Back in June 2003 I discovered a fantastic tool for processing and publishing photos, JAlbum. I started to work with it, and like many others, found that it was indeed a very powerful tool. I looked at all the pre-defined skins which came with it at the time, but none of them had the professional appearance I was looking for. So I took an existing skin called Exhibit and started to change things. The changes went on and on and the author of JAlbum, David Ekholm, patiently helped me with question after question. Finally the skin was producing an album that I was happy with. Other people seemed to like the appearance of the my album, and other JAlbum users, including David, started to ask me about making it available for download. The problem was that it was heavily customised for my own setup, and wasn't really suitable for sharing with others.
In September of 2003 I had a break from work and was able to focus more on intensely on getting a version of my skin, which I had now called "ExhibitPlus" released. On October 31, 2003 version 1.0 was released, and was met with very positive responses. Suggestions and bug reports flooded in, development continued almost full time, and just before Christmas of the same year version 1.2 was released with additional styles and a whole host of other extras. By the time version 1.2 was released I had completed a comprehensive web site outlining all the features of ExhibitPlus with full documentation. ExhibitPlus was starting to come of age, and was the first skin to both have its own documentation and full HTML/CSS compliance.
In the early months of 2004 a decision was taken to make ExhibitPlus function identically in all browsers. Due to the absolutely huge numbers of bugs in IE (everybody's favourite browser?) this was no easy task, and took months to complete. In May 2004 version 1.3 was released. Around the same time browsers like Firefox experienced massive gains in popularity, so the timing of the release was perfect.
Version 1.4 was released a year later in April 2005 with a few more features, but the core functionality of the previous versions already seemed to satisfy most users. Due to extensive testing and quality control, only four minor bugs were found in the year following the release of this version.
I conservatively estimate that ExhibitPlus has consumed around 1500-3000 hours of my personal time. The popularity of this skin has amazed me, as at October 2005 there were over 156,000 index pages in Google, meaning that somewhere between 1-3 million photos are published on the internet using this skin. I often meet people in the "real world" that use JAlbum and specifically ExhibitPlus, and it always gives me a thrill to tell them that it is "my" skin. People often ask me why I did it, and why I give so much of my time for free. I look at it this way - we all want free software, free web sites, free everything. But how many of us actually contribute and give back to the software community that supplies us with so much of what we want? It's at this point in the argument where everyone collectively shuffles their feet, mutters "yeah well, wadda ya gonna do...", and slowly ambles off to see how much more free stuff they can get from the efforts of others. I am proud not to be one of those people.
Due to the fact that this product seems to be quite mature, and the enormous amount of time I have invested into it with absolutely no financial gain, I will be spending less time on it in the future. There will still be a small amount of "maintenance" work and the occasional update and documentation change, but I will move onto other things that I put on hold during the intensive period of ExhibitPlus's development. I trust that the users of the skin will understand.
Since there is a significant amount of documentation dedicated to ExhibitPlus on this site already, there isn't actually any additional information in these pages. The intention of this page was simply to explain to users unfamiliar with it what it is, why it was written, and where it is going. If you have an interest in this project, I encourage you to check out the pages for ExhibitPlus on this site.
Visit the comprehensive ExhibitPlus information and documentation here.