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blog post Page content quick-setup wizard and new block types

It's a very exciting day for us at XtGem today as we have just launched a sizeable update that we have been working on for the past couple of months!
Screenshot
We have added a large number of new building tool block types, covering a very vast range of functionality: starting from click-to-call and click-to-email links and all the way up to a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, form builder.
Here are some of our favorites:
Poll - very handy for figuring out your visitor opinions regarding various topics.
Maps and vCard support - Display the location of your business on a map and allow users to easily import contact details to their phone address book.
mCommerce - Implement PayPal and Google Checkout buttons to sell various services and goods right from your XtGem site.
Image gallery - makes maintaining an image gallery a very straightforward task.
Contact form builder - allows building custom multi-purpose contact forms using a WYSIWYG interface.

We have also launched a page content quick-setup wizard in the web version of XtGem. You can now go from zero to a functional, fully customized multi-page site in less than 3 minutes.

We are very eager to hear your feedback - please do let us know your thoughts on these new updates!

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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 WEB tool has been updated!

After months of development, extensive private and semi-open beta testing, we are finally releasing the completely-reworked XtGem building tool to public!

WEB v2 preview
Click for full-size image


To make the transition easier for users, existing WEB tool will remain available for now - to access the updated version, either click a corresponding link on xtgem.com or head straight to http://xtgem.com/v2

Here are some highlights of what's new:
Much faster and smooth user experience. We called this updated tool a 'WEB application' for a reason - it acts and feels like a proper desktop application - except you won't need to install anything and it's always accessible, wherever you are!
(1) Easier file management. Navigate through your files with ease, create and upload new ones or manage existing content without having to worry about opening new browser windows.
(2) Building tool has been updated to be more intuitive to use as well as speed up content management.
(3) Preview changes right away. See how your site looks on a smaller resolution screen - and if something doesn't seem right, all the tools you will need to make the changes are readily available.
(4) Easily switch back and forth between different content editing modes. Add or modify content, tweak looks with an updated WYSIWYG CSS tool or switch to a text-mode for the nitty-gritty.
(5) After you're happy with your site, we have made it much easier for you to let others know about it.
(6) All the tools, settings and other details are neatly placed for easy access.

That's just a quick overview of main changes - many more things have been improved and we did put in a lot of attention to detail - we really hope you will appreciate the redesign. Let us know!

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blog post Mobile template redesign

Since we have launched a touch-friendly XtGem webapp we have received plenty of positive feedback from our users claiming that they love the look of it, so we have taken upon ourselves to update standard mobile version of XtGem accordingly.

XtGem mobile

I am happy to announce, that today updated mobile version goes live. If something doesn't work or shows up weird on your browser, let us know!

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blog post PHP support is coming!

It's our understanding here at XtGem that our service should not only make creating a mobile website as easy and intuitive as possible, but tools provided shouldn't get in a way of our users' creativity or technical knowledge. That's why we went an extra mile before and implemented a full HTML source editing support. This is also exactly the reason why we're excited to announce PHP support coming to XtGem in the new version.

PHP is a server-side scripting language that's used to power most of the dynamic content on the web. It allows developers to add functionality to their sites that's either difficult or... [Continue reading]

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blog post Update #3 & translator call!

We have finally settled in into our cozy offices and been hard at work building XtGem since. Our aim is to completely rewrite the backend to allow for easy expansion and improve the scalability of our system. So far it's been going great. We've made some great progress in a very short amount of time.

I am still unable to provide an ETA for the launch, but it shouldn't be too far off. Team is working their asses off to get the product to match our high quality requirements as soon as possible. Once we're happy with how it works, we plan to run a closed beta for a period of time. Translators will be first ones to get access to the beta.

To apply as a translator, send your applications... [Continue reading]

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blog post XtGem offices & update #2

You were probably all wondering why it was all so silent regarding XtGem lately. Well, a lot has hapened behind the scenes during that time. Let me take a moment to fill you all in.

Biggest news is that we're expanding! Currently 6 people are working on XtGem and we have just opened our offices in Vilnius (capital of Lithuania). It's a cozy work environment that we've put a lot of thought and time to set up.

As for the staff, in addition to me, XtGem now employs 3 programmers, a dedicated systems administrator and a HR/PR person.
While it's still a considerably small team, it will allow us to constantly bring new features to our users and quickly react to feedback you guys give... [Continue reading]

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blog post Update #1

I will be posting regular updates regarding the development of the next version of XtGem up until the release. Consider it proof that we're hard at work ;)

I have spent past two months working on a PHP framework that will allow us to develop new features and services much faster than before. Framework is basically a set of predefined functions and rules that we will be able to use as shortcuts and reduce the development time.
PHP community already has a vast selection of existing frameworks, however after spending a lot of time researching different frameworks none seemed to fit my requirements (I'm very picky!). I needed something very light,... [Continue reading]

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blog post Current state of XtGem

You might have noticed a lack of updates and new features lately. That's becaue we're hard at work building the next version of XtGem.
When I started XtGem almost four years ago, it was built as a personal project. I had never imagined it would attract such a huge amount attention. However XtGem has now reached a point at which we have to take a good look what we have been doing so far and decide what goals we want to pursue next.

The new version of XtGem will allow for much easier maintenance of the service and allow for new features to be added with ease. In other words, it's calm before the storm. Once we have the new version up and running, expect a much more steady stream of... [Continue reading]

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