Super-Easy Angular Image Gallery

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series: AngularJS Learning Series

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Learning Angular has been a fantastic experience so far. I’ve been consistently surprised at the results I can get from a screenful of code. This week’s Image Gallery experiment was no different. Before I get into the particulars, let’s take a look at the finished product:

[iframe src=”″ height=”565″ width=”675″]

If you check out the source app.js on that example you’ll notice that the JavaScript adds up to about 25 lines of code, half of which are dedicated to loading and setting the data source. Yes, there’s some CSS3 transition coolness thrown in, but even that is minimal.

So How Does It Work?

The gallery is made up of three sections: the main image, the caption, and the thumbnails. If you compare the main image section and the thumbnail section you’ll see that they’re very similar. The main difference being the size of the image how many of the image you can see:

<div class="mainimageshell">
    <div class="viewwindow">
        <ul id="fullscroller" class="fullsizelist" ng-style="listposition" >
            <li ng-repeat="image in galleryData">
                <img id="fullsize" class="large" ng-src="{{image.image}}" />

<div class="captionshell">
    <p class="caption">{{selected.desc}}</p>

<div class="thumbsshell">
    <div class="thumbswrapper">
            <li ng-repeat="image in galleryData">
                <div class="thumbwrapper">
                    <a ng-href="" ng-click="scrollTo(image,$index)">
                        <img class="thumbnail" ng-src="{{image.image}}" />

If you were to comment out the overflow line of the viewwindow class you would see all of the images lined up side by side, just like the thumbnails.

When iterating over the data using ng-repeat, $index will reflect the zero-based index of each item. Since we’re looping over the same data, the index for both the large image and the thumbnail will be the same. This allows me to multiply the index by the width of the images to arrive at the new positioning for the large image list. Once I specify the new positioning, my CSS handles the transition, something like this:

    transition:  left .8s ease;

Thanks to Angular, notifying the DOM element of its new position is ultra-simple. If you take a look at the fullscroller UL inside the template you’ll see that it contains the Angular ng-style directive and that it’s bound to the listposition property. Listposition is updated in the scrollTo function every time a thumbnail is clicked and any change is immediately reflected in the view:

// Scroll to appropriate position based on image index and width
$scope.scrollTo = function(image,ind) {
    $scope.listposition = {left:(IMAGE_WIDTH * ind * -1) + "px"};
    $scope.selected = image;

In addition to modifying the viewwindow position, the scrollTo function also assigns the currently selected item to $scope.selected. If you look at the template you’ll see that caption is rendering “{{selected.desc}}”. When $scope.selected is changed, the caption will automatically change with it.

Full Disclosure

My original idea was to fade out the old image and fade in the new image when a thumbnail was clicked. This worked great on Chrome, but Firefox would flash the image on screen once loaded and wouldn’t transition in properly. It also required transition end listeners, which at the moment are not standard across browsers. That meant separate listeners for each browser engine.

The whole thing was becoming a hassle and the code was getting unruly. That’s when I made the decision to switch to a slider and it worked out great. Point being, don’t be afraid to experiment or refactor. Oftentimes the best coding decisions are born out of a change in approach.

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2 thoughts on “Super-Easy Angular Image Gallery

    1. Thanks for commenting, Pierre. CSS3 transitions are not supported by IE yet. If I were implementing a solution for a client then I would certainly make sure that anything I wrote worked across all major browsers. However when blogging, especially about HTML5/CSS3, I don’t bother with IE.


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