Flickr Collections

When you organise your photos online, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to arrange them in nested galleries? I used to do that on the old Mig installation I ran on my home Linux server – photos arranged by year / event. Nice and easy to navigate.

Flickr has let you create Sets for ages, but until now they have had to be a flat structure with no nesting. Yesterday, Flickr launched the much-anticipated “sets within sets” feature… they call it Collections.

Since I started using sets, I’ve actually been naming them with prefixes as a way of separating, for example, travel photos (prefixed “Places”) from event photos (which I’ve been labelling “Events”). So, I hurried across to Flickr to try out the Collections feature. The obvious thing to do would be to fold up my ~30 sets into a couple of collections which grouped the Events and Places, with the rest remaining separate sets at the top level.

This is where I began to hit issues. Although Flickr will let you build Collections in a nested way, there are some really irritating limitations:

  1. A collection can contain sets, or collections, but not both. In my case this isn’t too much of an issue, since I only want to group one level of sets together, but I will have to rethink this if my structure gets more complicated – say I decide to have UK locations and international locations separated under the Places collection I just made, I would have to make them both as collections, move all the sets into them, and then regroup the two collections into another collection. Clunky.
  2. You can now customise your main photos page to alter the way in which the photos and the sets / collections are displayed. You can display the Sets or Collections in the sidebar – but not a mixture of both. This is really nasty, as I only have two collections so far, and I’d like them at the top of the sidebar followed by the remaining ~10 standalone sets

Saying that, I’m still really happy that Flickr has finally introduced the feature… I have some complaints about the way they’ve added this extra level of complication, but it is nice to be able to start getting my photos more organised.

Oh, and keep and eye on Zooomr, which is about to go live with Zooomr v3 – among other new features they are moving into stock photography, which could be a killer feature.

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7 responses to “Flickr Collections

  1. Andy,
    You’re certainly not alone in the comments you’ve made. The official forum thread for this feature is full of people making much the same comments as you have.

    Flickr have been reasonably good at responding to the public feedback, so it will be interesting to see how things develop.

    For now, I’ll have a play with collections and see how it pans out.

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  2. Great article well written. I did not even realize the feature was out. You have a great blog here. Keep up the good work.

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  3. I tried using the collections to get my photos a bit more organised this evening, and it’s just not going to happen the way I want so I’ve given up.
    The logical way for me to organise, my landscape photos for example, would mean I’d hit the nesting limit before I’d got down to “new forest” level.

    I’m not the only one with issues.

    If they do it properly with supersets, sets and subsets, then I’ll be interested again… 😦

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  4. Heh… I’d missed this until I read your post just now. After fiddling about and plumping for a layout I liked, I noticed that I’d picked the same layout as you from the options that flickr now offers. Medium images with collections – definitely the choice of a new flickr generation.

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  5. @Jeff – thanks for your kind words.

    @martyc – yeah. It’s not the nesting limit that bothers me, but I can see that it might if things got more complex. I think they haven’t thought this through particularly well – or maybe they have tried to keep things simple, and in the process not built something as useful as we might have hoped.

    @myk – nice that you’re reading my blog, thanks! The new layout is growing on me… I wasn’t too sure about the medium sized shots at first, but it does mean that your most recent photos can generate a real wow factor (assuming they are good ones!). I guess that it also pushes towards only uploading 3 or 4 at a time if you want your shots to get more exposure, though – I notice that the shots on my second page are getting fewer hits.

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  6. @Nick, sorry your comment got held up by Akismet – thanks for the pointer to the forums. The pace of change at Flickr has definitely slowed since Yahoo took over, but it will be intriguing to see what they do next.

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  7. Yeah I use Flickr and am very happy with it. I’m also able to create a feed to place on my blog so people can view all my photos. It’s great!

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