It goes without saying that photographers want their work to continue on into an undefined future- to be available almost in perpetuity. But to do that requires establishing an archive containing the photographer’s “important work”. And setting up an archive means looking well into the future – 25, 50 or even 100 years –

Some would argue that the best way to archive photographs is to print everything you want the archive to include. While that may be true in the abstract, the reality of archival printing and storage certainly raises a number of issues.

  • Archival printing gets extremely expensive when you have a large number of prints to make.

  • Archives that contain a significant number of physical prints require a significant allocation of specialized storage space {read: flat files).

  • Archive storage for physical print demands a highly controlled environment (light, temperature, humidity, etc.).

  • Archiving with physical prints severely limits access and portability.

  • While experts in print longevity claim that a properly made archival inkjet print can last ‘a hundred years or more in a controlled environment’, there is also a lot of evidence that it will last just 10 or 15 years.

Some argue the digital approach is fraught with its own set of issues.

  • Hardware used for digital archiving today may not be compatible with future systems.

  • Hardware used to store the archive may fail at some point in the future,

  • Software needed to view the archive may not be available on future systems.

  • File formats used for digital archiving today may not be compatible with future systems.

  • There is more chance of user error with digital archiving systems that may erase the entire archive.

While there are risks and pitfalls with both approaches to archiving, it would certainly seem that the digital system has the advantage especially looking well into the future.

But first- backup vs archive

This is really a very simple distinction. An archive is designed for long term preservation of material while a backup file is for disaster recovery or to restore lost or corrupted data.

Decide what to archive-

This is a very personal decision taking both time and personal review.


Some people avoid the whole decision making process and just archive everything. If you have the space, time and organizational skills, that is certainly one way to do it. Depending on how extensive your collection is, it might take some time to get things organized for an archive.

But if you don’t have the space or the patience to deal with the minutia, identify those places where you have photographs stored – the hard drive in your computer or laptop, on your tablet, your phone, your online accounts, etc. Pull out or copy the photographs you consider the most important. These can be of your family, your vacations, events you attended, etc. And you don’t need to limit the number of photographs. Depending on your storage space you can archive as many or as few as you want.

For photographer/authors: you should archive a copy of each book you complete (see Photography (Fully Realized)). You can archive all of the photographs, research, early drafts, etc., as work product for the book, but the important thing to archive is the finished book. Work product is all of the stuff that led to the final, finished, published draft.

If you have done any commercial work, all of that should be archived in case the client wants access to the material in the future.

When to archive -

This may seem like keen perception of the obvious but an archive in vastly different from a simple backup and should be treated that way. Files you are archiving should be ones that are no longer being actively used.

Organizing the stuff for archiving-

There are more than a few ways to organize the photographs for archiving but the two that seem to make the most sense are by file structure or by structured tagging.

In the former approach, you would gather all of the photographs relating to a particular subject into a single folder and give that folder an explicit and descriptive name that can’t be mistaken for any other in the archive. These names are not cryptic, ‘cutsey’ or ‘creative’ but very matter-of-fact specific. A folder with photographs of a vacation to the family reunion in Davenport, IA, could be named “2018 vacation to family reunion in July at Uncle Jacob’s farm Davenport IA”. The names of the photographs in the folder would be similar in their specificity. “Molly and Billy Jackson (cousins) winning the three legged race on Saturday”. You don’t need to restate any information from the folder name as we assume the activity was at the 2018 family reunion.

The other approach is to simply tag all of the photographs with as much information as possible. This can take a considerable amount of time and you will need to develop a tagging structure to assure information will be consistent both between photographs in a specific folder and between folders.

Preparing the photographs -

(This is where it might get a bit dicey given current photography workflow and consciousness.)

There is no way to predict what computer or imaging systems will look like 25 or 50 years in the future. They may be all internet based. Or maybe not. They may be virtual reflective data transmission based (whatever that is). Maybe not. They may be some form of organic artificial-intelligence based technology. Or not.

But one thing is certain, if past is prologue, the file format is not going away. In the very early days of computing some “experts” predicted that those pesky three-letter file extensions used to identify file types ‘would be a thing of the past very soon’… uh… didn’t happen.

When considering the file format to use for archiving, the goal is to create as sustainable an archive as possible. Sustainability means that the archive is will be viable over time.

This demands that the format chosen for archiving be an open standard and optimized for photographic reproduction. It must be well supported and well documented in the public sphere. It must have a long and extremely stable development history. It must be universally accepted.

In reality all of that leaves only two file formats- the JPEG and the TIFF.

Some may argue that camera raw files are the best to archive but these files are proprietary, subject to the whims of the various manufacturers and don’t meet most of the requirements for sustainability. The DNG format (digital negative format) could be used but it does not have wide support.

Side Note: One of the things that is avoided here is endorsing any particular camera, software package, etc. except right here. Faststone Software produces an image viewer that is the best at JPEG compression giving the user sufficient control over the compression process. The application is excellent at saving TIFF files as well. (And by the way, the image viewer is free. It will run on a Windows PC and on Windows in Boot Camp on a Mac.)

It is recommended you save your photographs in both JPEG and TIFF formats.

When saving a JPEG for archiving it is recommended that you save it at a quality of 100, with the photometric set to the RGB colorspace and with the Huffman table optimized. This will give you an astonishingly large JPEG file but remember that this file is intended for archival use and not for distribution in a production environment. The goal here is to have as much data as possible in the archive file.


When saving the image as a TIFF file, save it as a 24-bit file. Make sure it is uncompressed and the photometric is set to the RGB colorspace. Again this may not be in your normal workflow but these files are going for archiving and not a production environment.

These files are now considered the ‘original’ files for archiving purposes. And at this point it would probably be a good time to change the file name of the photograph to that more explicit one for archiving.

For books you have finished, it is recommended that for archiving you save it as a PDF/X3 format with both color and grayscale image downsampling set to 300DPI and ‘best quality jpeg’ selected. The photometric should be set to the CMYK colorspace. All of the pre-press options should be set to off save for the overprint black. This will give you a very large PDF file but as the fonts used in the book are now embedded in the file, the book is completely self-contained. And as with the image files, this PDF is intended for archival use and not for distribution in a production environment.

Another Side Note: If your software package does nor offer that level of control over converting to a PDF file, PDF24 is an excellent application. It imports a variety of file types including .odt, .rtf, .doc and .docx and gives you significant control over the PDF creation process. (And by the way, PDF24 is free. It will run on a Windows PC and on Windows in Boot Camp on a Mac.)

Where to save the archive -

It is strongly recommended that you save your archive in at least two different places with at least one being a removable USB hard drive. To assure the most compatibility, it is recommended you use the FAT32 file system for this drive. The other location for saving your archive could be another removable hard drive, an online location, etc.

There are concerns voiced about the longevity of a hard drive. Critics have all of the horror stories about a brand new drive failing 17 days after it was purchased, losing all of the irreplaceable family photographs that were put on it.

The usual specification for hard drive longevity is MTBF or Mean Time Between Failure. Some manufacturers claim an mtbf rating of 50,000 hours. Others claim 30,000 hours. Some web hosting companies, where hard drives are running constantly, use a three-year replacement cycle or approximately 26,200 hours.

Lets assume you archive data monthly and the drive you use is in operation for four hours a month. Even at the lowest mtbf rating, assuming you take reasonable care of the drive and don’t use it to drive nails or scoop out dirt to plant your tomatoes, the drive will last more than 500 years in theory.

While we certainly don’t know what the state of computing or imaging will be in 25 or 50 years, it would seem logical to assume that whatever the technology is, it will still be able to read a USB interfaced hard drive. Some may argue that the floppy disk and the zip drive have died but it certainly appears that with the universal acceptance of both USB technology and hard drive technology, they will continue on well into the future.

Internet-based sites may be a good alternative for the second storage location provided they are going to be around into the indeterminate future and you are able to keep the subscription costs covered. Free sites like Google are a viable option as long as you abide by their restrictions. And while considering an online storage site, bear in mind that a number of internet sites limit stored photographs to the JPEG format.

Keeping up -

One of the problems with an “archive” is simply the connotation associated with it- that it is a lifeless, inanimate and stagnant thing. Nothing is further from the truth. Creating an archive is not a one time effort. You may not make contributions weekly or even monthly but you do have to keep putting important material that you want to preserve into the archive.

Your archive is, after all, a part of your legacy, a part of what you will leave to those who come after you. It is important that your legacy be both as complete as possible and reflect what you feel is important.

After setting your book in either as an online book using Joomla or as a downloadable pdf in either LibreOffice Writer or Google Docs, the final step is to have the work published. 

Publishing your work in Joomla is extremely easy. In the same screen where you write your material you will see a green entry in a drop down box that says "Published". In addition you will see the category the work is published to and whether it is going to be featured on the front page of your site or not. If it is not to be included on the front page you will have to create a menu item so visitors to you site can find the work. Below the featured/not featured selection you will see an access selector which will allow you to determine if the work is available to the general public or restricted to certain registered users of the site. Below that you will see a language selector and a box where you can enter tags or keywords. When you save your work in Joomla, it is automatically published unless you have made another selection in the drop down box.

To add the menu link for your article, go to Menus, select Main Menu from the drop down and then select Add New Menu Item. You will have to enter a title for the link and then you will need to select the Menu Item Type. Generally for this kind of work you will want to select Article and then Single Article. After browsing to and selecting the article from the list, accept the rest of the defaults and click save. The item will appear in the menu.

For books set in pdf format, the process is a bit more complicated.

If you have written your book in LibreOffice Writer export it as a pdf file. Make sure you have set the Jpeg compression to 100% (this is the highest quality jpeg available) and the image resolution to 300 dpi which is a good choice if the book is printed. Make sure that all boxes on the right side of the panel are unchecked except for the "create forms" box and the "export bookmarks". Generally accept the defaults in the other panels and click "Export". After exporting to your local computer (generally it is recommended to export to your desktop as this is a convenient location), upload the file to your Google Drive.

If you have written your book in Google Docs the process is much simpler as there are no options offered to convert the document to pdf. Simply go "File/Download as" and then select "PDF Document (.pdf)". The book will download to the location in your browser's download settings. Finally, upload the file to your Google Drive account. There is no way to simply save the file to your drive account from Google Docs.

For our purposes here, the work will be distributed from your Google Drive account. By necessity work distributed from your Google Drive account is distributed free of charge as there is no e-commerce capability. If you want to charge a fee for your book there are a number of sites where you can distribute your .pdf file. Some offer "free-to-start" plans taking a percentage of the cover price while some are "paid-up-front" sites. Googling "sell my pdf e-books" should get you started.

After uploading your file to your Google Drive account, find it in the file list and select it by single-clicking on it. this will highlight the file name. Next right click on the file name and then select "Share" from the popup menu. After the "Share with others" box opens, select "Advanced" in the lower right corner. This will open the "Share Settings" box. Click on "Change" to the right of "Specific people can access". Select "On - Public on the web". With this setting, anyone can access and read your book. Google and other search engines will index the address for your book. 

When you select "Save" you will return to the "Share Settings" box and you will find the web address for the book is also listed in the "Link to Share" box, can be copied and sent to folks you want to make sure know the book is published and available.
 

 

The-photograph-stands-alone crowd notwithstanding, every photograph "published" needs a caption. In this case our definition of "published" is very loose. It includes photographs posted to social media, photo sharing sites, "professional portfolio" sites, books (either print or digital), magazines (either print or digital)... just about anywhere really. And in consideration of  the-photograph-stands-alone crowd, we often get something approaching a caption in the exhibit catalog.

The purpose of the caption is to give the reader information that puts the photograph in context, provides additional information that is not readily available from the photograph and to amplify and extend the reader's understanding of the photograph. Remember that photography is part of a complex communication system and that the most effective communication of the message or story happens when the photographs and the words work together. Without properly written captions the reader is left to flail about to come up with some level of significance for the photograph.

Captions are astonishingly deceiving. They are short and because they are short folks feel that are easy to write. Often we get a caption that simply restates the photograph. This is especially true if it starts out "pictured here..." or ends with "poses for a photograph". And then there are the captions that drift off into discussions of what the photographer went through to "get the photograph" or the equipment and various settings that were used to "get the  photograph". None of these discuss the context of the photograph or fulfill the function of the caption.


Consider the photograph below...

 

We see two people seated at a table in what appears to be a public situation- we assume this given the other people in the photograph and the "wall of windows" designed to encourage people to look out at something. They are wearing name tags so it would be safe to assume they are part of a larger group. Given the table card in the lower left advertising a desert it would also be safe to assume that the setting is some kind of restaurant.  The time of day is unknown. But these facts from the photograph are about all we know or can deduce. In order to understand the context of the photograph we need to have a caption.

Consider the same photograph with the caption:

 Mom and Dad celebrated Dad's 80th birthday with a bus trip to Bowie Raceway on May 12, a week after his actual birthday. The track restaurant surprised Dad with a small cake after lunch. The trip was actually sponsored by their church as part of its Senior Outings program. Because it was so close to his birthday, they let Dad ride free! He said he really enjoyed watching the racing and eating the cake (which of course he shared with Mom).

 

The information provided in the caption has significantly added to the context and the understanding of the photograph.  


 Consider a second photograph:

 

 

We see an old car parked on a patch of grass in what is obviously a rural setting. Give the visible condition of the car it appears to be well maintained. Given the patch of what appears to be gravel in the lower left of the photograph it could be assumed that this photograph was taken with the car pulled off the side of the road. Given the angle of the shadow relative to the car it appears the photograph was taken around midday. The specific location is unknown.

Consider the same photograph with the caption:

Cousins Mike Leopold, Bill Leopold and Sarah Jackson restored Uncle Jacob's 1963 Ford Futura after discovering it in the back of the barn on the family farm. Uncle Jacob said he parked the car in the barn in 1972, covered it with a couple of tarps and hadn't touched it since. While Mike and Bill did the mechanical and body work, Sarah handled all of restoration chores for the interior. The project lasted two years and was completed in time for Jacob's 75th birthday celebration.

 

Again, information provided in the caption has significantly added to the context and the understanding of the photograph. 


 Please consider one more photograph:

 

 

We see an old bridge crossing what appears to be a long-dry river bed, canyon or arroyo in a minimally inhabited area.  There are telephone or power poles scattered in the distance and there is some type of structure visible in the upper left. The bridge appears to be a single lane and the road surface leading away from the bridge appears to be dirt. There appears to be road taking off to the right just past the bridge as well. It appears to be a desert setting.

Consider the same photograph with the caption:

 
This single-lane bridge at Canyon Diablo, AZ, was part of an early alignment of Route 66, allowing motorists to safely cross the canyon. The highway alignment and bridge, which to this day has a gravel surface and is used daily by locals, was later replaced by a more direct route through the area, bypassing both the canyon and a popular tourist stop known as Two Guns. AZ. The attraction featured a roadhouse, automobile camp, convenience store and a small zoo with “mountain lions”. Going from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 was originally cobbled together from existing roads and trails in the early 1920s. As better or more direct routes became available, the highway went through numerous realignments, especially in its early history.

 

Again, information provided in the caption has significantly added to the context and the understanding of the photograph. 


In each case, the caption writing shares a common approach:

  1. The visible subject of the photograph is specifically identified by name or description (this is referred to as the identifier)
  2. Supporting details or information about the specific subject is given
  3. Related information about the subject or something related to the subject is given.  

Many caption-writing tutorials will urge keeping the caption as short as possible so we could have "Mom and Dad at Bowie Raceway", "Uncle Jacob's old car" or "The Canyon Diablo Bridge". And while we might now have a name for the subject, we have little else. The object here is to make the caption part of the message or story that gives the reader a well-rounded understanding of the subject. In that vein, the length of the caption is not the issue - within reason. Some publishers/newspapers/magazines limit captions to a certain number of words under the belief that if the caption gets to long, the information should be contained in a story that would reference the photograph. That does not always work. While length is not a hard-and-fast issue, captions should be kept under 120 or 125 words out of consideration for the reader.

While naming the specific subject by name or description may seem to some restating the obvious, it really isn't. Doing so sets out the subject of the photograph by name rather than "unnamed couple", "old car", or "bridge" as would be the case with these examples. 

Supporting details included in the caption should not be obviously stated in the photograph. To say that Mom and Dad were seated at a table would be redundant. Unless there is something specifically unique about the paint or the color of the car, to say it is red is redundant. To say the bridge is concrete is redundant.

The related information included in the caption is designed to give the subject a broader context.

Just like the essay or the introduction to the book, remember, the key to writing a good caption is to be concise.

Recommended Software/services: The criteria here is that the software is open source or offered as free for personal, non-commercial or educational use, including non-profit organizations (i.e. schools, universities, public authorities, hospitals, etc.), and that it is natively multi-platform for Windows and Mac. Please remember that any Windows program will run on Mac OSx if you have Windows 10 running in Boot Camp. 

Book preparation and publishing:

LibreOffice 6, LibreOffice Writer. Free and open source software. Windows, Mac.

Writer is a well developed, mature application that, while acknowledging its word processing heritage, offers a wealth of page design and layout features. Writer is fully ODF compliant. For publishing the final document, Writer offers significant control over the .pdf creation process. There is a learning curve for this program when moving into the desktop publishing realm, but the results are well worth it. Download the office suite from - https://www.libreoffice.org/download/download/.

The idea behind this list is to present freely offered, open source, multi platform applications that are of use here. This recommendation gets away from that a bit...

Serif PagePlus. If you are interested in using a true desktop publishing application to produce photography books, there are both expensive and inexpensive choices out there. One of the very best is Serif PagePlus X9. The only problem is that Serif has devoted all of its resources to its new Affinity line and allowed PagePlus X9 to become a legacy application. PagePlus is still available for download from the Serif website at https://www.serif.com/en-us (scroll to the bottom of the page). The license is $19.99 as of this writing and is also available through the Serif website. It is available through other online outlets (prices vary). It is a Windows-only application but will run on Macintosh equipment under Boot Camp.

Book preparation and publishing (on line SaaS):

No longer recommended - while SaaS applications have made great strides for general use, continuing evaluation has shown that none offer the needed features or level of control for this level of production.

Photographic editing:

The GIMP 2.8. Free and open source software. Windows, Mac. Allows for the complete manipulation and editing of photographs. Similar to Adobe’s Photoshop. Download the program from https://download.gimp.org/mirror/pub/gimp/v2.8/windows/. Gimp 2.10, which is the latest version, is available from https://www.gimp.org/downloads.

As of this writing, Adobe continues to offer the complete Creative Suite 2 for free.  To download the complete program or any of the individual components - i.e. Photoshop CS2  -  go to https://www.adobe.com/downloads/other-downloads.html and follow the link to the CS2 download. Check the "I accept" box and then click the arrow by the language version you wish to download.  Don't forget to copy the serial number. 

Image viewers:

XnView MP. Proprietary software but offered freely. Windows, Mac. A very good, lightweight image viewer that offers basic but competent image adjustment, editing and resizing functions. If XnViewMP seems to be a bit shy on features, it appears to be in active development. It should be noted that there are some quirks in the user interface that take some getting used to. Download the program from https://www.xnview.com/en/xnviewmp/#downloads.

The idea behind this list is to present freely offered, open source, crpss-platform applications that are of use here. This recommendation gets away from that a bit...

FastStone Image Viewer. One of the best image viewers with image adjustment capabilities is the FastStone Image Viewer. The program has a wide range of image adjustment functions and supports a wide variety of image formats. It is currently freely offered  and is updated frequently. It is a Windows-only application but will run on Macintosh equipment under Boot Camp. It can be downloaded at http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm.  

File Synchronizing:

FreeFileSync lets you synchronize files between two folders or drives. You can  create an exact copy of the source folder, do a two-way synchronization that will copy new or updated files in both directions or use the "update mode" to copy only files that are new or have been changed from the source to the target. You can choose how to handle file deletions, sending them to the recycle bin or moving them to another folder.

PDF Reader:

While there are a number of .pdf readers available, FireFox and Chrome web browsers support .pdf files natively and work well for viewing files. It should be noted that as of this writing Chrome supports .pdf forms while Firefox does not. For printing .pdf files Adobe Acrobat Reader is  the recommended software as it is fully optimized for printing this file type.

Note: Acrobat Reader has become something of a bloated mess. It has problems opening larger files and will lock up occasionally, especially when used as the default reader/printer with a web browser. It will also lock up occasionally when printing larger files from a local directory. While it is still recommended, if you encounter these problems, Google Chrome is also recommended for viewing and printing. 

Online image hosting services:

Use of photo sharing sites, social media sites or portfolio sites is not recommended for a variety of reasons. There a number of free Joomla web hosting services available and these can be located by Googlingfree joomla hosting”. There is a learning curve to Joomla but there are plenty of online resources to help you. The results are well worth.

Recommendations for file formats:

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group, ISO standard format) device independent, extension - .jpg – compressed file format, use this file format for in-camera storage of images and display on the internet.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format, ver. 6.0, tiff/ep (tiff/electronic photography) is an ISO standard format) device independent, extension - .tif – non-compressed file format, use this file format for making image adjustments, printing, in documents used for creating PDF files and long-term storage.

BMP (Bitmap Image File, de facto standard) device independent, extension - .bmp – non-compressed file format, as an alternative to the TIFF file format, use this file format for making image adjustments and long-term backup.

PDF (Portable Document Format, ISO standard format) device independent, extension - ,pdf - compressed file format designed to present (in part) documents that combine text and images, general presentation is in standard pdf configuration while pdf/a or pdf/x configurations can be used for long-term archiving.

It is recommended that when you are photographing, store images in the JPEG format. If the camera being use offered a dual-save option (JPEG and its proprietary “raw” format) that option can be selected. For processing and storing, it is recommended that you convert either JPEG or raw files to the uncompressed TIFF file format. It is not recommended that the camera’s native raw format be used exclusively for long-term storage as these formats are both proprietary and device dependent.

Setting your book in LibreOffice Writer or Google Docs and then writing it to the .pdf format is obviously for downloading, printing and binding. For digital production it would seem that the options would be almost endless with all of the emphasis on e-Book delivery.

Unfortunately, that is not the case as most of the e-Book formats - e-pub and kindle dominate the market - do not support true fixed formatting conducive to works of photography. Although the .pdf format allows for text reflowing and some readers will adjust to the size of the device used for viewing the file this, is not the case with all readers. Setting the book in html using any of the advanced WYSIWYG editors can be a challenge especially when attempting to make the design responsive for the wide range of viewing devices. 

The best answer is to set the book in an advanced content management system with a responsive template. Knowing that that system will handle all of the different displays and all of the different browsers will allow you to concentrate on developing your work. 

The most popular content management systems are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. While all three are excellent systems and can be used, the choice here is Joomla which combines the somewhat simpler approach of WordPress with the more control-rich environment of Drupal. Both Joomla and Drupal are complete systems but if Joomla has any advantage it is in the content entry system that gives the user a more familiar word processor-like system for entering content.

Joomla is offered as part of the hosting package of many ISP's and Hosting services, it is part of the Softaculous script installation service many hosting services use. It is available free through several web hosts including Cloud Access.net and Zettahost. Simply register with the site and you can start using the system. (Please note that there is no endorsement of any service here and no endorsement should be implied or assumed. Also note that web hosting services reserve the right to change their terms of services at any time and at their discretion.)

There is a learning curve with any content management system and there are a number of tutorials on the Internet that can guide you through specific questions and provide help when you need it.

But – these tips can help you get a Joomla installation set up for our purposes. Please note that these tips apply to an absolute box-stock installation of Joomla 3.8. There are no additional modules, plug-ins or templates used. Also note that Joomla is an advanced content management system and it will take a bit of adjusting to get it to work appropriately for your needs here. (This actually looks a lot more difficult than it is given all of the options in Joomla!)

So-


Setting up Joomla for the on-line book…

When you are installing Joomla it will ask you for an administrator’s name and password. Since we will be setting up a user account in your name (yes, your real name!) for book production, it is recommended that you use “admin” or something suitable for the administrator’s account.

After installing Joomla, log into the administrator area (http://YourSiteName/administrator) to begin setting up Joomla for this use. Your log in will take you to the control panel.

The very first thing you want to do is go to the “Users” area to define a new user for the site. The administrator you created in the installation process is a super user and can do anything in the site but if you try to enter content through that account, the system will credit whatever is entered to “Administrator”. You will want to create an account in your name and assign it to the administrators group. This gives you a "content creator" account that will credit whatever is created to your name. You want to assign this account to the administrator group so that you have the flexibility to make changes in the system if needed without having to log out and then log back in as the administrator. After creating the user account return to the Control Panel.

Next, select the “Templates” area. Joomla comes with two templates pre-installed, Beez3 and protostar. You will be using the protostar template and it seems that it is selected by default on installation but just double check to make sure that the protostar template is selected as the default.

The next step is to control the look of the front page where all of your books will be listed. The default front page layout in Joomla is more of a magazine style which can be confusing to the reader and really limits your ability to list your books appropriately.

From the Control Panel go to Menus and then select “Main menu”. Select the “Home” link (it will be the only one there) and then select the layout tab which will allow you to address the layout of the page. Assure that the entry for the Number of Leading Articles is set to 1 then change the Number of Intro Articles to 10 (this will allow you to list and link to up to 10 books on the front page) and lastly change the Number of Columns to 1. Accept all of the other default settings. Next select the “Page Display” tab and change the "Show Page Heading" setting to No. Save and close the Menus area and go back to the Control Panel.


The text editor in Joomla is TinyMCE which is an excellent editor but in the stock installation is displayed in an extremely limited and, for this use, almost unusable form. To display TinyMCE in its full form go to Extensions and then select Plugins. Look for the entry “Editor – TinyMCE” in the plugins list and select it. This will take you to the page where you can edit how TinyMCE is displayed and the commands that are available. Under the area “Existing Sets of the TinyMCE Panel” select “Set 0”. In the “Assign This Set To:” box make sure that “Administrator” and “Super User” are entered. Save and close the Plug-In area. Return to the Control Panel.

There are only a couple of more things to do to get Joomla set up…

When any article is broken into multiple “pages”, Joomla creates a table of contents within the article. If there are only four or five pages, the table is not especially intrusive and can be managed. But if you have a fairly long story (that will break down to three or four pages) and 20 photographs each on a separate page, that is a table 22 to 25 entries long and can become extremely intrusive and should be turned off (or hidden it in Joomla parlance).

To turn off the table of contents select Extensions and then select Plugins. Look for the entry “Content – Page Break” and select it. Select “Hide” to turn off the table. Save the edit and return to the Control Panel.

You can now log out as the admin. You are ready to create your book for on-line reading.

Writing in Joomla…

Log into the administration area with your user name (the “writing” account you created in your name).

The first thing you need to do is upload the photographs you will be using in the book. This assumes that you have gone through the editing process to select the photographs and processed them for display. One thing to note here is that Joomla is a responsive system and that the display area on the protostar template is 700 pixels wide so, when processing your photographs set the width to 700 pixels including any borders, etc.


To upload your photographs, go to the Media area. Select “Create New Folder” and create a folder for the book you are working on. The folder name should be one word or, if two words are necessary, separate them with a underscore (for example let’s say this is a book on the 2017 family reunion, the file could be called “reunion” or “reunion_17”). Open the file and select “Upload”. As of this writing, you can choose up to 10 image files to upload. Click “Start Upload” and copies of the selected files will be uploaded to Joomla. After all of the files are uploaded return to the Control Panel.

Now you are ready to start putting your book together.

Select “New Article” and you will be taken to the text editor. The first thing you need to do is enter a title for the article. This can be the final title or a working title but something needs to be entered in the title box.

The text editor is much like any advanced word processor and there is a helpful tool tip that pops up when you hover the cursor over any give command or tool. The first thing you will want to write is a short summary of the article that will appear on Joomla’s front page. This can be 70 or 80 words and it can contain a small photogaph. At the end of this summary insert a “Read More” break. This will put the summary on the front page and create a link to the rest of the article. Write the rest of your article below the “Read More” break. If you have an essay-length piece use page breaks periodically. If you have a short introduction, it will most likely fit on one page. At the end of the essay or the introduction insert a page break.

Now to the photographs…

There is an icon in TinyMCE that will take you to the Media Manager where your photographs are uploaded. When the manager opens, go to the folder that has the images for your article and begin inserting them on separate pages. To do this select the photograph to insert and then select the Image Float (you will generally want to keep the float set to “Center” with a 700 pixel image) and click Insert. You can then write a caption  underneath the photo. When you are finished with that particular photograph and caption add a line return and then a Page Break. Continue adding photographs, captions and page breaks until all of your images are placed.


A word of advice – SAVE FREQUENTLY. You are working on line and although we often think of the on line environment as rock stable it can go down without warning and you don’t want to lose your work.

Once the book is completed and all of the proof reading is done, go to the "Options" tab of the text editor. Accept all of the default settings except the setting for "Show Intro Text" which you will want to change to "Hide". This will prevent the intro text from the front page from repeating in the body of the article.  You might also set the "Position of Article Info" to "Below".

The final step is to publish the article summary to the to the front page. If you haven’t changed to “Status” of the article, it should still indicate the article is published. Under the “Featured” selector, select “Yes” and the article will appear on your front page.

If you need to stop preparing your book and come back to it at a later time you can always find it in the list in the “Articles” area.