{ Hi! I'm Mike }
I'm a core developer with The Horde Project and a founding parter of Horde LLC - the company behind the world's most flexible groupware platform. This is my personal blog full of random thoughts about development and life in general.
March 5, 2008

Update on Ansel development

For those that don't know, Ansel is the Horde Project's image management application, it provides user galleries and some image editing capabilities.  I've been using Ansel for quite some time now to host images for friends and family. After coming across an article on Mikko Koppanen's blog, regarding image manipulation with ImageMagick, I decided it was time to give Ansel a facelift.

There have been quite a number of recent improvements and changes to Ansel's code.  The most obvious (and coolest, IMO) is the addition of

Polaroid style thumbnails
different thumbnail styles.  I took some ideas from Mikko's articles and added the functionality to the Horde_Image library.  Currently available styles include Polaroid style thumbnails and image stacks, and thumbnails with drop shadows - both with and without nice rounded corners.  Different gallery styles  allow the user to choose, on a per-gallery level, certain display elements of the gallery...one of those being the thumbnail style.  The style support is fairly modular and the idea is that admins will be able to define their own styles. Work is steadily moving in that direction.

Like I said, image manipulation is actually done in the Horde_Image library, so going forward, any types of effects, thumbnails etc... that Horde_Image can generate will be available for possible use in Ansel.  I'm planning an
Rounded gallery thumbnail
upcoming article on how to use Horde_Image to generate some of the effects that are used in Ansel.

Other recent additions to Ansel include the addition of photo tagging, various types of RSS feeds and some useful widgets that will eventually be configured as part of the the gallery styles.  Another nice addition builds on a new Horde level configuration option to choose to have Horde applications build "pretty" URLs where they are supported. So galleries can be reached with URLs like: path/to/ansel/user/mike, /path/to/ansel/gallery/gallery_name or even path/to/ansel/user/mike/rss for a feed of all of user mike's recent images.  For an idea of some of the other things that are on the way or in the works, you can check out the Ansel page on the Horde website.

Behind the scenes, so to speak, there have also been many performance related enhacements to Ansel contributed by duck, a frequent and very prolific contributor to many of Horde's applications.

The final change I'd like to mention involves using Ansel from other web sites or applications.  Like all other Horde applications, Ansel provides an external api that developers can use to interact with it. You can use the api to get or store content for other, non-Horde applications.  There is even the ability to render a complete gallery on your own site with a single api call.  Another article, in the works, will demonstrate different ways to access Horde content for use in your own webpages. In fact, this website, as well as my family site at rubinskyfamily.com  is completely powered by Horde via various api calls.