Introducing Sparkle 2.8

by Duncan Wilcox — May 20, 2019

Today we are releasing the best Sparkle version to date. New pricing options make Sparkle more affordable than ever, and the integration of Instagram and Site Search are a significant saving on equivalent external services.

We are really proud of Sparkle 2.8 and we are sure you will appreciate the great new features and the performance improvements.

Let’s dig in.

Sketch plugin!

If you’re a designer you might be using Sketch. We are launching a great Sketch plugin to export an artboard from Sketch to Sparkle. We love this so much we made a dedicated website, head over there to check it out:

sketch-to-web.com

Site Search

Site Search is a text search feature for your website. You can add a search field, which your visitors can then use to search for text in the site. You can try it right now in the updated Sparkle documentation: search for “menu”.

However this is more than just a new feature for your website, it is representative about how we think holistically about a website, how the integration from content creation all the way to interaction with the server and publishing makes using Sparkle better than the sum of its parts.

It is a productivity boost that derives directly from thinking of a website not in terms of loosely connected pieces of code, but of a cohesive whole. No other website builder is both as flexible, visual and integrated as Sparkle.

Instagram integration

Integrating an Instagram feed on a website requires a tiny bit of code, which in the past meant buying a widget from some online service. In addition to the yearly fee or branded service and cumbersome integration, this meant leaking information about your site visitors not just to Instagram but to another third party.

Sparkle addresses this by taking care of the Instagram integration, and offering it seamlessly everywhere it makes sense. So you can now set images to load a recent post image, set up a full gallery of recent post images, or embed full posts.

You save money, complexity and further privacy issues, and your site is always fresh with content from your Instagram feed.

Full details in the new Sparkle documentation page about the Instagram element.

Photos Extension

We added a Photos extension to make it really simple to share your photos to your website. Of course you can still drag and drop individual pictures from a Photos album onto Sparkle, or export them to disk, but this makes it even more convenient to share your memories.

Publishing improvements

Publishing setup is one of the major pain points for beginning Sparkle customers, so while this is just an improvement to an existing feature, we strongly believe in Sparkle being hosting-agnostic, letting you use the web host of your choice, so we invested a lot into making this even better and more streamlined.

In addition to handling more edge cases and minor hiccups, publishing is much more detailed about what’s going on, this is a big improvement and makes the process more reassuring.

We also addressed one of my favorite bugs ever. A web hosting platform (that will remain unmentioned) has a large cluster of servers that respond to the FTP service. Sparkle synchronizes files and knows to publish a file in part based on the file modification date the FTP server reports. The web host in question had different time zones configured on different servers, so the files would be occasionally republished always because of a 3600 second (1 hour) difference. That’s the consequence of the low margin commodity business that web hosting has become.

Unsplash integration

Unsplash.com is a much loved free photo website, which has a slightly different flavor than pixabay.com, we’re really happy about the addition.

Sticky behavior

The new stick to top options let you better control multiple sticky headers, but you can now also stick a group at the bottom of the browser window.

Pricing and availability

Sparkle 2.8 is a free update for all previous Sparkle customers, two features are limited the higher tier versions: Site Search is only available in Sparkle One and Sparkle Pro, while the Instagram plugin is only available in Sparkle Pro.

A new more affordable pricing tier is available, Sparkle Basic, for small sites up to 10 pages. Sparkle Pro is also optionally available as a subscription.

Sparkle is still compatible with macOS 10.9 and is now super fast on macOS 10.13 and 10.14.

Other features

There’s so many major and minor features to discuss, we have a new option to talk about it. We are launching a “Sparkle Community” web forum, we’d love to have you there!

Here’s the full list of changes:

  • • added Instagram element
  • • added Instagram support in images and galleries
  • • added unsplash.com stock photo integration
  • • added Sketch plugin to copy a design over to Sparkle
  • • added Photos Extension plugin to create Sparkle image galleries from Photos
  • • added site search element and search results page
  • • added stick to top behaviors: overlap/stack/push previous
  • • added pinning of a group to the bottom of the browser window
  • • added SVG support for box backgrounds
  • • added stock and custom patterns for box backgrounds
  • • added option to make a text box scrollable
  • • added free gradient angle for box backgrounds
  • • added proportional width menu items
  • • added support for removing backgrounds in images shot with portrait mode
  • • added support for Continuity Camera
  • • improved canvas drawing performance for complex layouts (macOS 10.13 or later)
  • • added pinch to zoom in the canvas
  • • improved startup performance for large projects
  • • improved SVG rendering performance
  • • added basic map mode that doesn’t require API key
  • • added display of publishing progress activity
  • • added ability to convert from one element type to another
  • • added font style re-ordering
  • • added the ability to import a website from the local disk
  • • audio player now stops other audio players on the page
  • • improved fixed background images on Android browsers
  • • improved video player compatibility
  • • improved page import accuracy
  • • improved publishing setup diagnostics
  • • improved memory use during publishing

 

 

Sparkle is striving to become the best visual tool to create websites.

We are adding more articles with example websites and more thoughts on visual web development.

Please check out the documentation for an idea on how Sparkle can help create websites visually, or download the free trial.

If you have any questions or feedback please get in touch.

Copyright © 2019 River SRL 

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