Web sites these days are complex digital animals.
Look at what goes into a site: photos, movies, blogs, graphic elements, design consideration, XHTML and CSS standards, and content—not to mention the problems with rendering pages in various browsers.
No matter how you look at it, creating a modern web site with regularly updated content is hard work. Is there an easier way? Yes. RapidWeaver.
At Mac360, we like what we like, and we like RapidWeaver, the point and click web site design and layout application. The latest version adds a bucket load of features.
First, RapidWeaver is a Mac application which lets you select a design theme, a layout, for a web site—then you add the types of pages you need to build content in the site, then upload the site to a server on the web.
Third, it’s not just a simple point and click and you’re done. Web sites have so many elements in design and layout, that even standard pre-built themes can be arranged in a customized way for a unique design.
How does RapidWeaver do it? It starts with point and click. Start up RapidWeaver, click the Theme button, select a Theme. Now it’s time to add content. Don’t worry about the Theme choice, as it can be changed later.
To get started, click the Add Page button. Now you have a choice of what kind of page to build—movies, photo gallery, text, contact form, file sharing, iFrame, HTML, and so on.
Custom plugins allow even more styles of pages including multiple columns, blocks, carousel effects, accordian effects.
All of these allow for a wide variety of content display options. It’s all point and click.
The new RapidWeaver has a revamped Page Inspector, a floating palette with options for each page—add sidebar content, modify the Theme’s look and feel, and so on.
There’s also an iMedia Browser palette which lets you drop in music, photos, movies, and links from iTunes, iPhoto, and Safari, respectively, on the corresponding page type.
New in RapidWeaver, helping to justify the $25 upgrade fee, are Snippets—frequently used pieces of code or content. The Flash Slideshow has been improved, too, now with different transitions, backgrounds, and the Ken Burns “movement” effect. Flickr is integrated, too.
Once you’ve built a site in RapidWeaver, it needs to be uploaded to a web server. Earlier versions were a bit clumsy when handling uploads so I used Panic’s Transmit instead.
The latest version is an improvement in file handling and progress notification. Pros may prefer to use a standalone FTP/SFTP client instead.
RapidWeaver’s blogging engine has always been decent, if not a bit constrained, especially in the area of categories. Multiple tags and category support has been added, expanding the content management ability, while adding tags for more detail within a blog post.
Creating a web site with many pages, multiple sections, and sub-menus can be an organizational nightmare. RapidWeaver makes it easy with an unlimited sub-menu system that’s pure drag and drop to re-arrange pages.
For the most part, web pages generated by RapidWeaver themes are validated XHTML strict and CSS. That means most sites will look good for years to come in any browser, including Microsoft’s notoriously poor renderings in Internet Explorer.
Support for breadcrumb navigation is built in, as is PHP rendering capability on your Mac during design and layout mode.
Importantly, RapidWeaver is a mature product with a large developer community that produces plug-ins, Snippets, enhancements, and Themes.
What’s not to like? What you see is what you get. Web sites can be designed and laid out in minutes, with content for a multi-page site filled in within an hour. There’s still no way to edit live code without mucking into the guts of RapidWeaver, and the stiff upgrade fee from version 3.5 to 3.6 is a surprise.
Still, RapidWeaver is only $49 which makes it one of the better web page building bargains on the Mac. RapidWeaver is close to becoming a web page content management system that rivals the more complex and expensive systems we’ve reviewed on Mac360.
Drag and drop. Point and click. Select a theme design, add content pages, add content, upload and publish. The steps in between are actually enjoyable, and the end result is professional and standards compliant.
The latest RapidWeaver is pretty good for $49. Download it, try it out, let Mac360 readers know how it works out for you.