Functionality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The Mac is a great place to build web sites with point and click ease.
Which tool is best? There are many from which to choose. Two that I truly like, admire, and use definitely get the job done. They’re similar yet quite different.
How many ways can you use your Mac to build a web site? How many fingers and toes do you and your family have? Selecting a good web page builder is not so easy.
Your selection will depend on your experience, what type of site you need, how you will deploy the site, and many other reasons (you may get to use those fingers and toes again).
Or, you could learn HTML and CSS and use your Mac’s built-in editors (there are many; from TextEdit to the Terminal and Pico).
If money isn’t an object, you could cough up a few years of savings for Adobe’s Dreamweaver. Very capable, very powerful, big learning curve, and soooo 1999.
No Mac application shoot out is worthy unless caveats apply, right? Here’s the big one: Sandvox and RapidWeaver are both excellent ways to build a static web page (by static, I mean non-dynamic, non-database driven, arguably less complex to build and manage).
That means that either is a good choice for most of us who want to build a competent, modern, standards compliant, attractive, and buzz-word proficient web site. While strikingly similar, Sandvox and DreamWeaver are notably different.
Each tool takes a template or theme approach to building a site. That means you select a pre-built theme and customize it, usually with changes to text, color, graphic element placement, background colors, menus, etc.
On the downside for both, the pre-built template theme approach makes most of the sites look somewhat similar. RapidWeaver has the edge here because the user community has created a rich variety of commercial template themes and add ons.
For example, RapidWeaver, at $79 comes with over 40 different designs (some good, some downright crummy). Likewise, Sandvox, at $49 for the base version, and $79 for the pro version, comes with 50 designs. Sandvox has a slight edge on value.
Ease of use is a toss up. RapidWeaver seems to have more features and a few more page designs, but really shines with third party add-on utilities. Not only are there many template themes, RapidWeaver has plugins, snippets, styles, and other utilities to add more functionality.
CoverFlow adds a Mac-like Flash coverFlow to your site’s pages. Coursel is a plugin that adds a scrolling bar of thumbnails. RapidForum and RapidMap add a forum module and Google or Yahoo Maps, respectively.
There’s even plugins to create a navigation collage and a site map, all with point and click simplicity, and there are many more. The add on advantage is clearly RapidWeaver.
Both do blogs, generate automatic RSS feeds, and feature drag and drop for photos, photo galleries, movies, and much more.
Did I mention simplicity? Did I mention ease of use? Remember point and click? Granted, both Sandvox and RapidWeaver are point and click, but not wholly simple. These are complex beasts which disguise the sophistication of their inner beings.
Sandvox bills itself as Easy, Elegant Website Creation, and that’s closer to the truth than RapidWeaver, which almost accurately states that it is Powerful web site creation for everyone. Almost.
Both offer one click template theme selection and one click auto publishing of a finished or updated web site. Therein lies the problem and the difference between the two. Point and click. There’s lots of pointing and clicking required to figure out the bewildering array of components for each.
For that I give a begrudging nod to Sandvox, not so much because it is less powerful, less complex, but because it is more intuitive, especially when creating web site page components such as menus, sidebars,and the like, though, admittedly, the Pro version adds more capability, and lets you edit XHTML, CSS, and even use Google’s web master tools.
The Sandvox Pro version is the same price as RapidWeaver. If both are very good, and they are, then which is better. Sorry, it depends. If you’re new to web site creation, both will get you a modern, competent, buzz-word compliant site within a few hours.
The ease of use nod goes to Sandvox.
If you’re interested in creating a true multi-media site with more bells and whistles than than Mariah has octaves, then RapidWeaver is the choice. Otherwise, RapidWeaver wins in every category but ease of use. Barely.