12 June 2007

Facebook photos! Who needs Flickr? #

People not on Facebook probably use Flickr as their main image host, because it’s easier to share it with people, tag them, and store them safely knowing you won’t lose them. Flickr, backed by Yahoo!, has surely become an essential part of the netizen’s arsenal of web–services, no doubt that. But, as with everything, there are alternatives which though not as good, are good enough substitutes.

Facebook Photos

Facebook Photos is one of the best “organised” photo collection tool available on the Internet today in my opinion. Sure, it lacks features which people have gotten used to because of Picasa Web Albums and Flickr, but if you’re looking for a simple photo storage service, with decent sharing and commenting features, this one is for you.

The best part is, you’re not bound by features being rolled out by the provider. Applications can enhance your experience, and act as plug–ins, which brings me to the main point of this post. Let me present to you, Photos2Rss!


This was an application I wrote initially to take away my dependence on Flickr, especially since I found out the 200 image limit on the free account. The one feature which doesn’t come natively with the Photos application of Facebook is a way to get them out of Facebook. Your photos are sitting nicely in your album, but that way they’re only for your friends to see and enjoy. What if you want to share them on your blog, or some other place? Well, now there is a way …

If you’re on Facebook, add the application to your profile. The application doesn’t add a profile box or anything. It just sits pretty in your list of applications in the sidebar, and you can push it down in the ‘hide’ zone if you don’t want to see the link all the time.

Once you have it installed, it’ll take you to the album selection page. There you can select who’s albums you want to pull out as a feed. If you want a friend’s, you’ll need their UIDThat's the 9 digit number at the end of the URL on the profile page of your friend.. Fill that in, and you’ll be presented with a list of their albums. Along with that, there are options for randomising the pictures, and a total count. You can specify these for further control on how your photos are pulled. After filling in the details, you’ll have to submit once, before choosing the feed format.

There are two feed formats available currently—RSS and JSON(P). RSS is for subscribing to someone’s albums to track it for changes. Say, your friend’s birthday pictures. Whereas JSON(P) is more for use with codes and hacks on blogs and pages. Add in the callback function name at the end and the data will be enclosed nicely in your function :)

Drawbacks and limitations

As I said, this is a little hacky, hence there are some pre–requirements, assumptions and limitations in place for this to work like it’s supposed to. To start with, the photos you want to pull out have to be part of one album, and one album alone. You can pull in photos from different albums, but not using the same feed. Well, not yet atleast. If there are enough adopters of this, I’ll add it inI’ll add it in anyways sometime in the future to find the easiest way to do it, but more users will speed up the process :P.

The second thing is, the application needs to be a part of your list, because that’s the way I’ll get an infinite session key from Facebook for the feed. If you don’t add it, the feed will fail because it’ll need to log in to get your photos out. Like I said, it doesn’t ‘add’ anything to your profile like most of the applications, so there is no clutter :) I don’t like clutter myself :P Once you add it, you can get as many feeds as you want, for as many albums as you want.

These are the only ones for now :) With more complexities, some more might creep in, but I'll try and keep them at a minimum :)

So, I hope you find it useful, and bugs and feature suggestions as usual can be messaged, posted on the application’s wall, my wall, or in the comments here :) Enjoy!


Singpolyma said...

I'd like to see public access besides in RSS (ie, full album views just like if logged into Facebook) and flat-tagging features. I may build them myself if I get that far.

BTW, once Zooomr gets the MarkIII bugs fixed they'll be awesome! People tagging (like facebook), notes, and some other way neat features. OpenID-enabled (of course!) and unlimited storage and bandwidth!

I want a utility that will post a photo to Flickr, Zooomr and Facebook all at the same time.