Automatically Create Image Slideshows With the Full Screen Galleries Plugin

Earlier today, core WordPress contributor Nick Halsey released Full Screen Galleries, a plugin that automatically creates a full-screen slideshow when site visitors click on an image. The plugin works with all images, regardless of whether they are in a gallery block. It also supports both the classic and block editors.

Lightbox-type plugins are a dime a dozen. It is tough to wade through them to find the perfect solution. However, sometimes the simplest solution is the way to go. Halsey’s plugin has no settings screen, post metadata, or block options. It is plug-and-play. The only configuration is in activating the plugin itself.

Full Screen Galleries creates a slideshow-style overlay for all images located on a post or page. When a visitor clicks on one, the full-screen slideshow takes over the page.

Popup overlay of an image slideshow with arrows for navigation.
Slideshow overlay from Full Screen Galleries.

Halsey has a demo page on his site where potential users can see the plugin in action.

There are more advanced options out there. Some show EXIF data, create transition effects and other types of animation, and offer a boatload of customizable settings. However, I prefer the simplicity of something that I can activate and forget. Over the years, I have come to appreciate these types of plugins more and more. They let me get back to focusing on the parts of my sites that I care about.

Full Screen Galleries also figures out the full-sized image URL automatically. If a gallery uses thumbnail-sized images and links to the attachment page, the slideshow will still display it in full.

Each slide outputs forward and back arrows to scroll between the images. In the top left corner is an exit button. In the top right, the plugin outputs a northeast arrow button that links to the original image. It also displays the image caption if it is available.

For many users, this is all they need. I am particularly interested in it because it works well with classic content. Many of the sites I am involved with have years of galleries from the pre-block era.

One of the downsides is that the plugin relies on jQuery. The plugin’s code has a small footprint, but jQuery has grown into a bit of a beast over the years and is becoming less and less relevant with more recent features of modern JavaScript. For many WordPress sites, this may be a non-issue because their theme or some other plugin is already loading the jQuery library. This plugin will be a lightweight addition. For others who are keeping it lean, they might want to seek out alternative solutions.

Regardless, this plugin is going into my toolbox, ready to pull out when I need it. Overall, it is a dependable version 1.0.

10 responses to “Automatically Create Image Slideshows With the Full Screen Galleries Plugin”

  1. You know who needs this the most? The Plugin Directory. Would be an EXCELLENT way to see all screenshots of the plugin without leaving the page like it does currently.

    • The thing about these kinds of lightbox galleries is that they’re frequently not accessible. I haven’t tested this particular one, but any time a pop up or modal opens screen reader users need to be warned, the focused should be trapped in the modal, and keyboard users need a way to close it. From the perspective of accessibility, opening screenshot images directly on click rather than in a lightbox is actually better. It means that if a visually impaired person accidentally triggers the image, they can easily return to the plugin page with the back button in their browser. If the image opened in a lightbox it would not be as easy for them to recover (without a lot of attention is put into accessibility of the lightbox). This is one instance when it’s probably worth the inconvenience to us sighted/mouse users – we actually made the same decision with the screenshots on our plugin website because of accessibility.

      • This plugin places specific emphasis on keyboard accessibility. There are four ways to close the modal: esc key, close button, tab back out of the modal, or tab through the end of the modal. Focus is restored on the corresponding image link in the content whenever (and however) the modal is closed. There is also a link to the full-size image from the modal, even when the image in the content is not linked there. If you notice any specific accessibility issues or bugs in this behavior, please report them on the plugin support forum.

  2. This is REALLY cool and exactly what I’ve been looking for! Awesome plugin.

    The other downside, in addition to loading jQuery, is that each image in the gallery is duplicated for the lightbox. It would be cool if the author found a way to not load all the images twice.

  3. Thanks for featuring this plugin, Justin. It’s been on my wishlist/to-do list for several years and I finally blocked out enough time to put together a 1.0. I think the approach that I ended up is actually more efficient than I had originally envisioned.

    Interestingly, this is the most internally-complex plugin that I’ve created in several years. The layers of attempts to maximize compatibility for older content, accessibility, and speed, are well worth the resulting simplicity. The best plugins tend to be as simple as possible. The jQuery dependency is more of a shortcut than a specific need. Fortunately there aren’t any other external library dependencies. The script is set up with the potential to transition to pure JS in the future, especially if there’s demand for that adjustment.

  4. “One of the downsides is that the plugin relies on jQuery. The plugin’s code has a small footprint, but jQuery has grown into a bit of a beast over the years and is becoming less and less relevant with more recent features of modern JavaScript. For many WordPress sites, this may be a non-issue because their theme or some other plugin is already loading the jQuery library.”

    This is a major chicken-egg problem in the WordPress ecosystem, especially once the SEO penalties for poor Core Web Vitals scores start to kick in. There needs to be a push for plugins/blocks to stop depending on it, especially for relatively simple functionality like form validation.

  5. I tried this plugin and came across serious issues with it displaying black images and not hiding my menu bar. The support from the author was less than helpful suggesting a CSS issue with the theme. I thought the plugin instructions for authors suggested that the plugin use unique tags to prevent this sort of issue. I was hoping that this plugin would do what I wanted but unfortunately i have had to uninstall it.

Newsletter

Subscribe Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: