Jalbum

Jalbum - photo slideshow software

Jalbum - photo slideshow software

 This review is a no-brainer. Jalbum, the photo slideshow builder app, gets our 5-star rating for:

  • being very easy to use
  • producing stunning results
  • truly professional presentation and cool display
  • advanced features
  • freeware (donations accepted)
  • low bug rate from version to version

And more:

  • frequent version upgrades
  • good documentation
  • intuitive interface for user
  • intuitive interface for album builder
  • Controllable auto-pickup of EXIF and IPTC info from the image file itself
  • Saves custom templates for any or all of your albums
  • updating an album is super-easy

What else can we say? Quite a bit, actually:

We started using Jalbum in late February, and quickly built all the galleries you find in Outdoors and Photos (some 14 of them). If you want to display image file EXIF camera data under your photos, you can control which info is displayed.

With the perspective of 17 years in software quality control, I’d have to give Jalbum an “excellent” in software design and overall quality. On my first version upgrade (of several), I did encounter a serious filepath bug, and reverted to the original installation, but before I could even  make the time to contact Jalbum about it, they’d already made and posted the fix. Jalbum finds and fixes minor bugs in every upgrade, but I have yet to “find” any other bugs at all. App stability is also excellent - I have never had it crash or needed to restart it.

Pre-editing Files

If you have an IPTC editor (including PhotoShop), that opens up the opportunity to load your “metadata” into the file once and for all, such as description, headline, keywords, copyright info and much more. No more data files and clumsy little javascript web windows. I purchased IMatch 3.6 for this purpose (about $65) because it will handle, catalog, update and browse any number of libraries, and thousands of image files.

You can pre-prepare your image files for Jalbum as much or as little as you want. I spent quite a bit of IMatch time on all my gallery images before building the final Jalbums, because once you do this, the metadata information is in the file, and available to any number of applications. This also provides broad copyright protection because any annotated web image download also contains this info.

If all you want is a file name, Jalbum picks that up automatically if you didn’t provide your own custom title.

You should be advised that not all image editing programs necessarily save embedded EXIF and IPTC info when you “save as” or “save for Web”. (Jalbum can only deal with the metadata we give it and is not at fault here.) Example 1: Swan mails images for Photos that he has already scaled down to a reasonable web size. I found these already contain EXIF info, so I just copy and paste into the upload folder and add IPTC metadata text in IMatch. Example 2: My native image files are generally 3MB to 9MB in file size, so I need to scale them down to 1024×768.  I prefer PhotoShop. Inexplicably, PhotoShop does notsave the metadata with a “save as Web” image copy. I usually copy the original file to the upload folder, scale it down, and then add the IPTC metadata.

Using and Viewing Jalbum

You can browse  Summitlake.com Jalbum galleries in Photos , containing exhibits from Dave, Swan and myself (Alex), and we all have multiple galleries. I also host galleries for other fine guest photographers, and for special Summitlake topics.

If you don’t have your own website, Jalbum will host your albums so you can share them with friends. I am familiar with Picasa and Shutterfly, and they are certainly good imaging hosts. But when I browse Jalbum’s Explore section, I see some outstanding albums in their sharing community – and some other truly dazzling “skins” besides the Chameleon skin I adopted. (If I ever wanted to change skins, it’s just a click of a button).

Yes, Jalbum includes a variety of custom “skins” so you can totally customize the look and feel of the presentation. I chose “Chameleon” early on, and still have seen nothing its equal. I did look at Google and other commercial web solutions, and was prepared to spend some money. I went with Jalbum because it looked slickest of them all, and I was astounded in trials just how easy it was to get going.

Longtime readers know we have used a variety of slideshow presentations on this site, from custom Perl web apps to PhotoShop’s comparatively crude plug-in.

Jalbum is an outstanding example of the value and utility we can still receive from  the shareware and freeware software community. Even though Jalbum is freeware, and even though I am retired and living on Social Security now, I saw it was so good that I just had to make a modest $20 donation in PayPal. Honestly, it is worth much more.

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