updated 03:30 pm EDT, Thu June 26, 2008
F. Look: RapidWeaver 4.0
Generally, there are two ways to design a webpage. First you can learn the arcane commands of HTML, and pump codes out one after another to define the appearance of text and graphics. This gives you ultimate control, but is extremely slow and tedious. Your second option is a WYSIWYG editor that lets you drag-and-drop elements on a page, greatly simplifying the process. High-end web page editors like Dreamweaver combine both features so you can choose which method works best for you; since Dreamweaver is fairly pricey ($399) however, a less expensive, but equally capable choice is Realmac Software’s $79 RapidWeaver.
Naturally, this program lets you both drag-and-drop elements and edit the actual HTML code, just like Dreamweaver. What makes RapidWeaver especially handy is its use of pre-designed themes that you can pick and customize.
Using a built-in theme offers three advantages. First, all themes have already been tested to display correctly in a variety of browsers, including Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer for Windows. Second, themes help you create uniform aesthetics for an entire site. Third, you can change the appearance of your pages simply by choosing a different theme.
Themes essentially hide the details of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) so you can focus on content without worry about specific XHTML codes. Perhaps the best part about themes, and the editor in general, is that it creates standards-compliant code so that your pages appear correctly in virtually any browser.
Every theme additionally comes with its own colors, but you can freely change them at will. That way if you find a theme that looks almost perfect, you don’t have to accept it. Instead, you can choose the colors you like best while retaining the overall design concept.
Creating text is no more difficult than typing in a word processor and formatting your words using a handy toolbar for creating bold, underline, or italicized text. Adding graphics is made simple through the program’s integration with iLife. You can grab any pictures from iPhoto, video clips from iMovie, music files in iTunes, or bookmarked links stored in Safari and paste them into a page.
With many editors, you have to save your HTML files to a folder and then use a separate FTP client to upload them to a server. You can still do that if you want, but RapidWeaver includes a built-in file transfer program, whether for FTP or .Mac. This helps streamline the development workflow.
Another feature of the app is the ability to store commonly-used HTML code as snippets, which you can save in a snippet library. The next time you need to use repetitive HTML code, you can just click on a snippet to insert it.
Between hardcore HTML text editors and professional WYSIWYG tools like Dreamweaver, which bury you under their complexity, lies RapidWeaver 4.0. The program is simple enough for novices to design stunning web pages in minutes, yet powerful enough to satisfy the demands of professional coders. If you need to design a page without embarrassing yourself, RapidWeaver can turn your ideas professional output in no time.