Thursday, January 26, 2012
Ever since moving my websites to Sandvox, I've been bedeviled with one little aspect of creating new themes: modifying the plist. Let's start at the beginning: A. Determine which Sandvox design is closest to the look of the site you want to build. My choice is Clean Sheets, FWIW. B. Do you have any custom Designs already based on this design? If no, the navigate to Applications>Sandvox. If yes, skip to C. 1. Right-click or Control-click on the Sandvox icon, which will bring up a list of choices. Select Show Package Contents. 2. Navigate to Contents>Designs 3. Select the .svxDesign file for the design you've chosen (file names are fairly self-explanatory) and duplicate it. 4. Move the duplicated file to username>Library>Application Support>Sandvox. C. Select either the Sandvox design you've just moved (if the answer to B was "no") or a custom design already in this folder (if the answer to B was "yes") and rename it for the new Design you're creating. For my New Media for Designers + Builders site I'm working on, I renamed the file NewMedia.svxDesign. Now, you're ready to modify the Design. 1. Right-click or Control-click on the .svxDesign file, which will bring up a list of choices. Select Show Package Contents. 2. The file you're looking for is Info.plist, but don't just double-click it. If you do, it'll open it up in Property List Editor, where (for reasons I can't fathom) it's almost impossible to save correctly. I've worked with this for many hours on my first two sites, finally stumbling on the right combination of key and mouse strokes completely by accident, and unable to remember precisely what I did. So don't do that. Instead, do this: 3. Open Info.plist with TextEdit. 4. Change the Bundle identifier to "Sandvox." (don't include ... I'm just using those to make clear that "newthemename" is a variable... the name of your new theme (remove all spaces and other extraneous characters.) 5. Change the title to . 6. Save and close. 7. Modify your Design by changing main.css. I've had great luck with CSSeditor, but that app has been bundled into Espresso, which I haven't worked with yet. In any case, it's the main.css file that determines the look and feel of your custom Design.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I blogged some time ago about the process of creating my email signature from scratch. But what about when you just need to duplicate and modify a signature in Apple Mail? It's a lot simpler:
A. Go to Mail>Preferences and click the Signatures tab.
B. At the bottom of the second column, click "+" to create a new signature. Don't do anything to it right now.
C. Quit Mail.
D. In the Finder, navigate to (your username)>Library>Mail>V2>MailData>Signatures. The signature names (the ones with a .webarchive extension) are complete gobbledygook, but don't worry. You'll see one with a Date Modified of just a moment ago. Click on that one to select the file name.
E. Copy the file name.
F. Delete the file.
G. Now, click one of the other .webarchive signature files. Hit the space bar. This will bring up the Preview window. Scroll until you find the one you want to modify.
H. Duplicate that .webarchive signature file.
I. Reopen Mail and go back to Mail>Preferences>Signatures. You'll find the duplicated signature in the list.
J. Change its name to whatever you want.
K. Make the changes in the text of the signature.
L. Copy it into all of your email accounts where you'll be using it by simply dragging it onto those accounts in the left column.
M. Close Preferences... you're done!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I went through months of agonizing over what to do about the demise of iWeb, and ended up with something that's an improvement on several counts: Sandvox, by Karelia Software, comes closest to iWeb's ease of use, but with several advantages:
A. It does Search Engine Optimization stuff as second nature, whereas iWeb wasn't SEO-friendly at all. It had been conceived by Apple as a sort of personal website maker before Facebook came out, and so SEO stuff was never built in. I've had MUCH better Google results since moving to Sandvox. The Meta Description is right there at the bottom of each page, waiting to be filled in. Tagging a page with keywords is simple, as is tagging photos with alternate text. Sandvox is set up with a dialog box to easily configure Google Tools and publishing a Google sitemap (the sitemap.xml.gz) is as easy as clicking a checkbox... only once, not every time you publish. These are all things that iWeb could only do with difficulty, using third-party software.
B. At first, the layout seems to be a bit of a downer... iWeb let you move text and graphics all over the page, like a page layout program, whereas Sandvox is more restrictive about how and where you place stuff. But iWeb sites often did very unpredictable things on different machines and browsers, whereas Sandvox sites are far more predictable... so the restrictions are a blessing in disguise.
C. Karelia has an active user community like iWeb did, but the difference is that whereas Apple never talks about future products, Karelia's engineers and even their owners are heavily involved in discussions of where to take Sandvox. And they listen. Already (I've only been using Sandvox for 6 months) they've implemented several changes I asked for.
D. These changes come quickly in the form of new versions, especially if you choose to take part in the beta program. No waiting a year or two for upgrades, like we did with iWeb.
E. The mechanism Sandvox uses for blogging (a "Collection") is extremely versatile. Basically, you can use the blog mechanism not only with a collection of blog posts, but with a collection of project pages, tool pages, book pages, services pages, product pages, plan pages... whatever. If you need a cover page and several detail pages within it, either organized chronologically or alphabetically, this is a really nifty feature.
F. Sandvox is much more nimble with template pages of any sort. Just set the page up the way you want and click Draft (do not publish.) You can now duplicate your new template anytime you want a new post, detail page, or whatever. Also, unlike iWeb, you can duplicate an entire collection if needed. Better yet, you can even drag and drop pages or entire collections from one domain file to the next. For example, I could copy my entire Original Green blog to the Mouzon Design site if desired just by a quick drag-and-drop.
G. Publishing is easy and clever. And if for any reason the site doesn't publish entirely (internet hiccup or whatever) you just click Publish again and Sandvox picks up where it left off rather than starting over.
H. Sandvox's sidebars are a huge time-saver. In iWeb, because it acted like a page layout program, sidebars on two pages were two distinct elements. This means that if I wanted to post lecture dates in my sidebar, I needed to change it on every single page the dates are found. With a large blog, this quickly becomes too labor-intensive. Sandvox, on the other hand, is extremely clever. For every object created on your page except for the basic text block, you can choose whether it's Inline (moves with basic text block) Callout, or Sidebar. If Sidebar, the then it gets listed as one of the available sidebar elements and you can place it on any page that has a sidebar. So if I want to change my lectures, I simply click into any Presentations element on any page of the Original Green site where it appears, make my changes, and it automatically revises it on every page where it occurs. A HUGE time-saver!
I. Sandvox has a lot of built-in Objects, from raw HTML objects to Amazon lists, Facebook buttons, contact forms, Flickr thumbnails, lists of external links, page counters, Google maps, Twitter buttons, YouTube content, etc.
J. It's easy to create a favicon for your site... you probably know already, but a favicon is the little icon that occurs in the URL line of your browser for each page of a more sophisticated site.
K. iWeb used its own blog comment system, but it was quirky and when something went wrong, it was usually impossible to fix... the comment was gone forever. Sandvox, on the other hand, has built-in support for several comment systems. I use Facebook comments, and to great effect because it drives many people to my sites that would never have known about them otherwise. When one of my Facebook friends comments, it goes on their timeline and all of their friends have an opportunity to see the comment and join the discussion. If each has 500 friends, then each comment on my site reaches close to 500 people I don't know, assuming we don't have heavy friend overlap. And you can put Facebook comments anywhere you want, not just on a blog post. Matter of fact, I have a comments module at the bottom of almost every page, because I want visitors to have the opportunity for a conversation about my entire site, not just my blog.
There's much more, but you get the idea... leaving iWeb seemed really painful at first, but it's been one of the best changes I've made in years to my internet presence.