Sparkle vs Dreamweaver, code updates, and best way to learn Sparkle visually

Dear Sparkle community,

I am new to Sparkle, and so please bear with me, however I am not new to tech.

Previously in more recent times have used tools like text editors (HTML 1.0 to 3.0), early versions of photoshop, Pagemaker etc (Amiga) Xsite pro (PC) (loved this one but it is no longer in operation as a company), Wordpress, and my brother who is very artistic is quite good at using Adobe Dreamweaver however does suggest the product has become a lot more bloated and corporatised than it used to be.

However as I did my last Wordpress CMS site, I thought how much Wordpress had evolved into a complex system that means the web developer was often having to modify sites to fit in with the Wordpress roadmap, and the complexity that that adds in small business owners being able to update their own sites at times, particularly anything beyond a text update.

So my question is for those who have really pushed Sparkle to its limits - as someone considering using Sparkle for Mac, who wants to do small business websites including email form collection and links to ecommerce, am I best off to invest the time learning Sparkle, or Dreamweaver?

Further just as the editor is visual (as in human interface) does the community have any recommended videos (user videos) on using and making stunning pages within Sparkle?

Finally what is the Sparkle development cycle (ie how many updates does one get and often)?

Thanks in advance


Hi @brookpap! And great questions!

I totally agree with you regarding WordPress and all the other supposedly no-code platforms out there. There are a lot f hoops to jump through to give a client the ability to update their website. For me in the past only 5 odd percent of my clients would use the CMS… The rest would ask me to do it. So there is no incentive for me anymore to chase CMSs!

In regards to your question you can very easily create a really rock-solid and modern website with Sparkle, and very easily have an email form collector (or embed an email campaign snippet from the platform you use), and you have a number of options to embed a shopping cart like Ecwid. All in all giving you a fully fledged online marketing website! And the best part of Sparkle is that it also is your secure CMS that you have total control over on your Mac!

There are a number of videos released by Duncan that will give you a visual understanding in how to use Sparkle, which you can find here - Sparkle, Visual Web Design - YouTube
You also have great documentation to further help - What Is Sparkle | Sparkle Documentation

I have been using Sparkle for nearly three years and in that time Sparkle has had 2 massive updates, and many numbers of minor updates improving, fine-tuning, and squashing bugs. We are looking at Sparkle 5 this year, and of course I can’t wait… but patience! :slight_smile:

In the end I see Sparkle as a box of legos. Through them out onto the ground (Sparkle’s canvas) and start building anything you want!!! Have fun! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi @FlamingFig and thank you so much for your quality reply to my questions.

Glad you know exactly what I mean, as I get older I am valuing the creative streak in me more than just the analytical one, as useful as both are, and I imagine you can relate :wink:

Great to know re Ecwid etc - know exactly what you mean about having total control from Mac - it was the premier DTP platform not all that long ago! Thanks for the references to Duncan’s videos, much appreciated.

Thank you re the timeline and version info as well. Indeed, patience, all these years later, is still a virtue.

Give me reliability and stability any day over features.

Sparke 5 :slight_smile: looks like I might be entering at the right time, time to open my Leggo box, I will upgrade to paid now!

Thank you


The Dreamweaver I am familiar with is a mixed visual/code editor (with severe limits on more modern code). I don’t know if this has changed in recent times. It would not be my first choice if I were to approach website coding, but it kind of depends on what you are aiming for. There are a huge number of directions, mixes of pure content vs. code/app hybrids, and many are opinionated to do one thing better than others.

Sparkle is not like any of those, including many that claim to be “visual”. Most visual tools are either extremely limited in their page design, or they are very thin wrappers over the browser built-in inspector, in that they expose a ton of coding concepts that you need to be familiar with. Like say the difference between inline vs inline-block or content-box vs border-box.

Sparkle is purely visual, so it’s kind of a different choice.

We aim Sparkle at people who do not plan on doing web development as their primary job. Because if you’re into coding, which is cool of course, the ambition to build a website that uses modern features, is high performance and has good technical SEO fundamentally clashes with doing it part time.

Sparkle also has a number of limitations, which many people can live with (and we work hard to address), and other people just can’t stand. That’s fine, there’s a lot of choices and tradeoffs.

Ultimately it’s up to you, and you definitely should try Sparkle seriously if you plan on using it, and of course ask questions, always happy to answer them.

Sparkle is more of a design tool than a website coding tool. I’ve been using it for the last 3 years and have used it for a great bunch of projects, including PWA’s and whatnot. Between your choices, I would go Sparkle - Sparkle is great for static websites that doesn’t updates every so often.

For client work, if thats your primary use, then i’d say it depends a lot on what the client need. WP is still king, while Webflow, Framer and a bunch of other tools try to catch up that train. Sparkle have a shot on some types of clients, but for others it just wasn’t made for it.

Nevertheless, its a good investment and i’m pretty sure you’ll be way more fulfilled (read “happy” lol) with Sparkle than you would with Dreamweaver xD

Hi @brookpap I’ve been using Sparkle for many years, it really does allow you to let your creative juices flow. Sometimes I can find certain items frustrating but these are little niggles and I am yet to come across any sort of software that doesn’t have some sort of frustration built in. However, I love using Sparkle. One thing that @FlaminFig didn’t mention in his very honest and comprehensive take on Sparkle is the first class support and community group on here. Duncan often appears in the community discussions as he has in this thread and you can always contact Duncan directly too, what other apps allow you to speak to the developer directly. Simon.

1 Like

Hi Duncan,

Thank you for providing me with perspective on the purpose and intended nature of Sparkle.

Your comment about those visual tools being limited by page design has been my practical experience.

I believe I understand the context of what you are saying, so I will explore those limitations and look forward to future releases, well done on creating such a visual and versatile product.

In a world of online clutter and marketing deception, my aim is to create ‘less is more’ visually appealing sites that integrate lightly with ecommerce where relevant, and to build legitimate bricks and mortar meets ecommerce sites for my own use, and to assist a couple of friends.

Thank you for your kind offer of assistance, I will reach out once I have more to offer the community in technical feedback or questions.

This was the best PC based system I have ever come across, and even their simple banner tool made the sites come to life, but for functionality, SEO and really a mini HTML / CSS CMS (no Wordpress, Joomla or Drupal) it was really good, great integration with media, youtube, paypay etc. (PC only). In my experience this is the best program I have used for small to medium business websites to date.

Now that I have just come over to Sparkle I should mention I had previously had tried Everweb, but found it was to restrictive in what I could do, and this might sound odd, but from a design point of view, I hated the logo they use (square blocks). I am not a block, I am human, and my website should have some artistic elements.

My thoughts are a picture paints a thousand words as does video, as a language independent means of communication with richer information.

Your product and the Sparkle community inspire me from what I have seen to date.

Thank you for your reply.


Thanks Primo - you have answered that question I had in the back of my mind particularly re design tool.

Re client work, I think I understand what you mean, and thanks for the comparable example of the tools and the train :-).

Re investment that is good, and yes happy is what I am after, so to quote a particular US general, a good plan, violently executed today beats a perfect plan executed tomorrow.

The ability to mobilise a nice looking web site that is SEO friendly (not manipulated, I am a fan of old school manual SEO, Chris Malta’s free online course chapter 6 sums up my experience and views well - particularly ).

Re happiness, thank you that is what I am attempting to obtain through creativity (like art class), as I want to ‘own’ and ‘control’ out the output in a closed loop, without it becoming a going concern like a traditional bricks and mortar business is.

I find its easy to develop coder brain after a while coding, one comes up for air at the end of a day or night, and forgets they are human and can even start thinking like a machine…its a handicap that us IT types seem to have quite often.

Thanks again


Hi Simon @Sicherry thanks for your valuable feedback over the many years you have used Sparkle.

I know what you mean about little niggles and that is OK I believe, its a matter of mind over matter and psychological flexibility to work around the niggles until they are potentially addressed in future releases of the software.

What I do struggle with however, is when I get some psychologically immersed in coding, I forget the human interface, which then has to interface with the psyche of a human, not another computer. Multitasking can be difficult sometimes and not a good way to produce optimal quality work in my opinion. Quality comes from total immersion in the right areas.

In my mind its about human to machine creativity and then when the product is being hosted its about machine to human communication by way of the site, with a more pleasant user experience.

For example, I HATE banner ads that pop up as soon as I am on a site, or even later on. They represent an ‘uncommanded input’ and distraction, and in my opinion are not respectful of the end users time, attention of focus.

Pop up banners are an annoying, vexatious and inconsiderate rake to trip over in the web garden. They create visual clutter.

Yes great point re Duncan and true to form he has now reached out to me.

A lesson I learnt is the value of having a crack team around me, or a golden rolodex. I hope to do you all proud when I get my first sparkle site online, and obtain feedback, constructive and critical.

Take care and I will keep surfing the forum for more ideas, until I contribute some of my own.


Hi Brook, this is a familiar journey for me.

I used to manage large web development teams on multi-million pound projects (eg. Internet banking). With those budgets anything was possible!

However, twenty years ago I made a career change. I soon needed my own website and started by looking at Dreamweaver, which was popular with some developers, and ended up using Serif Webplus.

Then I moved to Mac, Webplus was not available on Mac and Serif was working on the Affinity suite and dropping Webplus support. So I looked again at using Dreamweaver but ended up using Freeway. (As far as I know Sparkle was not available at the time (2012)).

Freeway folded and I looked at alternatives such as Blocs, Dreamweaver again, and even toyed with just using straight HTML and CSS coding. Then I discovered Sparkle and have stayed with it.

You will see a pattern emerging here: I looked at Dreamweaver but always found it lacking, hand coding was almost preferable. I never considered Wordpress, this always struck me as too bloated and that is before possible security issues were taken into account.

For me Sparkle ticks nearly all the boxes, it allows you to get a design on the page quickly, produces good code and integrates very well with my preferred e-commerce platform Ecwid (other e-commerce solutions are available see other threads!)

One thing you may find is that Sparkle will not let you do some things. At first, coming from Freeway, I found this frustrating. However, in every case there were sound reasons why Sparkle worked as it did and it led to ultimately better design decisions. If all else fails the function can be your friend.

If you are seeking a tool that will give you great control over design, produce responsive fast loading sites and will integrate with e-commerce, is priced very sensibly and has utterly amazing support from Duncan then Sparkle should work for you. If it doesn’t then your crack team should be able to fill in the gaps.

You mention SEO. My Sparkle-built website is page one ranked, usually in the top five entries after the paid ads, on Google. I’m very happy with that!



Hello, if you want to be sure that SPARKLE is the best application for building websites with good Google results, just do a website evaluation with Google’s Lighthouse tool. You will see that SPARKLE is the FERRARI of website building software. All the analysis fields are always green (top 90%), which is far from being the case for sites developed with Wordpress. Here are 2 concrete examples.

1 Like

G’day Steve,

Thank you so much for your reply. Your practical experience and professional background meant a lot to me contextually and also in this internet ‘marketing’ mad world, form seems to have all but replaced function.

So good to know your background here, you comments are not at all lost on me, and re needing your own website, it is true that necessity is often the mother of all invention, and whilst I love working with good teams, to require a team of any size for a website unless desirable seems to indicate the web has gotten far to complex.

Your web application chronology is of interest to me (particularly Freeway, like Xsitepro with me) as the journey in my opinion is the critical thing that leads to the present. You must have been smarter than me if you avoided Wordpress, however whilst it was quite useable it just become a going concern in of itself.

When I think back to the 300/75 baud modems we were using the 80’s and the mono screens, a lot has changed, but much appears to have be sacrificed for the sake of marketing puffery and the English language itself.

You have listed what I want ‘great control over design, produce responsive fast loading sites and will integrate with e-commerce, priced very sensibly and has utterly amazing support from Duncan’ that is exactly what I wanted, although Duncan may need to train an apprentice over time.

Great news re SEO, and I thought that might be the case, I was amazed how I owned the top spots on google using xsitepro using good old fashioned standard keywords and metadata etc.

Whilst googles algorithms change, basic text based fields such as keywords don’t seem to change much.

Being able to graphically update my site as well as its text without getting buried in the technology despite having the capacity to do so is my aim.

Will see what limiting factors I can work around as these arise.

Thank you so much for your time Steve,


G’day Frenchie,

Wow - thank you so much for that real world concrete examples of SEO ranking - that is fantastic, and well done!

Looking forward to driving this Ferrari (as long as it doesn’t break down and need to be towed in a covered Ferrari truck :wink:

Kind regards