Addendum: I have switched back to NextGEN Gallery since they cleaned the problems and I did not get much support from Nextcellent Gallery developer. For whatever it is worth, I wanted to share this information but the post is still worth reading.
NextGEN The Beginning
I have been using NextGEN Gallery since its beta versions, I remember its developer Alex Rabe announcing that he would introduce a dramatically new way of organizing images in WordPress. Since then I have gone through all the version upgrades, even made a few modest monetary contributions to the NextGEN cause. The changing of hands of the code, and the new owner Photocrati taking the software to a new code base has brought me, and many other users, much grief. There were numerous bugs, NextGEN did not play nice with other plugins, and wreaked havoc on my WordPress installation whenever I tried a version above 1.9.13.
Next NextGEN Does Not Play Nice
To their credit, the Photocrati team tried to alleviate the problems and acknowledged that they had moved too fast and openly apologized to the community. That was a good step. I have even communicated with some of their support staff and they really tried to help resolve my problem, but in the end, I was left hanging. Here is a summary of the issues I have had with the “new and improved” NextGEN Gallery:
- It crippled my image presentation plugin, Shadowbox JS, not in NextGEN alone but any other place where I used it
- Some of my galleries started mysteriously disappearing, although there may be confounding factors there
- The back-end interface to manage the galleries and the images in them became more cumbersome to use
Search For Gallery Solutions
After repeated tries, I realized that on my site NextGEN was not going to play nice and kept reverting to the last stable version 1.9.13. In the meantime, I have been searching substitutes for managing my galleries and the photographs in them. It became painfully clear that once you invest into a particular technology rather heavily any ill behavior on the part of that technology becomes a huge issue going forward. I needed a substitute that would convert my galleries, about 300 of them, and handle about 5,500 photographs in those galleries.
Maybe a New Gallery, MaxGalleria
For a moment I thought I might have found a solution in MaxGalleria Lite which claimed to import NextGEN galleries. Sure enough, I installed and converted a few galleries to MaxGalleria format and they were good as before. However, during the conversion process, MaxGalleria copies all the image files into a single month-year-based folder mixing all the images together. Additionally, as I imported a few heavily populated galleries I ended up hundreds of photographs in a single folder. This happened after converting only 5-6 galleries and I had 295 more to go! I communicated with MaxGalleria team on WordPress.org support forum and they implemented a few of my suggestions but could not commit to segregating the galleries into different folders.
A Better NextGEN Substitute, Nextcellent Gallery
Then, I came across a fork of the old NextGEN code from its last stable version, the derivative plugin was called NextCellent Gallery, NextGEN Legacy. Its developer promised slow and stable steps in changing the code and keeping it on the old code base. I installed it and disabled NextGEN Gallery and everything worked as before. As I write this post, I am still on Nextcellent Gallery and have created a few new galleries since I switched to it. It works just like the old NextGEN and so far I have no problems with it.
All was not smooth though, during my repeated attempts to use each new release of NextGEN 2.x and testing MaxGalleria conversion I have lost about a dozen galleries. They simply disappeared, the folders containing them were no longer there with all the images in them missing. Thankfully, I had backups and was able to restore them one at a time. I am not sure how they got lost but I do know the losses occurred in the time period when I was switching between NextGEN 2.x and NextGEN 1.9.13 and also testing MaxGalleria. In any case, all is well that ends well.
How to Switch From NextGEN to Nextcellent Gallery
If you wish to switch from the last stable version of NextGEN 1.9.13 or earlier to NextCellent Gallery you may follow the steps below and under no circumstance should you delete NextGEN Gallery plugin. You may lose all your galleries and images. Here is a safe process.
- In the WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins/Add New
- In the search box, enter “NextCellent Gallery – NextGEN Legacy” (without the quotation marks) and press Enter
- When WordPress finds the plugin, click on Install and let it finish. Do not click on “Activate Plugin” since it will not activate while NextGEN is active, nice careful step.
- Return to the plugins page, locate NextGEN Gallery plugin and click on “Deactivate”
- When it is done, locate NextCellent Gallery plugin and click on “Activate”
- Congratulations you have switched to the new plugin and all your galleries should work as before
I suggest that you leave the old NextGEN Gallery plugin where it is for a while and never delete it from the plugins list by clicking on “Delete” or you may lose all your images. After you use Nextcellent Gallery for a while and you are convinced that it is doing everything as expected, you can:
- FTP connect to your site
- Make a backup of your plugins folder with all of the plugins
- Then delete the nextgen-gallery folder under Plugins
There are other solutions that use WordPress media galleries but WordPress is not really adept at handling a large number of images in a structured way into separate folders. It simply puts everything into the current month’s uploads folder. This is the main reason for MaxGalleria not meeting my criteria since it relies on WordPress media handling. The WordPress media galleries are also as slippery as wet soap, you cannot name them, you cannot give them an identity and use them elsewhere outside the post with which a gallery is created. That was not a good solution for me.
I thank the developer(s) at WordPress Ready for picking up the plugin and moving it on its stable platform. There are some plugins that insist on seeing NextGEN, and I have run into one that did not recognize NextCellent Gallery. WP Supersize is a plugin that creates background slideshows from selected galleries. After installing it, I wanted to use some of my galleries but it informed me that NextGEN was not installed.
Oh, well, I cannot have everything. I will give up super-sizing it to have stable NextCellent Gallery.