I’ve been on the hunt for a good, lightweight yet powerful photo blog engine for my website for a long while now. The other day I happened upon Pixelpost and it seems to have answered the call of duty.
If you’ve got some free webspace, a spare MySQL database and a burning desire to share your particular flavour of photography with the world wide web then you’ll be relieved to find out Pixelpost is a powerful free open-source tool for the job.
In this article, we’ll be looking at version 1.7.3 – you can check out the latest version in action right here.
Installing the Pixelpost Photo Blog Engine
Before you get too excited, it’s important to check you’ve got everything Pixelpost requires to function. In order to install the software, you’re going to need:
- PHP version 4.3.3 or higher
- The getimagesize() PHP function
- PCRE UTF-8 Support
- PHP installation compiled with the GD graphics library
During the installation process, Pixelpost will test each of these settings, and if all goes well you won’t have any issues. If you do then it’s wise to contact your web hosting company for updates and additional software.
Download the latest Pixelpost release and extract it into its own folder on your hard drive. You’re going to need an FTP client to connect to your webspace, I’d recommend FileZilla as it’s free, stable and cross-compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac. You can then upload the folder (with any name you like) to your webspace.
Once done, simply visit your photo blog’s location in a web browser (e.g. yoururl.com/pixelpost) to see if everything’s in order.
You will also need to make the
/thumbnails folders in your Pixelpost folder writeable (unless they already are). To do this, open up your favourite FTP program, select the required directories and apply CHMOD 777 (Read/Write/Execute, usually under Permissions in the right click menu).
When you’ve done all this, you can navigate to yoururl.com/pixelpost/admin (replacing yoururl and pixelpost with your own info) to begin the installation. Be aware you’ll need to create a new MySQL database, a user for the database and a password for the user. Keep all this information handy, you’ll need it to complete the installation.
Once you’ve made it through the installation and logged in to your admin panel, everything is fairly straightforward. The bar at the top of the admin screen provides access to pretty much every function you’ll need, though the Options page makes for a good starting point.
There are 4 pages of options – General, Template, Thumbnails and Spam Control. The General page allows you to customize your blog’s name, sub-title, RSS feed settings and so on. Templates allows you to change the look and feel of the site (more on that later) and Thumbnails and Spam Control are fairly self-explanatory.
Once you’re set-up, you can post a new image from the New Image admin page. But first, there are a few things to remember when posting to your photo blog.
Pixelpost will not resize your images for you – so you’re going to need to resize and save anything you want posted online. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you can watermark your images while you’re at it (if you do so wish).
You cannot make categories from the New Image page, a feature that I have gotten used to thanks to WordPress. The best way round this is to quickly create a new category from the Categories page before posting.
You’ve also got the (absolutely fantastic) ability to schedule posts directly from the New Image page, especially useful if you’re doing a photo-a-day and want to sort your photos out beforehand.
Repaint The Galleries
Once you’ve posted an image take a look at your new photo blog. Photography aside, it should probably look something like this:
If you’re sick of the black background, white border and grey text then you can always give your Pixelpost a brand new look by changing the template. Templates come in folders to be easily placed in the
/templates folder of your Pixelpost install.
You can then change template via the Options then Template page. There’s plenty to choose from on the Pixelpost website.
There’s also all manner of addons available for download, and these should be put in the
/addons folder of your Pixelpost installation. You can then activate them on the Addons page in your admin panel.
Once you’ve finally got your photo blog exactly the way you want it it’s time for the hardest job of all – choosing the right photos! I’ll leave that one up to you.
If you’ve got some experience in setting up simple WordPress-style blogs then you’ll have no issues with Pixelpost, from the installation right down to adding images, templates and addons. You’ve then got the task of driving traffic and competing with some of the best photo blogs on the web – good luck!
Did you use Pixelpost for your photo blog? Thinking of starting one up but not sure how? Any favourite themes or addons? Fancy plugging your photography anyway? Let us know in the comments below.