Saturday, June 17, 2006


Tabblo, brain child of Ned Batchelder is a new photos-sharing Web 2.0 app which is similar to flickr and zooomr. Tabblo however is different in a way as it allows tabblo-users to publish photo-pages called 'Tabblos'. Why the wierd name and what it means I have no idea, but it does seem to cater to solving one interesting problem which people have faced with photo-sharing services on the Web and that is "How do I structurize my photostreams ?". Well flickr has a concept called photosets wherein the user can club a number of photos to make a set but still that doesn't convey much. What if I want to have a commentary style photoset ? flickr doesn't provide me that. I could also write a blog entry and pull in flickr photos, but that's trying to get two minolithic web-apps to behave well with each other and usually involve lot of low-level stuff like getting the flickr url and using it in the blog-entry, possible but not usable. Trying to create a simple way to write commentaries for photosets is exactly the problem that tabblo is trying to solve.

The Service

Before I show you how a tabble looks like, some information (mini-review ?) about the website. The web-site is written in django, a web-framework written in python. The site has that Web 2.0 AJAX-y look and feel to it. The site however seems to be slow , which could either be due to python or due to the large amount of asynchronous processing (AJAX) happening in the background. If you don't have a fat pipe to the internet, forget it, stuff seems to be taking ages. Enough of Tabblo bashing, some good points. It has seemless integration with flickr and that's what really matters as I don't want to be re-uploading all my photos to a new web-service often. I would much prefer if my data can be shared by web-services easily (that's another topic for another day). Anyway, it managed to integrate with flickr without any problems , I didn't even have to give it my flickr(yahoo) login crdentials, guess it look them from the flickr cookie. It managed to get the first 20 photos and the rest of my 250+ photos seem to taking time appearing on the tabblo website. My tabblo photos can be seen here.

Creating Tabblo's

Creating Tabblo's is very important as the USP of the site is creating personal mash-up's of photosets. This however can sometimes get to be a usability problem. The site's "BETA" tag is very much evident as the interface can do with some performance tuning. The current interface is so clunky and at times it's almost unusable due to the heavy AJAX involved. It however tries to be a full blown webapp but like all web-apps this one seems to be slow and un-responsive at times. It is however a beta so I guess this is expected.

OTOH, The site provides templates (much like the templates) for the tabblo's and some pretty good layouts are available for the user to choose from while creating the tabblo. The tabblo creation process however could be time consuming depending on the number of photos you want to display. The UI comes with a irritating sidebar which follows you when you scroll down the page. It can however be made to go away with the help of a click. The biggest problem is that each "action" you perform on the tabblo is accompanied by a server-request messagebox which tends to slow up the thought flow of the user. There also seems to be another usability problem, if I'm editing a taboo and I navigate away from the edit page, and return back to the edit page(back button) all my edits are lost. It would be a good idea if each edit can be saved on the server during the "message-box" process. I managed to make a tabblo of Roslyn Chapel. You can view it here.

Tabblo on the whole looks promising. But there are lot's of usability issues due to the AJAX jazz and that could turn off people who have a low level of patience. I will however be using tabblo to share some interesting pictorial stories. For updates on tabblo you can subscribe to the tabblo blog.

Technorati Tags: tabblo, beta software, web 2.0, flickr, photo sharing, web apps, roslyn chapel, cool, django, python


At 5:32 PM, June 17, 2006, Anonymous Ned Batchelder said...

Thanks for the review. Tabblo isn't my brainchild, it was started by Antonio Rodriguez, and I've been lucky enough to work on it.

I'm sorry you found the site slow. We've been making gradual improvements in the snappiness of the site. It's quite a challenge bringing rich interactivity to the web, I hope we can meet your expectations.

The back button is a particularly tricky issue. In fact, every edit is saved to the server as you work on your tabblo (one of the reasons for all the round-trips). When you use the back button, the browser shows you the page as it first loaded. So it looks like your edits are lost. But in fact, if you reload after going back, you will see they are all still there.

Thanks for using Tabblo, and for writing about it!

At 1:01 PM, June 18, 2006, Anonymous Prashanth said...

oh btw... google is coming out with their own flickr clone called Picasaweb (probably well integrated into picasa ;-)). The die hard google fan that I am, I couldn't resist not posting this :D

At 6:08 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Kasto said...

Hey Tabblo is cool!! Especially I liked the "Integrate with Flickr" facility. More merry, it seems to have a plugin for Picasa as well :-). Will give it a try sometime.

Only downside, site is very slow. It tested my patience on an even slower Internet connection!! :-(.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. My Way My blog. Toufeeq Hussain