Sandvox Web Editor: A Good iWeb Alternative [Review]

Sandvox icon

When Apple announced iCloud, it also announced the end of MobileMe web hosting.

If you’re among the small community of iWeb/MobileMe users who’ve been wondering what to do when MobileMe finally gets switched off next June, I suggest you take a look at Sandvox as one possible replacement.

Sandvox, made by Karelia, is a delightful little web editor for ordinary people. It doesn’t offer the vast power of professional HTML editors, nor does it dumb things down too much. It strikes a good balance between the two ends of the spectrum.

In Sandvox, your website is stored in a single file on your computer. You double-click it to open and edit the site. If you’ve ever used Apple’s Pages word processor / page layout editor, you’ll instantly grasp how things work.

As with Pages, there are ready-made templates for your website. Pick one you like, and go. Inside each template are various kinds of web page – text page, blog entry, gallery, contact form, and so on – that you can add. Also like Pages, there’s an Inspector pane, which is where you’ll be doing a lot of tweaking and fiddling to get things how you want them.

There’s a good variety of built-in templates, and even more of them to find on the web. It’s also not too difficult to create your own, if you have a basic grasp of HTML and CSS markup. Then again, if you do understand those two then you’re less likely to be using an app like Sandvox.

Sandvox keeps things simple. Most pages you make with it are likely to be text and images, so just type and drag and you’ll have them done in no time. If you want to add more complicated stuff, that’s not difficult – Sandvox comes with an Objects button allowing you to add things like Facebook “Like” buttons, page counters, and embedded videos.

If you tried older versions of Sandvox, you might be pleasantly surprised by the changes made for version 2 (a point update to 2.2 has just gone live this week). It adds a huge list of new features, but feels easier to use and faster too. One feature I particularly like is that you can embed an indexed list of links to any collection of pages, turning simple static pages into a blog of sorts. There’s a lot to discover if you keep tweaking.

While it might be quite hard to precisely replicate in Sandvox a site you used to make in iWeb, it will be pretty easy to make a rough approximation of it. And even easier to start from scratch with a fresh design. Karelia has put together a comprehensive guide for switchers from iWeb which is well worth reading.

At $79 for a single user license, it is priced higher than a lot of other apps aimed at consumers, so make sure you put it through its paces before buying. If your website is just a hobby, that might seem like too high a price to pay. But if you’re building a site to support your business, or as a long-term archive for family documents or photos, it represents pretty good value.

Rating: ★★★★½

  • Carter

    Does it work on windows(xp)?

  • John

    Nope, this is a Mac OS X program only.

  • Orisha

    cultofMAC MAC MAC MAC… who cares windows?

  • Jonab

    Sandvox has terrible amateurishing looking templates. Rapidweaver is better.

  • gilest

    I’ve spent a lot of time using both, and each has its pros and cons. Rapidweaver does have better-looking templates, it’s true, but I’d say Sandvox has better editing features.

  • Andrei

    I’ve tried a few iWeb replacements after Apple slowly smothered iWeb, including Sandvox. I have finally decided on Weebly (http://www.weebly.com) which is a pleasure to use, looks great, and is very affordable ($72 for hosting 10 pages for 2 years!).

    The Weebly great-looking templates, contact forms, embedded media, forums, automatic mobile versions, etc., etc. are big selling points. Plus one can make (really fast!) updates from anywhere, since it’s web-based.

  • Phil

    + RapidWeaver – makes designing websites less of a chore and much more exciting. Not on Windows but get a Mac and run both Mac and Windows (if you must). TOP TIP: RapidWeaver + Stacks plugin = winning combination

  • Chris Goswick

    Hey I will say with almost ANY program the templates look like crap. They do. All are cookie cutter. I used to work in marketing so its hard for me to even think of template. Honestly if you want good templates subscribe to a site and pick out some good ones. Fact of the matter is the ease of use between Sandvox and Rapidweaver is HUGE. I also think that the production side of Sandvox is probably the best until you learn flash.

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in OS X, Reviews, Software | Tagged: , , , , , , , |