Friday, December 5, 2008

Showit Sites Update

Tonight we rolled out an update to Showit Sites which will automatically be downloaded and updated the next time you open Showit Sites. Included in this update are a lot of bug fixes under the hood including resolving some of the issues with drag and drop on the Mac. The following are a few of the fun things to check out:

Support for a wider range of Latin characters

Added a "Link to Asset" button to the media window so you can get a direct link to any of your images or files.

Addition of a Full Screen Button to the media library (look in "Components") to allow browsing of a site in full screen mode. Note: if you host your HTML you will need to export and upload your HTML again.

Option for links to open in an "Overlay" window. Check this one out as it is really cool and will allow you the flexibility of opening other HTML pages such as a blog or web page right inside your site without a popup or new window.

Added an option to specify a field as the reply-to email in forms so that when you receive contact form emails, you can click reply in your email program and reply directly to the sender.

In addition, this new version adds support for Adobe Air 1.5 for improved performance and additional fixes for locking user accounts, and we also added a translator app to allow people to begin translating Showit Sites (if you are interested in translating, let us know).

We have a lot more in the works such as custom fonts and additional plugins that needed a little bit more work before they are ready for public release. We hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

LIVE Design Webcast

Check out our live Showit Sites webcast where Nate Sees discussed designing in Showit Sites at 11 AM PST.
Video streaming by Ustream

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Showit Books

Today we announce the introduction of Showit Books to our Showit Media Lab. This includes an update to Showit Web version 2.7 which will now allow you to sell 5"x5" fine art books directly from your Showit Web shows. This free update to Showit Web also includes two new songs and templates for each of the three lengths of the songs.

We are offering a great introductory price on the books through December 1st so that those orders can be ready for Christmas.

Check out some of the pictures of the books below:

We've also been doing a lot of work on getting all of our tutorial videos in one place including this tutorial to get you started selling books. We also added a quick start video for Showit Sites to help you get up to speed with the Showit Sites interface. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Did You Know? Invisible Buttons

Did you know that buttons on your site don't have to be visible in order for them to work? You can do all kinds of fun stuff with this in your site... like creating hidden links to hidden pages. But this feature can also be useful for some very straight forward things as well.

Let's say you have a text box with a script font in it. The text box needs to be a sufficient size in order to display the text properly. But when you turn this text into a link to a different page... the entire text box turns into the link and causes problems with other layers on the page.

You can see on the picture below... the text box from above makes the mouse cursor change to alert the user that there is something there to click. But we want to avoid this so far away from the actual text itself.

The solution is an invisible button!

Add a square from the Showit Library's Flash section. Then position and size it to the area where you would actually like to have the text respond as a link.

Once you have the square sized and positioned properly, you will jump up to the Effects tab. You want to change the opacity of the square layer to zero. Then jump over the the Link tab and have the square layer link to the page rather than the text.

Now you can see that the text doesn't change the mouse cursor too far away. You're using an invisible button!

Do you have need for an invisible button? Try it out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live Q & A

DJ hosted a live question and answer time and if you missed it you can watch the recorded event below:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Basics: Forms

Here's a tutorial to help with some basic understanding of how to create a form from scratch. The tutorial covers:

- Adding a form through the Page Layout wizard.
- Adding text layers and enabling a text layer for input.
- Making a text input required for form submission.
- Making the user input appear in the subject of the email.
- Labeling information inside the email.
- Some basic tricks for duplicating, aligning, and resizing layers.

Make sure to post any questions in the comments.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Contact Form Update

We are excited to announce the roll out of a major Showit Sites update this week that includes new features such as contact forms and progress indicators along with a bunch of bug fixes.

The easy way to add a contact form would be to click the new "Add Page Layout" button in the bottom left under the pages list. From there, click on contact forms, a layout and then "Add Page". This will have a predesigned form and you can work from there.

You'll notice the "Advanced" tab for a text field now has a lot more options including a check box for "Enable Input". When this box is checked, a user can then type in that text area on your site. You can make it required and even include text in the text area, include the text in the subject of the email sent to you, and include a label for the text.

Once you enable a text field for input, you then need to add a button that will submit the form. You can use any of your normal layer buttons for this that go to another page in your site, probably you'll want a page that says, "Thanks for contacting us" or something like that. Under the previous options for links we added a check box for "Submit Form". Checking this box means that when a user clicks on the button, it will submit the form and then take them to the page you specified. When a user submits a form, an email will be sent to the email address used to login for that site.

The second big update includes progress indicators which help a user get feedback on the status of a loading site. Website visitors are used to the way HTML progressively loads content so it can sometimes feel slow when a Flash site is loading content in the background before the site responds and displays it. This is why it is important to indicate that content is being loaded and the progress of the loading.

In Showit Sites we provide a "Preload Layer" on each style group that you can put text, images and now Flash preloaders that indicate the exact loading progress. You can find these new Flash components under the "Preloader" tag in the Showit Library. In addition, there are now more options for your initial site load under the site settings including choosing the position of the loader and also the addition of "Flash" as a "Loader Type". You can choose one of the preloaders from the library to be used on the initial load of your site to give your site visitors a better idea of the loading progress. Also, the site information xml is now compressed which turns out to be about 90% smaller than the original xml and dramatically improves the initial site load speed.

In addition, there are also a bunch of great new features including:

- Lock a layer in place
- Stand alone video options for finish by fading, looping or jumping to a page
- Auto save and recovery of the auto save file after an unexpected quit
- Add Page Layout Wizard for easily adding single pages
- Option for background image to fit inside the height or width of a page
- Option to tile a background image
- Home page indicator and right click to set home page in the pages list
- Improved combo boxes and numeric sliders
- Text background and border color
- Single line text
- Import Showit Web by selecting showit.xml or showit.swf
- Save dialog on logout

Finally, for those that have recently experienced issues with uploading, saving, or publishing, we were having some intermittent server issues which have been resolved and dramatically increased the reliability of these server interactions.

We hope you enjoy the update and we appreciate your feedback!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Based on a lot of feedback from our beloved users, we're happy to introduce Slimline, a brand new style group we just added to Showit Sites. As you'll see, Slimline is very minimal in graphical nature, allowing your photos and content to take center stage.

Log into Showit Sites and tweak it out to make it your own. (If you don't see it in the "Add Style Group" panel, be sure to go to the Help menu and choose "Clear Library Cache".)

We'd love your feedback as we continue to create more designs to help you build a successful web presence.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Join us in congratulating one of our support gurus, Jason Lackey, on his marriage this last weekend to his new wife Kara!

Also check out more pictures and the slideshow from the photographers Christopher Wren and Tira J.
Jason has been working for Showit for over a year helping customers with their questions and solving problems they may run into. Make sure to say congrats next time he helps you out ;)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Basics: Pages

Here's a tutorial to help with some basic understanding of pages and the pages panel in Showit Sites. In this tutorial we cover:

- The basic functionality of the pages panel.
- Adding a new page.
- Duplicating an existing page.
- Removing a page.
- Renaming a page.
- Setting the home page for your site.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Service Outage

Today we experienced a major service outage for about 7 hours due to the Amazon Simple Storage Solution going offline. The Amazon S3 service was chosen for its reliability and scalability, allowing us to use the robust Amazon back end to manage the hosting part of the Showit Sites service. We apologize for this problem, ultimately we cannot point fingers as it was our choice to go with Amazon and the questions about Amazon's stability will be ones that we will be looking at very closely.

Up until today, the Amazon S3 service has only been down a few hours over the course of two years. I don't know how many web services can say the same, it just happened at a very unfortunate time for us as we are launching version 1.0 of our Showit Sites software.

Creating backups of the S3 service would be difficult because of the amount of work they have put into building a scalable solution to store data online. Part of using the service is that you are getting the redundancy through them, so duplicating that would be a very huge operation. The downside is that when their network goes down in a crazy fluke like this, their redundancy doesn't help. Keep in mind this type of thing is a network failure, it's not entirely know but it is probably some hardware or switches or something along those lines that caused some major communication problems, but there was no loss of data meaning that once the network was fixed, all of your stored data is still there. They typically have 99.9% uptime, but as with computers and the web, unexpected stuff comes up and hardware will fail.

We know this from the past 4 years of doing business online that managing servers and networks is a nightmare, and when stuff goes down it can take a bit to fix. We've had a couple different times now for our business where servers have been down and one case where it took a week to get our store back up and we had nothing we could do about it. At least with Amazon I know that every minute is costing thousands of customers and they have their best people on getting it restored.

It did bring up a lot of issues for us on how our software and your sites respond when this happens, so we will be looking at better ways of dealing with this so you don't have a blank page on your site with no helpful info and ways to communicate better to let you know when things happen.

Again, thanks for the feedback, we will continue to work on making our service reliable enough for your website to depend on. Thanks,


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Understanding Resizing

There have been lots of questions about Showit Sites and how resizing works, so I thought it would be good to give a brief overview of how and why resizing works the way it does in Showit Sites.

One of the first goals in building Showit Sites was to design a way to build full browser sized websites that would look good at almost any resolution. A typical web page is a fixed pixel size, so a bigger monitor may have lots of extra space and a small monitor may require scroll bars. With Showit Sites, the content is resized to fit whatever resolution, even a wide monitor or a browser window that is opened narrow. Below are some over exagerrated browser aspect ratios to illustrate how content fills the entire browser window:

To do this, we created a few different ways to layout your site content explained below.

1) Layers - All content from images to video to other flash content that you drag onto a page is a layer of your page. If a layer is not locked then it will scale and position relative to the other elements on the page in the center of the browser window.

2) Locked Layers - Layers that you want to float independent of the page content but basically stay against a side of the browser window can be locked to a side with the check boxes and offset on the "Layout" tab for a selected layer. If you want the layer to stay in a corner, lock it to two sides. If you want it to stretch, lock to two opposite sides. Locking to two sides will distort an image, so we recommend only using this for lines or boxes or graphics that can be stretched and not look funny. Locking is great for things like a site menu bar or a logo that you want to stay in a corner.

3) Background
- The background sizes to fit the entire browser window which will NOT make layers line up relative to the background. The background is meant to fill the entire browser window, so depending on whether the browser is opened tall or wide will determine what parts of the image will be cropped. You can choose how you would like the image to be cropped by using the drop down next to the background and choose options such as locking it to the top, bottom, corner or even stretch it. If you want your background image to line up with the layers, put the background image on the page as a layer and just use a solid color for the background.

I hope that helps explain a few of these sizing concepts because when you are designing it often feels that the page is a fixed size, but it's good to keep in mind that people have different sized monitors and open their browsers in different ways. A great way to test your site is to click the preview button and then drag the bottom right corner of the window so you can see what your site will look like when sized narrow or wide.

The full sized-scaling site does provide for an amazing experience across many different screen sizes but it's a little tricky initially to understand how to design for it, especially when deciding what to use for your background. Hopefully this gives you a good understanding and some ideas as you build your Showit Sites!


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nesting Style Groups

Scrolling Text

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Resize Bug

It's great to see starts going up live with Showit Sites and and we have been working hard to squash bugs as they come up. One thing we noticed was some slow load times. We found out that even though imported images were being resized, the original image was the one that ended up online. This means that if you added a large image that was a few megabytes, Showit Sites was putting that full size image online which means really slooowwwww load times....

The latest update resolves this issue and the next time you launch Showit Sites, it should auto-update to this version.

However, you will need to replace your images that are online to improve your load times. To do this, just complete the following steps:

1) Open up the image browser on the bottom of Showit Sites
2) Drag any of your original images you are using in your site from your computer onto the Showit Sites image browse window
3) This will ask you if you want to overwrite the image. Choose "Yes".
4) The image will be resized and uploaded online

After you complete these steps for large images, you should see a dramatic speed improvement in site load times.

Finally, if you are experiencing issues with text not showing up online, it may be because the style group you are using is outdated and doesn't have the correct info for font loading. To resolve this, click on the style group and then click on the style tab on the right. At the bottom, click "Reset" and your style will be reset to the default. Make your changes to the fonts and sizes and you are ready to go.

We apologize for these problems and will keep working to make Showit Sites an awesome service for building your website!

-Todd Watson
Development Team

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Showit Sites Version 0.5.07 Beta

We've released a heap of new functionality; check out the new features:
  • Text editor improvements
    • Scrollbars
    • More stable editing
    • Improved CSS styling engine
  • Effects
    • More drop-shadow controls
    • Glow
    • Blur
    • Blend modes, including multiply, overlay, screen, and more!
  • Dynamic vector shapes
  • Nested style groups
  • Site setup wizard
    • Steps you through the one-time setup process that allows you to publish your site in 2 clicks!
Here's the stuff we're working on as you read this:
  • Integrated help
  • Add music
  • Add file package
  • Search engine optimization
  • Deep linking
  • Undo
  • Alignment options
  • Photo Gallery
  • MP3 player
If you haven't had a chance to download the beta, feel free to take Showit Sites for a test drive. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sweet new Update!

I've been playing with the new features and have really enjoyed experimenting with some new ways of showing my latest info. Instead of using a traditional blog format for my daily updates I'll be able to keep it right within my site and have a completely custom look that matches my web presence beautifully.

I'll also be able to link to it from different pages on my site so as you can see here I'm going to have a map page and each little "logo" on the map will link to the "blog" section of my website sharing the information of what I was doing in that area!

Lots of possibilities!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Showit Sites Version 0.3.21 BETA

Showit Sites is now available to test drive. We are currently in a PREVIEW BETA mode to allow feedback from the photographic and design community on what features they want or like in a website building tool.

The features of this software are not complete, so please explore the existing functionality and provide feedback to help build the best tool for you.

At this time you can import photos and Showit Web slideshows from your local computer but they will not upload. You can preview your site but you cannot save it (so don't spend TOO much time on it :)

Working Features:
  • Layout page
  • Add new page
  • Switch page
  • Drag & drop image
  • Drag & drop Showit Web slideshow
  • Button links
  • Button mouse over effects
  • Change background
  • Layer effects
In progress:
  • Publish
  • Site settings
  • View options
  • Page options
  • Undo
  • File upload
  • Add text
  • Add style group
  • Add music
  • Add video
  • Add file package
  • Duplicate or reset layer
  • Swap image mouse over
  • World peace
Thank you for your patience and feedback as we build an awesome product that will make your site look great!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Showit Sites Coming Soon

Showit Sites is a website creation solution for developing interactive, media-rich websites with no coding required. Utilizing drag-and-drop functionality, Showit Sites will allow you to easily create a dynamic website that will set you apart from the competition.

There's a lot more to come, so subscribe to the RSS feed to hear more as it becomes available.