I'm finishing up a personal site that I've spent many weekends on. I've left one of the (potentially) most complicated parts to the end of production. I'm looking for some advice on how to proceed with a fairly customized portfolio / gallery feature.

I'll note that I'm relatively new to wordpress, but not to building things with code (as3, javascritp, c#).

Use case looks like this:

User opens portfolio page, and a limited number (3 rows of 3) of thumbnail containers populate the screen. Thumbs are pulled in via ajax, and rollovers / effects are applied on the client side. Click of thumb floats a div over the page (ala fancybox). Div contains a larger image and then another hunk of markup detailing category tags, year, notes etc. Link in floated div opens folio item in a "project" page (a custom template), with this same, but perhaps expanded, information. In the long run, the user will have the choice of a few different presentation options, but this is where I'm starting.

The content is pretty varied, and so the format must be pretty flexible. Everything from single photos or illustrations, to a more complex breakdown and commenting of a completed project (web app or body of images, for example).

At the minimum, I need a data returned from query variables - and the easiest would be to just write up a static xml file/s and just run the whole thing via ajax. I could easily build the whole thing on the fly, client side, and just call it a day.

That being said, I would really like to integrate this content into wordpress and manage content dynamically. I've seriously considered rolling my own plugin to deal with data CRUD. I figure I need, at least one admin page, and then probably a couple of front facing templates for client side delivery. It would be nice to upload contents as well, but I can easily just use an ftp to do so.

So, first real question: how should I proceed with my first plugin, and what built in WP functionality can I leverage to make the process as smooth as possible (making use of the WP_query, or the post / page system, for example). Ultimately, I just need a basic data source / delivery system that I can extract via json or otherwise, and all my needs would be met.

Before I begin on one of these two build paths, is there a plugin that may suit my specific needs already? I've poked through Next Gen and the built in WP gallery, but I think they may not be flexible enough... it doesn't seem like it. I'm not concerned with a wealth of features as much as a reliable data creation / delivery system. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance -

  • Unless anyone has any insight, I think I'm going to dig into a custom plugin build. Still - would love any feedback.
    – Bosworth99
    Jun 2, 2011 at 14:37
  • 3
    I'm not sure if this will help, but I've created a wp-filebrowser plugin. Maybe there is something here you can use? dl.dropbox.com/u/27487320/wp-filebrowser.zip
    – Steven
    Jun 6, 2011 at 22:23
  • +1 for the Matsuo Basho haiku ;) Thank you - that does help. It's alway cool to introspect a functioning and well structured project. I spent the weekend (well - some of it) going through tutorials, just kind of piecemeal. Got so far as getting the plugin setup and registered with wp, built a new table on activation and a simple form to start inserting data. I've been considering the complete feature set now that I have a plan of action. At any rate your plugin should really help me figure out some of the complexities. Cheers!
    – Bosworth99
    Jun 7, 2011 at 2:13
  • Glad if it can help :) I know it contains a few bugs, but it does the job of relating images to a post / page.
    – Steven
    Jun 7, 2011 at 8:28
  • I would check out some of the portfolio or image related management plugins, like wordpress.org/extend/plugins/…. There are quite a few of these.
    – Wyck
    Aug 13, 2011 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


I think the best thing you could do is to take a look at others people WP plugins and themes.

Wordpress codex has a lot of info on developing plugins using ajax:


For the backend side of things, I think the best approach would be to use a custom post type for the portfolio items. Then, getting each item is a piece of cake using get_posts() or query_posts() function.

There are also some themes out there that have a portfolio system. You might check the Ozon Wordpress theme, for example. It is not free, though:


  • I will give you points for this answer. This is exactly what I ended up doing (a couple months ago, now). Cheers
    – Bosworth99
    Sep 7, 2011 at 15:09

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