Tag Archives: Software Reviews

CoffeeCup Sitemap Builder a Great Little Tool

I love CoffeCup’s Sitemapper and wanted to share my personal unpaid review on this product with you. This is an easy to use and highly configurable application. I routinely use it to rebuild my own Google sitemaps and those for clients. With a low cost of only $39 and the ability to do a free trial, this is one application that every webmaster should have or at least check out.

Screen shot of the Sitemapper.
Screen shot of the Sitemapper.

With Sitemapper, you can scan your files two ways, you can scan from a web URL or you can scan your local files. Once set up, you let the application run and it will create a compliant XML site map automatically. But before you even generate the final sitemap, Sitemapper provides a visual file tree allowing you to delete files and file types.

With configurable options such as setting the update frequency for Googlebot and the page priority, I think that you’ll find this an excellent application and well worth the small price.

I particularly like the error tracking feature that allows me to know what broken links I have that will generate a 404 page from pages in my sitemap. In fact, I’ve just finished scanning a 3,500 page site and have about 50 links to review to clean up my new sitemap. It’s a great time saving assist!

Although I don’t use this feature, you can even connect the application to your Google Webmaster Control Panel for a quick upload. I prefer to review my sitemap personally and then load it to my server root via FTP.

I think that you’ll like this nifty application, I find it indispensable for my own personal needs and a real help for my customers especially those with large websites.

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Outlook 2010 Crashes Constantly – How to Fix

I have recently upgraded my computer to Office 2010 and I really like the programs especially Outlook. However when I set up Outlook 2010 on my laptop that was running Windows 7 I really ran into a crashing problem. When I say crashing problem, I don’t mean every now and then, but rather every time I opened the program and after about 3 seconds of use. With Microsoft pushing Windows 7 and Outlook being a Window 7 compatible product I was stymied as to why.

After much web research and trial and error on how to fix the problem, I found that many, many other people had experienced this same problem. There were prolific postings on forums asking for help and suggestions offered (which I tried nearly all).

Out of exasperation I tried this solution and it worked for me, so I wanted to mention it in a blog so that others may be able to benefit.

First for me the add-ons were not the problem. I still had crashes even after disabling all add-ons. What I found out was that Outlook 2010 wants to install your Outlook.pst file in your My Documents folder by default and really seems to have trouble if when you set up Outlook 2010 you let it find the .pst file in your old application data folder under local and then Microsoft then Outlook
location that Outlook 2007 uses by default. When I created a new .pst file in the My Documents folder, linked it to Outlook 2010 in the account settings I was golden. I have not experienced a crash since. Yes I had to reset up my mail account, import my calendar and contacts from my desktop, but I was finally able to use Outlook.

So if you are pulling your hair out over your Outlook 2010 installation, stop, take a deep breath and either create a new Outlook.pst file in the My Documents folder or move your Outlook.pst file there and you may have your problem fixed too!

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Windows Live Writer a Great Blogging Tool

nancy-2011If you blog occasionally or even if you blog a lot, Windows Live Writer may replace creating your blog post in the control panel as your blog editor of choice. I am finding that it is sometimes easier and faster to blog in Microsoft’s free Live Writer application than it is to write in Word when I am on the go or for that matter faster than working directly in my WordPress control panel.

These are the things I like about Windows Live Writer:

  • Ability to work offline and so I can blog while sitting in a waiting room.
  • Ability to easily add images from my clip art gallery to my blog posts.
  • Ability to save my blog post to my computer automatically without thought or a second action if I am working live.
  • I like the spell checker and word count feature. Particularly the word count feature!
  • I like the ability to set up multiple blog accounts and switch between them at will.

I have Windows Live Writer set up on my laptop so I can blog anywhere I go – the soccer field, the waiting room at the dentist, and in the car (if I am not driving). I have found that I like it so much that I am using it more and more just for blogging while I am sitting at my own computer. I find it significantly easier to quickly add photos and style text than when I am working live on my WordPress blog online.

To have it work, you will need your blog admin or user login but that is about it. You don’t even need FTP access.

If you want to check it out, you can get the free download here. You may find out like me that it becomes your application of choice.

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Use Windows Live Mesh 2011 to Synch Computers

I just tried out this cool Live application last week and wanted to share it with you. It is called Windows Live Mesh 2011. You can get the free Windows application by visiting this Microsoft website. I am using Live Mesh to synch my laptop and my desktop computer as well as my administrative assistant’s computer.

Originally Chris, my assistant, and I were emailing each other files that he had to work on and when he was done he was emailing them back. The problem was when I got busy, I was not sure if I had picked up his updated file and where the most recent version was my computer or his – too complicated to keep track of in our busy office.

I tried synching full folders but found out that the data was just too big for the online storage area and worried about file security. Now I synch a file called “Chris Transfer” by dragging files I want him to work on for the day and then dragging them back to their home at the end of his work week. Although I wish I could synch the full folder to make it easy, this plan is working great for now.

If you need to keep information updated on your laptop for travel or travel with less than your full file load, Live Mesh may be a good answer for you too. Check it out, it’s free.

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Adobe Packages InContext Editing With Business Catalyst

I have reviewed and tested Adobe InContext Editing and felt it was a good product for clients that wanted to update website content themselves. Adobe has recently announced that it is closing the free standing version of Adobe InContext Editing and will now package it as part of the Adobe Business Catalyst solution.

Business Catalyst is much more than a website editing application it is an advanced set up business tools under one umbrella much like HubSpot. Business Catalyst’s strength will be however its significantly lower price when compared to HubSpot.

I have been testing the interface intensively and find the WSIWYG interface annoying to use for a power user such as myself who typically works in code view. To please people such as myself, Business Catalyst does allow full FTP access and can work on sites set up with Dreamweaver templates.

What I find intriguing about Business Catalyst is its arsenal of web widgets and easy to implement advanced features such as recording all form contact submissions into an integrated customer database for use by the sales team and an included e-newsletter application. The system can even set up email drip campaigns. Additionally you can do e-commerce on Business Catalyst as well with a very nice feature of being able to load all your products from an Excel spreadsheet versus having to enter each one manually.

The application allows the business owner to review on on dashboard all activity on their online business and allows sorting of information with an integrated analytics program as well. From my initial review, it looks like a very powerful system with a very low cost. This is a hosted application like HubSpot but instead of charging a monthly fee of $500 for a small site the fees range from $39 to $79 per month and only $16 per month if you only want to use the InContext Editing portion. To me the application has great potential.

One note of warning, the system IS complicated. I have personally decided that the premade templates are not a good fit for my needs, but will be testing my own template next in the application. Although this tool is not a good fit for everyone, it certainly points the way to the future of packaged business solutions. As the team says at Adobe, this is no longer just a website, it is an online business!

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Adobe’s InContext Editing Reviewed

We've really checked it out!
We've really checked it out!

Over the past several months I have really been running Adobe InContext Editing through its paces. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on this new product from my real world use and client testing.

First, Adobe InContext Editing is now ready for client implementation. This is an excellent and exciting new product. It is one that I think, after you read my review, that you may want to consider implementing on your own website.

What does Adobe InContext Editing Do?

This is new online service allows website owners to update their own website content without a webmaster. It is not for everyone, but for some clients it will be an excellent new tool. If you make regular content and image changes to your website, want to have total control over your wording, change your wording when it suits you, or if you want to save money on webmaster services for routine changes, Adobe InContext Editing is perfect for you. At this time, the service is free for developers, but we do expect that in the near future this will change. Your web developer may bill you about $20 per month or so for access to this online application. Set up fees are typically billed by the hour and most sites, that are not over 25 pages, will run about one hour or so to set up the code to allow you to do your own edits. Allow about 15 to 30 minutes for online training to be ready to take over doing your own future webmaster updates.

What can you do to your site with InContext Editing?

You can add, copy, change or delete text on a page at will. You can add images and in general make all of your own website content updates yourself with Adobe InContext Editing.

If you want to add or delete rows in a table (that holds data or images) on your website you have that option.

Additionally, based on the editable region set-up done by your web developer ahead of time, font colors, styles and font sizes can now be under your control as well. 

You can also easily install images by browsing your computer, your website, or the web and insert them on the fly. Resizing your image within the application is easy too.

How is InContext Editing Implemented on My Website?

For developers, set up is pretty straight forward. You configure access in the InContext Editing control panel as you do a typical site for FTP access. The client’s website pages need to be modified to allow for editing. As the developer you can assign editable regions, repeating regions. Font style settings can be detailed for each region. These editable regions are similar yet different to regular Dreamweaver template sections. These special regions carry a special InContext Editing descriptor and a special JavaScript script is installed on your page as well to allow the application to make changes to the page.

I have found that it is best to use Dreamweaver CS4 for setting up the editable regions. You can still hand code in the needed elements in Dreamweaver CS3 but Dreamweaver CS4 makes it much easier and allows you to edit these editable regions you have set up from with in Dreamweaver when changes need to be made. For me, this was worth the $199 upgrade from Dreamweaver CS3 to CS4.

Anything else I need to know?

Adding images does require the end user to understand that they need to click “Advanced” or “Additional Options” on the top right to add a vspace, hspace, no border and an align attribute to make the image look good with in the text.

I have found that the application is easy to use by clients but a bit of online training is needed to help them feel fully comfortable with the interface. That being said, the application is easy to use, intuitive, and for many clients the perfect solution for their webmaster needs.

It is important to know that the end user does not have HTML source code access to the page that they edit inside InContext Editing. If they want to install a snippet of JavaScript they will still need a regular webmaster to install these elements for them into the HTML source code. Additionally, many developers will not allow the client to edit layout items, navigation or other page elements. The developer decides which elements the client can safely edit on the page in advance preventing the website from being inadvertently broken by the client while doing an online edit.

Who should NOT use Adobe InContext Editing?

That is hard to say, most template driven websites that do not allow a developer access to the source code or hosting server would be precluded from using this application. If a developer can access the source code files and can access the server using FTP just about any website can use this product.

Conclusion

My overall impression is that this is an excellent new product and one that will be a “game changer” for webmasters, web developers, and clients. Clients want to save money, they want control over their website and now web developers and designers can make it easy for clients to have the appropriate access.

This application allows for a custom designed website to have many of the features of a online template driven website or the ease of use of a site with a content management system installed without the programming headaches. There will always be reasons for a client to have a webmaster make a special change on their site, but with Adobe InContext Editing easy text updates will be at the client’s fingertips now using their own browser.

From a web designer viewpoint, designing for InContext Editing use does require a bit of a refocus but not a major change. Editable sections need to be set up and enclosed in div tags with unique IDs. 

On one ending note, I have to say that as Adobe has tested this product it has done a remarkable job in its contact with developers and in their support forum. This unparalleled level of participation with the professional community to create a product that will help developers and consumers alike is most unusual and a mark of Adobe’s level of service excellence in the creation of web applications. I believe that Adobe InContext Editing deserves your careful consideration.

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