John’s Background Switcher has long supported photo sites like Flickr, smugmug, Phanfare and Picasa Web Albums and even Facebook a couple of versions ago – but they were never enough. I’d regularly have people on my forum or emailing me directly asking to support myriad other photo sites and I’d dutifully add them onto my to-do list. More often than not the sites wouldn’t have any sort of developer API I could use to extract photos and my frustration would grow.
All that changed with the wonder of Media RSS. This is a common feed format that, without getting boring and technical, means that if added support to JBS for it, I’d suddenly be able to support a whole host of photo sites without any more work. And with version 3.6 that’s exactly what I’ve done.
Take DeviantArt for example. If you browse through the site you’ll notice that on pretty much every page – be it a category page or a person’s photo page, there’s a link near the bottom that looks like the icon to the right (albeit somewhat smaller). That’s the feed link. Click on it and you’ll see what the feed version of that page looks like – in most browsers it’s not very interesting. But if you copy that address and paste it into the ‘Add Feed’ dialog in JBS then you’ll be able to see those photos on your desktop.
Or take a site like LOLCats (which I love). My good lady thinks I’m insane but it always makes me laugh. Anyway, there’s a big orange feed icon right at the top of the page. Copy that URL into JBS and your desktop can look like this!
You can use as many feeds as you like at the same time and JBS will choose photos from all of them. So you’ll be able to mix your Zooomr photos with LOLCats, attractive women on DeviantArt, photobucket photos, featured photos from Webshots (for some reason only the featured feeds are Media RSS, user feeds aren’t) and so on. Just look out for the orange feed icon!
JBS 3.6 has been tested with a host of sites but if you find one that you think should work but doesn’t, then let me know and I’ll try to support it in the next version. Bear in mind that not all sites provide enough information in their feeds for JBS to use properly (FriendFeed being one that springs to mind – come on guys, put the photo page URLs in your media:group’s!) but hopefully in time I’ll be able to support them too.
I’ve also added a bunch of highly requested features such as ‘Shuffle mode’ for folders, a ‘Never Show Again’ option so that if a picture comes up that you don’t like it’ll never appear again, a workaround for problems in Windows where your monitors get displayed the wrong way round, some useful defaults for first-time users, options to explicitly set your own snapshot scrapbook background and a host of bug fixes.
Anyway, you can download the latest version at the John’s Background Switcher page. It’s free, it’s fun and, eh, did I say it was free?!