A new way to embed Picasa Web Albums into WordPress

Friends, I have found a new way to embed my Picasa Web Albums into WordPress.

You know, the web albums that I’ve meticulously built to include 12,597 photos in 148 albums from Dec. 25, 2006 through today (as of this writing). The completist’s goal, of course, is to eventually digitize every image I come across and store it online for everyone to see in one place.

The new method comes thanks to smccandl, who created and unleashed the PWA+PHP solution on Google Code and even created a WordPress plugin that I’m now using on this website.

Here’s a little taste of what it can do.

Photos from New Year’s Day 2012

[pwaplusphp album=”NewYearSDay2012″  image_size=”800″ thumbnail_size=”135″]

See? I just embedded a small 7-photo photo album from PicasaWeb into my blog post.

By inserting a tiny shortcode that looks like this:

pwaplusphp album="NewYearSDay2012" image_size="800" thumbnail_size="165"]

So, I’ve added the plugin PWA+PHP, configured it to my liking using the easy-to-use settings page, and hope to build upon it and stylize it more in the near future.

I also had to add the FancyBox plugin to my WordPress install, so that clicking on the photos in an album would make the image jump up and display in the FancyBox jQuery style.

Of course, there was a problem with some of the FancyBox CSS rules built into the plugin; they didn’t work well with my TwentyEleven child theme, so I had to adjust some z-indexes to ensure the pop-up image would be above the navigation bar and header image.

I will make a backup of my changes and upload it in the plugin’s folder so that when I upgrade it; those changes won’t be lost … forever.

Nothing’s ever easy.

See the new Photos page in action here:

https://brandonmoeller.com/photo/

This method replaced the previous non-WordPress-native method that utilized a javascript written by Jesse Berman and previously mentioned here back in July 2010.

However, I still like that method. So I’ll keep it online, too, in the same place, here:

https://brandonmoeller.com/photos/

Here are some reasons I favor the new method:

  • I can add albums to posts and pages with shortcodes in a native WordPress environment
  • It is responsive, unlike the previous method — it looks great on a cell phone
  • Easier to customize. I hope.
  • URLs to the web albums contain the name of the album, albeit via a ? argument
  • The random photo page, powered by PWA+PHP
  • There’s even a pro version for $10, if I want to take it to the next level and include comments and a full cache.

Why this almost didn’t matter…

I’ve been pretty frustrated with Google and its PicasaWeb products this week. I believe it was back in 2009 when I chose Google over Flickr for my online photo storage solution and I did so for some important reasons. Google’s reputation was stellar back then, I thought Yahoo would bite the dust any day then (still do), and Google was preaching to the choir about great concepts like net neutrality and openness and being able to take your data with you when you got tired of their services.

So I began to upload a lot of images there. Soon thereafter, I paid a very affordable fee ($5 a year) for extra storage (up to 20 GB) for my photos. About a year later, I found Jesse Berman’s work tapping into the Google Picasa Web Album API so that I could display the images — from Google’s quick servers — on my website as if it came from there.

But in the last year or so, things have started to change. Google introduced Google+ and although it is so much cooler than Facebook and is more powerful; no one cares because EVERYONE is already on Facebook, and seriously, who wants to spend time learning new tricks on a social network that no one is using …

Slowly but surely, in an effort to get more people to use Google+ (it’s still not working), the giant company has been rolling it into every product it offers. YouTube. Google search. Gmail. And even Picasa.

But what really made me mad this week was when I realized that after agreeing to link Google+ with my Picasa software, what I was really doing was making it really hard for my family to find my photos on Picasa Web Albums, because now, they redirect automatically — and really without my knowledgeable consent and approval — to Google+. (Sure, I had to agree to it, but I honestly had no idea what it would do until it was done.)

That is, unless I add a ? argument to the end of my links.

As in:

http://picasaweb.google.com/moellerbrandon

now takes you here:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/107385980338443788461/albums

Unless I alter the original link to:

http://picasaweb.google.com/moellerbrandon?noredirect=1

Apparently these changes took effect late last year, but I only found out about it while trying to show my mother how, ahem, easy it is to print photos from Picasa Web Albums, and then, I couldn’t even get there.

Thanks Google for making me look like an idiot in front of my mother, who only wants to print photos of her new grandson.

And with the launch of their new Google Drive storage solution, Google has raised its prices for storage. Luckily, I’m grandfathered in at $5/year for 20 GB but if I wanted to jump up to 25 GB I’d pay $2.49/month or $4.99/month for 100 GB. Still cheap, though, just a lot more than I pay now. Of course, I could just upload photos at 2048 pixels for the longest side; those don’t count against my storage quota.

Which makes about as much sense as all the other decisions Google has made recently.

8 thoughts on “A new way to embed Picasa Web Albums into WordPress”

  1. Hello,
    yes this really is bad news for people using picasa and picasaweb.
    I’ve checked the PWA+PHP plugin but it doesn’t seem to support WordPress later than 3.1.4
    have you had any luck on 3.3.2 or later?

    I am also going to try http://code.google.com/p/embpicasa/
    As it might be more updated.

    What I am most worried about is not being able to share Picasa albums and also collaborate on them in the future, if Google+ takes over completely

  2. Well, I haven’t tried that plugin, but I’ll look into it. Always interested to see what great developers are doing with the PicasaWeb API. PWA+PHP does work on WordPress 3.4 – I updated as soon as I heard it was available. As in: https://brandonmoeller.com/photo/?album=Sky

    If Google+ takes over completely, I hope they have the good sense to incorporate all the PicasaWeb features. Perhaps that’s why they both still exist, they haven’t quite put the energy into merging them. Google+ is awesome; it’s a shame the masses aren’t really using it that much; maybe that will change as Facebook continues to BLATANTLY WANT ALL YOUR MONEY NOW THANK YOU AND YOUR ATTENTION AND ALL YOUR DATA.

  3. I really hope Google+ does maintaing the Picasa features.
    They seem to have kept online image editing which is quite nice.

    Great to know PWA+PHP works on 3.4 I’ll try it out.
    I’d like to find a plugin that enables captions to be seen just as they can be seen here for example
    http://en.meetitalia.org/experience/fiera-della-patata-merica-stroppare-di-pozzonovo-pd-8-9-10-ottobre-2011/
    It helps users navigate images especially if they don’t know what something is.

    And hopefully in I’ll find a way to post Google+ pictures in Facebook!

    One last thing, here is a bunch more plugins for Picasa
    I’m going to try a few until I find a worthy substitute for the on I’m suing right now which is
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/picasa-express-x2/

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/shashin/
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mudslideshow/
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/h-gallery/
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-picasa-albums-viewer/
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pwaplusphp/
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/picasa-upload/

    1. Thanks of the suggestion!
      I am actually trying to find, without much luck, a way to share Picasa Web albums to Facebook directly between the web services.
      As we are an NPO gathering and posting content on Italy we collaborate on the albums directly online.

      Hmmm I guess I should stop searching for Picasa to Facebook and wait until Picasa fully translations into Google plus photos.

      On a different note I have completed testing the above plugins and have gone with Shashin.
      I’m not too happy of the picture layout but I might be able to find a solution.
      The other plugins require you to manually copy and paste the album code and that can take too much time for the scope of our project.

      mudslideshow
      http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mudslideshow/
      is a rather new plugin and I hope ti actually grows as it was very nice how it presented the photos.

      Have a good evening

  4. This is all very interesting. I was looking for a way to have my WordPress site pull images and/or whole albums from a Google+ business page to portfolio section on my site to keep my users there while using Google’s bandwidth to display the images, but more importantly to keep me from having to manage yet another online set of images! As it is, I manage the same albums on Facebook, Flickr, Google+ and my site. Obviously from a business-standpoint, this makes some sense just to cover all the bases of where your web traffic might be coming from.

    Anyway, having never had a Picasa account before Google linked it to Google+, I can guess that the reason why your “vanity” url stopped working is because there aren’t any vanity URLs allowed on Google+ yet. I just looked at my PicasaWeb URL and it was https://picasaweb.google.com/11468397XXXXXXXXX (x’s being other random numbers), with no way to change it to look like yours.

    The main reason for the comment was to ask if this plugin works with Google+ pages or just profiles? I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but I’m sure it would be a similar process. Google doesn’t appear to really treat their pages much different than profiles like Facebook does.

    1. Brandon – I wish I knew the answer to your question. I haven’t tried this plugin with Google+ pages. Managing multiple albums of images is tiresome. I do know that Google Picasa has a little add-on program that allows you to publish your albums – or any group of photos – to an album on Facebook. I’ve used it before, and in a comment above, I link to the add on. Good luck – lemme know how it goes!

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