Scrutinizing SPARKLE (Freeway alternative)

No, I’m still updating my existing sites with Freeway Pro 7. I’ve also been helping out in the Blocs Beta process, because it shows a lot of promise. But for me to move completely to it means I need some missing features like an easy means to create responsive tabular data and a site wide search feature. Neither of those features will likely see the light of day until sometime in 2018.

So for now, ditto what Richard said.

James Wages

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Hi Omar,

Testing the design in Safari’s responsive design mode showed that Sparkle did not scale well automatically between the devices. Some of the issues were minor but a few moments spent adjusting the design on the intermediate devices was, in my view, worthwhile.

Therefore, I actually used all of Sparkles five devices and also needed to override some behaviour using Ecwid’s custom CSS.

The majority of my traffic is, as you say, mobiles and tablets - 80% in fact. But - and this may be for another thread entirely. purchases from my other sites are still about 50% desktop. I guess that people either like to purchase securely in their own homes or the purchase is a shared decision.

Richard is spot on - if Freeway does rise from the ashes then it has some serious work to do to tackle the likes of Blocs, Pinegrow, the whole Responsive suite and Adobe Muse, too.

My biggest fear is just how long will Freeway work with MacOS - the next release (High Sierra) probably due in around a month promises a new file system. New file systems usually mean problems so I won’t be an early adopter!

Frankly, if you are a serious web site builder rather than a casual user, then you have a plethora of frameworks and supporting tools to choose from.

The real problem is the maintenance of Freeway legacy sites, some of which may have many many pages. Sparkle will not help - if Freeway folds you will need access to the HTML and CSS it generated.

I really do see why Thomas went down the Pinegrow route…


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There ultimately is one choice you have to make when choosing a website builder.

  1. You want to future proof your website forever.

  2. You want to create content without much fuss and with a high level tool that helps and simplifies.

For some reason many people seem to conflate the two, as if there really can be a tool that solves both.

That’s a practical impossibility. A hypothetical tool that was visual enough to meaningfully hide all HTML and CSS concepts, while working with just the HTML file, would need to extract meaning that isn’t conveyed by just HTML.

What use is a visual editor that doesn’t let you edit a slideshow as a slideshow, but only as a collection of images with a weird layout? #2 tools have their own internal concept of what a slideshow is, and save that to their own proprietary file format, which then lets you edit the slideshow directly.

So all this is to say, if you want #1 you can’t escape the HTML common denominator, which means using non-visual tools (or visual tools which ultimately drop you down into HTML/CSS), integrating different components at the code level and generally having an understanding of what the different parts of HTML, CSS and JavaScript do.

#1 is a perfectly reasonable thing to pursue, there’s a great choice of tools. These days web technologies are so many and so complex that it kind of requires HTML/CSS to become your job, to follow along the coding community and to own your tools and frameworks. But I’m certainly biased.

If you can’t do #1 or actually prefer #2, you’re in luck. There are many tools, their existence is legitimate and not an alternative to #1 tools.

Just don’t hold your breath for something that does both 1 and 2. They’re lying if they promise, and will fail in delivering (see Macaw).

I feel a bit of an intruder on this forum, and wish the Freeway folks luck. This is an excellent, tight knit community, definitely a great asset.


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