Piria has updated its Rombla visual Web site builder with new capabilities just a month after its release.
Piria announced the beta of its Rombla online “no programming” Web site builder at the Adobe Max conference in San Francisco held Nov. 16 to 18. Rombla enables designers to create fully editable Web sites using simple visual editing tools and then share them with their clients to edit and maintain.
Bob Lang, founder of Piria, said by using Rombla to make it easy for clients to keep their sites up-to-date, designers will be able to focus on higher-margin design work rather than ongoing maintenance, marking a new chapter in Web design.
Designers can also share their designs with the Rombla community to showcase their talents and attract new clients. Business owners select a design and customize it themselves or collaborate with a designer using Rombla to make major changes and additions.
Lang posted a blog entry on Rombla Dec. 13 reporting new bug fixes and progress on two new features in the works.
One feature is the ability to publish Rombla sites to external domains. “Our testers are now validating FTP transfer of Rombla sites to several large hosting companies,” Lang said. “Initially, you will be able to download your site and FTP it to your existing hosted domain. Shortly after, we will add the ability for Rombla to automatically publish to other hosting companies without the need to download and transfer files.”
Regarding the second new feature in development, Lang said, “We have also added the ability for Rombla to auto-generate a background copy of each page’s content in HTML format to help search engines to index content and dramatically improve your site’s search engine ranking.”
At Adobe Max, Lang cited a survey that indicated that designers are spending the majority of their time on maintenance and updates rather than on new site design. For their part, many clients have been frustrated that they can’t edit their own sites and keep them up to date, Lang said. Rombla addresses both these limitations, he said.
“With Rombla, designers can separate content from design, which really changes the dynamics of building Web sites,” said Chris Fortier, owner of Chris Fortier Graphics. “I can now rapidly build out a site and then work collaboratively with the client to finalize the design and content, which is a process that’s far more efficient than what designers have been doing since we started building client sites more than 10 years ago.”
What Distinguishes Rombla
Through the use of the Adobe Flex 3 Framework, Rombla gives designers control over every element of every page, including style, layout and content, without forcing them to write a line of code, Lang said. And Rombla provides true WYSIWYG editing that is powerful enough to meet the needs of designers and yet easy enough for their clients to use, he said.
“There are a number of online Web site builders on the market,” Lang told eWEEK in an interview. “But what makes Rombla different is that the others offer the business the ability to cut out the designer. But at the end of the day there’s an important ingredient needed in any good Web site, and that is artistic talent. You suffer when you try to cut the designer out. So we had to build a product that was easy enough for the business owner, and also sophisticated enough for the designer.”
Piria also set out to create a community space where business owners and designers could meet, Lang said.
Rombla offers a rich design environment by tightly integrating with online design tools such as Adobe Kuler color palettes, content sources such as Flickr, YouTube and Google Maps, and utilities such as PayPal for shopping and payment, Lang said. For example, within Rombla a designer can find content online and drag and drop it onto any page, he said. In addition, Rombla includes a content management system that makes it easy to create forms and view data.
“We created Rombla to give designers and their clients a better way of working together,” Lang said. “Designers can focus their talent on creating compelling designs and their customers can contribute content and keep their site up-to-date. This frees designers from their least profitable task and gives clients a cost-effective way to modify their site’s content and optimize its effectiveness.”
Rombla also solves a limitation with online Web site building solutions that lock sites to a single hosting provider, Lang said. Web sites built with Rombla can be saved, shared, edited and published to any Web domain. This allows designers who offer hosting services to easily deploy Rombla sites to their managed domains.
Piria plans to expand Rombla’s site sharing capabilities with the Rombla Marketplace, which will give designers a way to showcase and sell their designs and design services. Rombla Marketplace will be part of the commercial release in early 2009.
However, Rombla is available now as a beta at no cost at www.rombla.com.