Scrutinizing SPARKLE (Freeway alternative)

Duncan, if you don’t mind, I have another question. How does Sparkle handle multilingual sites that have a mixture of English and 2-byte text like Japanese?

For English, web fonts are great. For Japanese, it’s more complex because unless you are using KATAKANA or HIRAGANA alone (each about 50 characters), you simply aren’t going to find a KANJI (chinese character) web font because it would have to hold thousands of characters and be a huge download. So what I do in Freeway is create font styles for Japanese that ensure the basic text is a gothic font (similar to helvetica) and is a font common to Windows or the Mac (MS PGothic for older Windows and Meiryo font for newer Windows, along with the Mac versions like Hiragino).

I also have a link on every page in my site to allow the user seamless switching between English and Japanese. You can see that on one of my sites here:

Click the ENGLISH button at right of the menubar and then you can click JAPANESE to get back. And as you dig down into the site you still have the same buttons. And unlike other sites that merely take you to the top page when you click the language button, my site offers you the language swap of the very page you are on at the time.

So obviously, I would want do achieve the same on any new websites I build with a Freeway alternative like Sparkle.

Thank you,

James Wages


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Hey James,

being eu-based means we are super sensible to localization needs. Sparkle itself is translated to 7 languages and we plan on translating the site and manual as well as resources allow.

Sparkle has no problem with multi language sites but doesn’t yet have any special support for them, though we do have several customers using sparkle that way. Sparkle could facilitate it in several ways, we are saving design ideas for a time when we can add a bunch of things all at once and make a big push. We definitely can discuss the current options offline if you want.

Regarding CJK languages there are a couple issues and in general the problems aren’t very well understood outside of user groups who actively use them.

The first and most obvious is how text is encoded in pages. Sparkle can encode both UTF-8 text and pure ascii, the latter is for servers that force a charset in the headers, which break UTF-8. By using Sparkle’s built in publishing this will soon be auto detected and work with no user intervention.

The second is fonts. As you note webfonts are pretty rare because of the sheer number of glyphs. It seems to all boils down to using the proper CSS font stack, which you can do in the Sparkle system font pane. There are a few built in stacks including for common Japanese fonts, but you can change them and add fonts.

As long as you don’t mix Chinese, Japanese and Korean the current Sparkle setup works fine. If you do need to mix them then it’s no longer sufficient because the same character code point maps to different glyphs or similar glyphs but drawn with different strokes. To fix that the “lang” attribute need to be set on the page or on individual paragraphs. Sparkle doesn’t yet support it but we are fully aware and hope to get around to it soon.

Does this answer your question?

Duncan


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Duncan,

Yes, you answered my question quite well.

Thank you!

James Wages


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.


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Barry, here’s yet another single period “.” post by you (Hoffkids). It has the appearance of SPAM, so please explain.

James


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simple… I wanted to know when someone added something to new about these programs but I had nothing to add just yet.

:frowning:


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simple… I wanted to know when someone added something to new about these programs but I had nothing to add just yet.

:frowning:


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While I understand the merits of it, this forum really isn’t a forum at all but rather a glorified email list we can access online. No way to subscribe to threads, edit posts, or delete duplicate posts either.

Thanks for explaining though.


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Just placing a period ‘.’ is rather confusing, its looks like I’m missing a
bunch of text. So please don’t.

Andries

2016-07-30 6:04 GMT+02:00 JDW email@hidden:

While I understand the merits of it, this forum really isn’t a forum at
all but rather a glorified email list we can access online. No way to
subscribe to threads, edit posts, or delete duplicate posts either.

Thanks for explaining though.


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Information for existing FreewayTalk / Groups.io users - Site Feedback - Softpress Talk


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I appreciate all who are posting their experiences with the various FW alternatives. James, thank you for the time you put into this. My question is similar to yours…

Quoting Caleb

One of my issues with it is that it doesn’t create true “responsive” websites.

If there is no way around this, then Sparkle is a non-starter for me. Through Thomas’ videos and Caleb’s backdraft and many late nights dissecting Ernie & DeltaDave, Walt’s et al… emails, I have a handle on inline layouts and responsive design. Yes, Duncan is right, fluid layouts are hard to get right. But I was just beginning to get the hang of them with FW and I don’t want to go backwards.

I really want to like Sparkle. I want there to be an easy answer to my “next-FreeWay app.” Alas, it sounds like Sparkle would be, for me, a giant step backwards.

I challenge all you Freeway users…to go through your must-have Freeway features and write them down…then note which would be showstoppers, then post back here.

I started my list today! I’m glad Sparkle has a free “demo” version. Most of the other options have a one week trial, so I’m trying to get as many ducks line up before I jump in!


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Responsive Foundation Framer is quite an awesome app that –for me– contains everything that Freeway lacked or Softpress just ignored. For $59 you own a registered beta (and later on you get the public release for no additional charge). As the name says; it’s core is Zurb Foundation 6 and it’s also supporting Flexbox. I’m just touching the surface, but wow …

For the users wanting something more; this might be it. The $59 Responsive Foundation Framer Beta purchase came with a 20% OFF YOUR NEXT PURCHASE coupon which I used for purchasing the $299 Responsive Design Pack. For $298 you have licensed versions of every single mac app they offer.

Richard


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This whole responsive thing is bewildering to me, at least a bit.

I went to Sparkle becuase it doesn’t rely on templates, it’s responsive, it doesn’t come with an attached web hosting and it’s insanely easy. Stuff that too me (someone on the lower edge of the Freeway community, to be sure) hours on Freeway take me minutes in Sparkle. It’s completely intuitive, I only looked at the documentation when I had issues a few times. If you can make a Page document, or make a Keynote presentation you can use this program.

But I wonder how one can say that, because it’s not a percentage based layout and is responsive because of break point adjustments that it’s not responsive.

My site was made with break points. I have looked at it on these devices: iMac, IPad (landscape and portrait for all these devices, by the way), iPad mini, iPhone 6, iPhone 4, a Samsung phone running something, and an iPod touch 2nd generation.

The site framed properly on all those devices, so how is that not responsive? And that’s not a rhetorical question, how is it not repsonive if it responds and frames corrrectly to every device I’ve used to look at the site?

I think in Sparkle one uses something like 4 breakpoints and the devices I used had 13 different screen sizes.

I wonder if it is the fact that the devices themselves can adapt to what is presented to them compensates for the lack of percentage based layout?

Needless to say I don’t know how it works so well but I have a hard time saying it’s not responsive.

I also want to thank James for all his work in looking into all these programs and Thomas and Walt for their input.

It’s also great that SoftPress is still keeping this site up. Freeway Talk was probably the best part of the whole Freeway experience.


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Richard, not to in any way whatsoever speak ill of your preferred solution, I feel compelled to point out that if one is willing to pay $300 for a web design package, RapidWeaver + Stacks + Foundation (Joe Workman) + other stacks you may need will fit neatly within that price point. Food for thought.

Now back to Sparkle. :slight_smile:

marka, you may wish to scroll back up and read all the posts in this thread, especially those by Duncan, developer of Sparkle. We briefly discussed the limited breakpoints in Sparkle. And of course, if Duncan wishes to add something more to that discussion, he certainly has liberty to do so.

–James Wages


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Again, James thanks for all your work on sussing all these options out.

I did see what Duncan had written but am still wondering what the issue is.

It seems like the result isn’t what matters, it’s all about the method used to get there.

Sort of like bringing a great pan of brownies, made from a store bought mix, to a party and have everyone say, sure they tasted great but you didn’t make it from scratch so they weren’t any good…

Just don’t understand the thinking and wonder if I’m missing something.


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On 16 Aug 2016, 1:48 am, JDW wrote:

Richard, not to in any way whatsoever speak ill of your preferred solution, I feel compelled to point out that if one is willing to pay $300 for a web design package, RapidWeaver + Stacks + Foundation (Joe Workman) + other stacks you may need will fit neatly within that price point. Food for thought.

Good morning James,

it’s just $59 for Responsive Foundation Framer (the web-design app that –for me– replaces Freeway); the extra €248 I’ve spend gave me just 7 additional great apps. So … it seems a bargain to me :slight_smile:

Richard


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Richard,

Thank you for explaining.

Since this thread is focused on Sparkle, I must ask you a question. Did you try Sparkle before you decided on Responsive Foundation Framer?

If you did try Sparkle first, what made you decide to choose Responsive Foundation Framer instead?

If you didn’t try Sparkle at all, then the question by “marka” remains, and perhaps Duncan will be kind enough to address that.

Best,

James W.


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Building websites is different things to different people, and there are different priorities and angles to evaluate web building software, web frameworks and the actual websites produced with them. Everybody brings their own experience, bias and more or less hidden agenda to the conversation.

So here’s my point of view.

First, while frameworks such as Foundation and Bootstrap make it incredibly fast to built a “real” responsive website, what you are trading for the speed is a bit of a canned look.

There are many articles about this:

http://adventurega.me/bootstrap/

The gist of it is a web framework is only slightly less template-y looking than a template, unless you delve into heave code customization (yes even in foundation and bootstrap generators).

So coding. If you’re into coding, more power to you. Some things you can’t do without coding (like a webapp, or a very custom design, tinkering with cutting edge css, etc). If you code you’ll probably view everything through the “can I use this to code” lens. If you’re on the edge about learning some, it clearly is your prerogative to decide for or against coding. Just be aware that the minimum level isn’t just HTML/CSS, in 2016 you need to compress images in multiple sizes and formats, implement several techniques for font, script and css loading to pass the speed tests with flying colors and be compatible with a dozen browsers, it really is a full time job, “fixing” your site by asking your friends or stack overflow is looking for trouble. And like with everything that’s DIY, if you built it and it breaks, you get to debug it and fix it, even years down the road.

So considering there are visual editors, why is there a common consensus that you should go with code-based solutions? Plenty of reasons. Perhaps they have a a knack for code or perhaps they have a problem that can only be solved by coding. Often times though I get the impression that by insisting that something is “pure and real” and something else is not, that there’s something ineffable about on solution over the other that only people in the ivory tower can approve, the only solution is a time consuming or expensive consulting service. So buy a $100 app or a $1000/year “real” website from a professional? Hmmm.

Sparkle’s tradeoff is that, in order to preserve a fully visual interface with no jargon, you get a somewhat “less pure” responsive layout (which as Mark mentions actually works just fine), but you have full creative control over each layout and can make your site actually stand apart by not making it look canned.

Take a look at these responsive websites built with Sparkle, do they work/feel ok? Do they look alike in any way shape or form?

http://themonkeykingsdaughter.com (former Freeway user Todd DeBonis here)
http://www.auer-max-film.de
https://www.purelynx.com
http://lioneldarian.com
http://davidpuckett.com

In every case here no “web professional” was involved in the creation of the site, each of them is built by someone who has a different, actual job.

Finally, the code vs. no code discussion is a bit like politics or religion, I’m not going to change anybody’s mind. And that’s why this discussion is just running in circles here.

Nothing hidden about my agenda by the way, in the context of static websites, such as a small business or personal website, I truly believe Sparkle is by far the best solution for anybody that’s code shy (translated: has other work to do), and I want you to buy Sparkle or at least try out Sparkle if that definition fits you. So let’s do this, get Sparkle 15% off here: Pricing — Sparkle (if you come from Freeway and have purchased Sparkle already in the last week or two I’ll refund the 15%). Deal?

Duncan


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On 16 Aug 2016, 9:10 am, JDW wrote:

Richard,

Thank you for explaining.

Since this thread is focused on Sparkle, I must ask you a question. Did you try Sparkle before you decided on Responsive Foundation Framer?

If you did try Sparkle first, what made you decide to choose Responsive Foundation Framer instead?

If you didn’t try Sparkle at all, then the question by “marka” remains, and perhaps Duncan will be kind enough to address that.

It’s just a gut feeling I got when I started working with RFF (I bought the beta after playing around with it’s predecessor Responsive Site Designer); it’s solid, robust, in a way it works the same as Freeway does when working ‘box model’ I am familiar with (and I know, that’s not your cup of tea, it lacks that intuitive way of working you cherish … I respect that). It feels just like an app that is fully ready for the future, you know … despite how reliable Sparkle seems to be. The fact that Coffeecup seems to cover all bases offering this range of apps –for me– made me feel comfortable with that choice. Like I said, an intuitive choice.

–Richard


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On 16 Aug 2016, 11:04 am, Duncan Wilcox wrote:

Building websites is different things to different people, and there are different priorities and angles to evaluate web building software, web frameworks and the actual websites produced with them. Everybody brings their own experience, bias and more or less hidden agenda to the conversation.

I heartily agree. So let me bring in one angle of less importance:

Say - one day you’ll find following message in your mailbox:

Unfortunately all public servers are full. Humanity showed it’s best face and wasted all available resources (the rest is provided for fighting against aliens). Because of this, from now, no new content can be published anymore.

We, the WGCWS (Web Group Cleaning Wasted Space) hereby decided (beneath some other things) to auto-delete any image higher than 100k. The all-time goal to reach is, that no website is heavier than 1.7MB in weight.

Uff - so what? Crying, mumbling and grumbling? Blaming an application?

Some things you can’t do without looking under the hood. It doesn’t necessarily mean “code”. Pages like this:

is looking exactly the same in Freeway or Sparkle - or any other application. It’s simply done by amateurs who are not aware of the consequences. WYSIWYG is dead - haphazardly building websites as well. Such as this audience did many years as well. So it’s not surprising, that this page is created by a former Freeway user. It’s focused on being pretty (33k - yippee):

Interesting to see, that Sparkle has exactly the same (weird) attitude towards styling and semantics as Freeway has. No H-Tags - but many font-1, size-12 and pos-100 (we are used to call them item-134 and style-78).

But as already said: it’s less important.

Cheers

Thomas


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Thomas, I don’t get your passive-aggressive way of underhandedly disparaging anybody who doesn’t view the world exactly as you do. Not a game I’m interested in playing.

But since you’re criticizing Sparkle out loud in the Sparkle thread I feel the need to defend it.

What Sparkle’s code looks like is frankly completely irrelevant if you don’t need to further edit it, as is the case with Sparkle and for Sparkle users. Not liking the “font-1” css selector is akin to not liking the color of the fuel pipe in your car. I’m sure your mechanic loves you for that.

As per the 33k you fail to mention that by using the rather verbose element (standards committees to thank for that), asset download is optimal for each visiting device. In other words, because Sparkle resizes and compresses images for different devices and pixel densities, an iPhone would be downloading the 150kb jpeg instead of the 330kb jpeg a desktop visitor would download. Sparkle also goes to great lengths to avoid bloat in the bundled javascript, something even many developers fail at doing.

We have thousands of users for whom code simply isn’t an option, either because symbolic thinking (left brain) and visual thinking (right brain) are too hard to mix for them, or because the time needed to wrap their head around some arcane browser bug or CSS “feature” isn’t compatible with their busy life. In fact statistically speaking I’d say WYSIWYG is the future and handcoding HTML is dead, it just isn’t apparent in this particular echo-chamber.

Unlike Freeway, Sparkle isn’t a dead product. You don’t want to use Sparkle? Fine. You don’t think Sparkle is good for you? Understood. Intellectual honesty would have you admitting that Sparkle is simply amazing for its target audience.

So it’s the amateurs who are creating the unique, distinct new websites and the professionals creating the canned-looking ones. Go figure…

Duncan


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