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Today is an exciting day for us at Karelia Software because we are finally announcing that Andy Kim — and his company Potion Factory, and its wonderful apps — are now part of Karelia.
We at Karelia have wanted to grow, and that means finding new and complementary talent and products. For a long time, we’ve been great admirers of Andy and the apps he’s developed at Potion Factory. We started talking about the possibility of joining forces more than a year ago!
Andy is both an amazing programmer and designer. That’s a very rare combination to have. He has applied these talents to his own apps, over the years. And now — already, in fact — Andy is lending his chops to future versions of Sandvox. (You’ll see some of the fruits of his labor in the months and years ahead.)
We have been big fans of The Hit List, Potion’s flagship app, for a while now. We’ve looked around, and we’ve never found a better designed app to handle personal task management than The Hit List, perfectly balanced between power and ease-of-use. We use it every day. And we wanted to keep improving it, but also bring to it a bigger marketing force and level of support than Andy was able to, so that it can reach a bigger audience. You can learn more about The Hit List here on our site.
We'd like to warmly welcome Potion Factory customers and fans to the Karelia family. We plan on continuing to support — and grow — the existing Potion apps. (However, Voice Candy is on the back burner for a while; it needs some work to get it working with OS X 10.9 “Mavericks.”)
And Sandvox customers, fear not! We are very excited about the opportunity this addition brings to Sandvox and will bring to you in the months and years ahead.
Do you have suggestions for where you’d like to see us take our apps? We welcome your suggestions.
Welcoming Andy to the table: Enjoying Chicken & Waffles at a recent get-together. (L-R: Mike Abdullah, Dan Wood, Warren Dodge, Terrence Talbot, Andy Kim)
Sandvox is compatible with OS X Mavericks!
We've been running Mavericks since the first developer preview at WWDC. Sandvox has been working great for us the whole time and we've not seen any problems that are specific to Mavericks. So if you have upgraded to 10.9 — or you weren’t sure whether to upgrade or not — don’t let Sandvox stop you from experiencing this wonderful new update from Apple!
Noticed the new logo? It’s the headliner of our new website. In organizing it, we had “easy information access for visitors” at the top of our priority list. We hope you like it and find the information easy to access. Watch for a little announcement to celebrate these changes in the next couple of days.
In the meantime, we invite you to have a look around and let us know what you think.
Reason #3: More Social & Sharing Tools
With some trepidation, one of our expert developers, Warren, waded into the sea of "Social" to spearhead this part of the work for Sandvox 2.8. Keep in mind—at the time, he didn't really consider himself a "social media maven."
What did the team think of that, you ask? All the better. We wanted the Sandvox social tools to be smooth and easy to use. Who better to figure out what needed to be done than someone with an unclouded perspective.
So, since a good first step to solving any problem is really understanding it, Warren figured he'd have to "get social."
He fired up Sandvox and created a bunch of new websites for testing. After adding dozens of social buttons, feeds, plugins, and boxes all over them, he shared. Posts to Twitter, pages to Facebook, tweets to Google+: hashtags, pins, activities, recommendations, feeds, and +1s went to everybody! Eventually it all started to make sense. It was time to get to work.
Twitter was the first thing to update. Sandvox's original Tweet button tweeted just fine, but that's all it did. Twitter's since added some cool new buttons with different capabilities and we wanted to be sure our customers had those.
So we added “mentions” to refer to other Twitter users, hashtags for topics, and a follow button so people can easily follow you on Twitter.
Warren thought it was looking pretty good, but the team pointed out lots of places where it was unclear or complicated or difficult to use. Back to the drawing board for another round of design, coding and testing. Better, but still not good enough. A few more rounds and we got there — Twitter not only worked, it worked really well and was super simple to use.
Facebook followed Twitter, and turned out to be the biggest challenge. Facebook changes constantly: they never stop moving. (In fact, since 2.8 was released, they’ve changed a few more things! Look for an update, probably around v2.8.2.)
Before Sandvox 2.8, our Facebook button simply let visitors "Like" pages on your Sandvox website. Now it can Recommend, Send, and Follow as well. We also support Facebook’s new larger “box” size and show likes, recommendations and other activities all together. A few more cycles of design, code, test and things were looking pretty sharp.
The new Like boxes show a lot of info and fit better in the main content area — though you can also squeeze them into the sidebar. The Like Box shows people who liked your page, with an option to see their posts, along with a Like button to add their Likes as well.
The Recommendations Box is a little more complicated. It shows a site visitor other visitors' recommendations of your site. If a visitor also happens to be logged in to Facebook, it prioritizes the recommendations made by people they already know.
The Activity Feed is similar, but shows a wider variety of activities. To take advantage of all the new Facebook capabilities, you’ll need to register your site with Facebook and get an 'App ID'. It may sound complicated, but we've written really simple instructions for how to set this up.
Google+ was mostly about simplifying. There were TONS of options to sift through and address. We landed on a set that allows good flexibility, but remains simple to use.
Next up was support for Pinterest. The Pinterest button lets visitors easily pin your pages to their pin boards. Because Pinterest requires an image to share, we integrated our media system so that a page's "main image" is what gets pinned.
For LinkedIn, Sandvox now offers two (quite different) button options. The share button lets visitors share your page with their professional social group. The “member profile” lets you show your current "résumé" as posted on LinkedIn.
To wrap it all up, we introduced the Sharing Bar. We wanted to make it convenient for Sandvox customers to combine a variety of these buttons and tools, instead of having to place each one individually. The Sharing Bar is a collection of sharing buttons that can appear on any or all of your pages, including individual blog posts. You can globally choose which services to show and change the order that they appear. As visitors peruse your website, they can instantly like or share your pages with multiple services!
We mixed all that up, along with the Retina changes, beautiful new designs, and tons of improvements under the hood and baked it all into Sandvox 2.8. We think we've got the social functions that will make most Sandvox users happy!
Reason #2: New Designs!
As we were putting every effort into making Sandvox 2.8 Retina-ready, watching photos and design elements come alive on our Retina displays, we realized we really wanted do everything we could to showcase the Retina capabilities we were carefully building into Sandvox.
While looking through "Sandvox Sites", our customer-submitted collection of websites built with Sandvox, we noticed that some really cool photography sites were using designs from our friends at Behind the Rabbit. In particular, their designs developed specifically for Sandvox 2: Hydrogen and Krypton.
Both of them are simple, clean designs with very modern looks that we thought worked especially well for displaying photo galleries and photos.
Hmmm.... How might something like these look in a Retina-ready Sandvox?
We contacted Behind the Rabbit to see if we could work with them on designs inspired by Hydrogen and Krypton.
After talking, we decided that the ideal situation would be to simply include a Retina-ready version of Hydrogen and a streamlined, Retina-ready version of Krypton directly in Sandvox. This would make Retina-ready versions of these great designs available to all Sandvox customers.
Behind the Rabbit really knows CSS and how to stretch Sandvox designs to do amazing new things. Some of that requires code injection to make additional CSS tweaks to support more custom features. Krypton, especially, has expert-level customizations that exist outside of simply picking that design in the Design Chooser.
So, we worked with Behind the Rabbit to get Hydrogen and Krypton Retina-ready, AND created a streamlined version of Krypton (called Kryptonite) that is more suitable for non-experts, but can still be extended if desired.
The end result? Hydrogen and Kryptonite now ship as part of Sandvox, beginning with version 2.8.
Behind the Rabbit retains the rights to further develop its original Krypton design and may have additional announcements in the future. We also plan to exchange improvements with each other as we go forward.
We'd like to encourage you to visit Behind the Rabbit's new site, whose development was spurred on by our plans for this Sandvox update, to check out the all of the Sandvox tips, tricks, and designs that they have to offer.
We're extremely pleased to include Hydrogen and Kryptonite in Sandvox.
We hope you like them as much as we do!