Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: May 5, 2012 6:16 PM by Old Toad
Jim Mahoney Level 1 (25 points)

I've gotten a lot of help and useful information from this forum over the years and I will certainly miss it. I've just completed a 2 month transition where I've migrated my site from iWeb/Mobile Me to a new site made in RapidWeaver and hosted by Host Excellence. I figured I'd write a little (or a lot) about my experience, to give some others an idea of what they've got to look forward too. Hopefully it will arm you with some things to do and look out for.  While I am describing RapidWeaver here, a lot of this process will be the same no matter what new software you use. I started off being pretty happy with what I had going in iWeb and not being thrilled at all about making the switch. Now I am so glad I made the switch and I am far happier about the new site than I was with the old one. BTW: the new sites address is: . Feel free to visit. I think you'll quickly notice some things you simple can't do in iWeb. This isn't a knock against iWeb. I was very happy with iWeb and had no plans to switch. Where it hasn't been developed actively for four years now, it has been left behind somewhat.


To begin at the beginning: I've had a site made with iWeb since January of 2006 called Grillin' & Smokin' that combined my love of outdoor cooking and photography. Over the years it had grown rather large, with 375 photo entry pages and 230 blog pages. The Domain file was around 1.4 GB. This was not something I ever wanted to have to recreate from scratch. However losing MobileMe as a host was taking away Value Added features like the Hit Counter, Slide Show, Blog Comments, Blog Search etc. The handwriting is on the wall for iWeb too. I might have gone on using iWeb, but between losing key features and the fact iWeb was starting to show it's age, it was time for me to move on. Just before the iCloud announcement this Spring, I began researching website building software. I looked at their features, working methodology, themes, plug-ins and extensions. I download trial versions of the software where it was available as well as some of the themes or plugins I might be using. I gotta tell you, at first I was very frustrated and upset, because I was not finding anything that had the ease of use of iWeb and looked like it was going to be able to recreate the appearance of my original site. It appeared to be a series of compromises. I'd like the features of one package but I hated the themes available for that software. Another looked promising but isn't being upgraded regularly. My biggest frustration was some of the iWeb page types just don't exist in other packages. For example the Album Pages where multiple Photo Pages can be grouped and displayed, don't have a direct equivalent in any other package I saw. As part of my discovery process I read reviews of the various packages, including head to head comparisons of some of them. I also visited their discussion forums. After doing this for 3 weeks I "settled" on RapidWeaver. It was under active development; had a thriving developer community turning out a wide variety of add ons, plug-ins and themes; had an active user community & had lots of help resources available.  The web pages it produced were standards compliant and you could get nice effects without resorting to Flash. I think the biggest selling point was all of the add-ons-kind of the same advantage the iPhone has with it's App Store.


Once I bought RapidWeaver  & a 3rd Party theme, I tried the demo versions of some of the plug-ins and made sample versions of my page types from iWeb in RapidWeaver. I wanted to have a process in place, before I started mass production on the site. You really do need to do some of this homework in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises. The biggest minus I'd turned up about RapidWeaver (RW from this point on) is it didn't handle big sites well at all. The equivalent of the iWeb Domain file is the RapidWeaver Sandwich file or RWSW file. Once the RWSW file reaches 100MB or so you can get crashes or hangs uploading your site. Now 100 MB doesn't sound like much particularly when I was talking about a 1.4GB iWeb Domain File for my site, but RW doesn't include the photos in the RWSW file. Still I knew I was going to have to divide my site across several RWSW files. Initially the plan was to divide it into 3 sites: The main landing pages was one RWSW file and is the site reached by the url for the site. I was going to have a second RWSW file for my blogs and a third for my photos. Ultimately I ended up dividing the photos into 3 RWSW files. These extra files are hosted on sub-domians whose name goes in front of the main domain ( This meant some extra setup for me with my web-host, although they made the setup for the 4 sub-domains very easy and they were free. If you have a huge site and will need to split it, you'll want to check with your prospective web host if they charge extra for hosting additional sub-domains. For small iWebs sites this is not an issue-you have one RWSW file and one web address, just like you do now. My having sub-domains also meant more work linking files together across sites. RapidWeaver has something called an Offsite Page which helped with some of this, but having to split my sites up was the biggest PITA for me about the whole process. But knowing about this going in was better than finding out at the end when I tried to upload a single massive site. If you have a small site, the setup for uploading it is as straight forward as iWeb. RW has a built in FTP uploader or you can publish to file and use an FTP client like CyberDuck.


Once I had my site organization in place and had experimented with best practices for recreating each iWeb page type in RW, it was time to begin. I've gotta tell you when I started out I was not a happy camper. I liked the iWeb way of doing things about 70 percent of the time vs 30 percent for RW. At the end of the first week I told myself I have to move on and give up on the past. I was no longer going to be using iWeb and the sooner I embraced the RW way of doing things, the better off I'd be. At this early point it was still hard to see down the road to the end results. No matter what new package you buy, you should try to go with the flow and learn a new way of working. You'll be happier and less frustrated in the end. In my case after having gone through the entire process now, I've ended up changing my opinion. Now that I've gone through the entire process, I like the RapidWeaver way of doing things about 95 percent of the time and 5% for iWeb. That 5 percent is mostly the large site issue I've described. As I began working I was able to reuse much of the text from my iWeb blog in RW. I did have to paste it in as unformatted and reformat it in RW. My pictures were well organized in Aperture which also helped speed the process. One of the things I did is automate some of the tedious repetitious tasks. I created Quickeys macros to do things for me when ever possible. For example I could go to a particular photo page in iWeb and select the first caption. I would then trigger a macro that asked how many captions are on this page. It would then select the caption in iWeb, copy it, switch to RW and paste it in place and repeat XX times. If you know Quickeys or Applescript (I am guessing) there are plenty of opportunities to put it to good use.


RW present a different way of working than you are used to in iWeb and you'll just need to get used to it. What I am describing here would be true of any of the other packages I looked at too. First off it isn't WYSIWYG while you are editing. You are working with fairly basic looking text with few clues as to what the real page looks like. You switch to a preview mode to see what the page looks like in a browser. At first blush iWeb seems to win here. But what I soon realized is RW allows you to mix regular text and pictures together with html snippets right in the same text box. This makes adding counters or badges easy. Plus you can  use HTML formatting for things like Titles occurring through your page. Instead of increasing the font size, making the text bold and changing its color, you can simply say this is Heading style 2 or 5 and this happens automatically per the predefined style. Better yet if you change a style everything on that one page or the entire site (your choice) inherits that change. So by working in a non-WYSIWYG mode you gain some long term. advantages over how iWeb works. The same is true with positioning. In iWeb it is fast and easy to place things on a page right down to the pixel. RW just doesn't give you that type of precision and next to splitting my site, layout was my biggest frustration with RW. At least to start. But there is a good reason for this "lack of precision" that may not be apparent until you view the site in a browser. When iWeb came out, you really didn't zoom your browser. iWeb uses Absolute Positioning where it uses anchored boxes for everything, whereas RW uses Relative Positioning. Objects with anchored text or picture boxes like iWeb start having problems if you zoom in or out more than one step. Text starts over flowing other text  because the text boxes are anchored by one point. Pages just start looking scary if you try to zoom in or out too much. RW is looking at items relative positions and their relationships with one another. So initially you aren't placing the objects in the same way, it is more like eyeballing things in a way. But when viewed in a web browser you can zoom in or out to your heart's content. So what seems at first like a big disadvantage at first for RW, is actually a HUGE advantage.


This is why you need to go with the flow and try to embrace the new way of working. I mentioned earlier that I wasn't able to find a page type that was equivalent to the iWeb album page. I was able to use a very flexible plug-in for RW called stacks, which allows you to create various single and multi-column or multi-row layouts using empty stacks. You then populate the empty stacks with content, pictures text etc. These pages were not like iWeb albums where you nest the Photo Album Pages in the Album page and they create a  skimmable preview and an automatic link to the album. Once I actually started making these new "Album" Pages in RW I realized I was gaining as much or more than I was loosing. The skimmable preview pictures was eyecandy I could live without. Nice touch, not essential.  I never liked the way the preview  picture shown on the Album page was the first photo in the Photo album. You couldn't change this. Now that I am placing my own photo on the Album page, I could use any picture and make it any size I wanted too. In iWeb the Album Caption was the name of the Photo Page. If this name was too long the caption didn't go to a second line, it got cut off. Any link in RW can have a description added to the link which is what you see in the yellow box when you hover your mouse over the item being linked. I used to hide text boxes links under the pictures on the Albums page for SEO and navigation help. So yes now I have to manually link the Album picture to the Photo Page, but I am no longer creating a hidden text box with a link that I have to remember to move when I add pages to the album. So once again my first impression was wrong. Advantage RW.


Another advantage to RW is any page type can have a sidebar. You can easily add favicons and site logos. You can easily add metadata to any page and customized the names of the path to your pages. The Themes can be more powerful and customizable too. About one week into the process I was begining to really go with the flow and see this new way of working had far more advantages for me than disadvantages.


By the time I finished my new RW site, my iWeb site was looking tired and dated. My biggest and most pleasant surprises were saved until the end. Any kind of SEO was a PITA with iWeb. You had to embed snippets on each page with a code from HaloScan or Google Analytics. Problem was, iWeb erased any such HTML code while you were uploading. So you then had to use a regular expression in the text box ("HaloScan goes here"), upload your site and replace the regular expression with the actual code using a 3rd party tool. Oh and don't do that on any blog page where you are using the built in Apple commenting system because the comments will disappear. I also had problems where the new comment badge would not show up for weeks or months after a comment was made. It was getting so the things I had to do AFTER I uploaded my site to MobileMe were taking longer than uploading the site. Once the site was recreated, it was time to add blog comments, a guestbook, a contact form, Google Analytics, and publish a site map. In my iWeb-influenced mind, I was saving the fussy PITA things for last.  I was dead wrong. Unlike what you go through with iWeb, it couldn't have been been easier in RW:


-Blog Comments: Set up an account with the provider. Then I had to go into the page setup in RW for my blog page and click on a popup menu of comment providers & select Discus. If your provider isn't listed you paste some HTML code from the provider into a dialogue box provided by RW for the blog page. In my case it was simpler, just set Discus in the popup menu. Now instead of the iWeb badge showing me new posts (and only when it was in the mood), I now get an email.


-Google Analytics: Set up an account with Google. Go to the Stats area in the RW side bar, click on Configure, paste in your code from Google and you are good to go. You can monitor your Google analytics stats right from within RapidWeaver. (Also works this way for GoSquared Live Stats).


-Guestbook: Same as iWeb. You add a page with an HTML snippet from your Guestbook provider in an iFrame.


-Contact Form: This is a RW page type which masks your email address from the spambots by transferring the information to an invisible and inaccessible  page within your site. This page then emails you the information.


-Full Site Search: This doesn't exist in iWeb. You can search your blogs right now, but this is one of the features you lose when MobileMe shuts down. By adding an inexpensive Plug in called RapidSearch Pro I enable full site search. You set up a MySQL server for your site. Host Excellence walked me through the 4-Step Process via a well written Help File. You then control what pages are indexed via your sitemap.xml file. You let RapidSearch Pro index your site and you are good to go.


-SiteMap: There is a simple SiteMap generation feature built into RW 5. There are third party tools for doing this for iWeb. I purchased an inexpensive RW plug in called SiteMap plus that not only generates the sitemap.xml file, it allows you to customize what pages get searched and at what frequency. This ties into what is searched via RapidSearch Pro.  This plug-in also generates a visible and customizable sitemap page to help your site's users find their way around. Another bonus of being hosted off Mobile Me is when I went to add my sites to my Google account they had already been indexed. It seemed like they never crawled MobileMe unless you told them you wanted them to look at your site.


Link Checking: This doesn't exist in iWeb. I bought another inexpensive plug-in called Link Inspector for RW. It checks all of your internal and external links and generates a report showing the status of all links. This was just what the doctor ordered for my large site. I will run it periodically to make sure external links are still working and that I haven't broken any internal links.


My site was pretty much wrapped up on Monday August 8th. I just had to add in Blog Comments, Google Analytics, the Guestbook, Full Site Search and the Site Map. I figured I would go public on Tuesday or Wednesday. To my great pleasure these 5 items took all of 2 hours to get set up and working. This was a nice touch after 2 months of hard work.


So there you have it. This is the process I went through converting my site over to RapidWeaver. Your mileage may vary. I am not pushing RapidWeaver for everyone. You have to find what program is the right fit for you. You may find staying with iWeb on a new host is the right fit for you. You need to decide if you can live with the features you lose once you aren't hosted on Mobile Me.  For me there was great pain, but in the end there was a lot of gain too. I do like my new site and I feel it will serve me well for years to come. Good luck to all of you in whatever path you choose. Lastly thanks one last time to the helpful folks around here




Message was edited by: Jim Mahoney

  • Roddy Level 6 (17,265 points)

    That's a really impressive review of RapidWeaver and I'm sure it will be of interest to many people looking for an alternative to iWeb.


    I have been trying out various other apps and anybody who is interested can download a list with links HERE.


    My personal opinion is that RapidWeaver is a move sideways rather than forward and that most of the essential extras should be available in the basic package. My RapidWeaver "shopping list" added up to a substantial amount. There's no doubt that it will suit a lot of people and its main competitor - Sandvox - suffers from the lack of ability to start from a blank page.


    Freeway is about the only app that allows you actually see what you are doing as you do it but the interface is really poor and the application is sluggish.


    Given that most of them require you switch windows to preview, I like the idea of doing so directly in the browser of your choice.


    BlueGriffon does this really well and uses the Firefox rendering engine. This is a big advantage now that this is the most popular browser on the planet. The app is free and an add-on package for all the "essentials" is available for less than the basic cost of most other apps. It also works in Windows and Linux and, if you really want to, you can import iWeb built pages into it.


    I've found that a lot of the techniques I use to get Movies, Music, Slideshows, Comments etc working in iWeb are actually easier to implement in more "advanced" apps.


    iWeb is definitely the easiest way to get into website construction. Its main problem is that it deludes some into thinking that they have built a website that will actually work in all popular browsers and devices!


    "I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link."

  • Jim Mahoney Level 1 (25 points)

    Thanks Roddy. I agree with your take on some of the other software you mentioned, at least from the perspective of having dabbled with demo versions of some of the others. I will add that with Sandvox I felt a little nervous about it. Kind of almost like the software was a "hobby" effort a la the first gen Apple TV.


    I also agree with some of your points regarding RapidWeaver. But now that I've built my rather large (for a hobbyist site) website with it I will have to respectfully disagree about it being at the same level as iWeb, or as you put it: a sideways move. While iWeb can be made to do things it was never originally meant to do, there are many places it simply can't go that RapidWeaver can. I was often hitting the limits of what you could do in iWeb, whereas with RapidWeaver, with one exception, I didn't feel like I was running up against any limits yet. The exception is it's lack of ability to handle large sites well. That was almost the deal breaker for me. I find it unexplainable that a software package with all kinds of add-ons helping you make more ambitious sites, can't handle those same sites in a single file. This was almost a deal-breaker for me. For folks who have small to medium sized iWeb sites this isn't a concern. There are also ways to warehouse images on the server to keep file size down, but this gets more complex than many folks coming from iWeb would want to do. Me splitting my site up the way I did was more work than I wanted to do.I almost bagged the whole thing and was close to just taking the old site down.


    Now if we were to fantasize for a minute I can think of a way where I could also say iWeb to RapiWeaver is a sideways move: While I don't think iWeb '09 is the equal to RapidWeaver 5, I'd bet that iWeb 11 or the oft rumored iWeb Pro might have been. I kept hoping that Apple would keep pushing the limits of what iWeb could do and add in some missing features and head down the HTML 5 road.


    I will conditionally agree on your saying that the shopping list for RapidWeaver can be substantial. I will qualify that by saying: Depending on what you are doing with it, your shopping list for RapidWeaver can be substantial. With one exception, I do think the base package of RapidWeaver is fairly priced. I think the basic Stacks functionality and a few basic stacks should be part of RapidWeaver. The more esoteric stacks can be pay as you go. When iLife 11 was announced without a an update to iWeb, I did some preliminary pricing and I was rather discouraged at the total. This spring I got more serious about things and repriced RapidWeaver and add-ons. After trying out various themes and plug-ins, I was able to sharpen my pencil and reduce the cost of entry considerably. One of the things that helped is the theme I bought had a couple features built into it. It had a nice lightbox type slideshow for photo pages and animated banners/headers capabilities built in. This saved me the expense of several additional plug-ins. Also while I have a blog, I don't consider myself a blogger. I was able to use the built in blog page and I don't feel limited by it at all. Some of the other ad-ons I bought: such as  the link checker, site wide search and a more sophisticated sitemap generator were items I added because I could tell I would want to keep the site going long term. Those 3 plug-ins did that a a low price. I didn't think they needed to be built in.


    But everyone's mileage may vary. RapidWeaver or any other web design program isn't right for every iWeb user. It all depends on personal needs, abilities and budgets. I'm just glad I can get back to posting to the site and not recreating it.



  • Roddy Level 6 (17,265 points)

    My main objection to something like RapidWeaver is that it suffers from the same limitation as iWeb in that it has no import facilty. I really don't want to have rebuild all my sites from scratch!.


    The sad thing about iWeb is that Apple didn't see fit to encourage other developers to produce widgets that are actually usefull. The big thing was the HTML Snippet but the others are pretty much a waste of time.


    Imagine you could drag a movie file onto a FlowPlayer widget and it would appear on the page like this or an audio file onto a JWMedia widget that would appear like this.


    It would seem to me that the world needs an entry level web design software like iWeb far more than it needs a recording software for dummies like Garageband. But what do I know compared with our Great Auntie Apple?

  • Cravenater Level 1 (5 points)

    Your site looks really good I really liked your contact form too very simple yet works well. Is that something that is exclusive of RW or did you find code for that elsewhere?

  • Jim Mahoney Level 1 (25 points)

    Thanks Cravenater. That Contact form is the out of the box stock RapidWeaver contact form. I used the default fields with the default field names. The fields can be renamed and turned on and off, plus more fields added if you want. You also can designate the mandatory fields which must be filled out to mail the form.


    For others viewing my site that are wondering what is stock, what is third party here is a breakdown.


    Stock RapidWeaver:

    • Home Page
    • Blog Pages,
    • Individual Food Items Pages (The pages containing single recipes life Rendezvous beef ribs, Southwestern Ham Steak) The lightbox slide show was provided by the theme I used.
    • Contact Form.
    • BBQ Trail Map. Standard Styled text page with HTML snippet.
    • Guestbook. Standard Styled text page with HTML snippet.


    Stacks Ad-On:

    • Food Pictures Page:
    • Main Category Pages: Beef, Beef 1 etc.
    • All Indexes
    • Links Page


    3rd Party Add On Pages:

    • Search Site Page
    • Site Map Page-RW generates rudimentary sitemap.xml file. The SiteMap Plus ad-on page gives you a sitemap.xml file for Google just like the RW one. The difference is you can set which pages are included in the site map and you also get a sitemap.html web pages you can use for your visitors. It  comes in several configurations  and styles.


    The banner pictures and banner slide shows used throughout the site were part of the third party theme I purchased.



  • abelincolnzombie Level 1 (50 points)

    Yes, RW is great, but you do have to shell out some bucks for the add-ons.  I'm using a few free ones and just editing the CSS by hand.


    I like your site, great layout, nice color scheme.  If I am able to offer one critique (from designer to designer), it would be to lose the "Made with Rapidweaver"/Use these web browsers/Counter/Made on a Mac/Webring.  These would have looked commonplace fifteen years ago on websites, and just interupts the flow.  Also, try to simplify the front page, because there is too much information.  You really need to clarify a purpose (is it about your hobby? your story? your recipes? the credit? the site layout?)  Otherwise, again, I like it a lot.

  • Jim Mahoney Level 1 (25 points)

    Thanks for the feedback and points well taken. Most of that was a carryover from my Home Page circa 2006. Everything but the SmokeRing banner is subject to removal or severe trimming. I need to keep the blurb for the Smoke Ring on my home page. Kinda irks me because it displays wrong in this RW theme and I've tried tweaking the HTML and can't get it to behave.


    I was actually looking at just what to kill on the Home Page this past Friday, and you've confirmed some of my own instincts. I have some ideas I may try out on a test site first.



  • Roddy Level 6 (17,265 points)

    I notice the problem you are having with the popup movie. I've just been experimenting with flowplayer which is a really easy and neat way to get away from the QuickTime v Flash problem.


    While doing the popup version, I noticed that Chrome chops the bottom of the window. I checked yours out to see if it was my screwup but yours does the same and the vertical scrollbar appears. I had to add 30 px to the window height to compensate.


    I've started to use Chrome a lot since the latest version of Safari is kind of disfunctional.


    Most web design software allows you to choose the browser to preview the website. Does RapidWeaver?


    One thing that's always annoyed me about iWeb is the fact that you can't set your choice of browser. What's the point in viewing it in Safari when less than 4% (and falling) use it.



  • Wyodor Level 6 (19,730 points)

    One thing that's always annoyed me about iWeb is the fact that you can't set your choice of browser. What's the point in viewing it in Safari when less than 4% (and falling) use it.

    When iWeb entered the market, Chrome didn't exist.


    But if you want, you can change the default browser in the Safari preferences, and iWeb will happily open the browser. I doubt iWeb knows about it, since it's a system setting.


    It still amazes me that a highly skilled professional like you, a discerning one no less, is still using iWeb.


    Shouldn't you be in the forefront of webdesign? Where you are among your peers? Using the latest cutting-edge technologies?



    Unfortunately most of the articles are beyond copy/pasting code in the HTML Snippet.

  • Jim Mahoney Level 1 (25 points)

    Roddy I am a bit relieved to be saying it appears to be the problem YOU are having with popup movies. I did check  various page types on the site in Safari, Chrome, IE,  & Firefox as I was creating it. I did not however check the movie page in Chrome. I was a bit surprised to hear you say you were having a problem with my movie in Chrome. Where Chrome, like Safari uses Webkit, I had ASSumed it would be fine, because it loaded fine in Safari. What you see below is a screen capture of the movie running just fine in Chrome on my system. Perhaps there is something running on your system that is conflicting with the QT plug--in. I had a Safari extension loading that was interfering with Disqus blog comments until I removed it.


    The RW preview mode uses Webkit to render the preview. So a close cousin to Safari and Chrome.


    I must be a sucker for browsers with low market share. From the dawn of OSXv10.0 to 2008 my main browser was OminWeb. It had some truly unique features that made it worth paying to use it. For whatever reason the current version of Safari is a good fit for me. I never took a liking to Firefox and I am just not a fan of Chrome at all. I'm not sure if you are referring to the version of Safari shipping with OSXv10.7 as the latest version that is dysfunctional or not. I've had no issues with the version for OSXv10.6. I was in the middle of recreating my website when 10.7 came out so no upgrade yet for me. RW didn't have a version that it was comfortable saying was 10.7 compatible. I do believe that version of RW is still in Beta even now.




    Screen shot 2011-08-14 at 5.24.14 PM.png

  • Roddy Level 6 (17,265 points)

    I'm using Safari V 5.1 with OS X 10.6.8. Chrome 14.0.835.35 beta.


    This is the way I would like to have seen iWeb develop. A toolbar like Keynote, a "Preview in the browser.." button and the ability to open html files...





  • Jim Mahoney Level 1 (25 points)

    OSX v10.6.7, Safari v5.05 and Chrome 13.0.782.112 here. For once I was not the first one on the block to upgrade and I think I am glad about it now. I think I will stand pat here until I go to Lion. But I am probably going to wait till there are a couple upgrades for Lion too.



  • Roddy Level 6 (17,265 points)

    Thanks. I guess I need to revert a little with both browsers.


    I'm running three different versions of Firefox for testing pages since it is the most popular browser now. I don't ever use it for browsing because its so slow compared with Chrome. Chrome is stealing customers from IE mainly and will probably rule the world soon. The new PC version has a really slick transparent interface.

  • Jim Mahoney Level 1 (25 points)


    I was mistaken in something I said the other day, which I wanted to correct. You asked about the ability to preview a site in RW using specific browsers. I said it uses Webkit.


    I was going through the RW preferences this morning and I discovered "Preview using..." preference. The default is off and it uses straight Webkit for that. When you turn on the radio button a popup menu is enabled which appears to contain every piece of software that can handle HTML on my system. So besides the usual suspects, CDPedia & DVDPedia which are CD and DVD cataloguing databases I own are on the list too.



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