For those who make web pages, Macworld was a coming out party. Karelia Software introduced Sandvox, an exciting web page development tool. Apple introduced iWeb as part of the iLife ‘06 application suite. What’s best?
It was a party for those of us who work on web pages, want to produce web pages, or want a web page but don’t want to work to produce them.
Arguably the web page ease-of-use king, Rapidweaver now gets compared to exciting and feature filled competition for Mac users.
Apple includes iWeb 1.0 in the updated iLife ‘06 suite. Sandvox is from the same developers of the popular Watson (Karelia). How do these newcomers to web page production compare to Rapidweaver?
Which should you buy? Which should you use? I decided to put all three through a few tests and come up with a winner, a runner up, and an honorable mention.
All three applications change the metaphor for producing attractive, feature-laden web pages for a web site. All three are easy to use, create great looking pages, have many features. And many shortcomings.
Gone are the days when you need six books on HTML, XHTML, and CSS to get an attractive web site produced.
All three are point and click, drag and drop. All three make the previously complex look remarkably easy.
As Steve Jobs introduced iWeb at the Macworld keynote address, he used a slide (I saw it on the QuickTime movie) which graphically illustrated the problem of web page design.
Easy web page construction results in ugly pages. Beautiful web pages take massive work. That’s no longer the case. With Rapidweaver, iWeb, or Sandvox, easy also means beautiful web pages.
With the introduction of Rapidweaver (RW) a couple of years ago, RealMac Software began to change the way attractive web pages were produced.
Point and click, templates, drag and drop became the tools of choice, not hand coding of XHTML and CSS.
Rapidweaver has matured to become the premier easy-to-use web page creation application. Surely some of the design elements and tools in Sandvox and iWeb were inspired by RW.
RW starts with themes. You’ll see the same kind of element in Sandvox and iWeb.
Themes alone do not a great web page make, but they make for a great start. RW has 20 themes included, and dozens more are available from other sources.
RW themes can be mixed and matched within a web site. The home page can use one design and layout, while a web log page can use another, and so on.
Integration appears to be the key word in Apple’s iLife, and true to form, RW is well integrated with iLife applications. iPhoto albums can be turned into Flash slide shows. Photos are drag and drop.
Ease of use in design does not mean RW is not a professional tool. Bambi uses RW to set up web page design comps for presentations.
RW code is validates as XHTML and CSS compliant. Even PHP can be rendered in RW pages. Themes can be modified. Updating a site uses ‘smart’ technology which only updates files that have changed.
Once a site is completed or modified, sending it to ‘publication’ is just a click. Save the web site’s files on your Mac, send to .Mac, or FTP to a remote file server.
It’s all easy, it’s all point and click, or drag and drop.
A key point of differentiation with RW is maturity. Source code is always at hand for tweaking. Sub menus are a click away and keep track of each other via a bread crumb technology.
The ever present Media Inspector (you’ll see it in iWeb and Sandvox) is a bit cumbersome for newbies, but no more so than dealing with all the new changes in the iLife applications.
Creating a web site is almost as easy as creating a web page. Select a theme. Select a page type (photos, slide shows, movie, blog, black, QuickTime, Contact, etc.). Then insert page elements in different locations.
Gotta have a Podcast? Use Garageband to create the Podcast (I’ve not found anything easier, faster, more elegant than GB for this), drop it into RW.
Gotta have a blog? RW has a page just for you, and creates the RSS link and update automatically.
One more thing. RW works. At version 3.2.1, the templates, pages, elements are mature. The output code is clean and uncluttered. Rapidweaver is a very good web page, web site design tool.
How does the competition stack up? iWeb is at version 1.0. Sandvox is still in beta. Both show promise. Both bring a new approach to the web page design table. Which is best?
Part 2 tomorrow.