Introduction to Sitecraft
Features of the Sitecraft

"Sitecraft" as a Designer See It
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    “Sitecraft” as a Designer Sees It
    I’m a designer - a graphic artist who once started with the work in an advertising agency. Having started long ago, I was mastering graphic programs on the move. Studying new programs was as interesting a matter for me as a painful one. Everything was obscure. The fear to make a mistake that will reveal itself only at a final point - when producing camera-ready pages accompanied all my work. The fear to omit a small setting hidden somewhere in the depths of the program and often revealing itself just when “everything is over” and one can redraw everything from scratch but isn’t able to correct anything… The time was passing and, as they put it in the army, “I was reaching my manhood”. I worked in the advertising business, gave a design course in an Arts College and commercial courses as well, and everywhere I met one and the same thing - the fear, not mine this time, but that of the people studying the computer. The fear of unruled monsters full of “gray buttons” that “exclaim” time and again, “crack” and threaten the people who touch them with menacing warnings provided by the sign “stop prohibited”.

    So now we speak about the external program appearance, that is about the graphic program interfaces. This topic is connected with the psychology of a man who has to work with computer, and that is why this discussion can turn out to be ve-e-ery long and not simple. I wouldn’t like to involve the reader in the long dispute on the interface theory but to those who got interested in the continuation of this conversation I can suggest visiting the "Research" section of our site. I just would like to say that a group of undoubtedly talented people have united for the aim - well, there is no need to conceal it - of earning money and have decided to make a set (a rule box) of “stressless program-tools” which would “simply” allow people to solve their problems by means of computer without humiliating and frightening them. Initially the Research Department of the company developed the"SIT"- Smart Interface Technologies (it is described in the same "Research" section) and the first elaboration on this technology was the creation of the “Sitecraft” (“SC” further). This program was intended to help those who are not familiar with the internet technologies and do not know the computer well enough to make a site on their own and expose it on the net.

    In accordance with the SIT, the creation of the SC was started from the interface and not from the functionality; that is the work was oriented to a man. This approach has determined the look of the program. In fact, the SC is the realization of the step-by-step technology of site making. Exactly step-by-step technology! The first step is “the start” - the program launching, the second one is giving a Name to the work, the third one is selection of a template and so on, “with all stops” right up to the exposure of ready work (the site) on the Internet.

    The step-by-step interface unwrapping is another our technology -- “BABYsteps” (a constituent part of the SIT technology). The SC turned out to be interesting and uncommon. The framework of the technologies in which it was being created let the developers obtain the result very close to the planned one. This program is exceptionally easy in use and intuitively understandable for both the web-design professional and the beginner. The beginner can use the set of ready site-templates, changing their “staffing” as needed, and the expert can make a site from the “clean sheet” using the SC without hurting his pride.
    Although initially the SC was planned not as a graphics editor but a make-up program provided by a quite powerful text editor (frames, fields, bullets, graphic symbols and so on), in the course of PSITesting (see “psychological testing” in the framework of SIT) there emerged the necessity to provide it with some functions of a graphic editor. The so-called “Image processing” is already thoroughly worked over by the firms - graphic applications developers, for example, such as Adobe, and a revolutionary thing can hardly appear soon. Nevertheless we’ve furnished the SC with the sets of filter and effect tools written by ourselves, which, surely, will come in handy. We mean the possibility to perform such operations as:

  • rectangular elements drawing;
  • creation of fields and frames different in color and style;
  • creation of repeating and seamless backgrounds;
  • image rotation;
  • mirror reflection;
  • interpolating (smoothed) scaling;
  • framing (cutting of a necessary rectangular fragment out of a picture);
  • coloring;
  • selection of a necessary image from a picture by making the surrounding background transparent;
  • masking of an image by another one (form superposition);
  • making an image relief (relief);
  • changing of color spectrum of an image;
  • stacking of the text on the image (typing in the text).

    Especially I would like to point out two features of the SC.
    The option “color spectrum” allows not only the turning of the color spectrum of the chosen picture and text elements, but that of the whole page and the entire site as well! The only mouse movement is enough to transform, change the “picture” on your monitor and right at this time you will be able to see the introduced modifications in the browser and expose them on the net.
    The “live button” tool automatically animates the site element chosen to be a button, making it acquire (change) relief (e.g. depressability) when approached by a mouse cursor, and (or) change of brightness and spectrum. However, each of these automatic effects can be set manually as well.

    It is quite amusing to handle the elements on the “sheet”. You suddenly discover that the elements are easily put over each other (and, what is important, are correctly displayed in the browser)! I also consider rather interesting the fact that, once you have created your own site in Sitecraft, you can easily make any alterations in it afterwards. The matter is that the Sitecraft keeps an image of your work in a certain inner format (recorded in a special HTML-independent language) and therefore all the effects applied by you to the texts and pictures, remain “sectional”, and all the elements remain “movable”, that is an exposed site is not a “deadly sewn button”…

    Our Sitecraft can already do many things,
but there are several peculiarities that impress even its developers, though the product was made by them, peculiarities that could decorate any of the existing site editors.
1. The first impressing thing about working with Sitecraft is that it does not demand of a user to have even the slightest idea of HTML, which is the basic language of the Internet technology itself. No HTMLs and tables! Just write, draw, and drag.

2. Secondly – all the Sitecraft’s “mathematics” stays “off-screen”, in other words, you don’t even understand the way it does “that stuff”. We just grip some element, no matter text or picture, and drag it all along the page looking for necessary position, place one picture on top of the other, make it looking nice – a little more to the left, a little higher, - forgetting all the usual limitations of editor programs used for such purposes. The point is that in generally used editors this very “a little” is either impossible or requires manual inputting of figures into some windows. You see in usual editors everything is “very easy” – “since you’ve start building a site, be sure to know the marking language!” – be sure to know that everything can be aligned right, left or center only, and all your other wishes are excesses that usually remain beyond the technology limits. “Site building is a battle, and if you don’t know your enemy’s language (html), you may not count on victory.” I know quite many designers working well in polygraphy, who easily cope with high-end graphic programs and make some really professional works but are still afraid to start building a site. There is one reason for that – a fear of the complicated technology (which in fact would make him become a programmer) and reluctance to waste his life on studying of those very limitations and technological tricks. And what is more, a designer’s work when making-up requires millimetric accuracy in objects positioning, and there is also the fact that “different browsers interpret the made-up site in a different way” – that’s the end of the world!.. However, it is a topic to discuss in the following item.

3. The third specific feature of our Sitecraft is that to expose an accomplished work on the Internet you don’t have to know anything! You only have to reach the corresponding step of the interface while building the site, which means, to click the “V” button and accept the publishing settings suggested by the Sitecraft. The procedure is so easy that while performing it you start to suspect that the Internet experts that keep telling us about the difficulties of site positioning in the net, are just making their business on us on the spot! It turns out that everything is easy in fact, if the program you decided to use had been designed by competent and clever people who would not let themselves disregard the “trifles” and would not speculate on these “trifles” as to your incompetence in internet technologies. Moreover, it turned out that it is possible also, one way here, the other way there, to make the (different) browsers display the same picture, with all the mechanics imperceptible for an artist (an artist here is anyone who have tried to create his or her own world on the “clean sheet” of the screen). The picture just looks the same and that’s all!
    We have tried to create a convenient, small program for site building, easy for anyone to understand, even for an inexperienced person. We have put maximum of our efforts and skills in it. The nearest couple of months of the sales beginning will show how well we have done it, but our insight and the technologies we created make us certain that the Site Builder will prove to be useful for you.
K. Semikolennykh