Adventures in Tabblo

I noticed that Tabblo is one of Techmeme‘s sponsors this month.  Tabblo has a blog where you can learn more about it.  Since I am an avid user of Techmeme, I want to support the service by checking out its sponsors from time to time.

So here goes, in real time.  I do real time reviews by writing them as I go.  If I miss something, it gets missed in the review just like it does when I’m using the product.

First, Tabblo has a Web 2.0 sounding name, which I don’t like.  But it’s “blo” name allows for less abuse than Weblo.  So it has that going for it.

Signup was as easy as possible.

Now I have to fully understand what Tabblo does.  From the FAQ:

A tabblo is a collection of photos and words brought together by a stylized template that can be customized to your heart’s content. A tabblo lives at a permanent URL and can be private, accessed by whoever you invite, or public for the whole world to see.

Tabblo doesn’t have ads, which is wonderful.  The FAQ says they make money by selling the posters and other stuff you can buy (more on that below), and that Tabblo will introduce premium services in the future.

We went to the Texas Renaissance Festival a few weeks ago, and I took a bunch of photos.  Sounds like a good subject for a tabblo.

There are a bunch of ways to upload your photos- browse (slow, as always), a Java uploader, a Flash uploader and, oh happy day, an integrated Flickr import.  I’ll eventually use the integrated Flickr tool the most, but let’s try the Java uploader.

The Java uploader seems pretty quick, but there’s no way to view your photos as thumbnails.  Let’s try the Flash uploader.

It seems ever faster, and it allows you to see the thumbnails.  The box is tiny on my computer which makes it hard to select the best photos, but it works well enough.  I wish you could drag and drop from Windows Explorer, but you can’t.  I uploaded 18 photos in about 23 minutes.  You can set the privacy levels and tags before you upload.

All in all, the uploading functions are pretty good.  Since I will likely use the Flickr import function more than the direct uploading, my uploading experience will probably get easier in the future.  I wish Tabblo had a Zooomer import feature.  Thomas Hawk had pretty good things to say about Tabblo.

Now to make my tabblo.

When your photos are uploaded, you are prompted to make a tabblo out of them.  I named mine “Texas Renaissance Festival.”  I had to log back in to see the results, but once I did, my photos showed up in the work space.  The first step is to pick the photos for the tabblo.  Since I did that after the upload, my photos were already in place.  You can drag the photos to reorder them.

Then, you click on “Make Tabblo” and are prompted to select a style.  There are several to choose from.  I chose Magnolia.

Next you get an opportunity to edit your tabblo.  You can add and edit captions.  I didn’t like the way they looked, so I chose not to show captions on my first tabblo.  I like the way it looks when you add text to a separate area better.

After all was said and done, here is my first tabblo.



After you make a tabblo, you can purchase posters, postcards and prints from Tabblo.

I configured a 16″ x 20″ poster for my tabblo, which I can buy for $19.95.  In the preview format, my text runs over into the photos below, likely because of the text size I use in Firefox, so this probably doesn’t occur on the final product.  The preview box says “posters have been scaled for viewing on this page,” but it was still a little disconcerting not to know for sure whether the text would display properly on the final product.  In the interest of fairness, many, many pages on the web display goofy when you increase the text size beyond a certain point.  I have a 24 inch monitor running at it’s native 1900 x 1200, so I use the excellent Text Size Toolbar extension to jack up the text size.  You can configure a poster of the photos only, which solves the problem, to the extent one exists.

I have ordered posters from QOOP, via Flickr, and have been very impressed with the quality.  If the Tabblo posters are of similar or better quality, then most buyers will be delighted.

My initial impressions are that Tabblo is a pretty cool application, that likely has more features than I have discovered so far.

I’ll play around with it some.  Will it become a regular tool for me?  It’s too early to tell.  But so far I like what I see.

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