A Perl script for generating Web-based slide shows
V1.5 H. Marc Lewis 25-Aug-2004
This page describes a Perl script I wrote for generating nicely formatted slide shows via HTML pages. It won't do all the work (you'll need an image manipulation utility too), but it will make it pretty darn easy once you have the photos sized properly.
You can grab the stuff you'll need here via this tar
file. Unpack it in the top-level directory where you want your
slideshow to reside.
[Windows users note: WinZIP can unpack it for you]
You'll also need to create a few directories, so the
resultant top-level directory will contain:
html - Generated HTML pages will go here
images - Intermediate sized images go here
originals - Originals go here (unless you use the -o option)
thumbs - Thumbnail versions go here
ButtonLeft.gif - Buttons used by the pages
webshow - The webshow script itself
webshow.css - A CSS file used by the HTML pages
myrename - A quick-n-dirty Perl script to rename files
filelist - The ASCII text file that controls things
It works like this: you put all your photos into the originals directory. Use a photo manipulation utility to create thumbnails in the thumbs directory, and medium sized versions in the images directory. [see the mikes_script description at the bottom of this page]. Thus for any given image, there will be three files, each with the same identical name, in the three directories: thumbs, images, originals. The only difference in them will be their size in pixels. I use a max of 100x100 for the thumbs, and 512x512 for the images. You can use whatever sizes you like, the script doesn't care.
If you don't want to bother with 3 sizes of each photo, you can omit the originals directory and put the original photos instead directly into the images directory. In that case, you will run webshow with the -o option -- thus it won't require an originals directory, and won't turn the photos on the individual HTML pages into links (as it would normally).
Then create the filelist file, which contains the names of the image files, one per line. I use the Unix command "ls -1 originals >filelist" or the MS-DOS command "DIR/B originals >filelist" to initially generate the filelist file.
Then I edit the filelist file according to the following rules:
|+TopPage: xxx||Specifies the filename for the top level page (the default is index.html). 'xxx' is the filename.|
|+TITLE: xxx||Defines a title for the top-level Webpage. The 'xxx' becomes the text of the title.|
|+DESCRIPTION: xxx||Provides some textual description for the page, which appears right below the title. 'xxx' is the text.|
|+COPYRIGHT: xxx||A place for you to specify a copyright notice (the 'xxx' text) to be displayed at the bottom of every page. See the example for the code to produce a copyright symbol.|
|+SECTION: xxx | yyy||Defines a section header, to break the top page into sections. The 'xxx' becomes an <H2> html tag, and the 'yyy' becomes the description below it. You can leave out the 'yyy' part if you wish, but if you include it you must separate it from the 'xxx' part with a vertical bar (|).|
The example filelist below generates this Web page.
The webshow script can be configured somewhat, see the first few lines in the Perl script. However, it does expect the input file filelist to exist and be so named. It also expects (and checks for) the proper directories to exist. It produces a single "I'm done" line noting how many image files it found for which it generated Web pages.
Each time you run webshow it reads the filelist file and generates one HTML file in the html directory for every file listed in the filelist file. It also creates the top-level directory index page (generally index.html). It doesn't do anything with the image files, and doesn't even read the image, thumbs, or originals directory. So even if the image files aren't there, it will still do its job -- though the resultant HTML pages will have broken links.
If you run webshow -o instead, the only difference in operation is that it won't expect there to be an originals directory, and it won't generate any links to the large-sized photos that would normally be stored there.
The 'development cycle' I use is to edit the filelist file, then run webshow, then look at the Web pages just generated, and repeat until I'm satisfied with the results.
|webshow||-- the 'normal' case|
|webshow -o||-- omit the 'originals' directory and links to it|
|webshow whatever.html||-- create 'whatever.html' instead of the default (index.html)|
Linux/Unix users already have Perl. For you Windoze folks, ActiveState has a fine port pre-compiled for various flavors of Windows. I've successfully used the Windows version of Perl to create slideshows with this version of webshow on Win98SE, Win2k and Windows XP Pro systems. There are also ports of Perl for the Apple (various operating systems).
I used two tools to generate the images and thumbnails, and found LVIEW-PRO (in batch mode) to be the easy way to go. I liked WEB IMAGE GURU as it did "smart" thumbnails, allowing you to thumbnail just the "important" part of the photo, but it didn't always work right and took forever. [my friend Lee prefers a utility called ACDSee]. You can get functional eval copies from Tucows or downloads.com. Just about any tool that will create thumbnails in batch mode will work fine -- you can even do it by hand if necessary, you only have to do it once...
Michael Bain contributed a script which I have named mikes-script and included in the tar file. It uses the ImageMagick package (commonly found on Unix/Linux systems) to auto-generate the thumbs and images files, given the originals directory is populated with your photos. It's very short, and you can easily modify it to suit your needs.
Thanks to Jack Tavares for the enhancement to add a user-specifiable copyright notice.
It is really pretty simple to use, once you get the hang of it. If you make anything more than minor changes to 'webshow', I'd appreciate it if you send me a copy. Thanks!
BTW -- There's a real-life example implementing a slideshow of an Alps tour I did in 2001. It used an early-release (Aug-2001) version of webshow. Another more current version is a trip to Baja, Mexico by motorcycle which I did in March of 2004.
HMarc -- August, 2004