Kool Tools: SiteGrinder
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Kool Tools: SiteGrinder

Want to do web development but don't know a lot about HTML or CSS? Well, if you're pretty handy with Photoshop, SiteGrinder from Media Lab (http://www.medialab.com) may be your cup of tea.

SiteGrinder works like a combo Photoshop plug-in and stand-alone application that lets you develop a content management system (CSM) without messing around with HTML, CSS or even Javascript. You can build a web site via the addition of one-word hints, such as "rollover" or "menu," to the names of layers in a Photoshop design file.

SiteGrinder uses Photoshop's "layer comps" feature to organize layers into web pages. The SiteGrinder Engine is launched directly from the automate Menu in Photoshop and runs in the background as it converts your PSD into compliant code. What's more, as of version 3.0, SiteGrinder supports two new optional add-ons: Commerce and Control.

The SiteGrinder 3 Commerce add-on builds web stores with a fully-integrated shopping cart from within Photoshop. Users can now create online stores with shopping carts from image galleries using Photoshop text and art layers. After publishing their store to the web, users can edit products, pricing, images and descriptions remotely using any web browser. Also, SiteGrinder 3 has an integrated shopping cart from FoxyCart that integrates with Intuit Quickbooks and Quickbooks Online to give you full control of the web sales process.

The SiteGrinder 3 Control add-on enables web site content management from any Internet-connected computer through a web browser. The designer/developer (or client) can change any site content including page additions, text, images and galleries remotely from any web browser, all without returning to Photoshop.

SiteGrinder 3 slices and codes up your design creation into a fully standards-compliant, CSS-rich web site. It doesn’t restrict you to template layouts or page organization. Whatever you can create in Photoshop, SiteGrinder 3 can convert your design into a fully functioning web site.

SiteGrinder can generate styled and scrolling web text, rollover buttons, pop-ups, and multi-level menus from both graphics and text. It replicates character and paragraph styles from your text layers to styled web text. SiteGrinder's engine can convert type layers into search-engine friendly menus that are dynamic -- and which look good. (The key to the functionality in SiteGrinder 3 is naming your layers in PhotoShop.)

Adding pages is done either through the use of Layer Comps in Photoshop itself or through the Content Manager section. The Design Manager lets you format most page elements in your design after the build. It uses a system of menus that let you define styles that can be applied to other elements in your design.

The Design Manager automatically starts up in your web browser after you build a web page in the Photoshop plug-in interface. You then implement the settings and parameters you want in the Design Manager.

The Content Manager section lets you edit content within your site before uploading it to the web. You can edit text, add images and other media.

What's more, SiteGrinder 3 is the first Photoshop plug-in that has a plug-in API (application programming interface). Third parties can create plug-ins that enhance the web site design, development, build and deployment capabilities of SiteGrinder 3.

There are three possible image thumbnail sheets you can make. You can have CSS image thumbnail sheets that show all the thumbs at the same time. You can have Flash thumbs that slide. Or you can go with paged CSS thumbs that show groups of thumbs. You can use any of as viewing sheets that shows alternate views of a gallery exhibit.

If you doubt SiteGrinder's ease of use, don't fret. Media Lab offers free step-by-step online tutorial videos, online documentation and sample files, and even weekly free training webinars.

SiteGrander is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 and above and Photoshop 7.0 or higher. The suggested retail price for SiteGrinder 3 Web Suite is $799. SiteGrinder 3 is $399. Control add-on is $199 and Commerce add-on is $199 if purchased separately. You pay only once and then use SG3 as many times as you want to build as many web sites as you like. A feature-complete demo version is available for download.

 
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