Mar 30, 2014

Overview of the Upcoming MaxGalleria Gallery Platform

We have been hard at work over the last few months working on a major change to MaxGalleria. In short, MaxGalleria is changing from a single plugin into a full-blown gallery platform for WordPress. This new platform will consist of a core plugin that provides all standard gallery functionality, as well as a number of addons to enhance and extend gallery capabilities. This is a lengthy post, but well worth the read, so let’s get started.

From Single Plugin to Platform

Up to now, MaxGalleria has been built as a single plugin that contains everything. Image galleries, video galleries, Youtube and Vimeo support, sliders, carousels, and different template layouts. And that doesn’t take into account all the other stuff we had planned for it.

But what we found was that people don’t need or want all of that stuff for their galleries. Some people don’t care about videos and just want the basic image tiles layout. Other people need support for Youtube video galleries but don’t need Vimeo. And yet others only want the slider and carousel image galleries and nothing else. So why create a bloated plugin where people end up using only 20% of it, essentially wasting the other 80%? That didn’t sit well with us.

With MaxGalleria 2.0, we’ve flipped that model on its head and are turning it into the world’s first WordPress gallery platform, which consists of the following:

1. A free core plugin
2. Paid addons that extend core functionality

This model isn’t new, of course, as this is exactly how some of the WordPress ecommerce systems work, such as WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

Essentially, this change in direction is about freedom of choice. Customers want to be able to pick and choose only the things they need and nothing more. Our new MaxGalleria gallery platform allows them to do just that.

Core Functionality

No platform of any kind is any good without a strong core, and the new MaxGalleria plugin is just that. Soon to be available for free from the Plugin Repository, MaxGalleria provides all standard gallery functionality you would expect from a gallery plugin.

For many people, the free MaxGalleria plugin is all they will ever need, and that’s perfectly fine with us. If that gets them to move away from the subpar NextGEN plugin, then it will be worth it.

As for what the core MaxGalleria plugin will do and support, here’s a feature list:

  • Responsive galleries

  • Unlimited number of galleries

  • Native integration with new WordPress media manager

  • Select multiple images from media manager to add to gallery

  • Add images from your computer

  • Import galleries from NextGEN

  • Featured images for gallery thumbnail

  • Lightbox effects with captions and custom sizes

  • Custom classes and rel attribute for thumbnails

  • Bulk edit functionality

  • Include/exclude media from galleries

  • Multiple galleries on any post/page

  • Adjustable thumbnail column layouts

  • Square, landscape, and portrait thumbnail shapes

  • HTML in thumbnail captions

  • HTML descriptions above or below galleries

  • Drag-and-drop reordering of media

  • Shortcode for galleries

  • Shortcode for gallery thumbnails

  • Galleries created with custom post type

  • Changeable slug for gallery post type

  • Categories and tags support

  • Default settings

  • SEO friendly captions, alt text, and titles

  • Compatible with WordPress Multisite

  • Localized strings are translation-ready

  • Image Tiles template and skins

  • Video Tiles template and skins

  • YouTube video support

  • Actions and filters

Most Requested Features and Improvements

From that big list of things MaxGalleria will do, there are several worth pointing out that have been requested by customers. Some, like albums and widgets, have been asked about ever since we first launched MaxGalleria, so it feels great to finally be able to deliver those. Here’s a rundown:

Native integration with the new WP media manager
When MaxGalleria first came out, we spent a lot of time integrating it with the WordPress media manager. However, WP 3.5 introduced a new and improved media manager, which we’ve been meaning to switch to. We’ve now done that and it is a vastly better experience.

Select multiple images from the media manager to add to a gallery
Our integration with the old media manager only allowed you to select one image at a time from the media library when adding them to a gallery. Now, with the integration with the new media manager, you can select multiple images at once. Massive timesaver.

Changeable slug for gallery post type
By default, the URL slug for galleries is “gallery” and most people don’t want or need to change it. However, as with any custom post type, it’s sometimes nice to be able to change it for whatever reason. You can do that now.

Categories and tags support
Being able to organize galleries using categories and tags is something many people have asked for, and that taxonomy support is there now. This also sets MaxGalleria up for additional things we want to do in the future.

Default settings
MaxGalleria has always provided sensible defaults when creating galleries, but being able to set your own default options will help save time, especially for people who create many of the same galleries, but with different media.

Multiple galleries on any post/page
One shortcoming of the current MaxGalleria is that it’s not easy to put multiple galleries on the same page or post. It took some rework to make it happen, but you can now put as many galleries on a page or post as you want.

Not long after we first released MaxGalleria, people started asking for widgets. They were always on our to do list, but we just kind of never got around to it. Well, we finally got around to it, so now you can add gallery (and album) widgets to your site.

We resisted albums at first and were justified in doing so because for the longest time, exactly one person ever asked for it. However, as more and more people went looking for NextGEN alternatives, having albums was critical for people to switch and it became our most requested feature. We’ve now added album support in the form of its own addon for MaxGalleria.

Actions and filters
Another shortcoming of the existing MaxGalleria is its lack of hooks, which made it hard for developers to extend MaxGalleria for their clients. That has changed in a big way, as we’ve added loads of actions and filters to make customizing and extending MaxGalleria much, much easier.

Developer Friendly

Speaking of all those hooks, looking back, it was admittedly shortsighted that we didn’t add actions and filters sooner. It’s kind of like localization – once you do it, you can never *not* do it because it’s too easy. Putting hooks in place is the same way, all it requires is a bit of thought about where your actions and filters should go.

As of right now, the core MaxGalleria plugin has 130 actions and filters, with another 130 hooks spread out among all the addons, and I imagine by the time we release the update we’ll have added a few more. In addition to the hooks themselves, we’re working on documentation so that developers know exactly what actions and filters are available and how to use them.

All these hooks are there because allowing developers to easily override, customize, and extend MaxGalleria is important for creating an ecosystem around our gallery platform.

Paid Addons

As far as the ecosystem is concerned, we’re doing our part to jumpstart it by releasing the gallery platform with several addons. Pricing is yet to be determined, but each addon will bring value for customers, and thus, the ecosystem as a whole.

Here’s the list of addons that will ship with the new MaxGalleria gallery platform:

MaxGalleria Albums
Provides much requested album functionality, lets you put your galleries into albums.

MaxGalleria Albums Widgets
Provides an album widget and an album thumbnail widget.

MaxGalleria Widgets
Provides a gallery widget and a gallery thumbnail widget.

MaxGalleria Image Carousel
Displays galleries in an image carousel with a set of predefined skins.

MaxGalleria Image Slider
Displays galleries in an image slider with a set of predefined skins.

MaxGalleria Image Showcase
Displays image galleries in a showcase template with a set of predefined skins.

MaxGalleria Video Showcase
Displays video galleries in a showcase template with a set of predefined skins.

MaxGalleria Instagram
Pulls images from your Instagram account so that you can add them to galleries.

MaxGalleria Facebook
Pulls images from your Facebook account so that you can add them to galleries.

MaxGalleria Vimeo
Allows you to add Vimeo videos to your galleries.

Release Date

We don’t publish specific release dates and we aren’t breaking that habit here, but what we can tell you is that we are shooting for near the end of April. WordPress 3.9 is schedule to come out on April 19, and we expect to release the new MaxGalleria gallery platform not long after that.

Feedback, Please

We know this is a lot to take in, and we know it’s been quite awhile since the last MaxGalleria update, but as you can see, this has been a major undertaking that we think helps change the game for WordPress galleries.

And with that, we’d love to get your thoughts on all of this. Any feedback – good, bad, ugly – would be great to hear, so leave a comment and let us know what you think.