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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!
We're particularly proud of the new 2.8 version of Sandvox that we just released today. We've been working on the nuts and bolts behind it for a long time. There are many reasons to switch to this version of Sandvox, and over the next few days we'll cover some of the them in a little more depth here.
Reason #1: Retina-readiness!
We saw the need for Sandvox to support the capabilities of Retina displays shortly after the third-generation iPad was released in Spring 2012, followed by the Retina MacBook Pro in June.
While it was pretty easy to get the internal icons and graphics of Sandvox itself updated to include Retina-quality graphics, our bigger goal was to make the websites that Sandvox creates look sharp on Retina displays.
So, we started the process of updating Sandvox's internal handling of graphics to no longer be tied to the one-point-equals-one-pixel model.
There were a few challenges to overcome, which is why it took a while to make it happen. HTML itself isn't quite ready for Retina displays, so we had to come up with a solution that would carefully balance the needs of viewers on classic and Retina displays, different browser capabilities, and even search engines — all while keeping bandwidth demands for the images down.
Along the way, we found that there were many cases in which we actually didn't want to provide both a regular and Retina-quality image. It turns out that one can get away with a much tighter image compression on the larger, double-resolution images; and doing so means that the high-resolution image is not that much bigger in file size (and transfer bandwidth) than the standard image.
We also found that we needed to upgrade some of our third-party libraries to look good. Our "photo gallery" and "slide show" displays, for instance, needed high-resolution controls.
That said, most of the changes were under the hood, so that all of Sandvox's image processing would be aware of the different image sizing. Before, a 300 x 200 image meant 300 pixels by 200 pixels. But factoring in retina display devices, Sandvox would need a 600 x 400 pixel image to fit in the 300 x 200 point area.
This paradigm shift had to be propagated throughout Sandvox — not just incorporated into the context of photos on a page, but thumbnail images, banners, and so forth. Plus, several plug-ins needed to be updated to deliver Retina graphics. Now, when you put a "Created with Sandvox" on your Sandvox website or link to Amazon.com products, visitors to your website will see the sharpest graphics possible on their display.
All of these features can be activated on existing Sandvox-built sites by checking the "Optimize for Retina Displays" checkbox in the Site inspector.
And the great thing is that you don't need to have a Retina display yourself to take advantage. Just mark the checkbox, publish your website, and any of your visitors who have a Retina (or any other kind of high-resolution) display will be able to see the sharper images.
Have you signed up for our email newsletter yet? We've been sending out helpful articles on a monthly basis for a while now. Feel free to check out these recent topics online — but be sure to sign up for these articles (and occasional other announcements from Karelia).
- Luring Googlers to Your Site — See how you can use the "page details" area to set the description of your page that Google-searchers will see. Do it right to lure these people over to your site!
- Is your Content Hard-Working? — Think like your target audience so that you are sure to put the right content on your pages.
- Switching Up the Sidebar — The sidebar of your website is a great way to share content across multiple pages of your site. Learn how to tweak the contents here.
- Hey Cupid, Need a Hand? — A tour of a few of Sandvox's built-in objects, with a Valentine's Day backdrop.
- New Year, New Skill: Code Injection vs. Raw HTML Objects — Learn the difference with these examples you can try yourself.
- Managing Changes: Customizing the Site Menu with the Page inspector — Extend your site menu and customize the titles that your visitors see.
Yesterday Apple announced their Mac App Store Best of 2012, and we are elated to find that Sandvox was one of the honorees!
Such a great array of apps! Along with Day One, App of the Year, there were twenty titles including Sketch, Evernote, Coda 2, Things, and Tweetbot.
Thanks to Apple for including us on the list. And congratulations to all of the inductees!
We released Sandvox 2.7 last week, and one of the major changes is an overhaul of how you enter the hosting details for remote servers. Here's a nice screenshot:
You might be surprised just how many details are packed into this panel!
When typing in your site's URL, Sandvox remembers the most recent setups you've published to, and suggests based on that. We've found it to be a really handy optimisation for anyone who frequently makes new sub-sites.
For new setups, the URL is then also used to take a quick guess at the server you'll be using for uploads.
Site URL Test
Also while entering your site's URL, Sandvox runs a quick check to see how it looks. If the domain's properly registered with a working web server, you get the green light. If the domain hasn't been registered yet, or still needs some setup to be performed, you get the red light and a note of the problem.
Sometimes it can simply be a quick way to spot a typo!
We tweaked the popup button slightly so you now get a nice lock icon demonstrating fully secure protocols.
Many of our customers choose to host with A2, who recommend using SFTP to upload. Their SFTP server requires connecting to on a custom port, which Sandvox now helpfully detects based on the server.
Don't you just hate it when you think you might have mistyped your password, but can't know for sure? Well, Sandvox now has a checkbox to show the password in the plain text.
It's also been easy in the past to accidentally include an extra space character in the password if copying and pasting it from an email, say. Sandvox now does its best to detect that and ignore the unwanted space.
We've also given you a checkbox for finer-grained control over whether the password is stored in your keychain.
Finally, when choosing precisely where to upload the site files to, you can create new folders directly within the browser, much like with a regular Mac save or open panel.