Why Sandvox Collections Are So Clever


   Sandvox has a feature that's broadly useful in creating websites. A Collection is the basic building-block of a blog, but it can do much more. On the Mouzon Design website, Plans is a collection. Within it are nested the Plan Types, Plan Collections, and Details collections. Within the Plan Types collection are nested the Katrina, House, Courtyard, and Town Center & Other collections. Within the Katrina collection are nested the Tiny Cottages, Thin Cottages, Double Cottages, Kernel Cottages, Courtyard Cottages, Loft Cottages, and Tall Cottages collections. Within the Tiny Cottages collection you'll find the actual plans, which are Fish Camp and Katrina Cottage VII.

   To make a collection, first click on any page in a Sandvox domain file. Go to the Page inspector and the Collection tab within it and click the Convert to Collection button. You can now drag other pages and drop them on the collection page and Sandvox will place those pages in the collection.

   To sort a collection, click on its top-level page (the one you just Converted to Collection a moment ago.) Go back to the Page inspector and the Collection tab, and you'll see that you can sort by Alphabetical, Date Created, and Date Modified, all in either standard or reverse order. For a blog, you use Date Created and Reverse Order to keep the most current stuff at the top.

   Under RSS Feed, you have the choice of None, Standard, Photocast, and Podcast. Readers can subscribe to your RSS feed and their feed reader will fetch your latest work when it's posted.

   Finally, you have the choice to Publish Archives. You should do this for a blog, because people will be searching for your old posts years into the future if you do a good job blogging. For other types of collections such as the house plan collection illustrated here, I don't see the value of indexes because people won't generally be searching by date.

   A collection by itself isn't a blog. You also need a Title & Summary Index on the top-level page. You can find the index under Objects>Indexes and insert it manually. Or you could just create the entire thing by going to New in the toolbar and selecting Blog.

   Once you've created your blog or other type of collection, you should create your master post page. This page has everything arranged the way you want for future posts or pages. Sandvox allows you to click Draft (do not publish) on the Page tab of the Page Inspector so your master doesn't ever get published. To create a new post or page, just select the master and click Command-D or Edit>Duplicate.

   Unlike iWeb (which I used for years) and some other site-building software, Sandvox lets you copy pages between collections. This is enormously helpful in the case of my house plan collection because I only needed to create one master plan page (Plan Master in the image above) and could then copy it to all the other collections.

   There's another benefit to collections: they're great organizing devices for your website. You can also collapse them as this image shows, so you can see the top-level organization of your entire website at one glance, even if the site is quite large. This is useful for many reasons. For example, I can see that I should make Subscribe a collection and move the three pages below it into the collection, both for simplicity of viewing the site and also because the rest of the pages are top-level pages on the site navigation bar, whereas the bottom three pages only appear once you've subscribed to the mailing list, canceled a purchase, or completed a purchase. In other words, they're very minor pages in the scheme of the website, but I wouldn't have seen this without the ability to collapse collections.

© 2012 The Guild Foundation Press