26 December 2010

New photo preview in Picasa Web

And on the second Christmas day, another small gift from in the form of an update, this time for the photo-sharing site Picasa Web. Specifically, when clicking on the ‘magnifying glass’ to see the full-size version of the image, it now opens in a light box window, taking up almost the entire available space in the tab. This seems to be another work in progress, because the new viewer is triggered only when browsing through photos in an album, but not on the individual photo pages. There images are still magnified inline like before. Picasa Web Lightbox preview of pictures

The new viewer includes controls to zoom in and out, although having two sets of them – the +/- buttons in the upper left corner and the slider on the right – seems a little redundant. You can also zoom in with by using the mouse scroll wheel. It’s generally an welcomed improvement over the old method, since you can finally take advantage of the entire browser window, but there are some important features missing. You can’t start a slideshow from inside the viewer, nor can you navigate to another picture – there are no controls and the left/right arrow keys don’t have any effect. Not to mention it’s built with Flash, which seems odd, given the number of alternatives based on JavaScript, and that the slideshow feature in Picasa Web manages to work fine without plug-ins. It looks to me like an update to match the recent changes to the photo viewer, that also introduced larger previews and a light box.

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