the gallery placeholder opens the Edit Gallery page which allows re-arranging, deleting or adding to the gallery, as well as changing gallery parameters. “Add to Gallery” can be done from the Media Library or by uploading. Uploading would be the preferred method – it is also a drag-and-drop process and avoids the confusion posed by the Media Library.
The only downside is that Live Writer Photo Albums might get mangled.
Updating Live Writer Photo Albums
Maintenance on the Live Writer Photo Albums is a matter of updating the corresponding SkyDrive album. That is a snap, especially when using the SkyDrive Desktop App. Just manage the folder like any other folder on the PC and let the app do the updating. Even relocating the album will not affect the operation of the blog post or page – it will continue to work just fine.
If you don’t mind the occasional update headache, combining the features offered in Windows Live Writer and the WordPress online editor can lead to some gorgeous looking photo galleries.
© 2012 Ludwig Keck