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Sandvox Screencast: Using Google Webmaster Tools and Google Sitemap

Our next screencast installment is also about integrating Sandvox Pro with Google. In this, we walk you through verifying  your website with Google, and generating a Google Sitemap.

Guest Post: Integrating "Gallery2" into a Sandvox Site

We'd like to thank Steve Johnson for this very helpful "how-to" writeup.

I started looking into using Gallery2 and figured it would be too difficult to incorporate it into a Sandvox theme however it turned out quite simple. The hard part is getting a Gallery2 template to match a Sandvox design.

Step 1 - Pick the design you are going to use for your Sandvox site. I tried a couple and found that the only ones that work well are the “wide” ones. I ended up using the "Cubicle Wide" design from BlueBall Design which is 990px wide.

Step 2 - Install Gallery2 on your webhost and design your Gallery using the Gallery2 interface. You will need a new template I recommend you clone on of the templates provided which means modifying the css to match the design you chose for your site. The instructions are pretty clear and if you are comfortable manipulating css, easy to do. The specific changes I made to make this fit into the Sandvox design were:

  1. Match the background color
  2. Delete the heading image file. This allowed the gallery to fit in better with the Sandvox site.
  3. Make the breadcrumb text for the current location match the menu color of the Sandxox menu text.

There are more changes you can make, however those were the ones I made that affected how Gallery2 fit within Sandvox.

Step 3 - Add an “external page” page to your website. Then from the Inspector:

  1. Enter the url to the gallery2 location which will look something like http://yourdomain.com/gallery2/main.php
  2. Select “Page within Page” for the type of link
  3. Make sure the width is 100%
  4. Adjust the height as necessary for your albums. If they are all on a single row about 600px should do it.

I don’t recommend you use pagelets on this page since it will drastically reduce the landscape you are working with and make your users have to scroll around to see your gallery.

Step 4 - Publish and enjoy!

You can see a sample site at http://www.1000wpwebsites.com/mntimages.

Karelia Releases Sandvox 1.6 with new Search-Engine-Friendly Features

Karelia Software has released version 1.6 of Sandvox (R), its award-winning website creation software for Mac OS X.

Version 1.6 introduces a number of new features, foremost is the ability to adjust content for search engines on a page-by-page basis. By filling in new fields in the "Page Details" area on a Sandvox document, Sandvox users can indicate exactly how they want their title and short description to appear in search engine listings.

"In today's economy, it's important to make sure that your website is as attractive to people searching for you as possible." said Dan Wood of Karelia Software. "By putting enticing page descriptions on your important web pages, along with providing good content and getting quality in-bound links, visitors will be more likely to find your website when performing a search."

Version 1.6 also features a new "Discover Plug-ins" window that displays descriptions and previews of additional Sandvox designs available for free download or purchase from other companies. Under OS X Leopard, Sandvox users can preview designs in full-screen mode before downloading or visiting the vendor's website to purchase. The window also shows any designs or plug-ins that need to be updated if a new release is available.

For those maintaining a blog, Sandvox now offers a wider choice of commenting systems. Along with JS-Kit and the legacy Haloscan system, Sandvox 1.6 now integrates with IntenseDebate and Disqus.

The new version also offers an option to submit one's Sandvox-built website to Karelia's forthcoming website directory.

"I have been with Sandvox for a good while, and 1.6 is on track to show us a quantum leap in stability, speed and the maturity of a competitive mainstream tool that will allow the forward-looking user to showcase their website." said Don Pryor, a long time fan of Sandvox.

A Universal Binary for PowerPC and Intel architectures, Sandvox 1.6 requires Mac OS X "Tiger" version 10.4.11, or "Leopard" version 10.5 and above, and is available in English, French, Danish, German, and both Simplified and Traditional Chinese.

More information about Sandvox is available at Karelia's website (created with Sandvox, of course).

(Review copies for traditional and online media are available. Please direct requests to mediamatters@karelia.com and include your name along with your publication's or podcast's name and/or URL and any information about particular features or needs of special interest to your readership or audience.)

Karelia Software is the California-based company, headed by Dan Wood and Terrence Talbot, that originally brought you Watson, the ground-breaking Macintosh Web utility, winner of the MacWorld "Eddy" and the Apple Design Award for "Most Innovative Application."  Karelia was recognized a second time by Apple when Sandvox 1.2 was the runner-up for the 2007 Apple Design Award for "Best Mac OS X User Experience."

Two New Free Sandvox Designs from BehindTheRabbit

Rome, Italy-based BehindTheRabbit, a.k.a. Cristiano M. Gaston, has jumped into the Sandvox by creating two new designs that are available as free downloads.  

logorabbitCalled "Old Ink" and "White Rabbit," these designs can be downloaded directly from BehindTheRabbit, or from BTR's page at our Sandvox Designs site (where you can learn where this silly company name came from).

We expect to see more great designs from Cristiano in the near future. Welcome aboard!


Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Sandvox!

Over the last few weeks, we have been encouraging Sandvox users to submit their websites to our in-progress directory of Sandvox Sites. (If you haven't gotten an email asking you to submit your own site, you can get your submission URL by filling out our "Lost Registration Code" page and it will be emailed to you.)

Anyhow, we are still working behind the scenes to start getting those submissions published and we hope to accomplish that soon. (Big Thanks to everybody who has submitted their sites so far!) But with St. Patrick's Day around the corner, we couldn't help mention these two very timely Sandvox-built Websites submitted by William Murphy of Dublin City, Ireland. So we thought we'd highlight his websites here, in time for the big day.

St. Patrick's Festival WebsiteWilliam has been a Sandvox user for a long time, since its early betas. His two latest Sandvox projects are St. Patrick's Festival and Streets of Dublin. He chose the green and orange variations (very appropriate colors!) of the Blueball Trifecta design for these two sites.

The website for St. Patrick's Festival is intended to capture the festival using high definition photographs, which are available to anyone who wishes to use them. Mr. Murphy reports that the 2008 version of this website (a part of the overall Streets of Dublin website) resulted in the sale of a number of photographs, including one that will appear in an in-flight magazine some time this month.

Streets of Dublin is a larger website, the home base for a project that offers thirty thousand photos (hosted on the main website along with Flickr and Ipernity). So if you are looking for photographs of the city of Dublin then this is certainly the place to visit!

New Screencast: How to Incorporate Google Analytics in Your Sandvox Site

Here is the first in a new series of screencasts about Sandvox that we are working on. This one is a tutorial on integrating Google analytics with your website that is built with Sandvox, Pro edition.

Website "Sandvox Designs" Launches

Yesterday morning we revealed a new website, Sandvox Designs.

It's a one-stop shop for all publicly released designs for Sandvox, free or otherwise.

Sandvox DesignsRight now, there are designs from three commercial vendors, as well as Karelia.  For each design there are descriptions, links to buy or download, full-size screenshots of the design in action (either as a demo site or somebody's website that they graciously submitted), and, in many cases, links to live websites using those designs.

One design that can be directly downloaded is Galaxy, a brand-new design we are making available for free.

This website really started as a side project; we had been building a database of designs for use within Sandvox itself — you can see this in action if you are beta-testing version 1.6 — but we figured that the information would reach a new audience if we put it on the web.

Sandvox Designs, showing Galaxy DesignThe website is very heavily database-driven, but the overall site is built out of Sandvox, using the "Clean Sheets" design. (At some point, we hope to make a screencast explaining how we integrated the PHP with Sandvox to make this all possible.)

To any individuals or companies that have produced designs for Sandvox: we hope you will drop us a line so we can get you set up to enter your designs for this website!

Weekend Website Outage

This last weekend was not a good weekend for Karelia Software — along with thousands of other companies and individuals who use Media Temple to host their websites.

Some time Saturday morning, our websites went offline, returning a cryptic "403" error. Usually these kind of problems get fixed right away and there's no harm done. But in this case, it was a big issue, and Media Temple didn't restore service for approximately 45 hours. In this day and age, being offline for that long is just unacceptable.  (Read Media Temple's account here.)

We ourselves are frustrated by the outage, because we know that people were trying to reach our website to download or buy Sandvox, to look up information or documentation, or to reach us for support. (One anonymous person was frustrated enough to actually edit the Wikipedia Entry for Karelia Software to indicate that we had gone out of business!)

But we know that the outage has affected many Sandvox users in a bigger way, in that the services we provide to Sandvox users were out as well. Probably the outage with the biggest impact was the contact form: If you have a Sandvox-built site with a contact form, your visitors who tried to contact you using Sandvox's form would have gotten the cryptic "403" error message because the form was trying to connect to our server to relay the message. (Fortunately, they would have realized that the message didn't go through; it would have been particularly annoying if they had thought the message was being sent.)

In any case, Media Temple has finally restored our websites and services. And though they will probably try to make up for this by offering us a free month's worth of service or something along those lines, we have decided to "fire" Media Temple and find a new web host for our company. We had chosen Media Temple almost two years ago due to their reputation for reliability and the technical features that we needed for our databases and services.  It is clear now — and we really should have noticed this earlier — that their quality and support have gone too far downhill for us to continue using them.

Well, we want to apologize as much as we can for this outage.  We hope that this outage has not impacted our customers too much.

We are going to start the transition to a new host right away. Even though we don't foresee this kind of outage again any time soon, we don't want to give our business to a host that could have allowed this to happen. It will take a while to do the migration — we have many tools, scripts, and databases to move across — and unfortunately it takes time away from us working on cool new Sandvox features. We don't expect that this migration will have much of an impact, if any, on any Sandvox-built website.

One final note: We had been planning on a small price increase to Sandvox licenses to be effective March 1.  Since our site was offline most of that final day, we have delayed the price change until March 4 to give last-minute purchasers another chance at the "old" prices.

Moving forward,

Terrence & Dan