Simple Web Design on the Mac: A Comparison of I-Web and Rapidweaver

web design on mac

Below we’ll look at some of the standard software that is bundled with a new Mac to explore how these programs shape up in terms of their cost, friendliness, and efficiency.

I-Web is Apple’s latest addition to the I-Life suite and probably the least developed of the programs to date. I-Web is a simple and intuitive web page design program aimed at the beginner. As part of the suite, it costs about $79 which is pretty cheap considering the quality of the programs that make up the suite as a whole: I-Photo, I-DVD, I-Movie, Garageband, and of course I-Web. Rapidweaver, was the tool of choice for Mac users before I-Web was added to the suite. It is not unlike I-Web in that it offers similar templates, but includes a few extra features too and costs $39.95.

Limited templates

Certainly, both programs can produce rapidly and simply a range of different basic web sites without previous knowledge. The operative word here though is not simple or rapid, but basic. And this is where the two programs begin to show their differences. I-Web has a number of functions that make it so easy to use, but after a while the templates and options become limited. This is always the trade-off with such programs: simple one-click functionality inevitably means limited customization.

I-Web templates offer a small, but tasteful selection to get going with. Rapidweaver, on the other hand, provides uninspiring templates, but with more customization potential and plenty of 3rd party examples to use or to buy. All Rapidweaver templates can be edited from the standard theme edit within the program or via the HTML code or CSS option outside.

Image editing and size.

I-Web offers a wonderfully simple interface for adding graphics and text, with desktop publishing-like interface and drag and drop settings. But it falls down on not reducing image size (just a crop function) which makes for larger file sizes and therefore slower upload speeds. If site size is important for you then consider this: The same site designed in I-Web at 24mb, in Rapidweaver, totaled under 8mb.

Rapidweaver partially does this by allowing a re-size function but does not allow the range of page layout tools that I-Web offers unless you use a 3rd party add on like Blocks. Both programs work alongside the I-life suite and integrate well.

Perhaps more importantly for bloggers looking to include HTML links in their sites, I-Web does not allow for HTML editing, as it made up of Styled Text. This means the addition of Google Adsense or other adverts necessitates a 3rd party ad-on, specifically I-Web Enhancer.

HTML

Finally, I-Web rewrites the date each time it saves your site so that you will need to upload the whole site every time you make any changes, whether it is just a comma or a complete site redesign. Combined with the need to use the I-Web enhancer, this makes uploading changes a laborious affair, something that hopefully Apple will address with I-LIfe 07.

In the meantime, Rapidweaver uploads quickly allow for HTML coding, template changes, but perhaps lacks the panache of I-Web. In the long term I-Web could be a great new design, but in the short term, if you want to get your site up and edited the way you like it, all on the same day, then maybe Rapidweaver will have to be the choice of the moment.

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Free Software from Web design to Bookkeeping: Shareware and Free Computer Applications for any Purpose

free webdesign software

While Microsoft, Adobe Software and other giants have sold billions in application products, there are excellent free or what is termed, shareware applications, available at virtually no cost. If one has just purchased a computer on a tight budget and wishes to have most every application that others might pay handsomely for, a host of excellent free programs exists with limited drawbacks. While Microsoft has virtually invented the home/business computer in terms of the plethora of software applications, there are many great programs and applications available to anyone for free.

Google Leads the Way in Free Software Applications

Google’s search engine dominance has opened the way for anyone to do almost anything for free using Google’s software tools and applications. The trade media has long chronicled the battle between Google and Microsoft, yet the real winner is ultimately the computer user. Google has released so many excellent tools that are freely available to the end-user such as:

  • Google Desktop – A quick, efficient way of funding documents on the computer
  • Google Earth – A fascinating look at the world or any address in the world
  • Google Video, Images – A listing of both images and video by topic
  • Google Doc – A word processing and spreadsheet application
  • Google Picasa – A way to organize and edit images
  • YouTube – A way to watch, upload and share videos

And this is only a fraction of the number of products available for free.

Other Software Vendors

Google is certainly not the only provider of good free software. Merely running a search on free software or shareware applications will open up a whole new world of web experience. Even if someone wishes to run a small business with free software, there are many options. Many other sites including tucows.com, brothersoft.com, shareware.com, cnet.com, and many others offer hundreds, if not thousands of programs to choose from. Many of the programs may have pop-ups urging a user to buy the more advanced version of a program without the pop-ups, but if a user doesn’t mind a minor intrusion, it’s not usually a problem.

Many software companies are not really companies, at all, but rather an association of users that help to write or modify software that that is kept in the public domain. A good example of that would be Seamonkey or the Seamonkey project. SeaMonkey uses much of the same Mozilla source code which powers Firefox, Thunderbird, Camino, Sunbird, and Miro. These programs are mostly browsers with many added capabilities and are all free and quite reputable.

Free Trials on Software

Many software companies offer free trials by offering the user a 15 or 30-day window to decide whether to buy the program or not. Often these trials have limited capabilities, which may be annoying to a prospective buyer. A good example might be an MP3 recorder/converter program that only allows the user to convert one half or a small percentage of a song. This has the unintended side effect of angering a potential customer who winds up purchasing another program or using a truly free MP3 converter program from another software company.

Another problem to avoid is that some “free” programs come with spyware or in extreme cases, viruses built-in. Therefore, before downloading, a user should check the program out by running searches and determining if the software is from a reputable company. In any event, users must be vigilant and always have a good anti-virus and spyware program in place before downloading any programs from an unknown source.

It is certainly possible to browse the internet and use many different applications that are free. Some have drawbacks in terms of usage, capabilities or pop-ups. At the end of the day, if a user can put up with minor annoyances, the results are quite acceptable.

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