Does Picasa Web Albums still exist?
It's a bit messy these days. Google is trying to transition from Picasa Web Albums to Google+ Photos, as photos are the number one things that people want to share on social networks. When you use Picasa to share your albums (Sync to Web), the album URL is now on your Google+ profile, and not on Picasa Web Albums (which is just redirecting me to Google+). This is the URL to the public album from my trip to the Trollfjord:
It also works with your Google+ user id:
|My public Google+ web album. The album contains both photos and videos.|
The thing is, there is no Google+ API for photos and videos yet (apparently they were working on it back in 2011). But the Google Web Albums API still works on your Google+ albums.
Google Web Albums API is not the easiest API I've worked with, but it's flexible and quite fast. This is an XML feed of my public album from Trollfjord:
And if you're still using JSONP:
If you click on any of these links, you'll see that it's not a very compact format. There is a lot of data that you don't need. Although complicated, you can select the fields you want to include in the feed. This is how I selected the following elements:
- Photo URL: entry/media:group/media:content
- Photo caption: entry/media:group/media:description
- Photo thumbnail URL: entry/media:group/media:thumbnail
- Photo timestamp: entry/gphoto:timestamp
- Photo location: entry/georss:where
This is the new URL:
While researching, I also learnt that I could use the imgmax attribute to specify the size of the photos referenced in the photo URL. Neat!
So why should I use this (relatively) old API?
Compared to other popular social media sites, Google don't strip off the meta information of your photos. Instead it uses the build in support for image metadata extensively. Hopefully Google will continue to do this, although social media sites have reasons not doing so.
This means that Google don't lock you in. I can change the location of my photos using my GPS tracks, and it's reflected where I embed my photos. I can edit the image captions in Picasa and it's stored within the image file, allowing me to write the caption once and use it everywhere.
So what is my album workflow for my travel map. Before starting my journey, I'm creating a new Google+ album. The feed from this album is attached to my map, by simply passing on the album id. While on journey, I use the Google Photos app to add photos to the album, that will automagically show up on the map as well. Back from trip, I can add and edit photos from my digital camera in Picasa and sync them to the web album.
|Photos from Google+ shown on my travel map.|
PS! This blog post is not sponsored by Google :-)