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From a pattern perspective is there a difference? Or are they really different names for the same thing?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Sliders and Carousels effectively they mean the same thing: while perhaps factually different at one time, they are conflated to such a degree today that you couldn't effectively communicate one meaning or the other without being misunderstood. 1) A quick Google survey of jquery "sliders" and "carousels" shows many variations of the same thing: people are using these terms interchangeably as a means to display a "gallery" of photos. 2) The developers in my office respond to the question with "tomayto tomahto."

In the case of Galleries, these are the overall collections of images presented via carousels & sliders. Galleries tend to be presented in grids and lists.

I don't disagree with Andrew's usage (slider=horiz/vert, carousel=rotating focus), per se, but if you want to use terminology that will ensure you are not misunderstood, you might just call everything a carousel, and specify what sort of navigation it uses: filmstrip, slider (although I would avoid that), prev/next or stop/play buttons, dots, etc.

I attach some sketches to illustrate examples of what I mean:

Galleries Carousels & Sliders

Remember, everything we're talking about is born from from the physical analog of real photographs and slides. In the old days presentation slides were shown using a carousel slide projector.

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love the fact you drew and attached these. they are really good sketches :) –  Andrew Davis Nov 15 '11 at 22:36
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Thanks, @AndrewDavis. I expect I will use this drawing around the office, too, just to make sure we're all talking about the same thing. We also use a term "marquee" to denote a carousel appearing in the featured spot on a page. After all, there can be more than one on a page. –  tajmo Nov 15 '11 at 22:42
    
haha at least make a colored vector version in indesign! –  Andrew Davis Nov 15 '11 at 22:55
    
I'm a product manager. We use Sharpies. :) –  tajmo Nov 15 '11 at 23:12
    
haha sharpies... I'm a designer/freelancer and i break a lot of other designers' ettiquete. –  Andrew Davis Nov 15 '11 at 23:15
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A slider and carousel are NOT the same thing. A slider slides the images horizontally or vertically (usually horizontally) usually with a momentum effect.

A carousel rotates the images radially and in a 3D feel by using distance and depth of field. They rotate on an axis where the image is always facing you.

A gallery is usually where all images are available to see... but that doesn't mean a slider or carousel can't show all the images either. A gallery is also the umbrella term for anything that shows images... or the name of the page where you see the images. Usually completely filled galleries will be styled in a matrix layout.

The content and inclusion of all or featured images is up to the designer of the application in mind (site, app, etc)

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I am inclined to agree with your nomenclature, but then, the opposite is arguably true. For example, a single view of an image is what I often call a "slide view" while the multi-image view looks the most like a carousel. While it does slide in many cases, it doesn't have to. Also, I might also call a horizontal array of thumbnails a filmstrip, strip, or shelf. –  tajmo Nov 15 '11 at 22:45
    
fair enough! not only can we consider that but the fact that either a slider or carousel could be used as a selection method in thumbnail view for a large frame of the selected picture. –  Andrew Davis Nov 15 '11 at 22:54
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…and those thumbnails are a subset of the gallery, which is not the same thing, of course. :) –  tajmo Nov 15 '11 at 23:11
    
yes. exactly, tajmo –  Andrew Davis Nov 15 '11 at 23:33
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