Quick and easy photo galleries with Google Drive

Last updated: 9 October 2015

While there are thousands of image gallery plugins floating around, sometimes it’s just as easy to re-invent the wheel.

I received a request to ‘upload a photo gallery’, with more than 350 images. One of our designers had exported a web gallery from the bowels of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, that while a nice concept, would have meant adding a new CMS node for each image, plus hardcoding image URLs to the 350+ images and their thumbnail versions, and a few other tasks that are no fun when working in CMS-land.

Instead, I spent a couple of hours - from go to whoa - spinning up a simple AngularJs application to do exactly what we needed, is reasonably easy to reuse in future, and importantly, works pretty nicely.

Given that I had the 700 or so images ready to go, I threw them straight into Google Drive - created a folder for the thumbs, and one for the large images.

The plan was simple - a quick SPA to display x images per page, where each thumbnail is clickable to reveal the full-size image. That means a controller, service, and maybe a directive or two.

There’s a heap of documented methods for getting data out of Google Drive.

I decided to simply fire my requests to googleapis.com/drive/v2/files, with the appropriate query for the thumbnails and full-sized images.

Smushed into an AngularJs service, that looks something like this:

.factory('photoService',[ '$http',function ($http) {
    return {
        get: function(urlBase, folderId, key) {
            return $http.get(urlBase + 'q=\'' + folderId + '\' in Parents&fields=items(title,id,imageMediaMetadata)&maxResults=500&key=' + key)
                .then(function(result) {
                    return result.data;

// in the controller
photoService.get(urlBase, folderId, apiKey)
    .then(function (resp) {
        $scope.images = resp.items;

The parameters to the function are largely self-explanatory - urlBase is the URL referenced earlier, folderId is the Google Drive folder ID and key is the API key.

It returns a handy JSON blob containing everything we need to know about the images - except their URL.

For that, we simply construct it - docs.google.com/uc?id=imageId

From there, we can do anything we like with the 700 or so images lurking over in Drive.

Image gallery UIs are stupidly common, so no point drilling through how I ended up rendering this one. Useful though (hopefully) to know how to drag images out of Drive.