In Gaming with Blogger, we discussed using Google's Blogger to maintain a campaign or character journal. This week we'll add some images to the mix with Picasa Web Albums. With Picasa Web Albums, players and GMs can share character portraits, maps, illustrations, MapTool screenshots, tokens generated from TokenTool for use in MapTool, or photos of your face-to-face gaming session.
Picasa Web Albums is a fairly robust tool for uploading and sharing images with family, friends or even web sites. Additionally, if you upload a photo in Blogger, it will store the image in a Picasa Web Album titled after that blog.
Creating a Picasa Web Album
Picasa Web Albums allows you to create multiple albums of images with different share permissions. Creating a Picasa Web Album account is easy. Just like every other Google service, you only need to be logged in with your Google Account and visit the Picasa Web Albums homepage. As mentioned earlier, if you've already uploaded photos via Blogger, you'll see an album titled after your blog.
If you haven't created an album yet, you can do so now.
- Click the Upload button at the top of the page. You'll either be presented with a list of existing albums or a form to create a new album. If you are presented with a form with a list of existing albums, click "create a new album" at the top.
- Fill in the title, description (optional), and place taken (optional).
- Select the Share option desired.
- Public means your images will appear in search results.
- Unlisted means only those to whom you send the web address can find your images.
- Sign-in required to view means specific individuals must sign in with their Google Account to view it. Note that an album has to be unlisted or public in order for an image to be linked on another web site.
- If you're using Internet Explorer, you'll be prompted to install an Active X control that gives you an enhanced uploading tool. Any other browser will allow you to upload 5 photos at a time.
- Select the images you wish to upload.
Now you have your first web album. You can reorganize or reorder your album via the Edit menu below the album title. This allows you to copy or move images to another album, change the order of the images by dragging them around, or delete an image from an album altogether.
Sharing Albums and Images
What's the use of uploading images if you can't share them with others? Picasa Web Albums gives a lot of flexibility in regards to how you can share your images with others.
Email is an easy option if you want to send updates in batches after gaming sessions. You can email a link to an album or individual photo to anyone you'd like by clicking the Share link at the top. The Share feature will create an email form in which you can either select a group from your contacts or an email address to which you can send the link. Remember how we set up contacts, groups and a Google Group? This is yet another service that can utilize those features.
If you want to post a link to your album in an email or on the web, you can do so via the "Link to this album" feature on the right side of the album's page. You'll notice that it gives several options.
- A direct URL for copying and pasting
- HTML to paste into a Web site
- A Flash widget to embed a slideshow
If you are actually looking at an individual image in an album, you can provide a link to that image instead. A direct URL is an easy way of sending a quick link to an album or for embedding screenshots and photos into a web page, blog, or forum post. The embed option for an individual image provides two check boxes:
- Hide album link
- Image only (no link)
Selecting "Hide album link" will change the content of the Embed option from HTML for a table to HTML for a hyperlink. Selecting "Image only (no link)" displays the URL for the image itself, meaning that the url will display the image alone rather than displaying the image within the Picasa Web Album. Note that the "Select size" option affects the display of the image as well as the URL.
The Flash widget will give you a few options to configure the slideshow such as size and autoplay.
You'll notice just below "Link to this album" is another option for RSS. This link is the URI for an RSS subscription to the album. Note that you can also subscribe to a user's Picasa Web Albums account as well. If you're not familiar with RSS feeds and subscriptions, we'll cover this in the next article.
We'll take a look at how Google Reader allows you to keep track of journal posts (via Blogger), Picasa Web Albums, and other updates from your favorite news, podcasts, and other resources.