Price: £269 plus VAT
ImageZoom 2.0 from Swedish developer Scalado is a Java or Flash Web-site image-authoring system that can quickly set up a ‘slideshow’ sequence of linked images with a choice of transitions, views, and contextual text changes.
It can import high-resolution originals, and then interpolate and re-save them at Web resolutions for fast downloads. ImageZoom is also well suited to the emerging market for next-generation mobile phones and PDAs with low-resolution screens and minimal-
The clever bit is that you can zoom smoothly into small, predefined areas within each image to see more detail. Hotspots and arrow navigation buttons are generated automatically, but you can also set up text menus.
A typical application might be a sales Web site for a car or (as here) a camera, with shots taken from each side, front, and back. Arrow keys navigate between them, with a transition effect that simulates 3D rotation (other transition options are slide, flip, and fade). When you click hotspots in the images, the view zooms, and the relevant caption appears. Text menus can jump you straight to views elsewhere – it’s intriguing to watch the image automatically zoom out of the current view, rotate around several images, then zoom into another detail.
Setting up a basic multi-image and zooming sequence is easy, though switching between the Zoom and Navigation windows is tedious, and filling in all the link, text and data fields accurately is fiddly if you’re including dynamic captions and menu links. There's a preview window for quick tests, or you can preview in a Web browser.
Original images all have to be exactly the same size. Zoom views are created by dragging a selection over the part of the image you want to enlarge – this is the same shape as the parent image, but can be a different orientation, so the image rotates as it zooms. Hotspots display as outlines, and can be linked to other images or URLs. You can optionally apply a second ‘image mask’ overlay.
Learning the basics is easy, though you’ll have to set aside some time to give the manual a careful reading.
A project is exported as an HTML page; JPEG files for each view; and the Java viewer or .SWF file. You can optionally publish a project via FTP to a remote server.
ImageZoom 2.0 introduces Mac OS X compatibility, though my copy refused to load original images of four megapixels and above – curiously, the Windows version didn’t have this problem. The Windows version can link to databases (any ODBC), and an example Access database is supplied to run through a Microsoft IIS Web server.
ImageZoom 2.0 isn’t the only zooming program on the market, and it isn’t perfect, but it does provide a quick and easy way of publishing collections of images with sophisticated effects. Scripting experts should be able
to really make it fly.