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2003 News

12/07/2003 New Features?
New features were not really supposed to be put into 1.0b1, but I'm putting a few in anyways. :) Earlier Henry Letteron asked if I could make the slideshow images transparent to allow for differnt color backgrounds so I put that in. Then Jonathan Gay asked if I could add a feature where photo descriptions are set to their filename. I've opted to allow a uer to choose to do this (off by default) when adding photos. The path and extension are stripped off and _'s are converted to spaces. I'm also working on a "check for updates" feature. I'm not sure how I'll have this hooked in. Right now the about box checks what the latest version number is. I'd like to have it display all changes since the version on your machine, thus letting you decide if you actually want to update. In the future I'd like to put getting and installing themes/translations directly into the program so you don't have to download, unzip, and install yourself, but such a feature most definately will come AFTER 1.0. In case your curious why updates have been a bit slow recently, it's the end of the semester, I'm rushing to try to get a paper ready for possible publication, and I've been building myself a bed.
11/30/2003 Mucho Progress
Being home for Thanksgiving and away from my thesis project resulted in mucho progress on album shaper. I've made a number of improvements to the Slick theme, fixed two major bugs in Album Shaper (hang on save, wrong subalbum thumbnail image displayed), and added album/subalbum rep image unsetting. I've also changed slideshow images to be transparent png's. This allows theme developers to use background colors other than white, as was already requested. Right now this means loading older albums is a bit sluggish since the png's are not found, but I'll put a fix in for this so the entire switch should be transparent.
11/23/2003 Theme Work
I spent a good portion of the day working on the Slick theme. I fixed a bug that comes up when the first phoot in a subalbum has no description. Subsequent descriptious would not be printed out in the slideshow mode. I also fixed the annoying feature of the prev/next buttons moving so you have to actually move your mouse back and forth to keep clicking. Needless to say after fixing these bugs you still have to move your mouse in Konqueror in order to click again, but I believe as a result of reporting this bug in Konqueror almost six months ago this is now only recently fixed in KDE CVS and will be work in KDE 3.2. Maybe then I can switch back from Firebird, which takes way to long to start up for a light weight browser IMHO.

I also pritied up the Slick theme a bit, moved some stuff around some and put in chrome-like rounded borders which are "lit" from the upper left corner. My friend who wrote the Blue Shifted theme has also been hard at work and has sent me a few updated versions in recent days. Which brings me to a question, would you rather me update these themes right away on this web site, or wait until the next release? I think sooner than later is a good idea. :) On another note, what themes should I include with Album Shaper? I feel pretty strongly that at least ONE theme has to be included, otherwise the program can't even save. But how many, and which ones? I guess I'm partial to Slick, but do people still want Classic to be around by default? Should I include more themes by default? I think eventually Slick will become the generic theme (kinda like in Winamp) and others users can install eventually from within the program itself. Anyways, I'd like to get feedback on this so if you care please writer me.

11/18/2003 Blue Shifted
Added Blue Shifted theme to the themes page.
11/18/2003 New Web Site Done
I finished putting up screenshots from the various versions so now the new web site is essentialy done. At some point I need to writeup something about the backend of Album Shaper and how the code all works, but for now the doxygen docs will have to do. :) Enjoy the new web site.
11/17/2003 Writing Themes
Documentation on writing themes is now online. In fact a friend of mine just spend all day yesterday writing his own theme. Expect to see more themes and translations popping up on the themes and translations pages!
11/13/2003 Creating Translations
Documentation on creating translations is now online.
11/07/2003 Updates
Life has been a bit crazy recently so that's why nothing has appeared up here in a while. I'm currently giving this web site a facelift, reoganizing the information that is already here a bit better, and also adding quite a bit. If you'd like to see what it's going to look like you can here. As you can see some pages are blank. The annoying work, recoding up the contents html to use a slicker SSL approach is done and working so now I just have to flush out some of the pages a bit more. What else? Well, no pressing bugs in Album Shaper have been found after that foreign characters one, which is now fixed of course. :) I'm thinking of writing a few themes to better demonstrate the HUGE potential thems have and just how versatile they are. I'm thinking of writing an online auction theme, and a massive coversheet theme. I have big dreams for making the Slicker theme much Slicker but I don't know when I'll work on that. If you have a theme idea give me a hollar or even try writing it yourself and send me a copy. Your best bet it to modify one of the existing themes to get you started.
10/20/2003 Swedish and Spanish translations coming
Yeah! Two people have already volunteered to translate Album Shaper into Swedish and Spanish respectively. The first translation, with the exception of the handbook, is already complete! A small problem was discovered concerning international characters. The XML file written out is in Unicode format, not UTF-8, which XSLT themes require. Doh! Luckily fixing this requires adding one line of code. These are the kinds of bugs I want to track down before releasing 1.0. So on that note, I'll update you all on my plan for 1.0. I consider 1.0a3 to be a fairly rock solid release. If you find a bug or soemthing that seems screwy contact me right away. I plan on releasing a number of beta versions (so 1.0b1, 1.0b2, etc) over the next few weeks. I'd like to see 1.0 before the end of the year. No new features before now and then, just stability improvments, and I'll ship any themes and translations people get me. How does that sound? :)
10/19/2003 How can I help out?
If you're reading this I suppose you're interested in Album Shaper, perhaps you've already grown to like it. Unfortunately while the number of features and platforms supported by Album Shaper has, the burden of development has increased. However, there are many ways you can help out!

First, Album Shaper now supports internationalization, but without a given translation the menu's and buttons will appear in English! Become a translator. Contact me to let me know you'd like to translate Album Shaper into another language. The process is easy, and provides instantanious results without compiling a line of code. Interested? Let me know.

Next, with Album Shaper 1.0a3 and above all HTML output is completely themeable. That means you can pick what files are created, what their names are and what their contents are. You can create one big coversheet of all your photos in all your subalbums, or you can split them up similarly so the way the Classic and Slick themes do. You could create an online auction theme, create special buttons and other images and backgrounds to be included in your albums. The process is easy and requires 0 lines of C/C++ or compiling. All themes are written in XSLT which is a language for converting XML files into other files (in this case HTML). Check out the Slick theme to see how this is done and make your own theme today. Themes consist of a directory named for the theme, with a theme.xsl file which defines how the exporting will work. An optional description.html file describes how your theme works, and through preview.png files you can provide any number of previews of your theme to appear in the save dialog. To create a new theme simply make a copy of one of the existing theme directories with a new name and start modifying the theme.xsl file. If you need help or would like to contribute a theme you've written contact me.

Finally, if you're not interested in hammering out translations or writing your own theme, consider making a donation. Money will be used to buy new hardware for developing the code on, or purchasing books or development licenses so new features can be written or new platforms supported.

10/18/2003 Updated Handbook
Still not sure if you want to download and try Album Shaper 1.0a3? Check out the new handbook and see how the interface has changed and the new themes feature that has been added. Album Shaper is more powerful and stable than ever before. What are you waiting for? :)

By the way, regarding themes, are you unhappy with the look of Album Shapers output? Write you own theme and send me a copy. I intend to add a themes section to this website soon. Perhaps your theme will get included in a future version of Album Shaper!

10/17/2003 Album Shaper 1.0a3 Released!
Album Shaper 1.0a3 has been released! Go get it! Album Shaper now runs on BSD, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows! An updated handbook and additional information about all the new features and how to take advantage of them coming soon!
10/10/2003 Release Monday?
Won't get a Windows binary till Monday. If you're reading this, you'll have to wait a bit longer. :)
10/09/2003 Release Friday?
I think ALL problems have been settled. The reelase on Mac OS X is all set, dmg file in hand to be put online. Linux/FreeBSD? Compile from source my friend, that's what I do, and no problems are known. Finally Windows. I think the last problem for Windows is now solved. I hope to get a new exe tommorow, then put together the windows installer that night and upload everything to Sourceforge as well. So I'm hoping to get 1.0a3 FRIDAY.
10/08/2003 Last few things
Got another binary for Windows and everything looks good but one stupid bug loading theme preview descriptions. Doh! It's no showstopper, but stupid and easy to fix so getting that recompiled. The code seems to be working great otherwise on Windows, Linux, and presumable FreeBSD. I have been playing around with MacOSX and have made the necessary changes to get it compiled and running as a bundle so you can click on it from the finder in OS X! Everything works flawlessly as far as I can tell, except an annoying issues with libxml and libxslt. The binary I have compiled is dynamically loading up libxml and libxslt from /usr/local/lib. Clearly I can't expect Mac OS users to download, compile, and install these libraries. Bundles should support embedding dynamically loaded libraries in them, or I should be able to link in static versions of these libraries. unfortunatally I seem to be hitting a wall. there is very little documentation on doing this using qmake and qt. If anybody out there reading this has any clue how to help me please give me an email. Heck, you can even check the albumshaper module out of cvs and give it a whirl and see if you can get a copy compiled that does not require these libraries be on a users system. Getting the recompiled copy for win32, and handling this issue, are the only remaining roadblocks to releasing 1.0a3. :)
10/06/2003 Windows Installer
No, 1.0a3 isn't ready yet. Still tracking down the Windows load album bug and getting Mac OS X support cooked up. My housemate got his new powerbook so we'll see if we can get that working Tuesday night since Monday's I don't get home till after 10pm. Last night I put the polishing touches on the Windows installer. I'm using Nullsoft's NSIS (scriptable install system). It's damn nice, very powerful, and open source. They have some decent documentation and a few examples but I find real world examples easier to navigate, so someone out there may appreciate that I will be putting my nsi script file up when I release 1.0a3 so you can learn from it as well if you'd like. You can see of the windows installer here if you'd like. I also put in a few small optimiations like using QT to determine the current date instead of using standard C calls which involved more code and are potentially less platform independent.
10/01/2003 Delays :(
Got 1.0a3 compiled for Windows. It looks much more slick now with the fixed buttons, application icon, all the fixes and features for 1.0a3 as well as the new windows installer. Then I noticed the first bug, theme previews and descriptions were not displayed in the save-as dialog. Doh! Tracked that problem down, and though the program was working nicely again. Then I found a much more glaring bug, it crashes when loading any album when in Windows. Clearly this needs to be fixed before the next release. Tracking this down right now. I made a few minor mods during the wait to the handbook, and last night added a tiny easter egg, but it probably won't be included till the next release, 1.0a4, or whatever it's called. You won't see it for another eight months anyways. My friend still hasn't gotten his new powerbook yet, so MacOSX support hasn't been worked on yet. Delays suck. :(
09/24/2003 Just waiting on Mac OS X
I believe the final bugs in 1.0a3 have been fixed, the last involved loading and was quite serious. I just updated the handbook to reflect the changes in the program, i.e. the new save-as dialog with theme selection, new sample html output using the Slick theme, buttons have changed a bit, progress bars, etc etc. Once I actually release 1.0a3 I'll update the version of the handbook on this site. Now the only remaining issue is Mac OS X support. I've been waiting on a friend to help me compile the program under Mac OS X, and determine what, if any, changes need to be made. He's been very busy, but luckly one of my housemates just bought a powerbook and is going to help me get it working. This is actually ideal since I'll be able to actually see it myself running, and the process should theoretically go faster. His laptop gets here Friday, so this weekend or early next week I'll try to get that done.
09/09/2003 Bugs reported
A few bugs in the code have been reported. The first involved rotating images, followed by attempting to crop them and having the selection interface all messed up. This bug actually existed in 1.0a2 as well, but I fixed it simply by removing a few lines of code. Turns out a function was being called that updates the image resolution for us and flipping the width/height was not necessary. The other bug regarded changing themes of a subalbum. Currently this requires using save-as and selecting a differnt theme and saving to the same directory. this is super fast since Album Shaper realizes all you need to save out is the new html and xml file. I don't see this as a problem, and the interface makes sense to me. Alternatively a settings panel could be created where various album settings could be set, like thumbnail sizes, theme used, etc. This will require a bit of work and won't be in 1.0a3. The last two bugs appear to have somethign to do with the new use of XSLT. One involving loading an old album created by a previous version, the other invovled using save-as. I can't repro these bugs just yet, but I won't release 1.0a3 until these are sorted out. On my machine I am able to create albums in previous versions of album shaper, load them up in 1.0a3 just fine, and use save-as without problems. In fact 1.0a3 albums can be loaded in previous versions, but it is a little slow since the md5's are stored a bit differenetly. Still working on getting support for Mac OS X.
09/03/2003 Final preparations for 1.0a3 underway
Last night I completed the last few things I wanted to do before 1.0a3. As of right now I know of zero bugs in the program. I fixed the last remaning ones and put together schemas documenting the XML 1.0 and 1.1 formats used, patched the installer to copy over all new files to the share folder on unix systems, and tested out the latest code on all my albums. It appears to be working beautifully. 1.0a3 has a LOT of major bug fixes, it's faster and more responsive due to various GUI changes, it can easily be internationalized by anyonce using Qt's Linguist to translate all buttons/labels, the handbook documentation, even the html outputted can be translated thanks to the new theme support. The html output has been slightly improved, and the door is wide open for anyone now to write their own themes that can do anything. The html filenames are completely arbitrary, heck, what files you export at all are completely arbitrary. Album Shaper has become what it was meant to be: a piece of software which facilitates organizating and annotating your photos into hierarchal albums. That's it. The user now has complete control over what the output looks like since s/he can write their own theme using XSLT (or use a provided one) and they control the actual organization and annotation of their albums. So things are on track for the 1.0a3 release sometime soon this month, September, which is what I predicted a while ago. The only remaining issues involve distribution, like getting this to play nicely with Mac OS X, and possibly providing statically linked binaries.
09/01/2003 More Improvements, lack of Internet Access Helps/Hurts?
So starting on Friday things have been weird at home. When I got home the power was out, and had been for a while. The phone kept ringing but had a buzzing sound when you picked it up. So the phone was dead too. Eventually the power and phone came back on, but then our internet access died and remained dead all weekend (it's still dead now). This was annoying, and made doing some work difficult, but ultimately may have made me more productive. :) I fixed a bug with the new modifications tester so that when you switch which subalbum you are looking at it doesn't think the album has been modified. I also hacked up the support for converting old xml files to the new format. I really like how the code ended up. I have an XSLT stylesheet that is applied to the current xml file. If it's not up to date it applies the correct template and updates to the next latest version. This process iterates until the file has been completely patched, at which point the new xml file is actually saved out. Aka I only do one read and one write to disk. Since I didn't have internet access I couldn't learn how to write up a DTD spec for the XML format I'm using but I have that with me now so tonight I'll write that up. I have a very weird bug that has cropped up with saving out the XML file so I plan on tracking that down next. All in all the pieces are really falling into place for the nex release: 1.0a3. :) I still need translators though!
08/29/2003 More Progress
More progress tonight. Fixed a small bug in save-as where it was actually saving out twice. Oops. I applied that patch I mentioned earlier which was basically a bunch of minor optimizations in photo.cpp. I changed the way I'm writing out the path to thumb's in the xml file slightly. Then I ran into a few bugs. First I found that sometimes the xml file being written out is odd. the modification date for the thumbnails is sometimes very wacky and sometimes the md5's are not being saved out properly. Then I noticed that when switching which subalbum you are viewing the modified bit is being set so album shaper thinks you shoudl save before you quit. Doh! So progress, and more work to be done. Getting there. I might take a break form these bugs and finish the DTD and update thingy tommorw, then debug this stuff.
08/28/2003 Progress
  • Albums now store their creation date as well as their last modification date. I've updated the Classic and Slick themes to make use of this new date on the coverpage of an album. For older albums the creation date is assumed to be the last modification date (since this is the closest guess one can make). You can easily change the original date in the XML file though if you like. :)
  • A check was put in when saving an album to make sure the theme being used exists on the user's machine. This problem can occur when the original author has a particular theme on his machine and a secondary user opens the album and tries to resave it using ctrl-s and the original theme is not found. Instead of crashing an alert is now brought up, alerting the user to this problem, then proceeding to the new save-as dialog where they can select the theme they prefer.
  • The album class now has an additional field: modified. This field is maintained and allows for alerts to pop up before quitting/creating a new album/loading a differnt album if unsaved modifications exist. As a result if no modifications exist hitting ctrl-n does not pop up an alert even though nothing is to be lost. :) More importantly if you've change something Album Shaper will remember and make sure you want to lose those changes unless you accidentally use xkill on the application.
  • All couts and includes to iostream have been removed. The one exception is md5.cpp which uses cerr. I didn't write this code and don't really want to modify it that much. These errors should never ever occur. All alerts and error messages now use the new AlertWidget and QuestionDialog's.
  • Albums now save out the thumbnail and slideshow image sizes at the top of the xml file. This information may prove useful to theme developers so I threw it in there. My intention is to have ALL information that exists to be exposed in the new XML format, so a few other minor changes will go in over the next few days, which I kinda outlined in yesterday's post.
So as you can see I got a little done tonight. Tommow my task will be putting in path's to files in the exported xml, updating a very outdated DTD Rich Unger whipped up for me, as well as hacking up an xslt stylesheet that converts the 1.0 XML format to the new (and daily evolving) 1.1 XML format. In addition a small amount of code will need to be written to actually apply this (and eventually a chain of stylesheets) to the existing XML file on disk before loading.
08/27/2003 Themes cleanups
I split up the two themes that will be included in the next release of Album Shaper in multiple xsl files. This cleans up the code a bit as I've broken it up into multiple templates. If you want to use portions of one of these themes in your own it's a lot easier now. I also fixed up the Slick theme to use div elements instead of form areas for the photo number and photo description in the slideshow mode. Cleanups were also put in place to remove old html files before exporting new ones since future themes may export various differntly named sets of html files and while experimenting around with what theme to use your export directory should not be polluted with a mixture of stagnant html files! The xml file exported now has a version number on top. I need to save our image sizes to xml for theme use, then writeup an up-to-date dtd for documentation purposes. Then get the translation code written to update old xml files to new ones using xslt again. This should be fairly straight forward. Finally got ssh keys working so I don't have to type in my sourceforge password every 5 seconds will interating with cvs, phew! It's so much nicer. I think that is really a requirement to getting your machine setup now. :) I need to add paths to the image files in the xml format, as well as check to make sure when saving out to the same directory when doing a save-as (to change the theme for example) that it is as effecient as possible. Adriaan de Groot was nice enough to send me a patch for various things, mainly effecieny things like using QImage's built in flipping capability and using QString:null instead of "" whenever possible to avoid constructing empty QString objects. As you can see there are only minor things left before the next release. I'll post more as I progress on these things, but hopefully development will speed up a bit. I'm anxious to get this release out. Subsequently if you speak an additional language to English and would like to see Album Shaper translated please contact me! I'd like to see Album Shaper avaible to as many people as possible and without translators I'm a bit up the creek right now. Enough, time for sleep before my 9am class tommorow morning.
08/20/2003 Major bug fixes
I squashed two bugs tonight. I feel good. I will sleep well in a minute. :) First I fixed a reported bug (actually the only reported bug to date) where after rearranging photos and saving out your album further batch affects or editing resulted in the wrong photo being rotated/flipped/edited. So basically very weird unexpected behavior has been quashed. Next I fixed the long annoying me bug where Album Shaper would sometimes crash when attempting to load up a new Album. The problem was not loading the new album, it was cleaning up the old gui stuff and showing the new album contents on the screen where problems occured. This bug was actually fixed by removing legacy code that was not needed any more. It seems to be working perfectly now. Whoo hoo! So as of this time there are no known "bugs" in Album Shaper. Of course there are minor issues with small save (since that got all trashed when working on the XSLT stuff) and other mods I need/want to do with the XML format changing and potential optimizations to save on disk space. I updated the changelog and organized it by features/bug fixes/etc and noticed that there are quite a few big feature improvements and quite a few important bug fixes in the code in CVS. So I'm getting fairly anxious to get this puppy ready to release. :)
08/19/2003 Updated the roadmap
The roadmap was painfully out of date, which if you have been reading these news entries you would know. I did my best to update it with all the major features and fixes that have been going on, as well as moving around some features that are being put off, and listed actual and expected release dates.
08/19/2003 Improved drag-n-drop
So I went for that bike ride: 62 miles. Just about died when I got home. Didn't plan on going that far, but damn it felt good. Lost over 5 pounds too, but mostly water since I regained it very quickly after not eating much that night. Somehow I got away from Album Shaper development for a little while. Things have been a little busy around here with my thesis project etc. Tonight I sat down and worked on a few things. I improved the new save dialog as per some people's comments. I added tooltips to most buttons and a few other widgets throughout the program. Then I hacked up support for multiple drag-n-drop rearrangement within subalbums. What does this mean? Say you have a subalbum with 6 photos. If you select the 2nd, 4th, and 5th photos, then drag them in front of the first photo the new order will be 2-4-5-1-3-6. Hopefully you get the idea. You may run into a situation in which you need this. More likely you'll run into a situation where you have a slew of photos at the end of a subalbum that belong at the beginning. Before you had to select each one by hand, then drag it up to the top. Now you can select all photos and then move them as a group. Very nice, especially since discontinious groups are allowed. I'm sure this feature will please quite a few people there. If not it's been something I've been dying for for a LONG time now. So that just about does it for features for the next release. I now want to work on various necessary modifications (due to the XML format changes), a few optimizations, and more importantly addressing a few bugs (reported and suspected). Of course if you can't wait for the next release you can get the "latest and greatest" code right now from CVS. Just don't complain to me it kills your pet fish. :)
08/10/2003 Theme support + new save interface FINISHED!
Getting up early on the weekend every day and programming works out well. Today I finished the new save interface and hooked it up. When saving an album for the first time or using the save as option the new dialog box allows you to chose the output directory in a much nicer manner, as well as select and preview various themes for exporting. I have made two so far. The first theme resembles very closely the original HTML output, I call this Classic. The second theme, Simple, added a few button icons to show resource file support. Otherwise right now it's very similar. I plan other minor changes, but what I'm excited to see if very creative theme development by other users. I mean, all you have to do is modify a text file and put the appropriate files in the theme directory. It's easier than making skins for Winamp. I even have it remember what theme you used last for that album, even from loading it fresh from XML, and it also defaults to the last save directory. The dynamic slideshow of theme screenshots I think is also a nice though. So I'm very happy with how this has turned out. If you'd like to see a development version you can download this very very alpha copy here. I know of various bugs with the new small save option that I broke doing the themes stuff, so don't use thise copy of Album Shaper, but if you'd like to se the new theme selection interface go right ahead. Ok, now I think I'll go for that bike ride. :)
08/9/2003 Resource files support, new save interface
Today the weather in Ithaca, NY just sucked. It was misty in the morning, then rained on and off all day long. I wanted to go on a 40-50 mile bike ride, so much for that. So what did I do instead? Develop Album Shaper of course. :) I whipped up the new save interface that lets you select which theme to use when saving out your album. The interface has worked out very well. Themes can have screenshots, multiple in fact that can be flipped through along with a description of what the theme will provide. So full theme support is *almost* finished. ;)
08/7/2003 HTML output now done with XSLT
I've just finished my first XSLT theme which exports html files in the same way (more or less, visable almost identical) as the original c++ html output code. What this means is that the new XML format is sufficient to write themes and that XSLT has been coupled with Album Shaper successfully. The next step will be allowing themes to have resource files, as well as updating the UI to allow selecting the particular theme to use. I smell another release of Album Shaper on the horizon =-)
08/6/2003 More theme progress
While a specific theme is hard coded right now (the save interface does not allow you to pick which theme to use for exporting your album) I have now gotten Album Shaper to export the main Album.html page completely using XSLT. The theme is pretty short (160 lines) and undoubtedly can be improved. I am new to XSLT. :) Tonight I'll see if I can get the thumbnail and slideshow html output working as well. Next will be supporting resource files (so themes can include button images and stuff), as well as modifying the save dialogs to support picking which theme to use.
08/5/2003 Themes are coming...
Themable export support is coming along nicely. Who knew XSLT was this cool? :)
08/2/2003 Internationalization
I was away on vacation for two weeks so that's why no news was posted for a while. I have been busy though, coding on Amtrak train trips, in the car, and back at home. Various bug fixes have been worked on, including a major bug in cropping that is now fixed. The majority of work I have been doing regards internationalization. Qt provides wonderful support which makes this effortless. Regardless I had to make a lot of changes with text, buttons, and the new handbook so that everything was translatable. As of now everything but the default Album and Subalbum images have been fixed, as well as the actual output that is generated when you save out your albums. That brings me to my next project: XSLT and themable exports. The XML format will be changing slightly in the next version of Album Shaper which requires a nice way of updating old albums so they are loadable. XSLT will do this as well as allow people to make themes which dictate how albums look when they are saved out. This will make internationalization easy because you can simply make an Italian theme and boom there you go, no code changes needed whatsoever. :) Once I get the XSLT stuff going I'll get a test version for people to play with or something and at that point will start soliciting translators. If you like Album Shaper and would like to see it in your primary language this is your time to speak up!
07/21/2003 Progress
Fixed a major cropping bug that went unnoticed in 1.0a2. Various GUI cleanups (backend and frontend thingies). Had a professional editor look over and edit the handbook which will be included in the next release. Redid the About box which now includes credits for all those that have helped me develop the program. Started reading up on XSLT which I plan on using for themable exports, we'll see. At home on vacation right now so development is a little slower. :)
07/17/2003 About dialog revampted, XSLT work coming up next
Last night I finally revisted the about dialog. It was one of those legacy pieces of crap I had in there from the beginning and really made the program look cheasy in my opinion. The new version actually pulls most of it's text out of an html file located in a new text folder which should make internationalization easier in the future. Eventually I need to make all the text in the program loaded from separate files so language selection is easier. The next big step will be working on XSLT. Rich Unger has been writing me and telling me about all the virtues of XSLT with the eventual goal of themable exports, a very nifty and important feature. It looks like XSLT will become essential for converting older xml files to newer formats so I need to read up more on it. Next week and the following I'll be heading home to the midwest, back to the the land of 14.4kbs dialup so if I don't update this page in ages don't worry that nothing is being done. It's more likely that I'm just not willing to deal with such a slow connection.
07/14/2003 Faster loads
It looks like the xml format for Album Shaper will change slightly for the next release. This was necessary for a few reasons and will leave room for further improvement in the future. Album Shaper will be able to load old albums and when resaved they will be converted to the new format. The first feature the changes have already enabled is a huge performance improvement in loading albums. Instead of ocmputing md5's on images to see if they have been alterted since thumbnail and slideshow images were created Album Shaper first checks the images modification dates/times. Only if these differ will the md5's be computed and only of the md5 is differnt will the images be resized again. Resizing images is very expensive, computing md5's is cheaper but on large images and lots of them (large albums) this is also expensive. Now this too is avoided and albums that took a few minutes to load now do so in a matter of seconds. The program feels a lot snappier!
07/13/2003 Size on disk
Since it's after midnight I suppose it's fitting to change the date for the message. Finished ripping out old save/load dialogs and went back to the album statistics dialog and implemented the size-on-disk feature. pretty nifty. now to make that window look pretty. maybe I'll work on fast loading first though. Too many things to work on. :)
07/12/2003 Progress bars
The new status widget has been completed and pluged in. It provides a place for status messages (e.g. "Album saved.") as well as progress bars for longer actions such as batch image effects, addding photos, loading and saving. I think it looks very nice and makes me feel like the program is more responsive just because I see stuff going on. :) The old load/save dialogs are now no longer needed. They do provide more information but only slow down the loading/saving process and in my opinion don't look very professional. So the next step will be to rip them out entirely. I'm not entirely sure what I'll work on next, perhaps the add photos dialog?
07/10/2003 I lied...
You actually thought I'd work on what I said I would? Lol. I ended up spontaniously putting a new feature in Album Shaper: small save. Yes, the name sucks, I need to come up with something better. Lemme explain it first, then send me suggestions for a better name. Often you want to put photos up online for people to see briefly when the full size images are not necessary and they usually take up the bulk of the space. Small save exports everything but the full size photos and does not include hypertext links to those photos in the slideshow or thumbnail modes. Simple feature, very useful. For example is reduced the size of an album I just made from 240 megs to 24 megs! This will only get better as digital camers get better and take higher res pictures since the resolution of the thumbnails and slideshow images I create is fixed. Anyways, it's slightly buggy I think but appears to be working well. If your dying to use it try getting it from CVS. In general check the bugs file in the docs folder to see what outstanding issues I know of at any time. I also keep the changelog up to date so you can see what stuff has changed since the last time you have synced up.
07/09/2003 Where have I been?
Things have been a little crazy around me recently. I went camping, got really sick, and have since then gotten better and tonight will get back to programming again. Over the break while using Album Shaper to make an album of my camping photos I hacked up an album statistics window. It tells you the number of photos, subalbums, and the approximate size on disk of your album in it's current state. It's 99% done. I'll next work on the loading/saving dialogs which I hate right now and I have a complete redisign down on paper right now.
06/27/2003 Internationalization
I just got an email from a distribution regarding including Album Shaper in an upcoming version. This is a very exciting prospect but they need Japanese support. If anybody out there has experience adding multi-language support to a qt app please email me.
06/26/2003 Stating to use CVS
Last night I checked the latest source code into CVS. I used to backup on random systems but this was becoming a pain and I really don't want to lose my work. More so I figure there is starting to become enough interest out there that some people may want to use the bleeding edge code. If you decide to please don't send me bug reports or complaints, I probably know if there is a problem with recent changes and just havn't fixed it just yet. CVS code should always compile and run, just some features may be a little buggy. You can browse the code online here but right now ViewCVS tells me it's 24 hours behind and as of 24 hours ago the code wasn't in CVS so you can't use it for another day or so. Go figure. Read this page to find out how to check the code out of CVS anonymously.
06/24/2003 Development continues, expect a Mac OS X port in the next version
Updated the documentation page to put cute operating system icons in there. I uploaded a Mac icon, although I'd like a nicer one, in anticipation of the Mac OS X version which will be available for the next release, now that Trolltech has released Qt GPL for Mac OS X! Found and fixed a bug in which photo descriptions are lost if MD5's have changed. Never actually tested that feature, ran into it oddly when going between making an album in Windows and then modifying it in Linux. For some odd reason the MD5's for files are changing. That should not happen. I'm going to optimize loading to look at file sizes and modification dates prior to computing MD5 checksums to make loading a bit faster. Tonight I'll hopefully start working on progress bars for time intensive actions which right now you can tell are progressing but you have no idea how much time is left. I also plan on cleaning up the save/load dialogs as well as writing my own add photos dialog so you can toggle on and off using filenames as photo descriptions.

I've been gettings a lot of great email's recently and just wanted to thank everyone again who has written me. Out of all of them I've only gotten one bug report, which can't be bad, and many interesting feature ideas such as themeable export, cd/dvd burning, and much more. There are so many cool things I can do with this program it's hard to constrain oneself to one thing at a time but that is what I have to do. For the next alpha I'll try to squeeze as much as I can in there but rock solid stability, finshing up the editing interface and tools, improving dialogs and adding progress bars are my top priorities. Don't think your ideas are being lost! They will come in time. Considering I have developed the entire application over the last few months on my own and it is my first Qt app I think things are going fairly well. :)
06/17/2003 Handbook encorporated into Album Shaper itself
Tonight I read over the handbook and fixed a bunch of grammar mistakes, spelling thingies, typos, and reworeded a few small things. Minor stuff. I havn't updated the version online yet, I will over the next few days. I've encorporated the handbook into Album Shaper itself now. Under the help menu there is a handbook entry, something I've wanted for ages, and it was so easy! QTextBrowser rocks, that's all I can say. :) Qt impresses me more every day, the only thing I am wishing I had was a real nice IDE to develop in. Right now I develop using Kate and compile from the command line. Not exactly the ideal setup, especially since I have no nice IDE debugger. Sigh. The options in Linux IMHO are pretty poor for C++ development right now. KDevelop is plain scary (why does it make so many files just for compiling your projects?). KDEStudio hasn't been updated for KDE 3.X and KDE Studio Gold costs $. I really wish there was an IDE comparable to IDEA for Qt programming on Linux. I'd pay money for it if it was anything like IDEA and right now nothing is. Back to Album Shaper, now that the handbook is essentially done for now I'll be moving on to either new features or bug fixes. I have one bug report I havn't tried to reproduce but havn't run into it byself by accident yet. I want to start putting in progress bars for the long actions like adding photos and batch effects, as well as putting in a slide show preview in the program itself (this is something a lot of people have asked me for in person, and I have to agree with them that it is needed). I'm also anxious to improve the output of Album Shaper, adding rounded edges and drop shadows to the thumbnails and in general making the albums produced more asthetically pleasing. I think the Album Shaper web site and handbook look pretty damn good. Your albums should as well! Well, enough for tonight.
06/16/2003 Album Shaper Handbook now Available
One of the big things before the 1.0 release is solid documentation, so tonight I sat down and finished up the first version of the Album Shaper handbook. My intent is to have this available online here, as well as on your machine when you install Album Shaper. I warn you this is a first version. It's after midnight and I have not proofread any of it, or even spell checked it at all. I'll of course get to that very soon but it should be readbale now in case you're having trouble using Album Shaper. You can find it in the documentation section.
06/15/2003 FreeBSD Binaries
I just put Free BSD binaries online. Not sure if anybody wants them since compiling from source is relatively trivial but what the heck. They are not statically linked against qt so you'll need the runtime library. My laptop is essentially fixed (new hard drive and clock battery) so it actually runs now (new Slackware 9.0 install, yeah) and I can get back to developing Album Shaper on it instead of my older slower desktop. I've gotten quite a bit of response from the second alpha in only a few days. A few people have contacted me about the program, one person even told me of a bug, and downloads in general are rather high. Right now I've only been contacted by people running the program in Linux. If your using Album Shaper under Windows or another OS or know somebody who is please tell me. I'd love to know. I'm currently starting to write up the Album Shaper Handbook, actual documentation that will accompany the next release. Once I'm happy with that I'll go back to the code and fix bugs that have been reported, work on features, etc. My plan is to continue to release alpha's until I've nailed down all the features I want for the first major release (1.0). I'm getting close but some very important things (aka documentation/help system) remain. My aim is to make every alpha the last but if things are taking too long I'll release another intermediate alpha. So that said my goal is to make 1.0a3 the last alpha, we'll see what actually happens. :) Oh yeah, one other thing, if you like Album Shaper please go to freshmeat and rank it. Right now Album Shaper has no ranking on there, meaning nobody has ranked it. I'm not sure exactly what the rankings mean but a good one would feel good. :) On another note, if you're worried about how stable the latest alpha is, I just created an album consisting of over 300 photos over 9 subalbums. All subalbums are annotated and I needed to do a lot of drag-n-dropping to get everything organized just the way I liked it. Throughout the process I saved and loaded the album a number of times. So I'd say 1.0a2 is pretty stable. I'm using it. :)
06/11/2003 Album Shaper 1.0a2 Released!
The second alpha or 1.0a2 of Album Shaper has arrived! Enjoy many bugfixes (see changelog), some new features, and Windows support! Go download it today!
06/7/2003 Fixes...
Found a html glitch which made some pages in the just to be released version of Album Shaper unviewable on a very old version of Netscape. I patched this problem and also fixed all html output so it is validatable. Linux isn't on my laptop yet so development is going on on my desktop...
05/22/2003 Roadmap updated...
I updated the roadmap to match what I just wrote about. As you can see I am technically ready to release the second alpha as soon as I get my computer working =-)
05/22/2003 Setbacks, plans...
Don't let the title confuse you. I have made a ton of progress on Album Shaper, but the number of changes since the last alpha is bothering me. I don't think it's benificial to release the next version and call it beta. What does that mean? I think I will very soon (read 1-2 weeks or less) release a new version of Album Shaper. This will be the next alpha, or 1.0a2 for those counting. This alpha will not include exposure adjustment or red eye reduction, but will include the new editing interface with inversion and cropping tools, as well as a whole slew of other new features and major bug fixes. Album Shaper has come a long way. It has a long way to go. The other day I put together a HUGE album consisting of ~300 photos taking up over 850 MEGS. I wasn't sure if Album Shaper could handle this but it did and very well I must add. I did this all on my slightly older laptop running 700mhz with 256 megs of RAM. Then all of a sudden right before I was about to finish the hard drive crapped out on me. After prodding with it all night I got all my data off, but right now my laptop is a very unreliable machine. At any time Linux craps out, scrolling "SIGBUS" on one of the tty screens. My laptop is my development machien for Album Shaper and while I have a much older pII 400mhz desktop sitting on my desk I'm not exactly thrilled about working on it. What this boils down to is I'm just about ready to release what I have right now as the second alpha, this time I'll release it for linux and windows at the same time, but this laptop thing may slow me down by a week or two until it gets fixed. :( Of course if anybody out there wants to help me upgrade my ancient desktop so it becomes a viable development machine again please contact me. :)
05/19/2003 Even more bug fixes
I've fixed a number of bugs in Album Shaper over the last few days and it's beginning to feel like a solid piece of code again. :) I only know of one bug right now which is a stange segfault condition occuring when loading an album after work as been done. Very weird. The changelog has gotten so long that I am anxious to get the next version out ASAP. I suppose I should work on red-eye reduction now?
05/13/2003 Getting closer to the beta...
I was busy with the end of the semester but now that is over and Album Shaper development has started up again. I've fixed the button image handeling such that Album Shaper can now be run from any directory in unix and will properly load images as well under Windows. I also changed the standard installation directory to /usr/local/bin for unix and /usr/local/share/albumshaper for things like images and future config files. I've been playing with tone mapping and histogram equalization and hope to get both of those working in the next day or so. The alorithm for red-eye reduction has been written out on paper so now it's just up to me to code it in and test it out. I'm pondering not including directory import in the beta since it's not a big deal for me. Email me if you have an opinion on this stuff. Right now I don't have a good handle on who is reading this updates or what they are interested in. I'd also love to know how you found out about the project.
04/30/2003 More bugs found and fixed, reverting and inversion added
I found another serious bug in save as today where images were being removed from a previously saved Album in some cases. I have no idea how I botched up save-as so bad but basically don't use it until the beta is out. I also made a minor fix to selection, added inverting the selection and the revert button to the editing interface. I think I'll work on red-eye reduction next.
04/27/2003 Cropping done :)
I decided it was to hard to walk away from a working selection interface so I cleaned up the resizing code a bit so the editor could use it as well and implemented the cropping button. It works pretty well, very easy to screw up all your photos. Yeah! Now I need to put in that reset button =-) Hehe. Then either exposure/contrast adjustment or red-eye reduction. Hrmm....
04/27/2003 Selection actually working :)
Didn't get to work on Album Shaper until today. Found out that my selection code was really screwed up. I fix a number of bugs and now it works beautifully on new images and loaded images, under all scenarios. The selection rectangle is now a dashed white-black line, so very close to but not quite marching ants (do you really want marching ants? Maybe the next version will add this, we'll see). I also added a the standard Ctrl-A keybinding for selecting the entire image. Yipee! Now I can FINALLY go on to implementing the buttons. :)
04/21/2003 Selection essentially working
My time is very limited right now, with the end of the semester, finals, research project, and final projects, but I'm letting Album Shaper slide at all. Development is just slower than I'd like it at times. This weekend I got the selection interface essentially all finished. When photos are opened in the edit mode you can now select regions of the photo to apply red-eye reduction or to actually crop. The next still will be to hook up crop, which should be trivial. In order to do this I'll have to start loading up images again, which I'm not sure how I want to do. Loading images is expensive, at least their full size versions. I think I'll take the lazy approach and only load up an image when a tool is applied (like crop/red eye, etc). Once an image is loaded it remains loaded until you leave edit mode. This will allow the user to go into edit mode just to view a larger version of an image without having to wait for it to load up since they won't need the full version if they won't actually be applying any correction tools.
04/16/2003 Screen shot
Got image large previews working....finally. And for the heck of it I put in image inversion. I don't really plan on keeping this in here as a feature, since when have you ever wanted to invert your digi cam photos?! But here's a teaser screen shot. Now I need to actually implement all the code to make those buttons down there do stuff. :)
04/15/2003 Bug fixes, beware
I was using Album Shaper over the weekend to shape up a large number of digital photos I have. While it worked well on most stuff, I found I major bug when putting together the final album. I tried to take an existing album, insert new photos, and save it under a new name. Big problems. Seems save-as was busted after I put in all kinds of optimizations at the last second before the alpha release to minimize memory usages. Bottom line the images were not getting copied over and I lost some stuff stupidly deleting folders before I checked the final output was working. Oops! Well, tonight I fixed that bug, a simple stupid one involving rotations that wasn't nearly as serious, as well as put in a few small features like auto scrolling to latest inserted images when doing a big add/rotate. Progress being made, but Beta won't be out for a little while.
04/09/2003 Advanced Image Manipulations
I've begun the task of implementing the large image view feature, as well as the various advanced image manipulations (cropping, red eye, exposure adjustment). I've got the basic GUI widget layout complete with buttons and all sockets hooked up. Should be able to use it to view in larger form images very soon now. Manipulations will take a little time each, red eye will take the most time but I've already through it out pretty well.
04/08/2003 No more binaries for now, expect windows binaries as well for next release
I've got my hands full of work to do right now for the beta release and the images dir issue (see road map) is something that really needs to be fixed so I don't think I'll release any more alpha binaries for other platforms. If you'd like to watch my progress the road map is being updated as I fix major things, all little modifications will be available in the upcoming change-log.
04/05/2003 Moving on to the beta release
It looks like the fixed tarballs I uploaded have propagates to all the sourceforge mirrors so now you can download the alpha in tgz form from the download page or the sourceforge project page. :) Later today I'll add a statically linked against qt version for Linux, as well as binaries for FreeBSD. I just added a few items to the road map for the Beta. If you notice any problems have suggestions contact me. Now it's time to get back to real coding. :)
04/04/2003 First Alpha Release!
Album Shaper 1.0a is released! Download it and try it out today! Get back to me with bug reports.

Update: Ugg. Somehow the tgz files I uploaded got screwed up, ending up just being tar files (not gziped at all). All files downloaded from the download page now work. Hopefully the update I uploaded to the Sourceforge system will spread to the mirrors eventually.
04/03/2003 New name, released web site, alpha release very very soon.
So a few nights ago when submitting this project to Sourceforge I discovered another project called AlbumMaker exists. Jeesh. I looked through stuff on Sourceforge, Freshmeat, and searched online several times for other photo album software and never came across this. I don't know how I missed it. Well, the program has been renamed Album Shaper. So tonight I went through the code changing all references from Maker to Shaper. I fixed up a make-install target so you can install it on your machine easily, and fixed button image loading such that you can run the program from where ever on your system. I made a small change to the HTML output and tested out the program on a large Album (65 Megs worth of data). It worked very well. I noticed a small bug with moving a photo from one subalbum to another and then setting the album representative image so I want to fix that before I release the Alpha. Other than that there are no known bugs, just plans you can find in the road map. Well, enough for tonight. Look for a release soon!
03/28/2003 Alpha version almost done!
Put final touches on alpha version of Album Shaper. Took screen shots and finished web site.
03/18/2003 Web Site
Created Web Site

Copyright © 2003-2005 Will Stokes