What is the best image library management system for me?


Singapore vs SimpleViewer vs Coppermine?

All three of these are excellent products. However, the expression horses for courses leaps to mind here. These are quite different in they way they work and are aimed at very different markets.  Just because a particular product is better for me, it doesn’t mean it is neccessarily better for you. I will try to summarise…

Singapore is an open source, PHP-based image library management script. It is extremely simple and reliable. The Singapore project had died for a while but it is good to see it up and running again now. Singapore’s strength is its simplicity. It is also highly customisable and has a small but loyal following of supporters. However it has no back-end database. This means that the server only needs PHP programming language, not mySQL back-end database. The disadvantage is that it is only suitable for relatively small collections.

  • Choose Singapore if you want a simple but powerful and customisable solution to managing a relatively small library of photos…

SimpleViewer is probably the simplest and arguably the prettiest off-the-shelf solution, with its cute animated graphics. You simply upload a flash file to your web server drop the necessary links & instructions to it in the html code of your page, et voila! It has no extra server requirements. Unfortunately it is also least customisable of the three. Each gallery page has a maximum limit of about fifty photos because each thumbnail is loaded into the user’s PC memory. It also only displays SWF and JPEG format files. Also it is not open source and whist it is free to use it for your own photographs,  SimpleViewer may not be redistributed as part of a content management system or online hosting solution without the permission of its author. 

  • Choose SimpleViewer for very small libraries and you are not bothered about its usage restrictions. It would be anexcellent choice for a (semi)professional  phototographer wanting to display say his top twelve to twenty images…

Coppermine is a highly customisable, open source (though its authors insist on a credit) image library manager. It is a big monster and would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut if you only had say 50 to 100 photos. It requires both PHP programming language and mySQL back-end database to be installed on your web server. Coppermine handles many filetypes and it is possible to add new ones. It also offers great flexibility regarding both its looks and who you permit to access and edit its contents. This means you can have proper site membership if you wish and tailor it to fit the look and feel of your existing site. Because it uses a back-end database it can handle very large, searchable collections – ours is 22000 and growing steadily. Individual galleries can be as large or small as you wish.  Coppermine has a lot of supporters and developers and has a very active discussion forum on its site. Biggest disadvantage is that if you are not very self-disciplined, you can spend a lifetime customising and configuring it! 

  • Choose Coppermine if you want a top-notch product to manage huge libraries and perhaps want to host images for other people. But you must be prepared to spend the time configuring it exactly the way you desire…

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