I crit failed my web design roll.
July 14, 2014 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone provide pointers for setting up a robust digital image archive on the cheap?

I’ve been trying for the past few months (on and off during my highly limited free time) to figure out a new gallery/hosting solution for PlaGMaDA that will allow us to have a more professional looking site that is also (and this part is critical) easier to add content to and update. The current setup is using software that requires image uploads on an image by image basis and is running on a seven year old PHP/SQL stack with a hosting situation that doesn’t allow us to use archive-standard images due to extremely limited storage.

In the pleasant brightness of the future, we hope to have the archive integrated with an archival database using Omeka with plenty of storage and (somehow) at a very low cost as our resources are limited.

But we’re not in any shape for that now, and the reality is that we’ll need to have an intermediate web presence that allows for the increased storage needs anticipated with archive-standard images, but is just going to make them available to be seen as a gallery. I’m trying to figure out this intermediate setup and I’m at a loss. I’m an IT guy, but my expertise is as a sysadmin and I make back end systems work. I haven’t done web stuff in any serious way since the time when hand coded HTML was the professional standard. I’m not at all educated on how is webby made these days and everything I look at seems like a precarious stack of rube goldbergian trainwreck waiting to happen.

What I was hoping to do is get PlaGMaDA set up with its own google account and use drive as the storage vehicle for our images, and then just have those pulled into gallery templates from a blogging or web hosting service that provides front end services. That doesn’t seem to be offered yet anywhere, at least not in a way I can easily build myself. I’m considering flickr now, as they also provide a enough free storage to suit our needs, and perhaps that’ll work more smoothly.

If I got everything I ever wanted, we’d be able to find an omeka solution that integrates the archives db from omeka with something like flickr or google drive, but I’m not holding my breath for that quite yet. For now, it’d be enough to be able to set up a gallery system that looks good and pulls from a cloud provider that I can do batch uploads to. I’d love to see a setup that resembles my target, but even getting some pointers on where to go to build something stable would be great.
posted by ursus_comiter to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to end up at Omeka with plenty of storage, I think it makes most sense to go straight there. PlaGMaDa seems to have 1417 images right now - if you store those as 8.5x11" PNG files at 300 DPI, you're looking around 5-6 MB per image. Say, generously, 10 GB/month of storage on Amazon S3, which comes to 30 cents a month. Data transfer is .12/GB, and I'm guessing that you're probably pushing under 20 GB/month, so you're well under $10/month total to host your archive. If you have folks wanting to pull down the full archive, offering a BitTorrent download would keep that cost down.

I don't know Omeka, but it seems to support S3 natively, so that would mean no need to spend hours dinking around with Flickr/Google Drive trying to get ten bucks worth of storage for free. You could host the web and database components on whatever hosting you can get - PHP/MySQL hosting is widely available and probably free for the asking for your project. If I'm reading your question and interpreting what I'm seeing on the PlaGMaDa site correctly, I think that would be everything you need, right?
posted by pocams at 8:05 PM on July 14, 2014

Response by poster: We're actually sitting on a lot more material that is either waiting to be scanned or has been scanned but not uploaded and you're about 1/3 the size per image that we'd consider up to standard for archives. We're aiming for 600 dpi. The costs for Amazon scale up quickly past our tiny budget.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:16 PM on July 14, 2014

If you're looking for the cheapest possible solution, and you don't care about users "leaving" your site, Flickr seems like the most reasonable option to me. You could then use the API to make your front page show the most recent images, etc. I'm not sure how much the Flickr TOS will let you abuse said API though.
posted by neckro23 at 9:03 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

How much data are you actually talking about? You can get 200GB of disk/3TB transfer in a ramnode VPS for $10 a month (and much less if you find a coupon on lowendbox.com, I got the 120GB disk cached ssd plan for $4 a month).

When I used gallery, I did batch uploads by scp'ing the files to a directory on my VPS and then pointing the upload page at the directory rather than filling out the form for every file.
posted by Poldo at 9:22 PM on July 14, 2014

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