Scrutinizing SPARKLE (Freeway alternative)

@ Duncan, sorry I’m a bit late to the table. I’m not a web designer as such have created websites for teaching and motivation purposes in my business.
I’ve been using FW since 3Express, used FW5.5Pro quite a lot and bought many actions from many of you wonderful folk on this forum. I did buy FW 7 but have never got around to using it. Looking for a tutorial on FW7 I discovered yesterday the sad demise.

Having gone through this thread (and many others) it looks like I’m going to have to jump in with either Sparkle or Blocs or both.

My challenge is this: I used and still do use Max’s WebYep for CMS which is perfect for me as my programming ‘skills’ are limited to copy and paste. I don’t have the time to learn the language.
The CMS’s that appear in Blocs appear to be very pricey and over complicated to me.

Is there any way I can incorporate WebYeb into Sparkle (or does anyone know how?).

Many thanks in anticipation

Mark


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Mark, Sparkle is currently focusing on high performance static sites, a very steep road we’re still climbing. CMSs introduce too many compromises, such as replacing responsive images with plain non-optimized jpegs, lacking layout awareness and generally undoing the kind of optimization Sparkle is doing.

Our goal is fully visual page editing within Sparkle. The sort of integration CMSs require, and the complexities and abstraction that come with it, don’t quite work in that context. Not to mention the abysmal editing UI on the server side that most of these CMSs sport.

Duncan
http://sparkle.cx http://sparkle.cx/


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Greetings all,

I am finally getting around to try Sparkle on a new site I need to create. I’ve looked through the documentation and I’ve skimmed through this thread, so forgive me if it’s blatantly there and I am blind:
Does anyone know how you specify the page size? In FW we could specify the page size (width/height).

Many thanks and happy Thursday eve,
joette


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Never mind! I found it. Default for desktop is 960. Looks like it can be changed to 1200, nothing in-between. However, this might be a limitation of the free version which is what I’m using in case I need more than 5 days to play with it.

Best,
joette

On 28 Oct 2016, 12:26 am, redfeather wrote:

Greetings all,

I am finally getting around to try Sparkle on a new site I need to create. I’ve looked through the documentation and I’ve skimmed through this thread, so forgive me if it’s blatantly there and I am blind:
Does anyone know how you specify the page size? In FW we could specify the page size (width/height).

Many thanks and happy Thursday eve,
joette


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@ Duncan,

thanks for the reply, I totally understand. However, I’ve managed to achieve what I wanted using the free version and using the embed code to place an iFrame link to the site that enables me to do my editing. It’s a very similar to your documentation site at Managing Pages | Sparkle Documentation.

Did you create this in Sparkle, and if so, how are you creating this page? It appears to me that the info in the right hand panel is all that changes and the titles on the left are static? Is it done via anchors or some other way. Remember I’m not a programmer.

Am loving the simplicity and speed of Sparkle, achieving in minutes what would have taken me hours in Freeway. There are obvious limitations in control e.g. I could create some great text effects in Freeway using glows and shadows etc, but I realise the text would have been a graphic, but still hypertext linkable. Any plans for this in the future with Sparkle?

Finally, do you have any plans for starting a Sparkle forum? I feel a bit cheeky using FWT, but realise others may benefit from my lack of knowledge/experience. I’m very confused by the purpose of adding sections in the page add panel for example, or is this just a feature of the paid version. Your documentation touches on them but I don’t know how I would use them?

@ redfeather,

You aren’t limited to just a 5 day trial with the free version of Sparkle, it is time unlimited.


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On 28 Oct 2016, 8:46 am, MarkG wrote:

@ Duncan,

Did you create this in Sparkle, and if so, how are you creating this page? It appears to me that the info in the right hand panel is all that changes and the titles on the left are static? Is it done via anchors or some other way. Remember I’m not a programmer.

@Duncan again,

it occurred to me to show you the effect I’m using WebYep to create within the Sparkle designed site: www.2BFree.co.uk. As you can see the site is just a mock up, but the iFrame links to another site which I no longer use, created with FW5.5. The beauty of Sparkle is it’s so easy to use. When I haven’t used FW for a year or two (as in this case) I have a huge learning curve to go through, not to mention finding all the data and actions for the site, especially after I’ve ‘cleaned’ and reinstalled my OS!


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Hi Joette,

I think Freeway users are used to do it this way, we’ve heard the request for setting an exact page width a few other times. This is reminiscent of when websites had a small “optimized for 1024x768” sticker on them. The web is now overwhelmingly mobile, there’s no going back.

In general what you want is not let the content determine the page width, rather to have make the content work with any page width.

In Sparkle we decided to adopt the fixed page width layout because it is immediately understandable for anyone with a design and print background, and it has a predictable behavior. This isn’t in contrast with the above because you can have multiple fixed width layouts and let the visiting browser automatically pick the layout that fits it best.

So why did we pick 1200/960/768/480/320? Because they are by far the most common browser widths, if you were to chart it out you’d see for example a big fall between 960 and 1000 pixels and another after 1200. This suggests that you should optimize your content for those widths, and not pick some width in between which would be sub-optimal for users on either side.

To partially refine what I wrote above, Sparkle isn’t precisely only fixed width, there are several element types that can extend to the page edges, so you can have a full width image or gallery or map, for example. Also we are working on adding this ability to more elements and blur the lines of fixed/fluid width.

There’s no difference in the purchased version, though as @markg mentions there’s no time limit on the free Sparkle version.

Duncan
http://sparkle.cx http://sparkle.cx/


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Hey Mark,

the documentation page is indeed built in Sparkle. The navigation on the left is simply a menu element with a vertical orientation, it auto-populates from the website pages and it’s made visible on all pages. The outcome is that it’s possible to add a new page, which will show up in the menu in all pages, and just add the text block on the right side.

Regarding text effects we definitely should add CSS shadows, hopefully we’ll get around to them soon.

We do have a plan to add a forum but it’s held up for a few reasons, agreed FWT isn’t the best venue for this.

In Sparkle a section is a collection of pages, the purpose of this is threefold:

  1. you visually organize the site outline
  2. when you have a menu that is populated from the website structure (as opposed to manually configured), the section becomes a submenu
  3. when you show elements in multiple pages, Sparkle’s version of master pages, you have the option to show them in the whole site or just in the current section, which is useful when a section has something visually distinctive that you can then edit from one of the section pages and have show up identically throughout the section.

Duncan
http://sparke.cx http://sparke.cx/


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HI Duncan,

thanks for the super quick response. I need to play around a bit more, but again I love the creativity aspect that you’ve created with Sparkle, so that all sites don’t need to look the same (or similar). I look forward to sharing some of my sites in the future, created by Sparkle.

I’ll be now buying Sparkle, but was a bit confused by the moment that if ordered on Apple app store it can be used in iCloud, but not if bought directly from your site? Are you intending to create an iPad version?

thanks again

Mark


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It is probably time to change that text, it says:

Apple has chosen to limit iCloud use to Mac App Store apps, so if you require iCloud you should purchase the Mac App Store version.

This was true in MacOS X 10.9, but was progressively relaxed and the only actual difference is that with the App Store version of Sparkle you get a Sparkle folder inside iCloud, with the version from our site you need to browse to iCloud Drive and save a document there directly.

While we are super careful to avoid doing things that would prevent an iPad version of Sparkle from happening, it needs to make sense from a business point of view. So who knows, perhaps.

By the way the discount offer from our site still stands:

Duncan
http://sparkle.cx http://sparkle.cx/


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OK I understand. I’ll take advantage of your discount and hope for your continued success. I’ll be pointing all my mac friends your way too :slight_smile:

Think I’ve sussed the menu and sections bit now - so easy. That would’ve taken me hours in FW!

Thanks again for your help


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Hi Duncan,

Thanks much for your replies!!! I do have the free version and I do know there is no time limit on it, which is why I have the free version and not the trial.

Questions:

It doesn’t seem possible to change the page width to 1200 in the free version, tho I might not have realized how yet. And, I’m not sure I understand the explanation about page widths. Are you saying whether I create a page at 960 or 1200, the browser will handle it’s view? When I preview the page created at 960 it is a tiny thing! Whereas my FW sites that were made with a 900 something size look quite large in the browsers. I would prefer to have a larger presence than what I’m seeing at preview.

Fonts: I’ve read through the Fonts and Text documentation. I’ve attempted to load a webfont and there wasn’t any indication that it actually loaded. The area on the Font Panel for custom webfonts didn’t show the font after I selected in on my HD & clicked “open”. However, when I preview the page in my browsers that font looks fine, whereas others I don’t have webfonts for change in Firefox. Is that the only way to tell if it’s loaded?

The Active mark next to the font name doesn’t mean it’s OK for web, just “active” on the layout, correct? I surmise this because it’s showing one of the fonts I use as active but it’s the one that changes in Firefox.

Looking at the Font Panel, how do we know if a font is sourced from Google’s webfont index?

Thanks so much for your replies. It’s a different approach than FW, and now I need to read through to understand how Sparkle handles Master Pages or what that becomes in Sparkle.

So far, I think this is pretty cool and a few more days of trying out, will probably result in a purchase. From a designer’s point of view, you’ve thought of many things to address, make easy, make familiar as to our usual tools of the trade, and I very much appreciate that!

I know many folks here like to code, yet I am not one. I paid my dues ages ago as a Software Engineer until I woke up and went back to my first love, Art & Design which I now have been doing for even longer ages… I love being able to focus on the design and not deal with the coding. Too much of a brain shift otherwise. So far, Sparkle is pretty sweet. And hello, your support here is amazing and creates confidence in the product.

Thank you!!!

joette / redfeather


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Duncan,

I’ve moved on in Sparkle and figured out most of the questions I had previously however, I am having issues with fonts line breaking where they shouldn’t, which is very important on the home page with display text. I sent an email yesterday to “feedback” at Sparkle with a PDF showing how it looks within Sparkle and what happens in browsers.

Today, I made the words all the same color and the text is fine. Is this a bug? Why would the text line break when a word is a different color?

More font questions: Several of my own webfonts do not include TTF/OTF - only WOFF, EOT, SVG. Consequently I cannot use them in Sparkle so am forced to use Google fonts which is a bummer when one needs a certain look. Since we cannot get into the code at all - a feature FW has and would be nice to have here – what plans are there to allow for these fonts in Sparkle? Currently, we can only load them if we also have the TTF/OTF version too.

One more thing, it would be really nice to have ruler guides. Might that be in a future release? Yes, the smart guides can help to line up and then there’s the align tools but sometimes one needs to have a ruler guide to see if text is lining up across the page. There is currently no way to do that unless I draw a box across and use that as a guide. Rulers would be really nice.

Thank you!

joette


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Hi Joette,

apologies for the late answer. In general if there’s a layout discrepancy between the in-canvas view and the browser output we will need you to send the .sparkle file that shows the issue and we can investigate. I agree the color shouldn’t make a different, so perhaps there’s some combination of font and exact text frame width that’s causing the problem. We generally solve these quickly and send out a pre-release of Sparkle or a workaround when this happens.

The problem with missing TTF/OTF is Sparkle is rendering the canvas not via HTML but via native code, and we currently don’t have a way to import a woff. I’m not really sure how code access would help you here, as you might get the effect you need in the final published site but you still can’t show the fonts in canvas.

Thanks for the suggestion about rulers. They’re on our list already, but we’re always happy to hear new ideas.

Duncan


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Duncan,
Excuse me if I am re-asking. Did I understand correctly that there is no way to include a way for my client to make simple edits to areas of text or to upload a photo to a designated block? A simple content management system is a requirement of MANY clients these days and would be something I would need to make Sparkle my go-to web design software.


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Hi Steve,

I don’t recall you asking, sorry for dropping the ball on this. Sparkle doesn’t include a CMS and doesn’t integrate with any either.

There are several reasons for this. One is that we haven’t found a CMS that will produce code on par with Sparkle’s, particularly for responsive images. Another is the CMSs I have seen have a really terrible, decontextualized interface for the end users. Yet another is Sparkle’s code output is a very tight knit combination of layout and content, so a seemingly simple edit could end up breaking the layout in a way that is not understandable for the end user, not to mention no integration with the built-in style or color management.

Sparkle is itself a CMS (it lets you manage content afterall) that is simple enough for end users to use directly, and many do, not unlike people not using a consultant to build their Powerpoints and Keynotes.

So in essence we are pushing this feature back as we develop other aspects of Sparkle further. Hopefully in the not too distant future it will make sense to revisit this and find a proper solution.

Thanks,
Duncan


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Thank you for the reply Duncan. That would be the deal breaker for me then. I want to offer my clients the opportunity they desire to make simple modifications on their own, such as edit text or images in designated areas. But I do not want to allow them access to the whole site. Using Sparkle as a CMS is great for me, but not for my clients. Thank you.


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Thanks to all for this thread. I maintain my current Freeway sites, but time will come when I have to move forwards. I looked at Sparkle, and thought, I will wait for it to evolve. I am much clearer now on the issues at stake. And for me its simple. I dont want to code. So, no coding, no problem. And I appreciate Duncan’s time and attention to issues raised. That kind of responsiveness makes a difference in my confidence about jumping platforms.
One of the things stellar about Freeway was FreewayTalk, and the example set by the Freeway staff, who would answer all queries and problem, in a timely manner, in great detail. I consider the best quality tech-support I have EVER experienced. It made a huge difference in learning Freeway, dealing with problems I came across. I hope that Sparkle will be able to be this responsive, as is evidenced by Duncan on this forum. And yeah, Duncan, your help guide needs to be a little more detailed and searchable. I will be taking advantage of the discount…


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Hi and good day,

Finally got a chance to learn about picture dimensions … in the Retina world.

Thank you for all the fantastic input & assistance from the FRW community over the years with FRW and its entanglements!

Having now moved on to Sparkle 2.1 what I like is the relative ease with which beautiful webpages can be designed - with live preview and responsiveness as is.

Yes it’s the Smartphone era we’re in and if the bells & whistles aren’t there it’s quite ok for me.
(And the masses are on Facebook anyway :slight_smile:

/
with best regards,
Omar KN
Stockholm, Sweden


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Hello, OmarKN:

Regarding Sparkle 2.1, where did you get it? It doesn’t seem to be on offer
here (U.S.). I have a 2.0.6. The “check for updates” menu choice says that
version is the latest.

Thanks for any info you can give.

On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 4:28 PM, OmarKN email@hidden wrote:

Hi and good day,

Finally got a chance to learn about picture dimensions … in the Retina
world.

Thank you for all the fantastic input & assistance from the FRW community
over the years with FRW and its entanglements!

Having now moved on to Sparkle 2.1 what I like is the relative ease with
which beautiful webpages can be designed - with live preview and
responsiveness as is.

Yes it’s the Smartphone era we’re in and if the bells & whistles aren’t
there it’s quite ok for me.
(And the masses are on Facebook anyway :slight_smile:

/
with best regards,
Omar KN
Stockholm, Sweden


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