RapidWeaver 3.0, by Realmac
Posted: 17-Feb-2005

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Realmac Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Mike Saemisch Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Overview
Realmac RapidWeaver is a website "generator" or "content manager". It provides templates and an easy to use interface to quickly build a website around your content with several different choices for page types. Realmac describes
RapidWeaver as a next-generation web design application to help you easily create professional looking web sites in minutes. No knowledge of HTML, CSS or even javascript is required, as RapidWeaver takes care of all that for you. RapidWeaver comes with a host of page styles, including Blog, External Link, File Sharing, HTML, Photo Album, iFrame, Styled Page (WYSIWYG) and Quicktime.

Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.2 or higher
  • Safari


Setup
RapidWeaver is available as a
free download from Realmac's website. After downloading, Safari automatically opens the .dmg file up, and you simply drag the RapidWeaver package to your Applications folder. This was a very easy setup. You can purchase a registration code from Realmac's website at a cost of $34.95.

In Use

Launching the program presents the user with an interface similar to what we now have for programs like iPhoto and iTunes. The window shows pages you have created listed on the left and their content on the right. To get going, you click the add page button "+" and you are presented with eight different page types to choose from: Blog, File Sharing, HTML Code, iFrame, Offsite Page, Photo Album, Quicktime, and Styled Text. Choosing one adds a blank page of that type to your site.


RapidWeaver Interface

The templates provide a nice header along with styled buttons to link to each page that you add to your website. You can name the buttons and tinker with the font. When you select a template, it is applied to every page you have created, but is not a one-time final decision. A preview feature lets you change templates and see how your content looks.

I used each of the page types and am now using RapidWeaver as the basis for my websites. It allows me to quickly build and publish content on a great looking website in just minutes (just as advertised).

Page Styles
Blog, short for weblog, builds a page to collect each entry you create by entering a title and text into a small text box. Entries are added to a page with the most recent entry at top. You can drag and drop photos into the text box to add them to your daily writings. The entries are organized very neatly. RapidWeaver has became my favorite blog program with excellent support for photos. One thing missing is that there is not an easy way to copy general information from one blog page to another. There are instances when I like to separate blog entries by month, and being able to start that new blog with data from an existing blog would be nice.


Example of a RapidWeaver Blog page


File Sharing creates a web page with links to files that you drag and drop onto the page. When you publish the website, the files are copied and visitors may retrieve the files by clicking the link. You can add a description for each file.

HTML Code pages are just blank pages for you to enter any HTML code you wish. Since RapidWeaver does not offer assistance in writing the code (as do programs such as Page Spinner), these types of pages are most useful for pasting in code you have created in HTML editing programs. I found it useful to incorporate old website code into my new template-based website.

iFrame allows you to embed another webpage into a frame, with or without scroll bars.. It works nice unless the page is too large and requires scroll bars. Then you end up with scroll bars within scroll bars which does not look too elegant.

Offsite page allows you to enter a link to a page that will accessed by a button on your website.

Photo album allows you to create a photo album page from either iPhoto (your iPhoto albums are listed in RapidWeaver) or from any photos you drag and drop or import. It creates thumbnail pages with links to larger scaled versions of the size and spacing you specify. The program does not let you do things such as add a copyright on each picture, but does provide options for limited header capability.


Web page created using the Photo Album page style

Quicktime pages, as you might guess, allow you to embed a Quicktime movie.

Styled text allows you to create a webpage as you would create a page with a word processor. You enter stylize text, including embedding pictures, and RapidWeaver does the code generation for you.

Your website can be composed of any combination and number of the above types of pages, each given a button to jump between pages. Buttons are created in rows along the top or down the sides of the page, with the templates provided. I used the program extensively and was extremely pleased with the professional look it gave my sites that I have previously been unable to produce myself. I have yet to find any other tool that provides this kind of streamlined web page generation.

Summary
Realmac RapidWeaver is a website generator with an easy to use interface to quickly build a website around your content with several different choices for page types. Rather than a WYSIWYG html code builder or other program that starts with a blank page to create your website from a tool pallet, RapidWeaver has built-in professional looking templates for your website. The operative word applicable to RapidWeaver is "simple". The interface is simple in the lack of choices you need to make to launch your site. On the other hand, it means customization is not easy unless you dig deep into the template language. Publication to .Mac is a breeze with the click of a button. RapidWeaver allows users to create impressive looking websites with extreme speed and ease - a capability that seems to be unique except possibly in high end and much more expensive programs. For such a reasonably priced and unique program, I highly recommend this tool for anyone interested in putting together nice looking websites in a quick amount of time.


Pros

  • Unique ability to quickly generate a professional looking website with no HTML creativity required
  • Extremely attractive templates
  • Great price
  • Simplicity

Cons

  • Limited customization ability
  • Some templates work better for some content than others
  • Inability to duplicate pages so that you can copy such features as photo spacing from one page to another


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice