Sandvox Web Editor: A Good iWeb Alternative [Review]

By

20111102-sandvox-icon.jpg

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.

[xrr rating=90%]