I have been wrestling with this for weeks, and have made my arguments why the following do not work well to build a Smugmug site that gives two separate views - one for friends and family to see private content, and the other for anonymous visitors to see public content:
1) Unlisted galleries are a good idea, but they blow the whole Categorical structure. If I have private content I now need to send someone a link, which they'll likely loose in time. I can't send them a private 'Family' category link, and let them browse all of my private family content. But then there's...
2) Sharegroups, which almost solve the above problem, but come with their own. For one they only allow galleries to be added, and since I cannot put a Category in a Sharegroup, I cannot simply say - okay here's all my Family stuff, with all of its subcategories and galleries, and one unlisted link to all of it. On top of that, the entries are static, so I have to manually add galleries as they become available.
3) Site-wide passwords. We all know passwords blow, last thing we want is yet another password to forget. Site-wide passwords are almost cool, except they blow the whole concept of a Homepage, so then, there's no way for me to display any of my public stuff to the anonymous visitor... Or maybe I just want a couple smart galleries to display on my Homepage to people who don't have the site-wide password.
4) Then there's gallery-passwords. So I could just put a password on all my private galleries, and not put one on my public galleries. That might work! But wait, then my Homepage, which I'd like to include Gallery Categories on, would even let people without the passwords browse the whole structure, see all my gallery names, maybe even find some information I didn't want them to see! So now I guess it's back to unlisted galleries and sharegroups again, and back to square 1.
I posted this along with a suggestion on the feedback site: http://feedback.smugmug.com/forums/17723-smugmug/suggestions/2623874-a-better-solution-for-hosting-both-private-and-pub
Since I am not hearing any feedback there, here's my question restated as a goal:
When friends and family visit the homepage and site, I want them to see all of my private/personal photos and galleries. I want the category structure to remain in tact and navigable, and I do not want to require that they remember passwords.
When anonymous visitors come to the site, I want them to see content I've marked as public, and not have any access to my private/personal stuff. I do not want to hide things using CSS/js if they could still pilfer through the code to find private URLs.
In my ideal world, SmugMug would support visitor authentication using providers like Facebook, Live, Google, and Twitter. Then my visitors could register and I could allow my friends and family access to my private and personal content. I could simply mark certain content at the category-level as 'private' and allow access to authenticated visitors.
Has anyone here tinkered with the API to create something that would support. Has anyone come up with another creative way to achieve this? I could live without the authentication system which I know could take some time to implement, but I really want to leave the category structure in tact and not require passwords or private unlisted URLs.