• Editor Rating
  • Rated 2 stars
  • 40%

  • NextGEN Gallery PRO
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: June 24, 2016
  • Installation & Setup
    Editor: 60%
  • Design & Interface
    Editor: 70%
  • Features
    Editor: 70%
  • Function
    Editor: 20%
  • Value For The Price
    Editor: 5%

The NextGEN Pro Review is a premium WordPress plugin that provides customizable image galleries.

Introduction

When I started this website just under a year ago, I was in search of a solid image gallery plugin for WordPress. I'd be building thousands of webpages with this plugin manually integrated throughout them so I knew the decision was important and was not the type of situation where I could easily switch to a different plugin in the future. Throughout my research, I came up with a plugin called NextGEN Gallery which then only offered a free version and was the most popular, top-rated plugin in existence and best of all, it had been around for over 6 years. This means the developers were dedicated and it should stay relevant for years to come. In fact, the plugin had over 7.5 million downloads which makes it one of the most WordPress popular plugins of all time, let alone the most popular gallery plugin.

Downloading & implementing the plugin was a breeze and it was one of the smoothest experiences with a WordPress plugin to date. I was thankful I decided to choose this plugin as it only took a few months before I had already uploaded thousands of pictures and inserted their shortcodes on thousands of individual webpages. When I received an email in July stating they had updated to the new, improved NextGEN 2.0 and also began offering a NextGEN PRO plugin, it immediately peaked my interest, I liked what I saw, and decided to buy it. Little did I know, the original plugin developer sold to an inexperienced company and my positive experience with NextGEN was about to change drastically. The rest of this review covers my personal experience using the plugin thus far, I suggest you read it in its entirety if you have any intention of purchasing this plugin!

Installation & Setup

Installing NextGEN Gallery PRO was a bit of a hassle as it isn't a simple straight-forward installation like it usually is. First off, NextGEN PRO requires you to have the NextGEN Gallery 2.0 or higher so first you need to install that plugin or update it if you have an older version. Then you need to find your login details (which are sent to the email you purchased under) and log into a WP site to get the download link for NextGEN Gallery Pro. Once you download the plugin files locally, you need to use your plugin's management portion of your WordPress website to upload/install the .ZIP file. After this is complete, you need to verify your license key and update to the latest version of PRO which takes you to an alternative update screen instead of the traditional WordPress plugin updating page.

NextGEN Gallery Pro Update Page

NextGEN Gallery Pro Update Page

If you've performed all the steps correctly, the plugin will be up and running although this doesn't mean it will be functioning properly (see “function” segment of this review for more information).

Features

The following is taken straight from the NextGEN Gallery page in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory:

NEXTGEN GALLERY 2.0: MAJOR UPDATE IN JULY 2013. We released a major update and overhaul to NextGEN Gallery in July 2013. NextGEN Gallery 2.0 presents a completely reworked interface, both for the central options panel and for adding galleries to pages and posts. It's dramatically more powerful and flexible.

INTRODUCING NEXTGEN GALLERY PRO. Along with NextGEN 2.0, we're happy to announce a “Pro” upgrade to NextGEN. NextGEN Pro offers 6 new gallery displays, including Pro Masonry, Pro Filmstrip, Pro Film, Pro Thumbnail Grid, Pro Slideshow, and Pro Blogstyle galleries. It also includes a responsive, fullscreen, mobile-friendly Pro Lightbox with commenting and social sharing for individual images within galleries. And it includes premium one-on-one email support for both NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro.

NextGEN Gallery PRO offers some pretty awesome features or so it seems from sale page. You get the ability to implement responsive image galleries within your WordPress posts and pages as well as have access to one-on-one support. The 6 new gallery displays you have access to with a PRO subscription include:

Additionally, you get a fullscreen, responsive light box that offers swipe support (mobile devices), commenting, social sharing, and deep linking capabilities. On paper, these features and components that the NextGEN Gallery PRO plugin advertises seem well worth it and frankly it looks like an awesome improvement to the previous generation of the NextGEN Gallery plugin. Unfortunately, some things in life are too good to be true and in this case, NextGEN Gallery PRO is one of them. You'll see exactly what I mean in the next section!

Function

To sum this up in a short summary: the NextGEN Gallery 2.0 and PRO plugins are the perfect example of great products that were completely ruined by a buyout. A recent user review on their WordPress.org directory page summed it up quite well in his own words:

“My guess is that the development of this plugin should be immediately suspended or given into the hands of more experienced people. For all of this I can blame original developer Alex, who allowed this. However, his work was excellent…Honestly, I'm sorry that this is a good plugin that ended up in the hands of incompetent programmers.” 
-Castbound (WP User Review) 9/29/2013

Updating to NextGEN Gallery 2.0 and PRO was single handedly the worst mistake I've made with this website to date. A simple update of the plugin changed the user experience dramatically resulting in all of this website's elements that used javascript or jQuery to become broken, a huge increase in the amount of processes taking place on the backend (server-side) which made page loads dreadfully slow, and the removal of all galleries that used legacy shortcodes (basic shortcodes that were supported pre-NextGEN Gallery 2.0). Dealing with this dramatic change in functionality/performance was frustrating and I guess the old saying goes “if it isn't broke, don't fix it”.

Before NextGEN Gallery 2.0 & Pro

Here is what my homepage looks like running NextGEN Gallery 1.9.13 (no PRO):

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 7.54.19 PM

Here is what a sample review should look like:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 7.55.52 PM

Here is what a existing NextGEN gallery (using legacy code) should look like:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 7.58.01 PM

After NextGEN Gallery 2.0 & Pro

Here is what my homepage looks like running NextGEN Gallery 2.0.30 (with PRO) :

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 7.54.37 PM

Here is what a sample review looks like:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 7.56.06 PM

Here is what a existing NextGEN gallery (using legacy code) looks like (aka it completely disappeared):

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 7.58.28 PMIt turns out I wasn't the only one with these issues as nearly all the hundreds of reviews since the update are a one star “don't update to 2.0 or PRO” style review:

WordPress › Support » NextGEN Gallery

The outcry of disgruntled NextGEN Gallery users who were loyal to the plugin up until Photocrati's takeover was so overwhelming it lead to two significant things to happen:

1) Photocrati added this warning to the NextGEN Gallery website:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 8.10.21 PM

2) Photocrati's President issues “Open Letter to the NextGEN Community“:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 8.13.30 PM

The NextGEN Gallery buyout was a massive loss for WordPress site owners and is equally becoming a nightmare for Photocrati as the developers themselves. They have dug themselves into such a deep hole at this point that it will take a miracle for them to save their reputation and the reputation of the NextGEN plugin in the future. Luckily, us users can revert back to an old site backup (that's running NextGEN Gallery 1.9.3 or earlier) or simply download and replace the NextGEN Gallery Pro 2.0 plugin by downloading an older version via this link.

Conclusion

In the end, I found the NextGEN Gallery Pro plugin to be a complete and utter train-wreck. The sale from the original developer to Photocrati really took a drastic change for the worst and now causes the “updated” version of the plugin to be virtually unusable. I gave it some time, before I wrote this review of Photocrati to fix the initial bugs however 3 months is long enough and with no end to the issues in sight. It's too late for us to get our refund back, but I hope I can at least save anyone reading this article from wasting their money with NextGEN Gallery PRO or wasting their time with NextGEN Gallery 2.0. I suggest staying far away from the newer version of this plugin (as well as Photocrati) and you'll thank me in the long run!