Karelia Software, makers of Sandvox, a popular web site design application that received a thumbs-up in my weekly software picks, created a video training system to help users get the most out of Sandvox.
If you would like to become more familiar with the basics of Sandvox, as well as its more advanced features, Karelia Software's new training DVD explores the ins and outs of using Sandvox to create web sites.
Sandvox Training Course: Overview
The Sandvox Training Course is available on a DVD as well as on the Karelia web site. This dual availability lets you use the DVD at home, and the web site when traveling. Both the DVD and the web site contain the same material; purchasing the training course provides you with both the DVD and access to the web training.
The training course has 19 chapters. Each chapter contains a video of screencasts on that chapter's specific topic.
The Sandvox Training Course is broken down into five sections:
- Chapter 1: Document Management and Designs
- Chapter 2: Document Editing
- Chapter 3: Pages
- Chapter 4: Pagelets
- Chapter 5: Pagelets: More Details
- Chapter 6: Collections
- Chapter 7: Blogging and Podcasting
- Chapter 8: Site Outline and Page Details
- Chapter 9: Text Editing
- Chapter 10: The Inspector
- Chapter 11: Banners and Logos
- Chapter 12: Preferences
- Chapter 13: Publishing
- Chapter 14: Publishing to A2 Hosting
- Chapter 15: Publishing to Live Oak Hosting
- Chapter 16: Publishing to Server Logistics
- Chapter 17: Code Injection
- Chapter 18: Google Integration
- Chapter 19: Google Analytics
The DVD includes the video tutorials in three different video sizes: Full (1024x768), Regular (640x480), and iPhone (480x360). The iPhone size is a nice addition, and the training course includes easy instructions for copying the iPhone size videos to your mobile device. You will also find a PDF transcript of the training on the DVD.
Sandvox Training Course: Using the Training Course
Each of the 19 chapters is a separate video containing screencasts and voiceovers covering the chapter's topic. As is typical for screencasts, the videos highlight the areas, such as menus and dialog boxes, which are actively being used. This helps focus your attention on the particular steps involved in the process.
Video runtimes range from a low of 2 minutes for Google Analytical, to 12 minutes to take you through the process of Code Injection. The total runtime is 2-½ hours.
One thing to note: The Sandvox Training Course is made up of individual videos. There is no overall application to, and no viewer required, other than the ones that come with your Mac or portable Apple product. Because there's no application to manage the training course you can easily select the chapters you wish to view, but you can't use any type of bookmark or other process to track your way through the tutorial. More than once I started to view a chapter I had already completed.
Sandvox Training Course: More About What's Covered
The overall flow of the Sandvox Training Course is excellent. The sections and chapters are well thought out, with a logical flow that starts from the basics and works through to the details you'll need to publish your finished web site.
The final section, Advanced Features, is geared towards Sandvox Pro users, who have more capabilities available than users of the standard version of Sandvox. Although a nice bonus, the Advanced Features section felt a bit light. The chapter covering Google Analytics is particularly short. Of course, that's largely because the training is geared toward showing you how to set up your web site to use Google Analytics, not how to make good use of the information that Google delivers to you. Even so, a little background on what type of insights Google can provide, and why, would have been helpful.
I would also have liked a more structured approach to the training. Each video chapter is pretty much self-contained. That's a plus for those of us who like to jump around, or who just need help with a few Sandvox features, but if you're looking for more involved training, you won't find it here. I prefer this kind of training course to take a web site from design concept to finish product. This would help new web designers, who are one of the target markets for Sandvox, understand broader concepts and apply them to their own designs. It might even push some users to upgrade to Sandvox Pro, because they would see the benefits of the advanced features firsthand.
Sandvox Training Course: Wrap Up
Overall, I liked the Sandvox Training Course. It's nice to see software developers put together a training course that lets users view the content on multiple devices, as well as online. I admire Karelia's concern with providing end users with a great deal of flexibility, a trait that isn't shared by all companies.
Course content was well planned, and provides enough information for both Sandvox and Sandvox Pro users to pick up some helpful tips on how to perform various tasks with Sandvox.
I would like to see some method of bookmarking your place in the training, but that's a minor complaint, because most users will probably jump around, as well as revisit topics as they try out various features, rather than view the course from start to finish, as I did.
When all is said and done, the Sandvox Training Course serves as a good introduction to Sandvox and a great source of information for Sandvox users who need pointers on using specific features.
I hope this is just the first in a series of Sandvox training courses, and that we'll see more offerings soon.