NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery Widget

Explanation and examples of the NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery Thumbnail Widget

NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery Widget
June 20, 2011 Johan Peijnenburg
In Software


Early this year, I created this photography website by combining the image archiving and e-commerce capabilities of PhotoShelter and WordPress’s publishing platform.

One of things left on the list of things to do, was to add a thumbnail gallery to my blog’s sidebar of images recently added to my PhotoShelter image archive. I could obviously achieve something similar by manually adding recent images to a gallery and using a slideshow to display them. I wanted something more dynamic however, something that reads a RSS feed and displays the image thumbnails as found in the feed as a gallery.

While hunting for a standard solution, I decided to try and create a widget myself, geared specifically towards PhotoShelter. It’s never to late to learn something new and it actually worked out!
The NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery Widget was last updated on August 20th, 2011: version 1.5.4 now available for download (in this version the timthumb version used has been replaced to deal with a security issue)! Please also make sure to check out the new animation add-on for the widget.

What the widget does

The NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery widget creates dynamic thumbnail galleries of images recently added to a PhotoShelter archive. It does this, by reading either the general PhotoShelter RSS feed (for instance: ‘’), the RSS feed of a specific PhotoShelter Gallery or the RSS feed of a PhotoShelter search. The thumbnail galleries are automatically updated each time an image is made searchable respectively is added to a specific gallery at PhotoShelter.

The widget makes it possible to showcase galleries of recent images on web sites that run blog software like WordPress and Joomla, without having to manually update the gallery each time something changes on the PhotoShelter side of life. In addition, the widget does the following:

  • Add a header and description to the gallery, if these are specified.
  • Automatically add hyperlinks to the thumbnails that link back to the source images as archived at PhotoShelter.
  • Automatically add the IPTC title and photographer name to the “title” tag of the thumbnail. This title appears on hovering the thumbnail. It can however also be fixed for all images (for instance as “Image by NiO Photography”).
  • Automatically add the IPTC keywords of the original image to the “alt” tag of the thumbnail, to help improve SEO.
  • Style the gallery and its thumbnails via parameters or via CSS styles. It is for instance possible to:
    • Set the size of the thumbnails and specify if they need to be square or if you want to fix the height.
    • Determine whether a high quality thumbnail with a watermark should be used or a small lower quality thumbnail without a watermark.
    • Set the background color, border, width and padding of the thumbnail gallery as a whole as well as the background color, border, width and padding of each individual thumbnail.
  • Tentatively create a caption for each thumbnail based on the IPTC title or IPTC caption of the source image.

The widget can be used multiple times, based on different RSS feeds, on a single page.


The NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery widget is written in PHP and uses the PHP extensions SimpleXML and Xpath to read RSS feeds and TimThumb to process thumbnails. The widget can be installed on any domain server that supports PHP5 and Curl.

The widget was primarily designed for use with WordPress (in posts, pages and text widgets) as well as Joomla (in articles and modules). For both, a plug-in will need to be activated to enable the use of PHP. Obviously the widget code can also be included in any PHP document even if WordPress or Joomla are not used. In addition, it can be used on pages without PHP support, for instance PhotoShelter, by using an Iframe based approach (as long as the php code is hosted elsewhere).


Let’s have a look at some examples of what is possible with this widget:

Example with simple spaced squares in two rows

A simple gallery with the thumbs from the general PhotoShelter RSS feed in two rows with some spacing. The spacing can be eliminated.

Example of a gallery box with background color

A background color and borders are added to the thumbs in this example. The square thumbnails are crops of the original image. Images can be hovered to show the caption and photographer.

More images …

Example of a gallery with captions and more borders

A border is created around the widget and each thumb has a background color. In this case the IPTC title is used for the caption.

See more Not so Wildlife images

Example of a gallery with thumbnails with maximized height

A simple gallery with thumbnails which have been maximized on height.

Example of a gallery with rounded borders

An example of the use of CSS styles to further enhance the widget, for instance to round the borders of the gallery and the images, can be found here: Gallery with rounded borders.

Live implementations

I have included the widget on my Recent Work page.

You can also see the widget in action at:


The NiO PhotoShelter RSS Gallery Widget can be downloaded from our Download page:

Visit the Download page

If you like this widget and decide to use it, please donate, blog about it or provide a credit on your site with a link to my site (

Subscription discounts

If you are interested in using either PhotoShelter and want to sign up for a trial, please consider using the image button below to get yourself (and me) a discount …