Where I've Been, Words of Thanks, and What's to Come

Many of you have noticed that I have been away for quite some time and haven’t been active in posting here at RapidWeaver Classroom, or on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you to all who have sent an email to check on me. I have wanted to share what has been going on for some time now, and I am finally at a place where I feel that I can. It’s important to me that I explain my absence, so please bear with me as I attempt to share in a concise but detailed way.

Where I’ve Been

The last couple of weeks of October 2014 were busy and exciting. RapidWeaver 6 launched and I had just completed a 2-week marathon of tutorial production that resulted in 52 new tutorials for RapidWeaver Classroom. My plan was to take a break from producing tutorials through the end of 2014, and to primarily focus on supporting RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers and RapidWeaver users in general with any questions or issues with upgrading and updating their websites in RapidWeaver 6.

The following month, my family received some news that changed everything. My wife was pregnant with our 3rd child, a baby boy, and at a routine appointment he was diagnosed with a terminal condition. We were told that he wouldn’t survive for long after being born — minutes, hours or days were what we were told to expect. We spent the following months grieving the eventual loss and anticipating what was coming. We lost our son, Eli, earlier this year, and then began a different kind of grieving process that still continues to this day.

I know that people cope with suffering and loss in different ways, and for me it was to retreat from isolation — to be with my wife and children as much as possible. For me, work is when I am most isolated, despite having the busyness of the work I have to do. That is part of why I have been away for as long as I have. The other reason for my absence is a financial one related to medical expenses, which has made it necessary for me to take on a number of freelance projects in recent weeks. My attention and focus has been on those, and while I am certainly thankful for those opportunities, I badly miss doing what I enjoy the most — developing training and supporting all of you in the work you are doing with RapidWeaver.

Words of Thanks

My wife and I recently had a great discussion about what we are thankful for, and we had plenty of things to mention. We have a 4 year-old boy and 2 year-old girl, and they have brought us so much joy during these past months. We also have wonderful family, friends and church community who have loved and supported us so well, and our faith in God had given us hope. This conversation also led to what I am thankful for in my work, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share some words of thanks here.

This year marks 10 years that I have been working with RapidWeaver, and RapidWeaver Classroom passed the 7-year mark last month. I love website development and teaching is one of my passions, so I am extremely thankful that I’ve been able to combine both of these for over 7 years now, and do so at a level where I can provide for my family. I recognize though that I wouldn’t be doing what I love without those that make RapidWeaver what it is. Thank you to Dan, Ben, Nik and the rest of the team at Realmac Software. You had a vision of something great, you made it a reality, and you have remained devoted to improving it over all these years. Thank you for putting an end to my years of wandering from one website development solution to the next. I am so thankful that I landed on RapidWeaver.

Thank you to the 3rd-party developer community, for bringing your unique talents to RapidWeaver and enhancing it with your offerings. If you have developed add-ons for RapidWeaver and offered support to your customers, then this is for you. I have had the privilege of communicating with many of you over the years, and can even call some of you friends. For those of you who I haven’t had personal contact with, I do apologize for that — I am kind of an online introvert, if such a thing exists, and kind of struggle with where my place is somewhere in-between a customer and a developer. I have great admiration for what you all do. I’ve been asked many times if I will begin developing themes or stacks, but I simply want to stick with what I love to do, and I want to leave that work to all of you who clearly have the talent and vision to do it. Thank you for your commitment to the RapidWeaver community.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who have supported my work here at RapidWeaver Classroom over the years. As I started thinking about what to write here, I thought about how many of you have entrusted me with details of your lives — even with similar suffering such as sickness and death — that has made it easier as I’ve considered sharing this with you. I am thankful to have been able to get to know many of you through email conversations or Skype calls, and to get to see how you’ve taken RapidWeaver and my training and created something great for your business or even your personal life. It’s been an absolute pleasure to receive your notes of encouragement and hear how my training has enabled you to bring your projects to life. I hope for many more years to do more of the same. Which leads to…

What’s to Come

I cannot wait to get back to developing new content, and I am now at a place where I can begin doing that. I don’t know what it looks like to make-up for months of inactivity, but I am going to do what I can to try. I will have more details concerning new material very soon, but I can say that my immediate focus is to build-out detailed, multi-part lessons on what I consider to be the most important topics when it comes to website development. I will continue to develop one-off “how-to-use” videos on various add-ons from time-to-time, but I want to move towards integrating these add-ons into more involved lessons that tackle specific topics.

I also have a much bigger vision for a better learning environment. Each iteration of the RapidWeaver Classroom membership area has taught me something new about creating the best user experience, and learning experience. The last major re-working of the membership area happened about 18 months ago, and it was a significant step forward, but the next evolution should prove to be a massive leap forward by comparison. I will be steadily working on this alongside the development of the new training to come.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, for your understanding and for your support. I look forward to sharing another update with you very soon.


RapidWeaver 6 is Here: 52 New Tutorials Now Available

RapidWeaver 6 launched today! It is a significant upgrade to RapidWeaver 5, and includes some exciting new features. I have been busy these past couple of months developing an entirely new series of training on RapidWeaver 6, and I am excited to release that training today alongside Realmac's public launch of the software.

There is a new RapidWeaver 6 section of training now available that includes 52 unique tutorials. Every detail of RapidWeaver 6 is covered. If you are still using RapidWeaver 5, then you can continue to access the RapidWeaver 5 training as well.

30% Off Any Subscription

RapidWeaver Classroom is celebrating the launch of RapidWeaver 6 with a coupon code for 30% OFF any RapidWeaver Classroom subscription. Use the code RW6CLASS when registering to receive 30% off!

Video Review of RapidWeaver 6 Features

I have put together a brief overview of the new RapidWeaver 6 features, which you can view below. If you are receiving this update by email and the video does not display, then please visit the RapidWeaver Classroom Blog.

RapidWeaver 6 Upgrade Details

If you plan to upgrade to RapidWeaver 6 from RapidWeaver 5, then you will need to upgrade your project files to open in RapidWeaver 6. Realmac Software has released an Upgrade Guide detailing steps that you should follow. To summarize, you will want to download RapidWeaver 5.4, which includes a new Export for RapidWeaver 6 feature. You will export your website projects from RapidWeaver 5.4, and then you can open them in RapidWeaver 6.

Upgrade pricing is also available for RapidWeaver 5 (or earlier) users, and you can get more details here.

RapidWeaver 6 is a very exciting update and I am happy to be able to offer an entire training library on the same day as its release! There will be more updates to follow, so check back soon!

Thanks for your support!


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RapidWeaver 6 Announced: What to Expect Going Forward

Realmac Software announced this week that RapidWeaver 6 is set to be released soon. You can view the official announcement here, get details of some of the new features here, and view an FAQ here. No official release date has been publicized, as the Mac App Store team still has to approve this new version, but Realmac notes an estimate of late October / early November. RapidWeaver 6 will be a paid upgrade of $39.99 from any previous version, and those who purchased RapidWeaver 5 on or after August 28th will be receiving a free upgrade.

In case you don't have time to peruse the new feature list, here's a quick run-down of the features that are mentioned on Realmac's website.

  • Five new themes from 5 different 3rd-party developers

  • Addons Manager to organize and group addons

  • Faster FTP publishing

  • Markdown support

  • Support for OS X's Autosave and Versions

  • Site-wide code for adding custom code to all pages

  • Full-screen support

  • Responsive Preview with presets for iPhone and iPad widths

  • Master Styles

  • Example Sites

This is an exciting update and I have been very busy these past weeks creating brand new training for the upcoming version of RapidWeaver 6. My goal is to have the entire RapidWeaver section of tutorials (about 50 videos) replaced with new videos for RapidWeaver 6, and to launch that updated training when Realmac launches RapidWeaver 6. This is obviously a major undertaking, which is why you haven't seen regular tutorial updates in recent weeks, so I appreciate your patience as I develop this new training.

This will actually be the 4th time that I've produced the core RapidWeaver training since RapidWeaver Classroom began in 2008. I have produced training for RapidWeaver 3, 4, and 5, and now version 6 marks the 4th production of this core training. I have looked for ways to improve on the topics and sequence of training with each iteration, and I feel that this will be the most in-depth and complete core RapidWeaver training I've ever developed. My goal is for those with no previous web design experience to understand how to use RapidWeaver and to love working with it, but also for experienced RapidWeaver users to gain new knowledge that will take their skills to another level.

I am very excited about this upcoming release of the best website development software I've ever used, and I look forward to bringing you brand new training that covers every detail you'll need to know. I will of course let you know as soon as RapidWeaver 6 launches!

Thanks for your support,


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20 Foundation Theme Tutorials Now Available - Series Complete*


New Feature: "Pro Tips" in the RapidWeaver Classroom Blog

As mentioned last week, Pro Tips are helpful articles that will be added with each new tutorial update. Pro Tip #2 has been added this week, and you can find it immediately below this post, or click here to view it.

Overview of New Updates

Tutorial #20 in the Foundation Theme series is now available.

Instructions for Classroom Subscribers

Login here to access your account, then navigate to the Classroom curriculum and click on the Latest Updates button for direct links to these new tutorials.

Details of New Updates

After weeks of producing training for the Foundation Theme, the series finally comes to completion with the 20th tutorial. This final tutorial discusses the creation of various website layouts, and includes a few stacks that have yet not been discussed in the series.

At just over 4 hours in length, this series covers a lot of ground in great detail. Nevertheless, I'm careful in saying that the series is complete, which is why you see the asterisk (*) in the title of this post. There is a unique challenge in creating training for blank themes such as Foundation and FreeStack, since they are essentially capable of creating an unlimited variety of website designs and layouts. All that to say, please let me know if you find some detail lacking in this series of tutorials. I also expect that Joe Workman will add more features and stacks in the future as Foundation continues to mature, and I will certainly keep you up-to-date with that information.

In Case You Missed It (Recent Updates)

Recent changes have been made to the Classroom membership area. You will now find a "Featured Tutorials" section on the Home page, and I've adjusted the styling of some elements throughout the tutorial sections, which I hope will improve the user experience as you navigate through the different tutorials. I have also been working to implement RapidSearch Pro in the membership area as another method of finding tutorials, but some hurdles related to the protection of the content has prevented that from being successful so far. I do hope to have this working relatively soon, but for the time being you can use your browser's Find function (CMD+F) on the Browse All page to search for tutorials.

A series of 14 new tutorials covering the Stacks 2.5 plugin were released in the first half of March. I highly recommend these new tutorials for every RapidWeaver user! Click here to learn more about these Stacks 2.5 tutorials.

The past months have brought a number of other new tutorials: one covering the customization of banners or slideshows in the header of 3rd-party RapidWeaver themes, another discussing a method of embedding responsive YouTube videos, and there have been many new Stack Elements tutorials covering the PaySnap, MapSnap, DateSnap and BackSnap Stacks from Yabdab, the Content Fader Stack from DK Stacks, the PlayListr Stack from StackManiac, and the Jack Stack from Joe Workman. A couple of "How to..." tutorials on replacing an existing website and creating a mySQL database have been added, along with a couple of tutorials covering the excellent RapidSearch Pro plugin. Finally, a new series on the aMember 4 membership system was produced and is available to Grad School subscribers.

Coming Soon (Future Updates)

So after such a major undertaking in creating this training, what's next? Well, I'm not going to be taking it easy anytime soon, as RapidWeaver 6 is far along in the development stage and the RapidWeaver community should be expecting a release of this major update in the not-too-distant future. There is no official launch date from Realmac Software at this point, but there is a limited public beta going on now, which means that the time is drawing near. I will be replacing the entire RapidWeaver section of the curriculum with training that covers version 6, so that's 40-50 videos that will be keeping me busy for some time. I do hope to release a few tutorials covering various topics in the meantime, so check back here over the next few weeks for more information.

Thanks for your support!


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Pro Tip #2: Laptop Users - Improve Efficiency with Added Hardware

If you are using RapidWeaver to develop your website with a MacBook Air, MacBook or MacBook Pro, then Pro Tip #2 is for you. I personally do most of my development work in RapidWeaver on a 27" iMac, but on occasion I find myself in a situation where I am needing to do that work on a 13" MacBook Air. As I've done development work on the MacBook Air, I've noticed that it takes me longer to do things on the laptop, on account of the smaller screen size and use of a trackpad, opposed to a "traditional" mouse.

I was curious about how much efficiency I was losing, so I conducted a test, where I performed the same work on both the 27" iMac and the 13" MacBook Air. The result was that my efficiency dropped by 30-40% on the MacBook Air. If I were to do all of my development work on a laptop, then it would take me 30-40% more time to complete each project -- that adds up to a lot of additional time when you take development of entire websites into account.

Many of you who use RapidWeaver exclusively on a laptop may not realize how much faster that same development work could be done with a larger screen and traditional mouse. Now I certainly don't recommend that you go out and spend $2000 on a new iMac, but you can create a kind of desktop computing environment by adding an external display and a USB or Bluetooth wireless mouse to your laptop. By connecting an external display to your laptop, your laptop display will mirror to the larger screen, and whenever you need portability you can simply disconnect the monitor to continue using the laptop as usual.

As little as around $200 can significantly improve your productivity with RapidWeaver, and work in other applications as well for that matter. I have put together a few links to products on Amazon that may be worth considering.

Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX - USB
Logitech Bluetooth Mouse M555b - Bluetooth (doesn't use a USB port)
Apple Wireless Magic Trackpad - Larger version of laptop trackpad. I find a traditional mouse like the options above to be more efficient.

External Display (Monitor) - Multiple options to choose from for every size. Each will be compatible with a Mac, using the Mini DisplayPort Adapter linked below.
21" Display
24" Display
27" Display
Mini DisplayPort Adapter - This will be needed to connect any non-Apple display to an Apple laptop.

The primary benefit of using an external display is that you gain additional vertical space on the screen. This reduces the amount of scrolling that is necessary, which translates to greater efficiency in working with RapidWeaver. The best example of this is in working with Stacks, where moving and copying stacks is much faster when you don't need to scroll up and down a great amount of the time.

A traditional mouse has an advantage over a trackpad because it offers much more precision in tracking and selecting items. Again, the use of Stacks provides a great example, where precision is important as you often must click in very specific spots. Selecting a particular stack on a page and adjusting its options in the Stack Inspector is most efficiently done with a traditional mouse.

If you decide to add an external display and/or mouse to your Apple laptop, I'd love to hear about your experience to see if your increase in productivity is similar to my own. Please leave a comment to let me know!

Thanks for your support!


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