Review: SimpleViewer Pro and svManager
You might be familiar with SimpleViewer already. The SimpleViewer product family is the brainchild of web developer Felix Turner of Airtight Interactive and offers user-friendly Flash galleries that you can download and use for free (or upgrade to the Pro version for more features). I'm familiar with the free versions, and I wanted to find out if the added Pro Features, or svManager, might be worth it in the long run.
First off, let me do a run through of all the SimpleViewer products. Then I’ll discuss the benefits of the Pro options and dig a little deeper into using svManager.
SimpleViewer, TiltViewer, AutoViewer, and PostcardViewer are all Flash image-viewing galleries (templates of a kind). Each one has a slightly different feel and look, but all are designed with simplicity in mind. svManager is an interface that allows you to easily create galleries with any of the four gallery templates.
Personally, I like the simplicity of SimpleViewer and AutoViewer galleries. They just seem more suited for use by professional photographers. If you’re more daring, I’m sure you could find a use for PostcardViewer and TiltViewer too (perhaps for senior portraits).
All the viewer interfaces have free and pro versions. The pro versions are $45 each, and allow you to customize the interface to your own requirements (and remove the developer credit/link from the screen). You can customize the background color, frame color, frame width, display time, and much more.
While you can manually create the code yourself, you can also use the following programs to generate SimpleViewer galleries: Picasa, Porta (Win), iPhoto (Mac), RapidWeaver (Mac), Aperture (Mac), SimpleViewerExport (Linux), and Adobe Lightroom. The Lightroom plug-in includes Flickr integration, full screen mode, and you can even preview what the gallery will look like before generating everything. To learn more about any of these desktop interfaces, check out this page for more details.
Another option for generating galleries is to get svManager. For $35, this PHP application runs on your website and makes it easy to create and manage multiple galleries. With svManager, you aren’t tied down to a specific computer or operating system. Wherever you are—with your images—you can upload them and let svManager generate galleries for you.
Once you’ve installed svManager, you access it by going to the admin URL on your site (this URL will vary depending on where you’ve installed it). You simply log in using your username and password … and you’re in!
The first step is to create a new gallery. You can designate the gallery title, select other specifications, and choose which type of template you’d like to use. Once the gallery has been created, you can change your specifications, but you cannot change which template a given gallery uses. For instance, in the screenshot below, I’ve created an AutoViewer Gallery. I can modify the background color, etc., but I can’t change it to a TiltViewer Gallery; I would have to create a new gallery from scratch.
In this next screenshot, you’ll see I’ve renamed the gallery to “Featured Images” and I’m ready to upload some images (22, to be exact). Note that while the image resize function is currently disabled, you can have svManager resize the images as it uploads them. On my server where I installed svManager, there was an upload limit of 8MB. That means I can upload as many images as I want in one shot, as long as the sum of their file sizes is less than 8MB.
The upload process is very intuitive and easy to understand. Once uploaded, you can create captions for the images (those will display in the gallery) or leave them blank for more of a slideshow presentation. Deleting images is as simple as marking which you’d like to delete, and clicking update.
As I mentioned earlier, you can use the free versions of the SimpleViewer galleries without paying a dime. But if you want to amp up your creativity and remove the SimpleViewer credit link on your galleries, you’ll want to purchase the Pro version. As I’m writing this for professional photographers, I imagine you would want to upgrade to remove the SimpleViewer branding in order to have the galleries blend with your own brand.
So, while you can purchase any SimpleViewer flash gallery individually for $45 each (or $35 for svManager), there is also a bundle deal; for $150 you can get all viewers and the management interface too (SimpleViewer Pro Viewer Bundle).
Finally, in case you’re still on the fence, all of the SimpleViewer products come with a money back guarantee, which you can review in more detail on the Pro version product pages. For more information about the SimpleViewer product family, visit simpleviewer.net/products/.