Pictures Section Improvements

It’s occurred to me that the Pictures section has grown into an unwieldy nightmare to maintain. I’ve been thinking about how we can improve things.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Remove the need for unique picture names by allowing more than one picture with the same name. We could achieve this by giving each picture a unique, autogenerated number and use this in the URL along with the filename, similar to how Discourse does topic URLs e.g. /pictures/azel-and-edge/42563423 or /pictures/42563423/azel-and-edge. People could leave off the azel-and-edge part and the URL and just type /pictures/42563423 so that the URL would continue to work if the image is renamed. Previous news entries could be updated to use the number URL automatically. Once this was implemented we would no longer have to name a picture Uru Screenshot 03 - just Uru Screenshot would be fine since the auto generated number would uniquely identify it.

  2. Add a “Replaces” field to a draft pictures. On the New Picture form, the Contributor could select the old picture that the new picture is replacing from a dropdown menu. When the new picture is published, the old picture would be automatically deleted.

  3. Add the option to group pictures into “sets” on the picture form, or perhaps a seperate form to upload a whole set in one go. Rather than naming a picture Shelcoof Miniature (2 of 3), the picture could be named Shelcoof Miniature and other pictures in the set would be automatically displayed as thumbnails below it.

We could reuse this system for other resources, such as music tracks and videos, although I see less of a practical problem with these.

I would like to hear feedback from contributors before I implement some or all of these changes.

For your third point where you talk about grouping images together into sert, do you mean the images that are in set series will be placed in a “mini album” together under the main album they are in?

For example:

The “Shelcoof Miniature (2 of 3)” right now would be found under the “Panzer Dragoon II Zwei Official Art” album. But after you do the update we will still find those pictures under the main album which is “Panzer Dragoon II Zwei Official Art” but the Shelcoof Miniature pictures 1,2, and 3 pictures would be grouped together under.

Does this sound correct?

I was thinking of “sets” and “categories” as two seperate concepts. The sets would mainly exist to show us what other pictures are included in the set. These could be linked to from the Picture’s page, so “Shelcoof Miniature 2 of 3”'s page would display thumbnail links to “Shelcoof Miniature 1 of 3” and “Shelcoof Miniature 3 of 3” below the main image displayed on that page (Shelcoof Miniature 2 of 3).

I hadn’t quite thought how these pictures in sets would be categorised - but that’s an important consideration. There’s a problem that if we made every “set” a seperate category the main Pictures index page would become far too cluttered with categories (it is already quite cluttered). I’d like to avoid having to make the user click through a long hierarchy of categories to get to get to a picture, so I’m reluctant to introduce a concept of subcategories. So, I’m now thinking that pictures in sets would remain in their existing categories and if you navigated to Fan Objects you would see multiple sets in that category, as you do now.

How do you think it should work?

In my opinion, I think that having sub-albums would actually help relieve some of the existing clutter. For example we could keep the Fan Objects “folder” but in it we could group all the images that are related to each other together. So for example in one album let’s say you would have all the Shelcoof Miniature Pictures together in one link, all under Fan Objects, (Either in thumbnail or whatever format).

I hope I’m making scene.

Yeah, I think that makes sense.

We could keep the same layout on the category’s page, listing each picture in the category, however whenever a picture belongs to a set we instead only display the first image (perhaps with a unique border around it to identify that it is part of a set). When the user clicks on that first image they could either be:

  1. Transported to the first picture’s page directly. Other pictures in the set would be displayed below it as smaller thumbnail links.
  2. Transported to a set page, similar to the category page, but that shows a list of every pictures in the set. These thumbnails would be of equal size.

I’ve implemented (1) and (2), but have decided to hold off from implementing (3) as I feel it is less important.

So now, every picture has a unique ID in the URL, e.g. /pictures/1524-city-in-the-storm. I’ve also implemented this format for downloads, music tracks, resources, and videos. I’ve written a script that has converted the links in the news entries to the new format, however there may be other links on the site (or on other sites that link to Panzer Dragoon Legacy) that no longer work. In the future we can also now rename pictures and - so long as the ID is the same - links will continue to work. Picture names no longer have to be unique as well, so we can have two pictures called “Panzer Dragoon Saga Uru Screenshot” instead of adding 01, 02, etc to the end.

We can also now mark pictures as replacing other pictures. A warning will appear for admins when they attempt to publish a picture that is marked as replacing another picture; if the admin confirms it, then the old picture will be deleted.