Just before I went on holiday I blogged about Zooomr, a photo sharing site. I wasn’t very impressed, but at the time I did note that version 2.0 was about to be released, and that I wouldn’t give up on it completely.
Two things persuaded me to go and take another look. First of all, the new version has now been released. I always had a sense that I just didn’t get certain aspects of the site, so I thought I’d have another try. Secondly, my favourite photo uploading application, jUploadr, is about to be updated to support Zooomr, and I offered to be one of the intrepid beta testers. More on that, later.
Zooomr 2.0 is still actually a beta, like many Web 2.0 apps I could mention – Plazes, any number of Google apps… (OK Flickr is “gamma”…). The first thing I discovered about it is that the old login system has been removed. Great news. Previously it would email me a new temporary login ID to my GMail account every time. Now, they have moved over to OpenID. I didn’t already have an OpenID, but the Zooomr login forced me to create one, and it was fairly painless… now I can actually use the Zooomr site without gnashing my teeth at the login process.
I noticed that I had a weird photo URL, but I visited my profile page and clicked the “once only” option to edit my URL to something nicer – find me at http://beta.zooomr.com/photos/andypiper. There is still not much there, since I’m still experimenting and getting to grips with the concepts involved.
Geotagging is now actually painless. If a photo doesn’t already have a geotag when you go to its page, you are prompted to add one. Doing so brings up a Google Maps view of the world, fully zoomed out. You can jump to a known point, or to a tag. I typed in “Cornwall” and ended just west of Penzance. After that I located and selected the point on the map, and the geotag was created.
There’s another feature called Smart Sets which is worth mentioning. On Flickr, you can group photos into Sets. On Zooomr, the Smart Sets are apparently based on global search criteria. I can create a Smart Set for Cornwall, but it will contain all photos from Cornwall, unless I add a second search filter containing the Owner of the photos – however, when I do this and set the Owner ID to me, it doesn’t seem to work. Not sure what I’m doing wrong… but the Smart Sets seem like a cool idea.
I’m still attempting to understand various features of the site, but it is pretty cool. Once you’ve added geotags, the thumbnails gain little hover icons which allow you to jump to the point on the map, and the photo pages show the location on the right of the photo (here’s the example I was tagging above). These hover icons also let you get access to a larger popup view of a photo that you can see a thumbnail of, without having to visit the full photo page. You can also add markers to photos to show who is depicted in them.
Zooomr still hasn’t hooked me as much as Flickr has, and I can’t put my finger on why… but it has some nice features, and I’m still going to be keeping tabs on progress.
Before I finish, a quick note about jUploadr. The first thing is that it is finally being recognised as an alternative uploader for Flickr, which is great news. jUploadr is written in SWT so it provides a nice cross-platform but native-looking GUI for batch uploading of photos. I use it pretty much exclusively for my batch uploads, as it allows me to edit the descriptions, titles and tags up front (with the Flickr uploader I have to revisit the photos to do that later)… the latest beta supports Zooomr and Flickr, and also has nice features like tag autocompletion. Highly recommended!