WordPress Free Panorama Plugin Testing

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I see panoramic 360/180 pictures as an extremely useful tool for Facility Management. As an Architect who goes to site to capture information on existing buildings and sites, the frustration of having a photo cut off just where you wanted to see something just outside the normal picture frame, usually requiring a 2nd visit to site to check on that issue, I think panoramas are brilliant.

I have since used it as a standard tool for site visits.

Drawbacks are that you need a special viewer to view them. But once setup they are handy. They are particularly useful in small spaces where a normal photo only captures a small area of wall instead of the whole wall (eg a small toilet or cubicle)).

So for Facilities Management, for surveying an existing building, you need less photos and get a lot more information.

I link these images to a PDF or an Image so that you can easily reference where you are in a building. They are great for referencing. So I started to look at online viewers.

Seeing this article where:

“Visitors to uniquelynelson.co.nz can now “walk into” 168 shops and businesses to see what’s on offer.

The “virtual walkthrough” of the city centre allows visitors to peruse the CBD’s streets, and click on bubbles called “hotspots” which take them into stores, or establishments like the Suter Art Gallery, or information centre.”

This is the website link. Although I note that the panorama hotlinks have now been disabled (They were enabled at the time of the article, there would be a small image within the panorama and if you clicked it it would take you into that panorama space (with a backlink image to the first panorama))). The actual demo link to a bar is here.

When I looked at the data of the website, I saw that it referred to a ipanorama plugin.

And looking at the actual panoramas on the browser showed that there were several viewing options

The page source below with the ipanorama plugin

So this got me interested in looking at WordPress free plugins that would allow you to put panoramas in your website.

As an aside, in the quoted information above about the Suter Art Gallery in Nelson, I noticed that you could see panorama views of this in Google Maps,

Not quite sure of cost or how you get your panoramas up into Google Maps.

You can keep them client side- look at this example. and click on arrows as shown in image below.

 

If you search for wordpress plugins panoramas, follow link to see options.ย  A lot of these are paid versions, but a lot haven’t been updated in a while.

On looking for plugins I came across this gentleman’s blog, where he has tested a couple of free Panorama viewers, The Photo Sphere and WP VR View. His conclusion was with the WP VR Viewer, but in my opinion it has less features, such as allowing for auto rotate and Zoom which the Photo Sphere viewer has, so I’d go with the latter. I haven’t, but I note that he discussed compressing panoramas to speed up load time, which has some relevance to page and image load times

From reading and discussing with others, the photo sphere viewers can do a few things, mainly I think in the paid versions.

  1. Link panoramas together, so while in one panorama, you can click on, say a door (where there is an icon/image) and that takes you to another panorama in the next room
  2. Clean up the tripod/stand so that you get a full 306/180 panorama without the tripod showing
  3. Several viewing options, see the 2nd image above, which shows VR Mode/Full Screen/ Projections & Zoom
  4. Embed an information button into the panorama ( see 2nd image above , the little white spot with the “i”. Clicking on this will give you more information or a URL link, handy for linking to more data.
  5. The image above also shows a map with the location peg on where the photo is taken.

The actual panoramas

These are with Photo Sphere. The nice thing about this plugin is that it does not load your panorama straight away, this certainly speeds up page load, which is a really good feature of this plugin.

Low Res. Click on Black line element below to open up the panorama.

High Resolution 13MPx (about 4 Mb file). Click on Black line element below to open up the panorama.

The ipanorama 360ย  lite free version ones seem to freeze the web page. This was noted 10 months ago in a review (of 3) and the free version update has not been repaired, it seems, as I cannot seem to get it to work either, even though it was supposed to be updated 3 months ago.ย  This would not encourage me to even consider the paid version.

[ipanorama id="1044"]

The gPano plugin uses Google Street View to show a streetview on your web page. This is a good overview tool to have for your building as it also shows the map. I think I will trial this on my Property Management site for properties (see this blog)

I also found this BLOG a useful starting reference for panoramas, and I may explore the product panoramas, where you can have the product rotate 360 degrees, that is quite interesting. A good way to explore the outsides of buildings.

End Thoughts

I think that the free panorama plugins are pretty limited compared to the paid versions which seem to have quite a few extras. That said, for a property management site the free panoramas are more than adequate.

If a client had specific needs regarding panorama visualisation then that would be a separate exercise to choose an appropriate paid app.

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