Replacing your MobileMe Gallery

by admin on January 25, 2012

Bye, Bye MobileMe Gallery

If you use MobileMe, then you should know by now that the Gallery functionality is being deprecated by Apple in June of this year. If you’re like me, this is un-welcome news. I thought publishing family photos to a web gallery directly from iPhoto was super easy and convenient enough that I actually shared [a lot of] photos with the family. And I thought that a foundation as solid as Apple was reliable enough to bank on. I thought I heard that Apple has more money in the bank than the US? Despite that, MobileMe is dead (to be partially phoenix-ed as iCloud of course):

In my research to find a gallery replacement, I looked at several contenders, but it came down to just two: Flickr vs. SmugMug.

Flickr

Flickr has a free option, which was what was most immediately appealing. Photo uploads are limited to 300MB in a month. Probably not a problem for me. But you’re only allowed two videos and only up to 90 seconds each. The pay plan is a fairly paltry $24.95 per year, but the video uploads are still only limited to 90 seconds (cf. http://www.flickr.com/help/limits/#65). At that point, I moved my research over to SmugMug.

SmugMug

SmugMug doesn’t have a free option, but since I was already exploring the paid options, it didn’t turn me away. I read a few reviews and most everyone thought that the presentation interface on SmugMug was superior to Flickr’s. I agreed. It was also ad-free (no, I don’t want to see Viagra ads below my child photos). SmugMug has three tiers of monthly pricing and good discounts if you go with the annual payment plan (http://www.smugmug.com/photos/photo-sharing-features/). For me, with my desire to be unshackled by limited video uploads, I thought it was intriguing that SmugMug offers unlimited video uploads with the Pro plan ($8/month or $60/year) as long as the video is less than 20 minutes. For me, 20 mins/clip is more than sufficient. And the $60/year is still less than I was paying Apple for MobileMe ($99/year). There is also a free iPhoto utility that allows direct upload to SmugMug from iPhoto (thank you Aaron Evans for SmugMugExport).

The Transfer Process

Here’s where I hope to bestow upon you my learnings in hopes of saving you some time. I wanted to see if I could port my existing MobileMe galleries over to my SmugMug account. By selecting the album in iPhoto, then selecting all images and exporting them via SmugMugExport, you can indeed transfer your MobileMe galleries to SmugMug. It is a brief manual setup per gallery, but then you just let it run and upload the photos and videos.

One issue I encountered has to do with all the witty captions I’d entered for my photos. For my MobileMe galleries, I’d found that editing the title of the photo was what needed to happen to show up as a caption on the site (to rave reviews by my audience). However, after I used SmugMugExport to get the album to SmugMug from iPhoto, the title didn’t show on the site, leaving my photos caption-less. There is a preference in SmugMugExport to use the title as the filename, but this wasn’t working for me. Sure, I should send a report to the developer, but since I was on a roll I forged ahead on my own. I found that the “Description” field in iPhoto in fact displayed as a caption in SmugMug. Then I found an AppleScript to take the description field and insert it as the title. I modified this slightly to instead take the title field and copy it to the description field in iPhoto. Compile the script pasted below in AppleScript Editor, select a few photos in iPhoto, then run the script. Once it finishes, voilá, your titles are now in the description field. Export from iPhoto to SmugMug and you’re done.

AppleScript:

try
tell application "iPhoto"
activate
copy (my selected_images()) to these_images
if these_images is false then ¬
error "Please select the images to include in the summary."
set the image_count to the count of these_images
repeat with i from 1 to the image_count
set this_photo to item i of these_images
tell this_photo
set the comment to the title
end tell
end repeat
end tell
on error error_message number error_number
tell application "iPhoto"
activate
if the error_number is not -128 then
display dialog error_message buttons {"OK"} default button 1
end if
end tell
end try
on selected_images()
tell application "iPhoto"
try
-- get selection
set these_items to the selection
-- check for single album selected
if the class of item 1 of these_items is album then error
-- return the list of selected photos
return these_items
on error
return false
end try
end tell
end selected_images

UPDATE: I’m still in my 14-day free trial period, but I’ve had a little time now with SmugMug, and while I do think the interface is still nicer than Flickr, I am constantly reminded how “old school webby” it is. Nothing as nice as the modern interfaces we’re designing at InspiringApps. ;)

I’ve also heard a few comments from family that basically tell me the interface is more intuitive than the MobileMe Gallery and that the videos load faster. Guess I’ll stick with it.

8 comments

I have been frettying and angry about this transition from MobileMe since last June, and have made several stabs at experimenting with the alternatives. SmugMug did seem like the best, but I hated to “bite the bullet.” Your blog posting is very reassuring, and helpful. I never do applescript, but am going to try that now. So thanks very much for this thorough and generous posting!

by Peter on April 30, 2012 at 8:39 am. #

This sounds like a great proecjt to test the publicized capabilities for the new Silverlight. Good luck. I can’t wait to see this. It sounds like you’ll need some extra time on your hands to knock this one out.

by Joshua on July 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm. #

What’s I’d really like is to host my gallery on my own website – that would be permanent and I could password protect it. With Flikr & smugmig you are at the mercy of those sites (which is likely a good bet, but I still prefer my own). WordPress seems pretty popular, but I can’t find any gallery plugin that looks half as nice as MobileMe Gallery, and even then I don’t see any simple gallery publishing direct from Aperture / iPhoto. Do you have any suggestions?

by Dan on May 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm. #

Yeah, about four or five years ago I lost my hard drive and all my pictures and files from the last 8 to 10 years befroe that. I was pretty upset about it. I’ve gotten by without most of it. I do miss being able to thumb through all my pictures but a good selection of them were on my Flickr site so I have some of those memories and the rest will have to reside in my mind until that fails.

by Shimo on July 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm. #

An alternative is http://www.zangzing.com/ – a photo sharing site that will automatically import all of your mobile me (and other) photos and galleries.

by Simon on May 10, 2012 at 6:15 am. #

OK after more experimenting, I think I’ve found the issue. I was gitnetg the RSS feed address from Safari, which changes the opening of the URL from http to feed . Once I realized that, I changed the URL in the wp-smugmug short code, and things worked perfectly. Thank you for the great job on this piece of software!

by Kundlik on July 8, 2012 at 1:00 am. #

A major problem I ran into was the naming of the photos.

Here’s the problem, apostrophes. If the photo title has an apostrophe, any text following the apostrophes is cut off. Example: photo title is “Russell’s House”, when I run the AppleScript the full title is copied to the description field without any problem. When I export the photo using your utility, the caption/description field for the photo shows “Russell” cutting everything following the apostrophe.

Is this something wrong at SmugMug’s end?

Has anyone found a work around?

by Russell Bellmor on June 3, 2012 at 8:44 am. #

Hum, interesting issue. Since apostrophes are not allowed in files names, the best solution would be to not use apostrophes. It isn’t grammatically correct, but it should work.

by admin on June 13, 2012 at 9:17 am. #