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blog post Springboard, revamped login system and upcoming social features!

First things first - happy new year!

2012 was a huge year for XtGem: we made great progress improving our tools by making them more accessible and powerful than ever, grew our team (hi, Mindaugas!), publisher network (+1.5 million new sites!) and traction (our traffic more than doubled during the year - to well over a billion pageviews per month!) - and we even managed to leave our cozy Lithuanian offices for a 3-month-long adventure overseas - opportunity courtesy of Springboard.

Springboard

Springboard Mobile is an intensive 13-week accelerator program, designed to help startups grow by cramming years worth of knowledge, experience and exposure into just three short months. We've had the privilege to participate in the latest iteration of the program, which was focused on mobile, among with 9 other world-class startups (Flitto, iJudgeFights, We Are Pop Up, AppTheGame, Shhmooze, Likeminds, House Map, BuildGauge, GiftCannon).

It was an amazing experience - we had a chance to meet over a hundred mentors with various - yet universally impressive - backgrounds, experience London's tech scene and brought back multiple notebooks worth of ideas for XtGem.
The program started in September of last year and culminated in December, with demo days in London, New York and San Francisco - with audiences of prominent VCs, Angel Investors and entrepreneurs.
Words can't describe how proud we are to have graduated from Springboard - it truly kicked ass - both in terms of being awesome, and in terms of being immensely exhausting. Yet we persevered - and made an astounding amount of progress as a result.

One of the things we set out to do after Springboard wrapped up was to make XtGem more social. While we have a vibrant and active community over at XtBoard, Twitter and facebook, user sites, and the tool itself, feel isolated and more lonely than they need to be. We have started paving the road for the next big update, which will make the whole experience more social and collaborative - including updates to the blogging functionality and an ability for XtGem sites to run their own communities and share content.

As a result, we have launched an updated account system - one based on e-mails, instead of site URLs. This change allows us to make a clear distinction between users - our customers - and user sites. Existing users are able to sign up for an e-mail based account and import their sites - we put in a lot of effort to make the transition as straightforward and easy as possible - it takes less than a minute.

While a significant change, the new account system is just the beginning - we will be rolling out lots of new features to compliment it in the coming months - as fast as we can build them. Stay tuned!

P.S. Springboard's next program is starting soon and will be focused on hardware - if you run a startup that builds cool gizmos, there is still time to apply - they got our stamp of approval. Application details are here.

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blog post MyWibes, Containers and more!

A number of weeks ago MyWibes users were informed that the service was shutting down. In light of those news, we have gotten in touch with their staff and offered to continue hosting MyWibes accounts on our servers and integrate them into our building tool, to ensure that the sites remain available in the future and users can continue to maintain them. We have completed the move and MyWibes users will be glad to know that they can now login into their sites via http://xtgem.com/mywibes

In other news, we have a meaty update for XtGem planned within the next few weeks. Namely: Updated site templating, container support and a completely rewritten markup parser.

Color preset preview

Markup parser is the core technology of XtGem, providing the link between the building tool and text editor. Current parser, while does it's job, has not aged well - it has been in use since the very first day of XtGem. More advanced XtGem users are well aware of it's negative nuances - having to use the text editor exclusively to ensure that the building tool does not mess up their markup. Those same users will be very happy to hear that, after a lot of careful planning, we have rewritten it from scratch. Once it is deployed into production, building tool and text editor will work in harmony and you will not have to worry about losing code indentation, whitespace or, in extreme cases, code.
Since this is an update to a very critical part of XtGem, we will be running a beta test to make sure that it works as expected and we have the opportunity to squash the remaining bugs. Keep an eye out on XtBoard for more information once it becomes available!

This updated parser has allowed us to expand the functionality of the building tool as well - and the very first thing that we focused on is container support. Containers are basically separate builder blocks that can contain blocks within themselves. They allow for a better separation of page sections - for example you might want to have a container for header elements, another one for navigation items and the third one for page content. You will be able to collapse them and have complex content hierarchies, which will speed up content maintenance by a lot.
But we did not stop there! XtGem will be able to recognize block context from the parent container and support blocks that are specific to it. You will, for example, be able to create a navigation container and add navigation items to it, or set up a gallery container and add images to it using a dedicated UI.

Containers

Given the support for more markup structures and blocks, we have spent the past couple of months working on another huge feature - updated site templates.
Currently site templates simply apply a basic CSS file to the whole site - which works fine, but leaves something to be desired. Updated site templates will be a lot more sophisticated, providing professional-quality look, vast configuration options and device-specific functionality. You will be able to tweak template look on the fly (or choose from a bunch of predefined presets) and XtGem will generate cross-device-compatible markup and CSS - including appropriate containers, stylesheets and code that will make your site work on a variety of devices, from feature phones to smartphones to desktop browsers. Site templates and containers will launch shortly after the updated parser hits production.

Color preset editing

We are very fortunate to get as much feedback and suggestions as we do. Since adding support for PHP, some of the most-requested features were FTP and MySQL support. I won't disclose the specifics yet, but assure you that we are currently testing various ways to implement these two technologies into XtGem. Stay tuned! ;)

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blog post Touchscreen-friendly XtGem

I would like to announce the next significant improvement of XtGem - a touchscreen-friendly mobile version of the service.

Screenshot

As iOS (iPhone, iPod, iPad) and Android devices continue to gain traction globally, it becomes apparent, that there is a need for a mobile web experience that is more rich than ordinary mobile sites, yet not as complicated as a full web experience.

For the past couple of months we have been working on XtGem experience targeted at touchscreen-centric devices to address this niche. While it is not yet ready for prime-time, we are hoping to release it in May.

This template will sport completely... [Continue reading]

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blog post Future plans!

The dust has finally settled after v2 launch and I'd like to take a moment and share our future plans.

First and foremost, we are still working on fixing bugs - we realize that XtGem is a huge project with a very complicated code base and there will be issues popping up occasionally. Please report them via XtGem contact form and we will get on it as soon as possible.

We will be moving into a bigger, more spacious office this march that will give us more room for expansion.

Speaking of expansion, we will be hiring additional talent to help out with the rapid development pace... [Continue reading]

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