Reading Picasa captions in PHP

Approximate time to read: <1 minute

Ok, it’s going to get technical.

Although I’ve recently bought Photoshop Elements, Picasa used to be my photo browser of choice (in fact it still is as I get used to Photoshop). Therefore when I wanted an easier way to add photos to the BMTG website, I developed it with Picasa in mind.

Apart from the site generating its own thumbnails, it also gets its description from the embedded Picasa data. I found out the data after reading on the PHP site about looking at EXIF and other image data and writing a program to display it all – this revealed the Picasa caption field.

However, it did seem to have an anomaly in that it ended with a null character. I therefore coded around this. Unfortunately i with Picasa 3, this appears to have been fixed and so recently described photos are being truncated on my site. It’s not too much of a hassle, though, to detect for this. The code I use is as follows…

list($width, $height) = getimagesize($full_filename, $info);
$iptc = iptcparse($info["APP13"]);
$description = $iptc["2#120"][0];
if (ord(substr($description,-1))==0) {

Simply populate $full_filename with, well, the filename of the image. At the end of it all the Picasa caption will be in $description and the image width and height in $width and $height.

The last line of the code is where I’m working around the null character at the end of the caption (or not).

  1. depending how you look at it[]

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