Ideas for the future (I hope soon)

This major update makes Sparkle probably the best application that exists around to make fast and elegant sites. I think that the search function leads Sparkle to compete, even if not directly, with the famous CMS (Joomla, Wordpress, and so on).

There are still further steps to make it perfect, at least for me that I use it as an application to create complex sites with many pages. Here are some ideas that I hope will be implemented soon (and I wouldn’t mind paying for any additions that could work as plug-ins):

  1. Better page management
    Currently Sparkle allows you to work with many pages but when these exceed the visibility list, it becomes difficult to realize how many pages you have and how they are organized. Better management would therefore be desirable. I dare say how Adobe Muse (or many other software of this type, for example Netobject Fusion) did it, creating graphic trees that allow you to have an overview, with precise categories where maybe, that allow you to post, rename the pages or even change their attributes;
  2. Javascript
    To have the possibility to insert in the tags the Javascript. It is true that Sparkle allows you to insert custom code in the body of the page but it is necessary, for better flexibility, to be able to put the hands of the tags where the script should be inserted. It would allow you to create custom scripts avoiding the work to be done after the site is published and act by hand on each page.
  3. Positioning the image inside the box;
    The image can be inserted and poisoned in using only 3 positions: high, middle, low. You should give the possibility to crop the image and make sure that it is positioned as the designer wants. It often happens to me that the image doesn’t center perfectly and that it shows, for example, a part that doesn’t interest me;
  4. Shadow on PNG
    Make the shadow follow the contour of the PNG with transparency and not draw its box;

Sorry for my bad english…

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

Hi @MultimediaMan,

thanks for your question. I’m thinking feature requests should be treated specially, not sure the forum is the best format, but I’ll answer these here.

  1. Page management
    You can hide thumbnails to see more pages (view menu), but yes this is definitely something we want to change. You mention hardcore developer tools, and I think we might need to go with something simpler. The tree structure in those tools is entirely fictional by the way, pages are connected in a graph where the only “special” page is the home page, because the server treats it specially. I guess the tree can help thinking about the site architecture.
  2. Javascript
    Sparkle is not a coding tool. There are plenty tools you can use if you want to code. Putting code in the head of the page is a quick way to shoot yourself in the foot and undo all the performance and privacy optimizations that Sparkle implements. If you mention the specific javascript you want to integrate we definitely consider those for first class inclusion in Sparkle’s settings.
  3. Cropping
    Definitely.
  4. PNG shadow
    We looked into this for 2.7, and browser support just wasn’t there (it needs to be done via css filters). Not really interested in adding it as a bitmap, you can do that externally if needed.

Thanks!

Duncan

2 Likes

Thank you Duncan for your answers, always precise and punctual.

As for the question of Javascript scripts, I’m not talking about coding extremes (I’m not a programmer and I don’t even care about coding) but often some external services ask for the implementation of code in the tag heads. I’m referring to Adsense for example. Of course, you can then insert them by hand after export (as I’m doing now) but as long as they are sites with a few pages, a quick copy and paste can be fine. If you find yourself managing many more pages it becomes another kind of work.

Many designers probably won’t be interested in this feature, but they might think of creating a specific plug-in that would allow you to add new features like Adsense. Maybe those who are interested (and I am) could buy it separately. I have no idea if Adsense ruins something in Sparkle…

I probably use Sparkle in a different way than it was born but I find that some improvements (and of course I’m only talking about my experience with this software) should be made to avoid thinking about other solutions that I do not like to consider.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

Adsense is notably missing. We have been asked a handful of times for it (many users, many years). Mostly adsense makes no sense unless you have hundreds of thousands of visitors. Eventually, possibly.

would it be possible to add to the page or site settings the file path of a javascript file to include when generating the page?

javascript functions could then be grouped together and when generating the website without cluttering up the interface os the Sparkle document file.

The point is not UI clutter, the point is code is not the focus of Sparkle. Even people who call them selves web developer slap together terrible slow broken code. It can be avoided, but including arbitrary javascript right now is the beginning of the slippery slope.

I can agree with that. You don’t want some designer’s bad code to slow down or cause problems that Sparkle will get the blame for.

But I do think there needs to be a mechanism for those that know what they are doing to be able to add Javascript or even PHP functionality without having it disappear every time the page gets updated and pushed live again.

All very good points here! I would really get a lot out of a tree-like structure to better organise the layout of the Sparkle site, plus a “Brand” section where we would have better control over the look and feel of the site. As for the javascript injection I agree with what Duncan is saying because far too often I see Wordpress sites with 20-40 javascript links in the “head” section firing off before the content of the site is loaded which slows things down drastically, especially on mobile! :frowning:

But then I also see Marshall’s point that when Sparkle updates, the code would disappear. Maybe a suggestion could be a footer section to the Sparkle page where javascript could be added and it remains in the footer area of the generated web page.

Overall it is a tuffy as I can understand Duncan maintaining the simplicity of Sparkle and rightly so, but us ambitious designers wanting to push the app that much more harder!

1 Like

Hello guys, please don’t let sparkle deviate from the vision of giving designers the chance of developing websites without coding or code. Duncan has already made it clear preaching and disclosing his vision of making this app code free, just like what adobe muse achieved. look at the wonderful site created with Adobe Muse. Immediately he starts introducing those suggestions he has defeated the purpose and creation of sparkle. please make it easy for him to achieve that vision. You can have a look at the blog page at the sparkleapp site - HTML and CSS are holding the web back, Anybody can build gorgeous websites!

2 Likes

Dear friend, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t want Sparkle to become code grinding software. I agree with Duncan that Sparkle should be kept away from code or manipulation of its pages. I’m not a programmer and Duncan knows this every time I have disturbed him to ask for advice on how to do one thing or how to do the other. So making code is a very distant thing from me. But I think that some tools are useful to make more modern sites. You talk about Adobe Muse, but that program gave you the possibility to insert code into HEAD without it becoming a programming software (take look to image). If we don’t want to give you the opportunity to enter code then we have to think of plug-ins that give you the added ones without upsetting Sparkle’s philosophy.

To give you an example, in this new update a fundamental function has been introduced: the search engine. With previous versions of Sparkle, the only way to create an internal search engine was to use external code or change the pages after they were published. The integration of an internal search engine has solved many problems and pushes Sparkle to create sites that go on more ambitious horizons.

I imagine that it is therefore possible to provide a whole series of plug-ins that satisfy the designer’s needs without putting his hands inside the Sparkle engine.

Then, I repeat, these are just ideas and I don’t want my intervention to be interpreted as an attack on Sparkle. I love Sparkle and all the work behind it and I always thank Duncan for what he’s doing. I try in my own small way to make a contribution as a user anticipating, and I’m sure of that, the requests that sooner or later someone else will ask.

Thanks @MultimediaMan. As mentioned in other venues, putting random code in the head is a quick way to make your site slower and no longer privacy compliant, if not break the whole page.

The people who know what they are doing have many many other tools they can use, that are much less visual than Sparkle.

We will be adding support for more things that need to go in the page head, but with a proper UI so that anybody can use them.

Most of the time scripts that ask to be put in the head can also go in the body in an embed block, and you have full privacy compliance there, placing them towards the bottom of the page makes them also less impactful on page load times.

2 Likes

GREAT!
Grazie Duncan!

Squarespace and Wix are competitors? What a joke.
Don’t compare pears with apples please.

Not sure which way you are going on this. What is the apple, what is the pear? Because allowing this change to header is definitely a major plus for those guys.

Also Sparkle is definitely marketed to the same people. Vanity sites are the clear focus of Sparkle, so are WIX and Squarespace. If it wasn’t, Instagram feed being added wouldn’t have been a major thing to add in latest version.

In what way does adding code to the head benefit regular users? How does it help visual web design?

If all you have is a hammer…

1 Like

I don’t really care about what their marketing claims. A random script in the head does cause render blocking, making your site perceivably slower, and is out of control of Sparkle’s privacy settings.

Yes the web at large relies on crummy integration via code that most people don’t really understand. We don’t care for replicating that in Sparkle.

I can literally say I have tested every web publisher on the market. Some I got beaten with features and would need a special University degree to operate it, some dodgy and buggy as hell, few false promises, many slow even I was faster to build a website on paper. I also tried Wix and Squatespace. Wix is expensive and overly slow sometimes not usable. Squarespace I felt often I am imprisonments and only can do certain things do build a website.
The I actually rediscovered Sparkle, actually was already installed years ago on my computer but I was blinded trough Wordpress and all those fancy slow page builders for it. Well quickly I discovered the possibilities in Sparkle and the freedom I have to build a website how I WANT and NOT as the developer of the page builder wants. Yeah I agree there are few things missing but it will come, I have fully trust in Duncan and his team. I don’t need code in the header, I know what it can cause, only trouble. I think as web designer you need to think out of the box and create new things or do things different to reach your desired goal.

I fully agree and fully understand.

There’s a tension here. On one side is wanting to do things “out of the box”, as you say. On the other side is staying within the comfort zone of what is approachable and understandable (which is not pasting random code from the web).

Sparkle’s balance errs on the side of approachability. Today this means your creativity is confined to static site layouts.

We can afford to take this stance because, if you are a coder, there is such a rich and competitive ecosystem you can go to and mess with code, no need to use Sparkle.

We are lucky enough to have many great designers using Sparkle and producing jaw dropping websites even just with what Sparkle provides. Most of what is necessary to produce a real, beautiful, optimized and monetizable site is built-in or an embed element away.

By being strong-willed and continuing to develop features in Sparkle, we will eventually give you a web design tool that can do just about anything, and in a visual and approachable way.

I hear many say “I want everything now”. My compromise here is this: send me a list of your top 10 scripts you would want to add to the head at feedback@sparkleapp.com, no preamble needed, just the list, I will know. I will do my best to add as many as possible, with a good integration and proper interface, in the next Sparkle update.

3 Likes

1 Like

I understand your directions with Sparkle and I fully believe in you intentions to add the features we need in a way that is consistent with Sparkle’s philosophy.

My issue is the time line. I realize that Sparkle is a small company but it seems to take way too long between new releases. Earlier releases 2.5,6,7 were mostly 3-6 months apart. 2.8 took 8 months and that just seems like too long to wait for needed functionality. We al know what is like to wait for Christmas.

1 Like