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Blocs 2 review: Web design app balances simplicity and sophistication

Nathan Alderman | July 26, 2016
One of the mac's best, easy to use web design apps for the Mac gets even better.

Blocs 2 ($80) makes one of the Mac’s best, simplest Web design programs even better. Though it retains a few quirks, it builds on its solid predecessor with impressive and well-implemented new features.

Blocs 2 keeps its sleek, Adobe-like interface, but adds more Mac-friendly touches like contextual menus.

Simplicity on the surface

Blocs 2 sticks squarely with its basic web design-as-Lego-kit approach. Choose from an abundant menu of pre-built chunks of code (“blocs”) that snap together to quickly build your site’s basic structure. Then customize the paragraphs, images, buttons, and other premade elements of those chunks (“brics”) by typing directly into your design, or adjusting their parameters in the program’s sidebar. To add images or picture or video backgrounds, just drag the files straight from your desktop, or from Blocs’ clean and well-organized Project Assets window.

If you want to tinker with your blocs’ basic templates, it’s easier than ever to drop in other brics, thanks to a newly searchable menu. The icons denoting each bric take a bit of figuring out—accompanying tooltips help—but if you just start typing the name of the element you seek, Blocs 2 automatically winnows it out for you.

The easy but powerful new Class Manager gives you pinpoint precision over any element’s CSS styling.

Blocs 2 hews closer than its predecessor to Mac interface conventions. In version 1, right-clicking counterintuitively switched you to “drop in new brics” mode. In version 2, it summons useful contextual menus, just as you’d expect.

Plenty of power underneath

Blocs 1 offered a limited roster of webfonts from Google. But by pasting in the right URL from the Google Fonts site, Blocs 2 lets you add anything from that service’s entire library, which has dramatically expanded in the last year to include a gaggle of great-looking typefaces.

Blocs 2’s biggest, most welcome addition is custom class editing. With the new Class Manager, it’s now simple to create a new class, specify a plethora of CSS attributes from color to margin and padding to text styling to drop shadows, and apply those qualities to any item throughout your site. I found the menu well-organized and easy to figure out.

You can now quickly search for any items you want to add to your pages.

And while Blocs 1 gave you a basic preview of how its prebuilt sections would look on desktops, tablets, and phones, Blocs 2 adds the ability to quickly show or hide an element at different “breakpoints,” screen widths associated with different devices. If one aspect of your site looks great on desktops and tablets, but weird and clunky on a phone, just click the appropriate visibility icons to hide it on smaller screens.

 

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