Don’t Overthink It

If you come from previous generation or web-based website builders, or did some web coding in the past, you might have some preconceived notions about what you need to do or what to look out for.

Sparkle actually takes care of many small and not so small details, to make the technical side of the website building process as painless as possible.

What all this means is you shouldn’t overthink it, most of the time Sparkle takes care of what previously was a problem and makes things “just work”. You can safely trust Sparkle to do the right thing.

A few examples are in order, so that you can get a feel of Sparkle’s smarts.

Image management

Images are by far the largest asset on most web pages, and page load performance is affected by that, so there naturally are many tutorials and tips attempting to address the issue of how to reduce image size. The advices range from resizing the image before importing it to recompressing the images with external tools or services. That’s entirely unnecessary with Sparkle. Sparkle has a very advanced image processor that, starting from the image you provide, produces tightly optimized images for the different contexts in which the image might be loaded. In a typical project Sparkle might generate 20 different images from the base image, accounting for regular or retina screens, image size on each device (smaller for smartphone, larger for desktop) and file format compatibility (WebP for mobile and desktop Google Chrome). Sparkle also generates carefully designed code to load the proper image at the appropriate time.

File caching

Caching is a temporary storage of previously downloaded assets that browsers use to make repeated visits of the same site faster. Sparkle generates new filenames for a few critical assets every time the site is generated, and conversely works hard to preserve the file names of unchanged files, to make effective use of browser cache. This has the consequence of changing more files than apparently necessary, but the ultimate goal is not tripping up the cache of browsers that might have visited the previous version of the site. It also means many of the output files generated by Sparkle are interconnected and they need to be published together.

Downloadable files

A file on your Mac can be made available to your site visitors by dragging it into the Sparkle canvas, or picking it from a file download “On Click” action. It’s not uncommon for Sparkle customers to be confused about this, sometimes thinking that the Mac needs to be kept turned on and connected to the internet. Sparkle however publishes the file along with the website, so the file is fully independent and hosted on your domain.

Publishing

Sparkle has a sophisticated FTP setup process aimed at automatically detecting most technical details about a web host setup and ensuring the publication is later successful. This can lead to occasional confusion, on one hand because the initial data entry seems to not require enough information, on the other because the setup cross check can make Sparkle appear to fail. Less experienced users tend to manage to set up publishing with more ease because they aren’t overthinking or second guessing what Sparkle asks. We definitely suggest trying to plainly provide the information Sparkle asks for, most of the times it just works.

Updated for Sparkle 2.6

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