In many situations web designers should avoid Flash and prefer usual text-based presentation. For instance, in most tasks related to pure text presentation Flash is neither necessary nor user-friendly, and it also has some serious accessibility problems: in fact, “pure” text is easier to maintain and easier to copy and paste.
However, if you’d like to present some multimedia-content, particularly images, Flash can often be a feasible solution, with flexible image management for web designers and impressive visual presentation for users. Used moderately, Flash-based galleries can give the presentation a fresh spark and create a rich visual experience you might want to offer your visitors.
In this post we present some of the free, attractive and flexible Flash-based galleries you can use to present your images more effectively. You might find some useful references to further galleries in our article 30 Best Solutions For Image Galleries, Slideshows and Lightboxes.
Flash-based Galleries: An Overview
Polaroid Gallery offers a quite unusual way of presenting a bunch of photos online. The script loads images and image titles dynamically from an external XML file. Then the script processes the data and creates an interactive flash gallery in which all images are presented as Polaroid-photos.
The images are kind of thrown on the the table randomly and create a beautiful mess — the idea resembles BumpTop, physics-driven 3D-desktop with draggable folders and files. You can move the polaroids around with the mouse, and you can double click a Polaroid picture to zoom in.
To use the gallery you simply need to define your images and your galleries by modifying the XML-file accordingly. You can also define the legend to describe the content of the images. Besides, you can specify your Flickr ID and the gallery will automatically load the latest pictures from your Flickr RSS-feed. The loaded pictures are automatically scaled, centred and smoothed.
The script is free and open-source, and the .zip-package includes a .fla-file you can modify to improve the script. To ensure an optimal presentation your images should have a square format; otherwise the Polaroids don’t look particularly pretty.
The Flash XML Gallery offers a flexible solution for integration of multiple albums into one single gallery. The script can integrate popular photo sharing communities such as Flickr and Picasa. You can use a wide range of transition effects.
The images can be read from RSS or added manually. To add the images you have to upload them to the specified directory and define them in the XML-file. The only usability issues of The Flash XML Gallery are the facts that you a) can’t navigate through the gallery by clicking on the images and b) you can’t get back from the fullscreen to the overview simply clicking on the image. In both cases you have to use the navigation slider below the displayed image. The slider informs the user whether the next image is already loaded.
dfGallery is probably one of the most powerful Flash-based gallery solutions out there. It supports the instant integration of Flickr, Picasa , Fotki and Photobucket; of course, you can add your custom images as well or add an RSS-feed from which the images should be taken.
The gallery is easily customizable, meaning that you can e.g. define the time duration of the slideshow, hide menu system and scale the images from RSS feeds. dfGallery also enables you to switch between the single view mode, full screen mode and the print screen mode.
Apart from wide language support, the gallery makes use of a liquid layout and therefore fits to any size you specify. And it’s also possible to define the background mp3 music for your galleries. The full manual for dfGallery including examples and necessary code snippets for customization is available in the dfGallery Reference Documentation.
Flash Page Flip is a Picasa template based on the free version of the FlashPageFlip flash engine on Flashpageflip.com. It lacks the advanced functions of the commercial versions but still makes a very nice photo album on your website. You can see and hear the pages flip.
The download offers two templates: one for a landscape oriented album, the other for a portrait oriented album. Sizes can be changed by editing the
header.xml file in the template folder.
Picasa Flash Photo Stack Gallery is a simple Flash template that enables you to click through a stack of your favourite photographs. Unfortunately available only as plug-in for Picasa.
You can find more plugin for Picasa users in the overview Crear galerías de imágenes profesionales con Picasa (Spanish).
Carousel is another interesting approach for showcasing images. The script reads the data from a HTML- or XML-file and displays the images in a circle. Similar to iPhone, visitors can browse through the gallery sliding the mouse along the screen; alternatively also the keyboard can be used.
You can define an automatic rotation of the images (max rotation set to 90°/sec counterclockwise). New modified versions are coming soon – as well as a detailed documentation on how the XML-files should be structured.