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Guide to Flickr Tools

The Internet is replete with sites and services offering to let you organize, manage, and share your digital photographs and Yahoo’s Flickr remains anundisputed leader in the field. Partly, that’s because Flicker offers easy-to-use features and boasts and enormous, active, and tremendously engaged user community. But it’s also because Flickr hashad the foresight to let third-party developers build their own add-ons and supplementary services using Flickr’s data and images. Geeks, programmers, and photo buffs have embraced Flickr’s open APIsenthusiastically, so even if Flickr doesn’t offer a feature you want—or its features aren’t up to your task—odds are good a third-party solution already exists to solve the problem foryou. So, if you’re using Flickr and wondering how you can get more out of it, here’s a quick introduction to some tools and services—from the cool to the geeky—which can expand yourFlickr universe:   Slickr Slickr One of the best things about Flickr is its user community, who have uploaded untold millions of photos tothe site for the whole world to explore and comment upon. But to truly admire those images, you kinda want to set up a cool high-res slide show, don’t you? The problem, of course, is that Flickr’sown slide show is weak and doesn’t let you take even high-res images full screen—and what if you’re offline? If you’re running Windows 2000/XP, consider Gabriel Handford’s Slickr, a combination Flickr-downloader and full-screen slideshow application. Just point Slickr at a group of photos you want to download (say, images you’vemarked as your favorites) and Slickr will pull down the high-resolution versions of the photos. Slickr’s screen saver/full-screen slideshow can display images by tags, users, groups, or just use theimages you have stored locally; it uses OpenGL graphics to zoom and fade between images in a way which is really, well, slick. (Slickr is Windows-only: if you’re using a Mac orLinux—or just want to download Flickr images for an existing screensaver or slideshow application—maybe check out Magnus von Koeller’s Java-based FlickrFaves image downloader.) Before using any utility which can download images from Flickr, check the licenses on the images you want todownload—some authors are fine with you downloading the photo for your own use, but others may not be. Website FlickrStormFlickrStormSpeaking of the millions of great images available via Flickr…how do you find them? Flickr has a searchfeature which wins points for being straightforward, but it’s very literal and offers only a few ways to constrain a search—your own photos, groups, and locations being the most useful. Not tofear: zoo-m.com’s FlickrStorm offers a not only a literal search through Flickr’s enormous image database, but also looks for more than whatyou enter, making it easier to find images that are related to (and perhaps more relevant!) than that strict search. FlickrStorm lets you quickly refine your search with terms related to your initialsearch, constrain your search to photos available by particular license type, and (of course) lets you jump to any of the found images on the Flickr site—but wait, there’s more! FlickrStormkeeps track of your image viewing history so you can go back to images you previously viewed, and enables you to drop photos in a tray so you can download selected images; you can also link back toyour tray in the future to see or download your images. FlickrStorm is a great example of offering great functionality without adding great complication. Website Tabblo Tabblo One of the great things about Flickr is that it presents every member’s photos the same way, implicitly putting themost amateur snapper on the same level as the professionals. And, yep, one of the bad things about Flickr is that it presents every member’s photos the same way! Users can’t dress up theappearance of their sets to commemorate a special event, play off a theme, or make their images stand out from the crowd. Enter Tabblo, a site which can pullphotos from your Flickr photo sets and dress them up in a variety of customizable templates. Tabblo can import images directly from Flickr (saving you the trouble of uploading them to yet anotherphoto site) and gives your photos a permanent URL and privacy protection. Tabblo makes its money by offering its users printed posters, postcards, and (soon) books: printed material is, of course,something you have to pay for, but it’s free to create as many online tabblos as you like. Website SmartSetr SmartSetrIf youmanage any volume of photos via Flickr, you’ve probably tapped into its set-making capabilities, enabling you to create groups of related photographs. Then, maybe ten minutes later, you probablynoticed how annoying Flickr’s manual process of maintaining and adding photos can get. Eric Appel’s SmartSetr offers the ability to create and setsorganized around criteria you enter, and—even better—update those sets for you automatically. You just enter the tags, dates, descriptive text, privacy level, or even the"interestingness" of the photos you want grouped in a set, and SmartSetr does the rest, automatically creating Flickr sets based on your criteria. When you add new photos matching yourSmartSetr criteria, those photos are automatically added to your sets. Eric has committed to updating all SmartSetr sets at least once per day—but you can trigger a refresh manually—andSmartSetr has added the capability to limit the number of photos in a SmartSet can contain, making it simple to create sets of your Top 10 most interesting photos, or the 25 most recent photos ofyour cat. Although you can change the primary photo and reorder SmartSets using Flickr, it’s important to remember that SmartSets should be managed by SmartSetr, or confusion may ensue. Website Rich Text Rich TextOne of the most common complaints I hear about Flickr is "why can’t I use formatting in my text?" Well,Flickr does enable users to include formatting in their text…it just requires users to do all the markup themselves. Fortunately, if you run Firefox (or another Mozilla browser like Flock), you can get rich text editing tools for Flickr using Jason Rhyley‘s Rich Edit script in conjunction with the GreaseMonkey Firefox extension. Install Rich Edit and you can format your Flickr text with links, bold, italics, and quotes to your heart’s content withoutworrying about markup. (Sorry, IE users, you don’t get to play.) (Extra tip: If you’re already into both Flickr and GreaseMonkey, also check out "Steeev’s" Flickr Multi Group Sender which lets you very quickly put images into multiple Flickr groups, bypassing Flickr’s own oh-so-slow group adding feature.)

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