Friday, August 24, 2007

10framesasecond: Step 2 - integrating photos.

When I first started thinking about starting a website to sell photos I took during my kids sporting events, I thought it should be easy enough to create a site that I could host pictures organized into galleries and use some ruby on rails code or some of the canned photo server apps like 'coppermine' to tie it to a paypal shopping cart. I could then get orders and print them at the local Costco and make a better profit margin. Well, reality set in there was no way I was going to have the time to do all that now. Previous research I'd did on the pro photo hosting sites concluded that Exposure Manager is the best / most flexible to work with.
So I signed up and had a gallery loaded in about a half and hour. But I wasn't happy with the look - it didn't have the same 'feel' as my site so I used the template editor they provide and integrated my layout table and style sheet into the main templates and Whamo! You can barely tell you're being redirected to another site. I even mapped the URL so is still in the address bar when your actually on the exposure manager site. Pretty cool.
Overall, Exposure Manager lets you tweak quite a bit of the UI on the site through the use of Templates and Style Sheets but their interface is a bit weak - For instance, there are options to both create a new style sheet or edit an exsisting one but for templates, there is only a create option, so every time you need to make an edit, you first need to create a template then choose which one to edit. This leaves you with quite a few templates to delete after a template debugging session.
Another thing is they don't provide templates for all the areas of the site (like the shopping cart and the multi-selection product picker). A nit pick since the pages still used the color schemes setup through your stylesheets. I'm sure Exposure Manager will progress in this area, and it is workable as it stands right now - just not as polished as I'd like to see.

Took me about 2 hours to tweak the templates into something I could use. Lots of experimentation needed here as I didn't find there documentation on this very helpful.
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