Realtime Photo Sharing: Flickr Photo Session

This is a guest post by Jason Gabriele. Jason is a developer from the Yahoo! Mobile Platform/CPG team, who has worked in the mobile space for years developing on devices ranging from a Motorola V3 flip phone to modern devices like the iPhone. Over the past few months, his focus has been on the Photo Session project working mostly on the frontend UI.

Photo Session started as a Hack Day project by Iain Huxley. The idea came from the desire to share and discuss photos live with friends, like being able to share photos from a recent vacation with his mother in Australia. He then created a demo which could provide realtime photo viewing synced across multiple users located anywhere in the world. At a Yahoo! Hack Day event, Photo Session was selected as a winner and Iain was awarded a Yahoo-branded beach towel. Later, the project evolved into a Flickr photo sharing project with chat provided by Yahoo! Messenger.

Photo Session

Photo Session allows you to share photos in realtime with your friends. You can slide through photos, draw on them, zoom in and out, and send messages with others present in the session using the built-in chat window. Users without Flickr accounts can still join as guests but can’t use certain features like the drawing tool or chat. Given the requirement to allow guest participants, we had to limit the photos to publicly-accessible photos only for the first release.

The Basics

Browser Support

Since the primary use of Photo Session is sharing photos, we wanted to make sure the experience felt fast and responsive. This meant we would need to use features like CSS transforms and other CSS3 properties only available in the latest browsers. We also needed the rendering to be fast enough to support users rapidly advancing through photos. We decided to support Chrome, Firefox, IE9, Safari and iOS for our first launch. This would also simplify the QA process. We plan on adding support for Android in the future.


Photo Session is in preview mode, so we may change features in the future depending on how people use them. We already have plans for some new features, but we would still love to hear from you so please provide feedback in the Flickr forums. We hope Photo Session makes sharing photos with your family and friends a more social and interactive experience!