Review: RapidWeaver 3.2.1

Easy to use web site creator and editor. (March 14th, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Real Mac Software

Price: $34.95 US

The Good

  • Easy to Use, iPhoto, iTunes Podcast and Finder Integration, Accessible advanced features/ Additional Themes and 3rd Party Add Ons available for purchase. Good active support forum.

The Bad

  • Clunky edit and preview interface without true WYSIWYG editing.

RapidWeaver is a web design application designed to make a basic website quickly and easily without the burden of learning HTML. Although I would not call it a true WYSIWYG application, RapidWeaver's strength is in automated approach. Included Theme Based Templates help jump start you in building your website, plus it is easy to use.

When first launched, RapidWeaver gives you a text tutorial on how to start. A click on the plus (+) sign in the lower left corner reveals a drop down menu with various page types such as Blog, File Sharing, Photo Sharing, Movie Album, QuickTime, and Styled Text. This interface is consistent with Apple's design, as found in iTunes to add a playlist, and other applications. The Styled Text page, which is a basic HTML page, provides a simple starting point for your website. It opens a blank page in Edit mode in which you add text and other content. Just type in the text that you want and select the Preview Mode to see what your website will look like.

Using Themes

By default, RapidWeaver previews your page in their Aqualicious Theme that looks similar to Apple's Home Page with navigational tabs at the top for various pages on your site. RapidWeaver includes 10 different Theme designs so you can target your site to various audiences. If none of the included themes are to your liking, RapidWeaver has partnered with several other companies where you can buy additional Themes.

Inspector Pallet Once you choose a Theme, you can customize the look, feel, and design of your site. Under the Window Menu, bring up the Inspector pallet to add more descriptive titles to your pages. The Inspector pallet is the control point for your site FTP info, contact links, site wide images, favicons, and more. You can also control in which browser you want to preview your site before posting it on the Internet. The Inspector pallet also allows you to change page names, titles, add Meta Tags, and alter the layout and Themes slightly. Advanced users can also add their own custom stylesheets and Java.

Adding Images and Media

You can easily add images to your website with a drag and drop interface while your page is in Edit mode. RapidWeaver offers a separate Media Inspector where you can change the size of the image, rotate or crop it, and add the Alt Tags.

Blogging and Podcasting made Easy

The hottest trend on the web right now is having your own Blog or Podcast. RapidWeaver includes the ability to create your own Blog with a few simple clicks. The fields for your Blog are straightforward, you simply give your Blog entry a title, assign a category and add the content. If you choose to dig deeper into the Blog Preferences, you can add or edit Blog categories, control or customize RSS feeds, and even add the ability to allow readers to comments on your Blog.

Your Blog can easily become a Podcast by adding audio content to the Blog entry and with a few clicks and tweaking of the RapidWeaver setting, you can add your content directly to iTunes with ease.

Easy and Simple Photo Galleries

One thing that RapidWeaver does well is create Photo Albums or Web Galleries on your website. Simply select a Photo Album Page and RapidWeaver links to your iPhoto Library and allows you to select individual Photos or build a Photo Page based on Albums , which I like the best. Two types of Photo Galleries are offered, HTML or Flash. You can rearrange the order of the Photos by simply dragging them into position. You can control the image characteristics with a simple click of the Set-up Button. Although it takes a few minutes for RapidWeaver to do the code for the pages, the finished result was pleasing. I was especially impressed with the Flash Gallery, with its opaque floating Navigation and Information Bar.

Other Types of Pages

You can also easily add self-made QuickTime Movies to your site. RapidWeaver does all the coding and linking behind the scenes. It allows you to control if the Movie should Auto Play upon loading or User start. The only disadvantage is you cannot fully see how the page looks until you export the site and that could take a while with a QuickTime Movie.

RapidWeaver offers other useful predesigned pages like an iFrame Page which loads and links an external page within your site or a Offsite Page which automatically redirects users to another page, or a standard blank HTML page, for those that dabble in code. You can also add a PHP based Contact Form or simple File Sharing Page on your site with a few simple clicks.

Publishing your Site

After you have created your website, you preview it in your choice of Browser before using RapidWeaver's built in FTP capability to upload your site for the world to see. If you use the .Mac service, you can easily upload your site to your .Mac account. If you have your own domain and hosting, simply input the required information and RapidWeaver does the rest.

Help via Forums

Although RapidWeaver's manual and built in Help documents are somewhat limited, a very active Internet forum is available on the Real Mac Software site. Advanced users can find help to yield results from RapidWeaver that rival professional design applications like Dreamweaver and GoLive.

Until the release of Apple's iWeb app a few months ago, RapidWeaver was hands down, one of the best Web Design applications for beginners to create a professional looking website with little or no effort. iWeb definitely has RapidWeaver beat on ease of use (, but RapidWeaver has several big advantages over iWeb. You can control Meta Tags, keywords, and ALT image data to make your website search engine and Web compliant, plus the ability to work on more than one website. If RapidWeaver could integrate true WYSIWIG editing, it would an exceptional application. Several third party themes and add-ons available for purchase also makes RapidWeaver a great buy for users to easily upgrade or update their website as their needs advance.

System Requirements: Requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Art Payne


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