Intuitive interface and easy to use. Features Galore. Impressive User Guide. Exceptional value.
Limited photo sizing options. Manual needs to be updated.
ShutterBug v2.3.4 by XtraLean Software is one of those pleasant little programs that quickly earned a place in my Dock. An easy to use content building application, ShutterBug lets you create photo albums, photo journals, or any other type of web site in a hurry. It is just over five MB installed, so it certainly lives up to being extra lean.
My favorite applications are the ones that you can begin using immediately without any prior knowledge of the program or interface. With ShutterBug, I was able to set up and publish a practice web site to my .Mac account in minutes without any reference to the online help or manual. It is completely intuitive and the folks at XtraLean have obviously put a lot of thought into optimizing the interface.
ShutterBug Opening Screen
When you launch ShutterBug for the first time, you can name your site, and select an alternate location if you prefer not to accept the default, which is your home folder. You are then presented with the Content Editor interface. On the left is an elegant Navigation pane that behaves exactly as you might expect. Clearly identified pages, may be renamed, moved around, or deleted with ease.
The Three Necessities
ShutterBug emphasizes the three necessities for web site creation, which are clearly identified as separate tabs within the Content Editor interface: Content, Layout, and Preview. I found myself moving between all three often and easily.
When editing the master web site page, the Content tab features several different data fields such as Masthead, Footer, and a Password Protect Dialog phrase., if you want to employ password protection. When selecting any single page within the site, the Content tab presents a Page Text Contents field complete with the usual options for manipulating text, including underline, bold, italics, justification and text size. To add a hyperlink is simple; you just highlight the text to be linked, and then add the hyperlink to the Link field.
ShutterBug Content Tab Screen
Photos are added to your page by clicking on the iPhoto Library directory that automatically appears in the Navigation pane. When you select the Library, any albums you have created in iPhoto appear automatically. If you realize you don't have an album you need, simply create it in iPhoto, then press Refresh within ShutterBug.
The Preview provides a sample of what the page currently looks like, but I find that I prefer the Preview in Browser option so that I can see it in Firefox or Safari. While a preview feature within the site-building program is certainly useful, I've always preferred to see what my pages look like in an actual browser.
The Layout tab is where this program really shines. Changing almost any aspect of the layout is a simple drag and drop operation. For example, if you want to move an image, you simply drag it around with your mouse and watch the page text automatically wrap around your images. It's amazing how sophisticated is this little program, especially for the price.
As for image manipulation, it's all there. You can crop, rotate and zoom your photos, plus make filter adjustments, add watermarks, drop shadows, link caption text, and thumbnails. An example of the power of this program is the watermark feature. As a lifelong photographer, I've played around with the watermark feature in image editing programs, such as Adobe PhotoShop. Adding watermarks is time consuming, and you must then be careful to separate your watermarked and non-watermarked images so that you don't mix them up. What I really like about adding effects like watermarks in ShutterBug is that you can add, remove, or disable them at will via the Content management tab. For example, if you enable a watermark, to show a copyright on your images, removing it is as simple as selecting No Watermark.
ShutterBug Photo Controls
In addition to 26 themes that come with the basic installation, XtraLean offers registered users the opportunity to download at least 28 more themes from their special web site ShutterBug Land. These are really nice, very professional looking theme designs with enough variety to satisfy anyone. When you consider what it costs to hire a professional graphic artist to help design a site from scratch, ShutterBug is a remarkable bargain. The XtraLean Software and ShutterBug Land sites are created with ShutterBug, so go look to see a quick idea of what this program can do.
Publishing your Web site is absolutely painless. While I didn't try the FTP or WebDAV options, the .Mac option is simple. You enter your Username, Password, and folder name where you want to store it. A few seconds later, Voila! It's probably the easiest Web publishing I've ever experienced. You also have the option of publishing the entire site or just the pages that have changed since the last upload.
A few minor issues
As powerful as this program is, I would like more control over the size of thumbnail images displayed on the page and the linked larger images. I found the lack of flexibility with the image sizes a bit odd. I also found that the comprehensive online manual doesn't match the current version offered for download. That said, these are very minor issues given the otherwise outstanding features.
ShutterBug is a simple to use yet powerful web site creation program that is a remarkable bargain for $39.95, and like Macs in general, it just works! It would be a fine choice for almost any home or small business use imaginable. This is a highly recommended program.