I’ve been waiting for this for a pretty long while. Tristan has finally released his long awaited (at least for likes of Joen, Micheal, Mathias and me) Zenphoto. If you’re interested in a simple program that seems like it’s got a bright future amongst those people not really interested in hosting their photos on a server far far away, then Zenphoto deserves your attention. I’ve only been playing with it for a day now and already I know what I’m going to love using this application.

Setting Up Zenphoto on Dreamhost
Before I talk about the program, I’m going to talk a bit about the setting it up since I did have a bit of trouble with that. Not the program’s fault by ANY stretch of the imagination, just me being dim, and Dreamhost being a bit awkward. So this is a public service announcement for anyone on Dreamhost that wants to play around with this program but having a bit of trouble getting over the first hurdle.

To get the Zenphoto set up you only need to edit two files.

  1. .htaccess file. The only thing you’ve got to change is the following:
    # !!! Change this to the absolute path !!! RewriteBase /zp

    Change it to whatever you want, in my case it was pictures so my file looks like this:

    # !!! Change this to the absolute path !!! RewriteBase /pictures
  2. config.php The config file is found in the zen folder. Everything is pretty bog standard, follow the instructions in here to a T and you shouldn’t have a problem.
    If your database isn’t working, make sure you’ve named it properly, that could be because you’ve named the database incorrectly.

    Make sure that you actually put the database host name in front of your website url, as shown below.

    $conf[’mysql_host’] = “zenh.brokenkode.com”; // Probably won’t need to change this.

    However if you find that your database is working, (by having a look in phpmyadmin, or the fact that ZP actually tells you it’s all ok), but are having trouble actually logging in, that can be attributed to the server paths and how Dreamhost likes you to call up these bits and pieces. Crucially.

    // The path to zenphoto on the server - e.g. /home/user/public_html/zenphoto. No trailing slash/ $conf[’serverpath’] = “/home/username/brokenkode.com/pictures”;

    Make sure that you actually exchange your REAL username for username, and the full path to where you’ve put ZP on the server.

    // The URL of zenphoto from the domain root. - e.g. ‘http://www.yoursite.com/zenphoto’ // (or ‘/zenphoto’ in that case). No trailing slash/
    $conf[’webpath’] = ‘/pictures’;
    This one actually gave me the grief. Make sure you just put path, not the entire url.

Zenphoto ~ The Pros

Something going wrong I’ve not even been using it for 24 hours and yet I’m pretty impressed with the simplicity of everything. When you do something that’s not really prim and proper, like trying to create a folder without even a single image to upload you get these helpfully coloured system messages (we’re using these in Shuttle btw, Matt and co have been giving them some Ajax love as well).

Uploading images is a very simple process with several options available (JPEG, PNG, GIF and ZIP files, seriously what more do you need?). I like the fact that when you’re in the upload section you have 5 image slots where you can actually use, with the option to increase the number to as many as you want with the click of one button.

The colour scheme of the administration panel by Joen is very soft on the eyes and I’m really loving the thoughts behind the actual program coming through. Simple, yet functional.

Zenphoto ~ Improvements & Future Dev
Tristan has got a battle plan. The roadmap can be found here. Things that I’d like to be able to do from the program itself (not sure if it’s possible really).

Delete files - Currently there is no really way to delete images from the admin panel. You need to go via ftp or something. Also I’ve noticed that the number tally of the pictures the admin panel indicates are still in the folder does not update if a file is deleted. We’re still in Beta, so I’m sure little quirks like this will be ironed out for future releases.

Sizing images - It seems that whatever size the file is ZP will stretch it out to fit in the maximum specified width. While that’s pretty ok for anything larger than the desired width (so nothing looks out of whack) the problem then comes into play when you’ve got images lightly smaller than the default, so it would be nice to keep the smaller files at their size in the images section. It could come as a little check box next to when uploading the image?

Support and Documentation - Tristan and co were great trying to solve my problem, however I think (from personal experience) you can do the support thing for a while, because it’s fresh and you want to help people understand what you’re doing, however your enthusiasm will wane. The creator ideally should concentrate on making the program better etc. There are other who can contribute to an open source project in different ways, that are just as crucial and important as coding and bug squashing and theme creating, and that’s offering users support. Tristan’s got a couple of things in the pipeline to help the user out, which in my mind is as essential as files to the program itself.

Final Thought
Zenphoto is a joy to use, I know I’ll be using it for a good while to come. If you’re looking for something simple, functional and beautiful, go download it now.


  1. Thank you for writing this! I appreciate everything positive you said, and especially the suggestions. I’ll make sure to add them to the list.

    And you’re definately right about support - I’ll have a forum up this week, and hopefully start a good set of docs on the zenphoto.org site.

    1 Tristan
  2. Thanks Khaled. I don’t have near enough time to have troubleshot all this as I would like. Much appreciated.

    One gold star for Khaled. :)

    2 Chris
  3. This isn’t germane to the post - but I really like your graphic, really the whole layout of your site. It’s cool. I did look at Zenphoto and it does look cool. Thanks.

    3 anon
  4. No thank you Tristan, for putting in all the effort of coding the program. You’ve made a lot of people really happy. Flickr what? _

    4 Khaled
  5. Woohoo! Thanks, Khaled. I gave up a few days ago trying to get this to work, and now it works!

    5 William