I am looking for forum software with the following characteristics:

  1. Interact with forum either through web and email interface.

    (Like Google groups)

    Users can get all new messages, responses, emailed to them.

  2. User based photo albums, with comments/captions.

  3. Message composing system that allows embedded photos.

It is not sufficient for photos to be attached, as it becomes difficult to associate a photo with text if there is more than one or two. I want the user to be able to easily embed photo and caption into the flow of his text message. In this sense it is more like blogging software like wordpress.

#3 and #1 conflict, as email generally doesn't allow this control over composition. It is acceptable if #3 requires composing in the web interface. It is also acceptable if images have to be uploaded to an album first, and the message has a link.

  1. Support for Markdown style markup.

  2. Hierarchical forums OR tags.

  3. Persistent filters.

    E.g. a user can create a date 'window' called MyYears that says, tag={1987..2004} or tag={canoe|hike|chore}.

  4. Open source.

  5. Runs under Apache.

From previous trips down this path it takes several days to install and play with to get to the point where it is a go/no go response.


  • Runs on apache under linux.
  • Is NOT pay for service. Free or pay once.
  • Hierarchical:
    • Images belong to events
    • Events belong to albums.
    • Albums belong to categories.
  • Virtual albums: Based on metadata in images and in the database images can be assigned to virtual albums in addition to their defined hierarchical position. (In principle all albums can be virtual.)
  • Filters for users.
  • Bookmarks for users.
  • Comments can be made at the image, album, or event level.
  • Comments are threaded.
  • Mechanism to be notified about new comments at the Album, image and category levels.
  • Mechanism for comment moderation.
  • Moderation can be restricted to a subset -- e.g. Someone can be a moderator for an event that he took pictures for.
  • Themes are customizable, or there exist already a raft of them.
  • Good support forum.
  • Good examples of setups with at least 10,000 images.

So far I have looked at:


  1. Coppermine. To date I have not found a site with more than a couple hundred images. All the themes so far are ugly and their mother dresses them funny. (Specifically, images are a small fraction of each page, and pages look cluttered. )

  2. Zenphoto. Small number of themes. Documentation a mess of soundbyte articles, with no cohesion.

  3. Gallery. No active development. Last update nearly 3 years ago.

  4. 4images. Demo slow to load. Lots of management tools. No good looking sites. Non-english.

  5. PhpAlbum. Click on "Demo" link. Page not found. Questions in FAQ illustrate that it's not ready for prime time. No virtual albums.

  6. iGalerie. Web site and docs only in French.

  7. LinPHA. Last update 2013

There are a raft on sourceforge but most of these show one of

  • No active development.
  • Few downloads (= small user community)
  • No comment or virtual album support.
  • Obviously simple with limited customizability.

Perhaps I missed a gem here.


  1. Piwago. Currently my best pick. Still seeing if it is sufficiently customizeable.

  2. jAlbum. Multi-platform. Confusing range of products. Seems to be fully customizable.

What else should I be considering?***

Background: I have access to 100,000 pictures from a school archive. We want to post these in a way that will encourage alumni participation. The school ran over 40 years. Some students will be only interested in subsets of the images.

1 Answer 1


From what I saw using it briefly, I think ownCloud easily achieves #2 and #5–8 (see issue 1124 for tags), where the hierarchy is the directory tree.

There are some mentions of markdown in their code but I'm not sure; email notifications exist but I don't remember if one can also reply by email.

Depending on what you mean by "albums", this might be easier with a blog system such as Wordpress; except #1 and mass upload (also, thumbnailing is atrocious).

  • An album will usually be an event. E.g. One canoe trip, a chore day. Typically 100-300 images. In some cases, an event may be divided into sub events. Stories will mostly be attached to an event, but in some cases will be attached to a sub event, or an individual image. I'll check out ownCloud. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 21:07
  • One directory per event seems ok. I don't know if you can make a directory description which users can comment (then it would be almost like a blog entry).
    – Nemo
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 10:59
  • It's worse than that. Directories need to have comments -- possibly multiple ones. Users have to be able to respond to comments, and respond to responses. So each directory has to be the top end of a hierarchical comment tree. Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 13:28

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