I’m a photographer, so my site uses a lot of photos. My current site was designed using Sandvox, but when it became obvious that Sandvox was becoming an orphan app I started researching a number of other software options. I selected Sparkle because I liked the flexibility, the ease of use and a lot of the features it included.
What I’ve found during my site redesign is that Sparkle does a great job handling a lot of things (user-created text presets and other similar features). But using Sparkle to create a photo-driven site requires a lot of tedious repetition because the user can’t set defaults for how a photo is imported.
For instance, all of the photos on my site have a thin white border. In Sparkle I have to set each variable every time I import a photo (unless I’ve missed a feature somewhere). This ends up taking a ton of time. It would be nice if Sparkle’s team could do a photo version of the font preset model, allowing users to set one-click presets for different parameter combinations — things like border, “on click” actions, etc. That would be excellent!
All of my photos are exported from Adobe Lightroom and have caption and title information embedded in the metadata (the same can be done in just about any high-end photo editing software and most “organized” photographers use these fields). Some other web design packages have the ability to pick up the embedded caption info and automatically use it as a caption for the photo on the site. Right now in Sparkle I have to create a text box, position it and type the caption info for each photo, which is time consuming. It would be perfect if Sparkle could pick up that embedded metadata caption info and have a user preset or setting to turn captions on or off instead of having to create a text block each time.
There are a couple of issues I found with image galleries. As I said, my photos on the site have a thin white border but there is no way to put a border on a photo in an image gallery. To have photos in a gallery look consistent with other photos on the site I have to export the photos from Adobe Lightroom, import them into Adobe Photoshop and run a batch action that places a border on each photo and resave the photos before bringing them into a Sparkle gallery. That’s a lot of extra steps. Adding the ability to have a border on photos in a gallery would help provide image consistency across the site.
Also, it seems like the “show label” feature on image galleries should be able to add captions beneath photos in a gallery but when I tried it I got unexpected results. I selected “show label,” changed the font and size, positioned the label between the photo and thumbnails and typed in the caption. It shows in Sparkle but sometimes doesn’t show in a preview. It’s almost like it’s being covered by something. Is this a bug or am I misunderstanding how the labels are supposed to work? In a perfect world I could select a label for a photo in an image gallery, select parameters — font, size, color, etc., and position the label, then have Sparkle remember all that for every other photo in that gallery (in an even more perfect world Sparkle would have already picked up the caption info from the metadata). Right now I have to redo all the parameters for each photo in the gallery. Plus if all of this could be saved as a gallery preset of some sort it would be great.
These aren’t complaints. I really liked what I discovered using Sparkle for my site redesign (the Sparkle version will replace my current site on Jan. 1; it looks MUCH better than what I have now). It’s just that a few tweaks on the photo handling capabilities would make things a whole lot quicker and easier.
I’d have to list these issues as caveats if I recommended Sparkle to photographers to use for their web sites. These things seem small, but if you have a site with a ton of photos, each with a one-pixel white border and the majority requiring captions, the added features would eliminate hours of work.
And thanks to Duncan for his assistance while I was evaluating different software packages before selecting Sparkle. He provided immediate feedback. I never heard back from anyone with a couple of other packages I was evaluating so those got dropped from my list fast.