We being photographers wanting to publish our images to the Web, the Lightroom 4 Web module presents a unique platform from which to achieve our stated goal.
Most web-development platforms begin with the page, then hang images within that page like so many ornaments on a pre-existing tree. Lightroom's Web module begins with our images, then builds the page around them; images are the very seeds from which our pages are grown. This is a fundamental departure from common web-development, one that specifically and uniquely addresses the needs of an image-centric, photographic workflow. And this makes the Web module an excellent tool for photographers to create and maintain their websites.
Defined in the most basic terms, the Web module allows photographers to publish a group of selected images in a web photo gallery.
Lightroom 4 ships with five installed web engines, a.k.a Layout Styles, four of them Flash-based and one written in HTML4. These are:
Lightroom Flash Gallery
Lightroom HTML Gallery
If you've been paying attention the last few years, then you no doubt know that Flash will not run on iOS devices such as the iPhone or iPad, or on Android devices running Android OS 4.1 or newer. And with an increasingly significant share of web-browsing happening on such devices, we can immediately discard the first four engines from that list. That leaves us with the Lightroom HTML Gallery, which … well, let's not mince words: It sucks. It's barebones and it dresses like it's living in 1998.
And that leaves us with nothing out-of-the-box, and immediately devalues the Web module. This is sad, because the Web module is actually a really incredible tool. Luckily, third-party developers may be called upon to fill the Web module with newfound purpose!
The Turning Gate is proudly one of the most prominent developers of third-party web engines, having been recognized by Adobe, Photoshop User Magazine and prominent photographers such as Terry White and Lee Varis; The Turning Gate has also been featured in a variety of magazines and books, both in the United States and abroad — including The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2/3/4 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers by Martin Evening, and French photo magazine Le Monde de la Photo.
The Web module is divided into into several sections. Here we isolate those sections for closer examination.
Prominently located in the center of the work area is the gallery Preview. Here, your design-in-progress is shown and updated in real-time as you make changes. Lightroom 4 uses Adobe's webkit-based APE web-browser to render the preview.
At present, the APE browser utilizes an outdated version of the webkit architecture, so does not support some of the CSS3 properties common in modern webkit-based browsers such as Safari and Chrome. CSS3 properties presently known to be unsupported include linear gradients and the background-sizing property.
On Web module left are located the Preview, Template Browser and Collections panes. The Preview pane shows a thumbnail representation of your template; it is otherwise useless. The Template Browser allows you to manage your web templates, and the Collections pane allows you to access your image collections and saved web galleries. The Template Browser and Collections panes are addressed in greater detail elsewhere in this wiki.
On Web module right are located the Layout Style, Site Info, Color Palette, Appearance, Image Info, Output Settings and Upload Settings control panes. All of these panes are used to manipulate web engines' settings. In Layout Style, select the web engine you wish to use. The contents of the other panes house the web engine’s various options, and will change according to Layout Style is selected is selected.
For the right control panel, the wider the better. To increase the width of the panel, simply grab the edge with your mouse and drag it wider. If you find that your web engine controls are getting cut off on the right side, pull the panel as wide as it will go. ( If you want to make the panel even wider still, you can hold the Opt key while dragging; it gets crazy wide! )
The toolbar and filmstrip may be used to manage those photos actively being used by your image gallery.
The toolbar’s visibility may be toggled on/off by pressing the ‘T’ key on your keyboard. The square icon on the far left of the bar acts as a “reset” of sorts for the gallery preview; should you ever find yourself in a strange place and unsure how to get back to the front of your web gallery, press the square icon.
The most useful portion of the toolbar, however, is the “Use” selection, which may be set to “All Filmstrip Photos”, “Selected Photos” or “Flagged Photos”. When set to Use: All Filmstrip Photos, the gallery will be generated using all of the photos currently available in your filmstrip. When set to Use: Selected Photos, the gallery will be generated using only those images in the filmstrip which are actively selected; you may select or deselect individual images by holding the CMD key on Mac, or the CTRL key on Windows while clicking the images in the filmstrip.
To speed up render times in the Web module preview, work with fewer images. You can do this by setting Use: Selected Photos, then selecting 5-10 images to preview. When ready to publish, switch to Use: All Filmstrip Photos to publish the full collection of images. This technique can save you a lot of time waiting for the preview to update between changes!