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About TTG CE3 Auto Index

The auto index was one of our earliest creations, and remains one of our most innovative and unique offerings. It responds to the Web module's most blatant shortcoming, and it's frakkin' magical. TTG CE3 Auto Index …

  • automatically creates an index of your image galleries, a table-of-contents.
  • can be used to create a hierarchy of categorization for your image galleries.
  • can be used with TTG CE3 Publisher to create Album Sets.

However you use it, TTG CE3 Auto Index makes it dead simple to add new galleries to your website, and that makes it a must-have web engine for any photographer using Lightroom to create web photo galleries.

The auto index confuses some at first, but it's actually quite easy to use once you understand it. In the course of this documentation, I will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the auto index and more, and I'll do it in a way that should be easily digestible.

Documentation will be lengthy, not because it's complicated but because it's thorough. I will be laying out some background on the auto index, addressing its layout options, and eventually getting into methods of thumbnail manipulation. It's the latter that users find most arcane.

Most importantly, do not be mislead. The auto index is powerful, and capable to doing quite a lot. But it's also really easy to use. That's the point. A lot of the advanced features discussed herein can be ignored by those wanting to take the easy road.

System Requirements

Requires Lightroom 3 or newer.

Hosting Requirements

We recommend hosting on:

  • Apache server (recommended)
  • Linux OS (recommended)
  • PHP 5.2.6 or newer (absolutely required)

You may be able to run TTG CE3 Auto Index on non-Apache/Linux environments, but we do not officially support these platforms. The auto index will not run on Windows IIS hosting. If you need to find new hosting, we heartily recommend Bluehost for reliable, affordable hosting of TTG websites.

TTG CE3 Auto Index exports pages as PHP documents, which require being run on a local or web-based server. You cannot view pages using Lightroom's “Preview In Browser” feature, nor can you run pages in your browser from your desktop.

At a Glance

The historical context leading up to the auto index.

The auto index is a superb solution, but what was the question?

Lightroom 1.0 hit the streets allowing the publishing of web photo galleries. Smart!

So you published a gallery, sent the link to your friends, family and clients, and enjoyed the warm, fuzzy feeling welling up inside you.

Sometime later, you published a second gallery and then a third. Now you send three separate links to your friends, family and clients, each leading to a separate gallery, and you begin to realize a problem forming. You push the problem to the back of your mind, eventually publishing a fourth and fifth gallery, and with five disparate links to five disparate galleries in-hand, the problem rages to the fore of your consciousness with more force than ever before:

Image galleries do not a website make; you need some way of tying these things together.

You decide upon a course of action. You roll up your sleeves, pull on your rubber gloves, and plunge your hand deep into the anis of Dreamweaver or your favorite equivalent in hopes of pulling something out other than crap. You end up with a page the same color as your galleries, and a few text links, a block of welcoming text and maybe a picture. It's not great, but it will serve. You put it online and now you have a single location to which to send your friends, family and clients to access your image galleries.

The day comes you want to add another gallery. You export from Lightroom and upload to your server. Then you download your index page, open it in Dreamweaver, add a new link, save, upload and replace. And you repeat this process every time you add or remove a gallery. It's an extra step and tedious, and for many users not well-versed in HTML it can be a struggle. And whatever you do, the page just doesn't look as nice as the website of Famous Photographer X whom you adore and respect. You think, “Surely there must be a better way.” And the stage is set …

The auto index is a better way to organize and maintain your image galleries.

The rise of the auto index

Standing toe-to-toe with the problems above, I conceived a solution: the auto index. But it would require PHP, and my PHP skills are, in all honesty, nearly nonexistent. I drew up the concept and contracted a friend to help me with the scripting. With a working script in-hand, I then took it to Lightroom to sort out the plugin. PHP being a server-side scripting language and Lightroom being not a server, it would not be able to preview the script. The plugin therefore became a two step endeavor, first rendering a fake page within Lightroom during the design process, and then translating those design decisions into functional scripts and components on output. Through experimentation, trial and error I got things working and released my work to the public. For years, it stood.

Heading into the CE versions, I made the acquaintance of John Bishop, a photographer and TTG user with loads of scripting experience. He liked the auto index, and offered to make it better, more solid. John would later help me to create our password protection and PHPlugins features as well.

For CE2, we revisited the auto index yet again. I restructured the indexing scripts in such a way that we would be able to implement password protection on image galleries and added support for the padlock icons on protected galleries. John then reinforced and expanded the script, allowing us to call on the auto index to generate dynamic drop-down menus of galleries, adding new methods of controlling thumbnails, and more.

For CE3, I've maintained the core and added a few new options such as shuffling and the ability to open links in a new browser tab/window; more on this stuff later.

Two variations of the auto index

The auto index is available in two engines, TTG CE3 Auto Index and TTG CE3 Pages. In each case, the index is essentially the same and follows the same rules. The difference is that TTG CE3 Auto Index is portable and can be deployed in any location for any number of purposes, while the Galleries page in TTG CE3 Pages operates from a single, dedicated location and is solely intended for use as your website's main index of image galleries.

Which should you use? Do you need both? That depends on you and what you want to do.

If you're building a complete website using TTG plugins and require only one index to corral your galleries, then TTG CE3 Pages will suffice.

Purposes requiring TTG CE3 Auto Index include:

  • You're using TTG CE3 Publisher and want to create Album Sets.
  • You're not building a website, but want a standalone index in which to organize your image galleries;
  • You have a preexisting website and wish to add an auto index to organize your image galleries;
  • You're building a website with TTG CE3 Pages, but want more than one top-level index of image galleries – for example, you want a separate index for client galleries, or you want a main portfolio and a separate index for recent work or personal projects;
  • You're building a website with TTG CE3 Pages, but you want to organize your galleries into subcategories within the main index, for example having categories for Travel, Portraiture and Concerts, each containing multiple image galleries;
  • You want to create a gallery of video clips;
  • You want to create a gallery of retouch examples;
  • Etc.

Moving along

about_ttg_ce3_auto_index.txt · Last modified: 2013/01/20 05:27 by admin