I have published a new series of screencasts on the ExtraContent feature found in some 3rd-party themes. ExtraContent has become more popular in 3rd-party theme development, and the feature offers increased flexibility in how your content is displayed inside the layout of a RapidWeaver theme.
Some tutorials discussing ExtraContent in specific themes have been available here in the RapidWeaver Classroom curriculum, but I felt it was necessary to cover the topic in a more linear way, as is the norm for series of tutorials here at RapidWeaver Classroom. This new ExtraContent series will take you through the different methods of utilizing this feature, and each video tutorial works with a different ExtraContent-enabled theme, so you will be able to see a number of different examples of how ExtraContent is enabled in these 3rd-party themes.
There are currently 4 new tutorials that take you through the ExtraContent feature, and at least one more will be added to the series in the near future.
For more information about ExtraContent, or to see walk-through videos I have created for specific ExtraContent-enabled themes, please visit ExtraContent.info.
I have updated the RapidWeaver Classroom curriculum with two new tutorials. The first is in response to a common question I receive, that until now was not addressed in the curriculum. This question involves the use of a RapidWeaver website to build an email mailing list, and whether or not RapidWeaver is capable of creating HTML emails to send to a mailing list. This new “HTML Email Newsletters” tutorial addresses these questions, and can be found in Lesson 8 of the Section 101 curriculum. I discuss a couple of different solutions, including the one I use for RapidWeaver Classroom.
The other tutorial discusses how to create a splash page in RapidWeaver, and involves a special theme and a few customizations to make it perfect for this purpose. This “Create a Splash Page” tutorial can be found in the “How to...” lesson under Section 301 of the curriculum.
I’ve released a new screencast on the Styled Stack from Joe Workman. This is an awesome stack that very well may replace the plain Text Stack that is bundled with the Stacks plugin. The Styled Stack creates a content container for your text that can be styled in a number of ways -- rounded corners, drop shadows and background images are all available to this stack. Joe has done an awesome job of addressing some common requests all in one stack! Check out the tutorial under Section 202 of the curriculum, in the Joe Workman section.
On another note, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our U.S. students! I hope you all enjoy the holiday and are able to spend good time with family. Don’t stay away too long though, as some very exciting things are right around the corner, so stay tuned!
Last week I released a new video tutorial on the El Sexy-o Stack from El Stacko, but I mistakenly forgot to update the blog here with that information. Nevertheless, the El Sexy-o Stack screencast can be found in Section 202, under the section for El Stacko stacks. El Sexy-o is used to create a unique lightbox-effect for image galleries and other types of content on your website. It has some cool features and flexibility that makes it unique, so check out the screencast for more information!
Two new video tutorials have been released to RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers. One tutorial covers Joe Workman's Dispatch Stacks -- these stacks provide an upload feature on your website, so that visitors/customers can upload files to you via Dropbox, Amazon S3, MobileMe or your web hosting server. The other screencast covers Link Inspector from CosCulture -- this plugin checks for broken links on your website and is especially useful for larger sites and those with many external links.
The Dispatch Stacks tutorial can be found in Section 202 under the Joe Workman section, and the Link Inspector tutorial is located in Section 201 under "Miscellaneous Plugins."
Check back next week for new stacks add-ons tutorials!
Two more Joe Workman Stacks, Gyro and Tabulous, have been added to the section of Stacks Add-ons in the RapidWeaver Classroom curriculum. Both stacks offer outstanding features and eye-candy for your RapidWeaver website.
Look for many more Stacks screencasts to appear in Section 202 of the curriculum over the next several weeks.
A new video tutorial has been released to subscribers, covering the Valet Plugin Manager. This is a unique add-on that lets you enable and disable the 3rd-party plugins you have installed for RapidWeaver. This is great for troubleshooting purposes and for improving the performance and stability of RapidWeaver, and I consider it an important tool for all RapidWeaver users -- especially those who work on multiple projects.
7 new screencasts have been released that cover stacks from ElStacko and CosCulture. These screencasts have been added to a new section of the RapidWeaver Classroom curriculum: Section 202: Stacks Add-Ons. This new section will be exclusive to 3rd-party stacks that are released for the Stacks plugin.
The following 7 screencasts are now available to RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers:
- ElStacko: El Book-o Stack
- ElStacko: El CallBox-o Stack
- ElStacko: Exposer Pro Stack
- ElStacko: Sidewinder Stack
- CosCulture: DragZone Stack
- CosCulture: Image Roundabout Stack
- CosCulture: Notifications Stack
The second tutorial release is located under the “How to...” lesson in Section 301, and it walks-through the process of splitting a RapidWeaver website into multiple project files. This is great to understand when building large, or media-intensive websites.
These tutorials are now available to RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers. Not a subscriber? Register now or learn more about RapidWeaver Classroom!
This is the first tutorial on a plugin from SymfoniP here at RapidWeaver Classroom, though there is a FlowBox Stack tutorial available. SymfoniP has been producing some great RapidWeaver plugins for mixed media (photo, audio, and video) -- so they all will be covered in the coming weeks.
In other news, production of tutorials for the symMedia5 plugin from SymfoniP are almost complete, so look for those additions to the members’ area early next week.
In advance of viewing this Pulse CMS tutorial, I recommend viewing the “Working With an FTP Application” lesson, which can be found under Section 301 of the tutorials. This lesson will get you comfortable with publishing files to your server via FTP, which is required to install Pulse.
More CMS solutions will be covered in the weeks to come, alongside a variety of custom stacks and even a few new RapidWeaver plugins.
- Doo-Corners - Easily add rounded corners to your content in Stacks
- Doo-Columns - Create up to 4 columns with increased design flexibility
- Doo-Code - Add a feature that allows code (or other text) to be copied with the simple click of a button
Be on the lookout for future tutorials on more great stacks from DooBox!
Subscribers to RapidWeaver Classroom can now view this new series. Additionally, several more screencasts have already been produced on another topic, so another new release is coming very, very soon!
So what’s the point of blogging about this? As I put the loss of Internet service in perspective, I considered what it has cost me, and what it hasn’t. I’ve certainly lost quite a bit of productivity over the course of the week, but at the same time I haven’t actually lost any work. My computer didn’t crash, my hard drive didn’t fail, and my web server didn’t go down or lose my website files. But what if one of those things did happen?
Let’s consider the chance of a major issue with your hosting server -- where all of your website files are published. Your hosting provider has an issue with the server, which takes your website offline, and the end result is actual data loss. Your website files have been permanently lost due to a hardware failure. This is bad news, but the goods news is that you built your website with RapidWeaver, and since RapidWeaver is a desktop application, your project file serves as a backup of your entire website. As soon as your hosting provider gets the server back up and running, you simply re-publish your website and things are back to normal.
This is a rarely considered strength of using RapidWeaver over an online CMS such as Wordpress. Your work is done and saved locally on your computer, so you don’t have to depend on the reliability of a machine somewhere else to keep your files safe. So you are secure with a backup of your website on your own computer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be making back-ups yourself. If your project file(s) only exist on one hard drive, you should have an additional drive to backup to, or at the very least a USB flash drive. Ideally you have a second drive with Time Machine configured to make regular backups automatically. The outstanding PlusKit plugin also has a backup feature that you can use to make backups of your project file as you work. You can never be too careful, and so a combination of automatic and manual methods might be a good idea.
Finally, if you manage assets of your website directly via FTP (a.k.a. warehousing), then you will want to make manual backups of those files and folders by downloading them to your computer. Since you are managing these outside of RapidWeaver, you don’t have the safety of them being included in your project file. You likely have the files locally on your computer anyway, but in case of emergency it would be helpful to have all of those files together in a folder that is an exact duplicate of the folder of assets you had published on your server.
Once again, if you have any experience using a CMS with RapidWeaver, please comment here and let me know your thoughts. I have developed a list of solutions (see previous blog entry), but am open to other options and I am interested in personal experience with any of them.
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Register now for access to these, and 170+ other RapidWeaver video tutorials!
My research and testing will result in a new series that covers different types of content management -- not exclusively limited to online CMS systems. Video tutorials will be produced over the next weeks, culminating in a comprehensive resource. Here is a list of what I have been working with so far:
- Google Docs and PlusKit
- Dynamic Content Stacks from Blueball Design
- CMS/CSS Stacks from Joe Workman
I will give Gyro the full RapidWeaver Classroom treatment with a dedicated tutorial in the near future, so be on the lookout for that. My thanks to Adam and Joe for including me in the release of these great RapidWeaver add-ons!
There are still a couple of screencasts left to go in this series, and I am working on quite a few new tutorials for custom stacks as well, so check back soon for more!
- Adding 5 columns of images and text to an ExtraContent area
- creating anchors
- linking text to video that displays in a Lightbox
This series is best viewed after you have made your way through all of the RapidWeaver and 3rd-party plugin tutorials, so that you are familiar with the interface of the different plugins. The purpose of this series is to demonstrate the usage of plugins and other features in a real-world scenario, and to break-down designs that are seemingly complex into something much more simple.
I have published the first 4 videos (45 minutes) of this series to start, and more screencasts will be added in the coming weeks as I demonstrate how to build a majority of the pages found here at RapidWeaver Classroom. You may also notice that I titled the series with a number 1, as my intention is to create multiple series over time that demonstrate the usage of different plugins and strategies.
I hope you enjoy this new series and find it helpful as you explore how different plugins can be used in your own projects. There will be more to come soon!
View the Haloscan Upgrade FAQ
Haloscan is being shut down on: Feb 19, 2010
The Haloscan hardware and software is physically failing and we have no choice but to discontinue the service.
Two Options: Switch to Echo or Export your comments FREE.
Although we can't rescue Haloscan, we are trying our best to limit the negative impact on users. To do this, we have worked hard to provide 2 options for Haloscan sites.
Realmac Software has made a statement that it is looking into integrating a different commenting system in a future release of RapidWeaver. No definitive timeline has been set for this update. You can view the official response here.
For those with Haloscan commenting who wish to keep their comments, an upgrade to JS-KIT is likely your best option. For others who are fine with losing their comments and do not wish to pay a fee for JS-KIT commenting, and do not want to wait for an update to RapidWeaver, an alternative worth considering would be the RapidBlog plugin from Loghound, which provides others options for blog comments. RapidWeaver Classroom does provide video tutorials covering the RapidBlog plugin.
Next week will see new custom stacks tutorials from Joe Workman, so stay tuned!
The following tutorials are now available:
Lightbox Stack - Easily add a Lightbox effect that displays any type of content.
Translate Stack - Allows visitors to read your website in any language.
Curtain Call Stack - Provide your visitors with a unique presentation of content -- especially great for video or special promotions.
Of course you can expect to see coverage of many more Joe Workman Stacks in the future!
This is the first screencast on a SymfoniP stack, and you can bet that there will be more to come!
This screencast is available to RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers and can be found underneath the section of Loghound plugins. Enjoy!
With this release, the previous version of PayLoom is no longer available, but those tutorials will remain available for anyone who owns that version of the plugin.
Background StoryRecently, after coming to the end of my contract with a competing cellular provider, I made the switch to AT&T for the sole purpose of owning an iPhone. I've waited a long time to experience the iPhone -- I can remember the first iPhone release, and going into an Apple store that following weekend to demo a product I wouldn't be able to own for quite a while longer. As much as I wanted an iPhone, I couldn't justify breaking an existing contract and tossing a few hundred dollars to make the switch early, so after a very patient wait the time has finally come.
I've had my iPhone for a couple of weeks now, and it wasn't long after getting it that I started creating comparisons between the iPhone and RapidWeaver. Now granted, RapidWeaver does dominate my thoughts for many hours every day, but the more I thought about it I determined that it wasn't a stretch at all to draw that comparison. So follow with me here for a few minutes and let's explore this idea a bit.
It Starts With FunctionThere's no doubt that Apple created a brilliant product in the iPhone. It worked the way people wanted a smart phone to work -- it was intuitive and well-designed. Of course the loyal Apple followers would adopt it regardless, but the massive success of the iPhone can be credited to the fact that its just a great product.
RapidWeaver is a great product foremost because it is functional. An intimidating or poorly designed product is going to struggle to be successful, and RapidWeaver succeeds because it makes a very intimidating idea quite simple. Website design is intimidating. As a young, creative, techie person I was still intimidated by the thought of designing websites when I first started exploring the idea. If a piece of software is done well enough to clear that first hurdle, then that's a big deal.
Based on my experience working with RapidWeaver users, RapidWeaver's demographic is Mac users, and that's it. As far as I can tell, there is no specific age or gender that the software appeals to most. That's a statement to how functional and intuitive this software is. One RapidWeaver user is a college kid wanting to create websites as a source of income to get through school, while another user is a recently retired woman who wants to sell homemade creations online as a hobby. RapidWeaver works the way people want a website design application to work.
Its Strength is Its Development CommunityAt some point in Apple's marketing campaign for the iPhone, the television commercials stopped talking about what the iPhone could do "out of the box," and started talking about what it could do with the available 3rd-party apps. The iPhone can certainly do a lot out of the box -- it is a phone after all, and so it makes phone calls, receives voice mails and does a nice job of organizing your contacts. There are some solid apps that come with the iPhone as well, expanding its usefulness so you can know the temperature outside, jot down some notes, or get directions to your destination.
I certainly appreciated what the iPhone could do out of the box, but it wasn't long before I was browsing the app store and downloading some apps to demo. Of course I ended up purchasing the ones I loved, and I'm always looking for others that will add new functionality, or that maybe even improve on the functionality of an app I already own.
I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. RapidWeaver's 3rd-party development community is its greatest strength. Some might say that its community of users is the greatest strength, but I would argue that the community wouldn't be as large and devoted if a 3rd-party development community didn't exist first. The themes and plugins available for RapidWeaver take a great app to the next level, by adding features and functionality to extend the usefulness of the application.
The iPhone is a great phone without additional apps, and RapidWeaver is a great web design program out of the box, but both benefit tremendously from the add-ons that are available to them.
More Love for the DevelopersI began using RapidWeaver when there was just a very small number of 3rd-party developers on the scene. RapidWeaver was good enough on its own to where I committed to it without understanding what was to come, but when Yourhead released the Blocks plugin and Loghound created PlusKit, it was as if I was using an entirely new product for the first time, and I began to see so much more potential with the improved flexibilty these plugins offered.
Jump forward to today, and the 3rd-party developer community has exploded. I remember when RapidWeaver users wanted an e-commerce solution, and now there are multiple e-commerce plugins, from multiple developers! Of course I have some favorite plugins, including some that I would define as "must-haves" -- but even a past must-have in Blocks has been almost completely replaced in my workflow with Stacks. Major props to YourHead for one-upping itself! As I now do my part with RapidWeaver Classroom, I am regularly having to keep myself updated with the steady influx of new plugin offerings from new developers. Where I could once list the developers and their plugins by memory, I now refer to one of the many great resource websites that stays updated with this information.
Last I heard there were over 80,000 apps available for the iPhone. With a number like that, what can the iPhone not do? The RapidWeaver plugin library doesn't boast a number quite like that, but the potential is there and I feel that I can already ask "what can RapidWeaver not do?" and have it be a legitimate question.
RapidWeaver is Like the iPhoneConvinced? Regardless of your answer to that question, it's tough not to be convinced that RapidWeaver is an incredible web design application, and that with infinite possibilites brought to reality by its development community, a very strong future is certainly to be expected.
The RapidWeaver Classroom DVD is a great option for those who have limited internet access or travel often, or those with ISP bandwidth restrictions. Of course, for those who want access to the latest RapidWeaver Classroom screencasts, then a subscription is the best choice.
Be on the lookout for more screencasts on Greg's projects in the future!
These new screencasts are available to subscribing RapidWeaver Classroom students. Enjoy!
While on the subject of add-ons for the Stacks plugin, these add-ons or “custom stacks” have really taken off over the last couple of months. I’m really excited about this as these stacks are providing all kinds of functionality that is very easy to implement. As a result I will be producing more screencasts on what I consider to be the best of these custom stacks, so expect to see more tutorials in this area very soon!
- customizing a header
- creating a sign-up form
- accepting payment or donations through your website
With the TabLoom and GoogaLoom tutorials now available, RapidWeaver Classroom is up-to-date on all the current offerings from YabDab Software. The goal of covering all major RapidWeaver plugins at RapidWeaver Classroom is getting very close to completion, so check back often for announcements on more new tutorials coming soon!
RapidCart is another e-commerce plugin for RapidWeaver, and it is from omnidea. RapidCart utilizes PayPal as well, but it also boasts some really nice eye-candy, in the way of animations and a built-in shopping cart feature that keeps visitors on your page until they go to checkout. It’s a very nice implementation with a unique style, and I’m happy to have it included here as a part of RapidWeaver Classroom.
More screencasts are on their way very soon, as in less than 24 hours, so stay tuned for another announcement!
Thanks to those of you who have already purchased the DVD! I've just added an option for USPS Priority shipping which expedites the delivery to 2-3 days. Please note that the DVD is only available to residents of North America, on account of the expensive cost to ship overseas. Then again, if the additional expense doesn't matter to you then you're welcome to contact me about shipping rates to your part of the world.
Speaking of Stacks, did I mention that it is the greatest plugin I've ever used?! Now that's completely my opinion, but I absolutely LOVE this plugin! As an aside, this new RapidWeaver Classroom design is done almost entirely with Stacks. So what are you waiting for? Go watch the new tutorials on this awesome plugin!
Feel free to leave comments here on these videos, and let me know what kinds of questions I did not address. SEO is such a huge topic that it could certainly warrant more video instruction in the future.
I have attempted to cover all of the major, valid SEO strategies and make a point to explain the strategies that are most valuable, in addition to including ones that may or may not have great impact. It's certainly an interesting aspect of website design, but it's also very important and so I encourage everyone to go through these new tutorials and execute some of the strategies yourself!
Stay tuned for new tutorials coming next week!
The full version of RWmultitool will be covered in future screencasts, so stay tuned for more!
Stay tuned for more soon on the GoogaLoom and FormLoom plugins.
I am likely to produce our own RapidWeaver Classroom tutorials on Stacks in the future, but for now these tutorials provide a great overview of the plugin, along with some specific uses. Thanks to Isaiah for the screencasts on this great new plugin, and for all of his contributions to the RapidWeaver community!
Speaking of seyDesign, a new promotion is currently underway for RapidWeaver Classroom members and new subscribers. New subscribers will receive a coupon code for 50% off all seyDesign themes until February 15th, and current subscribers will receive 20% off all seyDesign themes. Current subscribers can find the coupon code in the members’ area of RapidWeaver Classroom. Thanks to Adam Merrifield at seyDesign for partnering with us for this promotion!
So as always, drop by the blog here once a week or so to stay updated with the latest, or check out the Curriculum page to see what’s new!
More screencasts are coming soon, including coverage of the new GoogaLoom plugin. Stay tuned!
Look for Collage 2 screencasts to begin appearing next week!
You will also notice the Collage 2 logo has been added under the 3rd-party plugins section. This plugin will be covered next, so keep an eye out for more information!
The first screencast for this topic is now available, covering how to show a video in a Greybox, and more will be released in the coming days. Also watch for a screencast or two covering the PayLoom plugin.
I’ve also updated the Curriculum page and the Members’ area with estimated viewing times for each lesson. You can find those estimates below the title for each separate lesson, and eventually I plan to include the running times for each individual screencast.
Keep an eye out for new plugin tutorials and screencasts covering more 3rd-party themes!
In addition to these new tutorials, more 3rd-party plugin tutorials will be appearing in the near future, so keep an eye out for more details!
Production of 3rd-party plugin tutorials will continue, but I will be going back and forth between these various topics and the lessons covering plugins. Stay tuned for more to come!
These free RapidWeaver video tutorials are streamed using the Viddler service and are at a lower resolution than the video tutorials available to RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers, so subscribers will want to login to the site and view the high-resolution versions in the subscribers’ area.
You may have also noticed that the BlocksBox tutorials I put together for Jonas Themes are now included in the subscribers’ area. Those of you interested in designing your own theme might want to consider the BlocksBox theme in combination with the excellent Blocks plugin from YourHead Software.
Speaking of the Blocks plugin, I will begin producing video tutorials for the available 3rd-party plugins, and Blocks is first on the list. Stay tuned for more info on this soon!
Following the release of the RapidWeaver 4.0 tutorials, I will begin the extensive task of covering the 3rd-party plugins. So there is much, much, much more to come!
On account of the user interface changes, I will be redoing all of Lesson 1 for version 4.0, in addition to several more tutorials that detail other changes in the update. Expect these tutorials to appear in the coming days.
So what’s next? Well, you may have heard about a little something called RapidWeaver 4.0. RapidWeaver Classroom will bring version 4.0 users up-to-speed with what’s new in the latest version of our favorite application. Not every part of the application has been changed, though, so many of the current 3.6 tutorials will be still be completely relevant for version 4.0 users. Instead of re-doing all seven lessons with RapidWeaver 4.0, I will be covering all the changes that have been made to the application, and then move on to tutorials for the 3rd-party plugins.
All that being said, a majority of the existing RapidWeaver video tutorials are full of information that is relevant to the new version as well. Since version 4.0 is Leopard-only, it's important to me to support both 3.6 and 4.0 users with the tutorials, so be on the look-out for new 4.0 tutorials coming soon!
It's an exciting time for the RapidWeaver community and I look forward to providing these tutorials for both RapidWeaver 3.6.x and RapidWeaver 4 users! Stay tuned for more soon!