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byTantricSlacker, July 8, 2011
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
At the outset I'm going to tell you that I sound a bit cranky here. But I guess in this day and age when there are so many freebie extensions available, developers should really bend over backwards to provide support and a high quality product - at least higher quality than the free version they are up-selling you from - when someone steps up to invest in their efforts and buy a pro/commercial version.

I am frustrated because I paid to get the pro version, believing that it was going to be a step up and much better, and that I would have support on hand, and - beware - the pro version isn't much different or better than the free version.

Although I do have a list of what I think are issues, omissions, and bugs with QGallery that potential purchasers should know about, I will say that my biggest beef is the complete absence of the "support" they promise for owners of the paid product.

I purchased this two weeks ago for a client site. Immediately I started running into issues, questions, and inconveniences. I took the patient route and went to their support forum and added a post. Two weeks have gone by -- with 2 addendum added -- without so much as a peep from them. The only brief sign of life I noticed was that my first posting, originally categorized under issues had been recategorized under "suggestions," and all of it has gone ignored.

I followed up my forum posts with a direct email to NetQ support and not a peep there either.

So, apart from the nonexistent promised "support," here are some issues you should be aware before when purchasing the pro version:

1. QGallery comes with a super-nice automatic feature to hook up your facebook account -- you click the "connect to facebook" button in admin and it goes and gets and fills in all of the nerdy keys and codes it needs to read albums. The pro version boasts also being able to allow site visitors to add comments to photos that are sync'd back to the connected facebook account. BUT NetQ does not carry through with the same type of feature for hooking up comments. So if you are not a facebook pointy-head, you paid for a comments feature you cannot use. And, actually, because facebook has, as I understand it, recently phased out your ability to add FBML apps to your page (at least for fan pages), there is no straightforward way to get all of the secret keys and black magic QGallery requires to to hook up commments. Now Facebook requires you go down the mystical road where you have to use one of its developer APIs. Voodoo to me.

2. If you plan on putting QGallery on a site page that is anything but plain white, the album list view is going to look like crap. They have a simulated spiral book image border they put around the album cover photo, but no background inside it, behind the photo. So you see through to whatever you have for colors and images on your sheet.

3. In the initial setup, you would think by their marketing that the power and ease of use includes the option to automatically add all facebook albums for the connected account. Not so. You must manually add each album. Once they are added they should sync, though I haven't test it yet so this is one of those "I hope it works" things. So, put a post-it up somewhere to remind yourself that if a new album is added or removed on the facebook side, you need to go in and do the same in your site in order to keep things fully mirrored. Seriously - "Want to import all?" Yes. "For" loop. Done.

4. Manually adding albums is made more inconvenient by a poorly designed import process. The popup shows all facebook albums every time, not just the ones you haven't imported. If you have a lot of facebook albums to hook up with your site be prepared to go bleary-eyed every time you open "import" to figure out where you left off.

5. Chances are 99.99% that to curb insanity you are going to want to keep the same album name in the site as in facebook, otherwise it would be a nightmare to keep things straight. However, you must manually enter a title in a field scrolled way at the bottom of the popup. Seriously, it'd be such an easy thing to default the album name into the field when you select an album for import.

6a. Once you have all of your albums imported you have the standard joomla table page and toolbar. However, for some bizarre reason they have left out the standard up/down sort order buttons in each album row. So, when you have to reorder rows be prepared to type in lots of numbers.

6b. Oh, by the way, sort order is your only option for displaying your list of albums and photos. Who doesn't provide a dropdown to select from a few sorting options these days? I'd expect at least that basic - standard - level of control in a paid product.

7. When the album list view is displayed in your site, it will dumbly go ahead render out html for albums with zero photos in them. And since, by default, it picks photos from the album itself to display as the album thumb, albums with zero images show up with no image...and if you have something other than a plain white background, well you get the picture. Again, a couple easy lines of code to skip them.

8. When you import an album certain things are defaulted for the album, including a "use global values" toggle. However, there is no popup or page where you can manage those global values. You would think it would be on the menu item component settings page, but the basic parameters area is empty. So if you need different properties from default for your albums -- thumb sizes, show album and picture titles, etc. -- be prepared to manually edit each album and change them...and try to keep all of them consistent.

9. The pagination properties (row and column count on a page) aren't labeled as such but they control both the album list and picture page(s). If you need a different pagination for your album list you can't. This goes on the growing list of what seem like lazy omissions.

10. I was going to point out similar issues with global settings with respect to facebook album/picture comments, but since you can't use that feature I'll leave those out.

11. The module included with the component doesn't know or care about global settings in the event that you want to keep it consistent with the component view.

12. The pro version promises "documentation." This is not included in your download package, there is no mention of where to find it, and, in my experience, there is no NetQ support to give it to you.

13. QGallery does not work with the core SEF URL feature, so you get SEO-unfriendly URLs from the menu page through any child page it creates.

14. Without the assistance of an add-on like "Advanced Module Manager" (by #NoNumber!), good luck trying to control what modules and templates appear on child album and photo pages generated by Qgallery. Unless the modules you need on Qgallery-created pages are set to show on "All" you are out of luck getting the modules on anything but the qgallery component menu page. That's a bit inconvenient.

15. With a "professional" paid version of an extension I'd expect some level of easy - customary - control over at least a few basic visual properties so that I can fit it into the design of my site without completely rewriting the extension css. Not so. The pro version comes with just one look and if you're not a css nerd you have to live with it and it's visual issues. Sidebar: It's a great way to learn how to use the "edit css" of Chris Pederik's Web Developer's Toolbar feature (firefox and chrome browsers)...while your client stares at his watch and formulates the decision to hire someone else next time.

So, yes, obviously I'm a bit grouchy about all of this. I went for NetQ's shiny marketing pitch and promises, gambled on it for a client project, laid out the cash for the "pro" version, which has led to delays and frustration for both me and the client.

Like a lot of extensions these days, they are half great and half not so great. I would expect a paid version to be mostly great, or see some sign that they people on hand to help you out, to compensate for not so great.

I wouldn't be nearly as grouchy had NetQ simply made the effort, taken the time, communicate, come through on their promise and actually support their product.
byTantricSlacker, June 2, 2011
Many thanks to the developer for creating this very useful, easy to use, solid, and flexible extension and releasing it free under the GNU license. All I needed was an extension to allow me to pop up an article in a modal. The control and options provided are heavenly. Want all PDFs or images across your entire site to open in a modal? Configure that in the plugin, done. You don't have to touch your content at all if you don't want to. The extension does provide the ability to control individual links by giving them a specific class name, and by embedding the standard plugin tag syntax in articles. I needed a simple wrench and found a powerful toolbox. Kudos!