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Iron Clad Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets aren't the most exciting things, but sometimes they are a necessary evil and occasionally you need to publish the data from Numbers or Excel online. Grid Iron from Chillidog is a stack that will capably assist you in this undertaking.

Greg has just updated Grid Iron to version 3 and it now processes not only Google Spreadsheets, but also CSV and Excel files. Not only that, but Grid Iron also understands Markdown so you can now add links, embed images, bold text, or other HTML styling directly into your spreadsheet.

gridiron

Your data is added to the RW resources, unless of course you are accessing a Google Spreadsheet, and you have many, many options to format the appearance of your tables.


Grid Iron is responsive – albeit in an unusual fashion: If your data can not be contained within the width of your page, the first column will display a plus button which, when clicked, opens a dropdown with the 'missing' data. This is, of course, a matter of preference and many might prefer a solution with a slider.

But let's take a look at the stack settings. First off, you need to set the format Type for the data that you wish to import. As already mentioned, you may choose between CSV (default), Excel or Google Spreadsheet.

You then need to Link Grid Iron to the data. Sadly, because your data is warehoused, you can't preview your finished table until it has been published online, instead the preview displays a dummy table filled with weather data. This is sufficient for general formatting, but you won't see if your Markdown formatting is correct until it has been published.

Grid Iron automatically formats the first line of data as a header. The stack settings allow you to duplicate the header as a Footer – useful for longer tables. The next option is Responsive Table. If this is deactivated, it doesn't mean that your table has a set width – it will still adapt to your viewport, but you will not be able to activate the dropdown to view any data from the overflow.
When set to Responsive, you can set the colours for the open and close state of the plus/minus button in the first column.

The next settings are for the Table Header Styling. They include Cell Padding; Border Width; Border Style; Enclose Header With Border; Bold and Italic Text; Horizontal and Vertical Alignment; Font Size; Top Spacing; Background Fill colour; Border Colour and Text Colour.

The same settings are repeated for the Cell Styling, but with the addition of alternating colours for the Rows and Omit First & Last Borders. There are two more settings which will allow both Hovered and Selected Rows to be highlighted with colours of your choice. Selected Rows also include formatting for the Focus Borders and Focus Text (see below).

The Table Controls settings let you choose which additional buttons and information are added to your table. The first setting, Controls Display, is a little cryptic at first glance, but allows a number of settings without needing a checkbox for each of them. B=buttons, L=length, S=search, R=processing, T=table, I=info, P=pagination.

One extremely useful feature of Grid Iron is the option to allow your visitor to export the table data in various formats. There are checkboxes for each of the Export Buttons: Copy; CSV; Excel; PDF and Print. But we're not done yet; the colour of the Button, the Button Text and the Button Border in passive and active states may be also be set and then follow settings for the Button Height; Button Padding Button Radius and Button Size. Next follow individual settings for the search box.

We now come to the Pagination Settings. A Grid Iron table does not have to be displayed as a whole, but can be reduced to a maximum number of lines. The default Page Size is 25 lines.Columns, both left and right, can be pinned within the table. This means that however narrow the viewport, the pinned columns will always be visible. It is also possible to hide columns from the table. Search settings will also allow you to exclude specific columns form the search function.

Grid Iron columns can be sorted, ascending or descending. Sorting Settings lets you Exclude Columns from the function while the colour of the Sort Column, Sort Text, the Icon Size and Colours may be set individually.

Fixed Column Settings (you thought we were done, didn't you?) allow columns to have a fixed width in px or % and once more, you can define which columns are affected by this setting.

And now, finally, follow some settings for Status Board for which, sadly, development has been discontinued. However, if you are a Status Board user, you may still take advantage of its functions.

Unlike other solutions, all Grid Iron content is embedded directly within the HTML of your page. This makes it compatible with all major search engines. A lightning fast networking and cache engine means that your sites load faster, and searches give instantaneous results.

When you publish your data, you'll be surprised at the number of files that need to be uploaded. My tip – go and make yourself a pot of tea while you're waiting.

A lot of thought has gone into Grid Iron 3 and if you are in the situation that you need to publish tabular data, you will find it to be a highly professional solution!

Comments

SEO Outpaced

Do you want to turn your RapidWeaver website into an unwavering search engine leader? The power of top Google ranking is huge. If your website dominates Google's first page for your target keywords, you can prepare to fill your bank accounts.
There's a science and an art to making websites get to page #1 – SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
Done correctly, your business can be discovered by thousands of new people daily – securing you new levels of online profits and success.

Wouldn't it be great, if you could see how your website SEO performs before it is even published? With SEO-Rx from Chillidog you can!

SEO-Rx is a stack that you simply place on your YourHead Stacks page. When you preview the page, it automatically generates a preview of your page in Google search results and you will see exactly how your site scores in the SEO charts. SEO-Rx will automatically check to make sure you are following well established SEO guidelines. This includes checking: Page Title and all Meta Tags, Image file names and Alt Tags and Page Structure (in particular, your page headings). SEO-Rx also checks to see if your JavaScripts are being optimally loaded.


Drop SEO-Rx into a RW page and you will see a set of instructions and a list of Stop Words (words that search engines typically ignore). When you view the stack settings for SEO-Rx, you will find just six settings. Ignore Hidden Images; Hide Report (from the preview page); Show Word Count (appears when you hover over a text stack in preview mode); Show SEO Tips (below the SEO-Rx stack in preview mode); Stop Words List (language settings) and Page Size (the number of entries per table in preview mode).

SEO-Rx is a useful stack that is invaluable for checking the SEO compliance of a RapidWeaver web page/site, the only thing that it doesn't do, sadly, is suggest a list of keywords for your chosen topic, but that would be asking too much.
Oh, and it isn't published to your website – you're the only person that gets to see it.

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CMS For The Rest Of Us

Currently everything seems to revolve around CMS, with a plethora of different solutions for RapidWeaver. For many years, I have relied on Pagelime for uncomplicated sites, but recently reached its limits with an overly long price list that the customer insists he wants to be able to edit himself – he never does, though, he's lazy and always reaches for the phone. I've thought for a while now that it's time to look for a new solution. The only problem is – My Thai clients already baulk at the price of a website and feel that CMS should be supplied as a freebie.

Do you remember Nimble Host's Sentry? It was a cross between an emergency failsafe and a time based publishing stack. You could switch stacks on, or off from any browser and could set the stacks to be displayed at specific times. I purchased the stack, but only used it two or three times.
When Jonathan turned his attention to things other than stacks, Will Woodgate took over the Nimble Host stables and they were integrated into seyDesign's website. Will has just updated Sentry and the stacks now carry the title Sentry CMS.

Compared to other, similarly priced, solutions, Sentry is amazingly simple to set up — specifically, there is nothing to set up!
If you've placed the necessary stacks on your page, the setup is automatic.

Sentry is now composed of four stacks. The first is Sentry CMS Base which should only be used once on each site, it should be placed on your homepage. Sentry CMS Base is the stack that is responsible for the whole CMS setup. However – all you have to do is add accounts for as many users as should be allowed to edit the published site. Up to ten users can be added and to set them up, all you need to define is a mail address and a password for each of them.
If you're feeling lazy, the other settings may be ignored.
However, they do define how the editing interface will be displayed. You can, alter the description for each of the Buttons and entry fields – to change the language for instance. You can also set the colour for the Button Fill and the Button Text for the normal and hovered states.
The two Final check boxes will set a Simplified Editing Interface which will hide labels and coloured bars in the editing interface when enabled, and display a Data Download Link (which is displayed in RapidWeaver, not online). The Download Link allows you to make backups of your database and media at intervals of your choice.

Sentry's second stack is Sentry Display, which takes over the function of the old Sentry stack. This is the timebased publishing stack and the only settings in the new version of the stack are Timeframe: Display Always; Until Date1; After Date1 and Between Date1 and Date2. You can drop any stack into Sentry Display and it will not be visible on your website outside the dates defined. The Sentry Display can also be, activated and deactivated manually via any browser interface and, if you placed your content within a SentryEdit stack it can also be edited.

The third stack that Sentry supplies is the Sentry Edit Stack. This is the stack that your clients will find most valuable. The Sentry Edit stack is the stack that will contain the data that you will want to edit online. You can drop stacks with editable content – i.e. text and images – into Sentry Edit and, when you log in, the contents can be altered online.
Sentry Edit has just two settings in the stack interface. The first, Add Top Padding To Editor, will add padding to the editing box in those rare cases where the save button isn't visible. The second, Overwrite Online Edits. When the 'Overwrite' is activated, subsequent uploads from RW will overwrite any edits the client has made.
I can't tell you how many clients have wrecked a layout by treating a CMS system as if it were M$ Word. 'Of course, I always hit 'Enter' when I'm finished!' Oftentimes it's easier to start over than to try and rescue the edited version.

The final Sentry stack is Sentry Login. You will need a Sentry Edit stack on each Sentry page. The stack settings have a checkbox to Display Login Button; FA [FontAwesome] Login Icon; the Icon Position, for all four corners of the browser window, or As Positioned; and the Icon Colour for Normal and Hovered states.
The final checkbox is Soft Reload The Page and ensures that the current page version is displayed at login, not a cached version.

Upon Login, the user will see all of Sentry's editable stacks within the page layout. The Editor has a standard interface that is easily understandable and will allow you to set paragraph formatting for Paragraph, Quote and Headers 1—4. Bold Italic and Strikethrough. Links can be added as can images. Then we have Text Alignment and Lists.
When altering the Paragraph, Quotes, or Header, the theme font is always used and images honour the maximum width of the container. Just make sure that your client is aware of the fact that each Sentry container must be saved individually, there is no global 'Save' button.

Sentry CMS
You may be asking yourself, why Sentry doesn't require any setup. The simple fact is, Sentry utilises a SQLight database. It doesn't require you to set up a database individually – it can create its own database.
When you upload your Sentry website the first time, be prepared for it to take longer than usual. The database does, after all, need to be configured. Subsequent uploads follow at a normal speed.
Sentry is compatible with modern, responsive RapidWeaver themes. If in doubt, download the demo version and test it before purchase. Sentry is White Labeled. There is no indication on the webpage that you didn't build the CMS solution yourself. However, there is no immediate way to add your own logo.

Licensing
Sentry CMS may be used with multiple websites that you own and manage. E.G. if you manage 5 websites for 5 different clients, then you are permitted to use Sentry CMS on all 5 websites. However, if one of those clients wishes to manage the RapidWeaver website themselves, they would need to buy a separate copy of Sentry CMS.

seyDesign offers support for the first website [that might have problems] only. Support for subsequent sites is available at a charge. However, Sentry is so simple to implicate, that I hardly see any problems arising.

Oh, and one more thing. Sentry is much easier to use than Pagelime – both for you and the client. Instead of a separate container for each block of editable text,


you can drop in a whole Columns stack and everything within it becomes editable! And if you are coming from Pagelime – you won't need to replace all of your page lime stacks, just drop them into Sentry, their container and all (the screenshot above is all Pagelime stacks). The Pagelime stacks won't affect your Sentry editabilty.

Go forth and annotate those sites.

Update Note

Version 4 is a FREE update for all existing users, available from your Paddle Account or by request via email. The magnitude of the changes in version 4 means that this update is not available via automatic updates inside Stacks / RapidWeaver. The update needs to be manually downloaded and installed after you've run a backup. Previous Sentry CMS stacks can be swapped-out for the new stacks and configured accordingly.

Comments

Chessboard – Working with Sections Pro

I wrote last week about my first faltering steps with BWD's Sections and talked mainly about Sections Angle. Using the experience I'd gained with my test project, I went ahead and streamlined my own main site using a layout that I'd had in my head for some time. I freely admit that the design was heavily influenced by the TILT theme from MultiThemes, but who uses 'themes' nowadays?

I asked on the Weaver's Space for constructive criticism of the site and was well rewarded with pertinent comments. One point that I hadn't expected to be criticised, was the fact that 'only' 15% of the stacks I'd used were BWD stacks. So I accepted the challenge and went ahead to tackle another of my orphaned sites – essentially a splash screen for my main site. This time, the only Foundation stacks that I utilised, were the Styles stack, three Image stacks a Reveal stack and Animate. 90% of the new site is BWD and 10% is miscellaneous.

Now – Foundation is 'Mobile First', but my splash screen is built with Jack and I often find it more prudent to build the full screen version first and then adapt it for mobile. I find this especially important when building something that is relatively complicated with Jack. The remainder of the site is 99% BWD and I feel that this kind of layout is also best built for the desktop and then adapted for the various viewports,

Which brings me back to Sections Pro which is present in the largest portion of the site.
Below the splash screen I have a chequered design that is built using the Grummage Pro and Sections Pro Stacks. Once more, this will be Old Hat for many of you, but don't forget that I live in the jungle and was without an adequate internet connection for over twelve months.

The two column Grummage 2 column stack was important both for the column proportions and for equalising the background column heights of the Sections Pro stacks it contained. Without the equalisation, the coloured backgrounds didn't align correctly.
I was pleased to find that it's possible to set a Magellan Marker for each Sections Pro stack – invaluable for single-page layouts. This fact made it possible to easily set a Magellen link to each section of the page without using extra stacks.

The chequered layout is very simple. A Grummage Pro stack containing two Grummage Columns stacks, each containing two Sections Pro stacks set to 50% height and each with a child stack for the background colour. On one side a Paragraph Pro stack set to display a Google Font, on the other an image.
The first image is a Sections Pro stack with a child stack for the background image and an animated caption text using Sections Box and Animate.

The next page section followed the same scheme. The footer is a Partials stack borrowed from my main site.

Would this sort of layout been possible without BWD and Sections Pro? Yes.
Could it have been responsive? Yes.
Would it have been simple to build? No Way!

The only things that caused me a headache were
• Adapting the Jack stack to variable width screens and
• Reformatting the Siphon stack for mobile screens
although a button Plus stack did somehow refuse to open a Pop Drop stack, but I look forward to testing Button Plus 2 in the very near future!

As I said in my last post, Sections Pro opens up design possibilities that were previously unavailable in RapidWeaver. And as someone else recently commented, Sections Pro is probably the most important development for RW in the last few years.
An RW site without BWD – unimaginable!

If any of my readers would like to take a look at the project for instructive purposes, it is available upon request; just drop me a line.


And by-the-way; it has recently come to my attention that only two percent – 2% – of the people who downloaded one of Andrew's stacks actually donated to his coffee kitty.

As BWD stacks are invaluable, Don't Forget to Donate!

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Dispatching Messages - Antique Text

If you'd like to present a special message to visitors arriving from specific websites, Marathia's ReferMessage stack will be just the thing you're looking for. If you'd like that message to look as if it came off an old and worn letterpress, then Jeroen's annual giveaway is the ideal addition.

ReferMessage

ReferMessage let's you post specific messages to visitors arriving from other sites. A different message for each site. You can present the message as a splash screen, an introductory message text, or even sneak it in with your main body text. It will only be visible to visitors arriving from the sites that you have stipulated. Quite an interesting idea.

Let's say that you have a special offer posted on special-deals.com. You can post a message on your linked page to greet visitors that clicked the link on special-deals and include a code to retrieve your offer. Visitors that find your site by chance or come from other websites won't see the offer or the code. You could add a second message and a new code for visitors from daily-deals.com, perhaps with a different price. A good way to track the effectiveness of your A/B tests.

So how does ReferMessage work? I assure you – there's no witchcraft involved. Simply drop the stack onto your page, add whichever stacks you wish to display into it and then consult the settings panel. You will find a checkbox to Show in Preview Mode and a field to enter your Referring URL. If the name of the website is specific enough, you only need to enter part of the address. 'google', for instance, will load ReferMessage for any visitors coming from a google search. 'rapidweaver' is fine if you want visitors from rapidweaver.ninja or rapidweavercentral.info to see your message, but not specific enough to exclude one, or the other.

If you wish to display where the visitor arrived from within the ReferMessage text, you must activate Use URL in Text and add the tag <span id=’[unique ID]’></span> to the text. The Unique ID refers to the ID you must add to the next field in the settings panel.

So what's this Unique ID stuff? Well, as already mentioned, you want to display a unique message to some of your visitors. Each message requires its own ReferMessage stack and each of these stacks must have a unique ID to differentiate them.


Antiquify

Jeroen's Antiquify stack is his traditional free stack for 2016's Xmas period. It does nothing more than make text look as if it were printed on an old letterpress. The effect is random and looks different each time the page is loaded. The poster above was created with Antiquify using the same 'Aref Ruqaa' font as the 'CAMPBELL'S Soup Ad' text. You'll notice that the text looks bolder – as could often happen when the printing plates were freshly inked – and some of the letters have irregular weights. In some cases Antiquify can present your text with too much, or too little ink; too much, or too little pressure from the printing plate and with letters displaced.

There are two ways to set up the stack. Method one is simple enough. Add your text to the stack. Publish. Finished!
Finer fonts work better than bolder fonts. Serifs work better than sans serif. You might want to drop Antiquify into a Font Stack to define your font.

Method two. Add a Unique ID to Antiquify and use the same ID for any text stacks that you wish to change the appearance of. The Screenshot above uses method two.

More about the screenshot: The whole layout was created inside a ReferMessage stack and would hypothetically appear, if the page were visited from the Ninja News page. The right half was created with the addition of two paragraph stacks, each with an Antiquify ID.

ReferMessage is a useful stack for presenting targeted messages, or evaluating A/B tests. I especially like that it can be set within the body content, allowing a page's text to change depending on where the visitor arrived from. Antiquify is a fun stack and, if used thoughtfully, could be ideal for presenting quotes or other text snippets. Don't overdo things though, Antiquify has a few limitations (see the demo page)!

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