SiteGrinder 2 Pro review

Graphic artists and designers who are comfortable with mocking up Web sites in Photoshop will love SiteGrinder 2 Pro. This Photoshop plug-in (accessed from the File -> Automate menu) works extremely well at converting layered Photoshop designs into highly functional and respectably coded Web sites. SiteGrinder Pro can help you build sites based on impressive technologies, such as CSS, photo galleries, Flash slide shows, videos, forms, widgets, and more, without any coding knowledge needed. It will even take a simple text box and turn it into a search engine-friendly menu.

How SiteGrinder works

If you’re using any version of Photoshop from CS up to CS4, SiteGrinder lets you create an entire site (or section of a site) from a single Photoshop file. It does this by recognising Photoshop’s layer comps as pages and reading specific hints that you add to the layer name of each page element. Additionally, you can enter a few link and browser-specific settings in SiteGrinder’s window.

Creating sites in Photoshop 7 works similarly, except that you need to use SiteGrinder’s page definition tool in lieu of layer comps (which were not available until Photoshop CS). You can also use SiteGrinder with Photoshop Elements. However, you must create a new document for each page.

To preview or build your site, move to SiteGrinder’s own window. It’ll alert you to any problems that may affect your pages and let you fix them. When you’re happy with your design, choose the build option, then simply upload the generated files to your Web server.

SiteGrinder does an excellent job of rendering your design on the Web, retaining styles, formatting, and positioning. It creates a common stylesheet for your site, and stylesheets for individual pages as needed.

For the most part, you simply design as usual in Photoshop, keeping in mind the usual browser rules and restrictions. For example, you should try to limit your content text to common Web fonts and avoid advanced typography for text. Only once did I have to move elements on my Photoshop page a tad to prevent overlap in the resulting Web page.

There are a few things SiteGrinder does not do. There’s no way to format visited links, add heading tags, add anchors, or create subdirectories (within one document) for simple URLs. You have to know how to code those elements if you want them.

NEXT: Hints and links


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