Not being much of a painter, I can tell you that painting is not easy. Whether it’s painting the house or living room wall, or painting a sunset or portrait, I’m not fond of either.
WebsitePainter is another in a growing list of Mac (and Windows) apps that claim to create websites without knowledge of code or programming. Websites can be complicated beasts to create and manage. Can they simply be painted like a living room wall?
Painting The Code Away
Let me start by saying that WebsitePainter is competent, if decidedly Windows-like in appearance and use. In other words, it’s not a lower priced version of RapidWeaver or Sandvox or iWeb. Lower price (not cost) brings more complexity to a non-Mac-like app.
WebsitePainter starts with basic web page templates, then adds page elements as needed.
The templates are anything but exciting or attractive.
Buttons, links, backgrounds, shapes and other components can be selected and dropped into each page. The resulting code is standard HTML and CSS (you can also generate PHP, ASP, and other types of dynamic web pages).
Layout vs. Code
WebsitePainter’s template layouts are more akin to Pagemaker-like page layout tools. Click on an element—button, header, footer, content area—and handles appear. Drag the handles to resize the element.
Each element has a Property which defines location, backgrounds, function, color, border, etc. Content within a page is styled by using word processor-like tools for font size, color, style, justification, etc.
Graphic elements can be dropped into a page and managed using the Property tools and moved around using a handle. Even menu buttons can be resized, restyled, and moved around by clicking and moving, or adjusting the handles.
Tools, Tools, More Tools
WebsitePainter’s Toolset is a column of mostly self-explanatory tools for page layout, but adapted for web pages. Click to drop in a text element. Click to drop in an image, or shapes, or a slideshow.
That’s the problem. It’s 1999 all over again.
Despite the attention to creating HTML and CSS code behind the scenes (you see it only if you want to), WebsitePainter applies a page layout metaphor to web pages, which are decidedly more dynamic.
If you’ve swooned over the drag and drop of Apple’s iWeb in iLife, you’ll understand the disparity between modern web page construction tools and retro apps that view web page building from the past as present.
WebsitePainter is competent and cumbersome. While it hides the HTML and CSS code needed to build a modern web page, it does so behind an interface that is more at home on a Windows 98 PC. It’s not paint so much as it is page layout using tools and methods from the last century.