22-Part RapidCart Pro 4 Tutorial SeriesI am pleased to announce a 22-part series of tutorials detailing the excellent RapidCart Pro 4 plugin for RapidWeaver. I have spent a lot of time with this plugin and I am very impressed with the e-commerce capabilities that it has to offer. It supports both physical and digital products, is highly customizable in almost every way imaginable, and it features a very elegant catalog and checkout experience. For years now I have championed CartLoom as my e-commerce solution of choice, but I must say that it has a very strong competitor in RapidCart Pro 4. If you are considering an e-commerce component for your website then I would highly recommend you take a look at RapidCart Pro 4.
Members, log-in here to access the RapidCart Pro 4 tutorials.
RapidWeaver Classroom UpgradesI briefly outlined some of the changes I've been working on, but wanted to take this opportunity to go into a bit more detail for anyone who might be interested. If you have not spent any time at RapidWeaver Classroom since late last year, then I'd like to encourage you to take a few minutes with the new design of the website. I wanted to feature many of the capabilities that RapidWeaver has to offer, and I needed to adopt a more modern theme to do that. The result is what I hope is an aesthetically pleasing design that is functional and provides an enjoyable user experience. This new design was implemented site-wide on both the public-facing and membership areas of the website.
In conjunction with the redesign I performed a major upgrade to the aMember membership system used here at RapidWeaver Classroom. In fact this was the most significant aMember upgrade since I launched the website in 2008. The benefits of this upgrade are many and greatly improve the user experience. For example, linking directly to a specific page of protected content as I did above was not possible in the previous version — believe it or not — and I can now do this as new content is added. You can now upgrade between curriculums through your account settings, and I am developing a tighter integration between them so that you can easily browse and access content between both. Speaking of curriculums, I took this opportunity to simplify the offerings and there are now just two that fall under the names Undergrad and Graduate. Undergrad was previously known as Classroom, and Graduate merges Grad School and Combined as the option for accessing all content.
I am also excited to announce that after many attempts at implementing a search feature, I have had success adding one that works better than any I've tried before. It is technically a "filter" — but it filters content by topic, keyword and/or developer. So, for example, you could set the filters to find tutorials that cover video stacks by Joe Workman, and you would quickly arrive at the corresponding page. This search feature is available on the Home page of the members' area as well as on a dedicated Search page there, and you can also find it on the Tutorials page of the main RapidWeaver Classroom website. I have created many search terms to filter by, but I'd appreciate feedback on any way it might be improved.
Finally, I decided it was also time to transition all of the video tutorial content to a new video hosting platform. I have been using Amazon's AWS service for years now and while it has been very good, managing the content has been difficult and the video player used to present this content has not kept up with changing technology. I had been keeping an eye on the Vimeo Pro service for some time and decided it was finally time to make the jump. The Vimeo player is a great improvement and many of the tutorials are now hosted there. The transition is still not complete, though, so I will continue to work on that as I also develop brand new content.
More New Content SoonThis release of the RapidCart Pro 4 series marks the starting point for a massive amount of new content to be produced in 2016. By the end of this year, a vast majority of RapidWeaver Classroom's curriculum will be new, as I update older content and cover many new, exciting add-ons. The work over these past months has brought me to the point where I can shift my focus back to tutorial production, and I am very excited about bringing new training to RapidWeaver Classroom.
Thanks for your support,
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 BeenThe 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 ThanksMy 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 ComeI 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.
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 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,
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Join now!
Months of work have finally led to the completion of RapidWeaver Classroom's redesign. Late last year I introduced a new responsive design and new organization of content in the membership areas, and on Friday I launched the redesign of the "public" side of RapidWeaver Classroom. I am very satisfied with the result, and relieved that the work is finally done!
I hope that this new design appeals to you and maybe even inspires you with your own projects. If you have a couple of minutes to spare, you might want to check out the "2-minute Introduction" video on the Home page. I've created a lot of videos over the past 6 years, but never anything quite like this, and it was a lot of fun! If you like it and are interested in something similar for your website, get in-touch and we can discuss that possibility.
Now that RapidWeaver Classroom is 100% responsive, an improved user experience will be consistent across all devices -- computers, tables and smart phones. I already had a fair amount of experience with responsive design before starting this project, but I learned quite a bit more from some unique challenges I faced, and I look forward to taking that experience and adding to/improving the responsive design training offered here at RapidWeaver Classroom. It's such an important topic and it's very important I provide thorough training for it.
Speaking of new training, just over a week ago I revealed that I would be recreating the entire series of Stacks 2 (now 2.5) tutorials. A significant number of those tutorials will be posted this week. I originally planned for them to be released last week, but my 3rd sickness this winter came in the form of laryngitis, and I was without a voice for 5 days. It returned to full strength yesterday, so I will complete the remaining portion of this first phase of tutorials, and have them posted mid-week. The second (final) phase of the new Stacks 2.5 tutorials will be released the following week, and then I will continue with training on a variety of great new 3rd-party stacks, responsive design training, and some content related to popular 3rd-party theme features that I think will be very useful.
If there is any specific training that you'd like to see, please let me know. There is a contact form specifically for feedback and tutorial suggestions in the members' area. I am always interested in hearing your suggestions in regards to any aspect of RapidWeaver Classroom.
Thanks for your support!
It has been far too long since I've posted an update, and there is a lot to share. I've spent these first weeks of 2014 buried under a load of development work with RapidWeaver. Last Fall, the member areas of RapidWeaver Classroom were completely overhauled with a responsive design and new organization of content. This same design has been in progress for the public side of RapidWeaver Classroom, and it will finally be unveiled late next week.
This hasn't stopped the production of new training, though. I have been producing a completely new series of tutorials covering the Stacks 2 plugin. Today I am releasing a tutorial that covers the latest changes with the new Stacks 2.5 update that was released last week. This release presents a great opportunity to refresh all of the Stacks 2 training, which is currently over 2 years old. It goes without saying that I have learned a ton about Stacks 2 over the past 2 years, and I am excited to share so much more detail than the current tutorials offer.
On top of all this, RapidWeaver 6 is in active development and Realmac Software has been very public with details about the newest version. Continue reading below for more details on Stacks 2 and RapidWeaver 6, but I want to conclude this part of the blog update with a commitment to all of you.
Over the next several weeks you will be receiving updates from me about a lot of new tutorials. I will be releasing a large amount of content over a short period of time, and then you will continue to see new updates posted every week. Barring any sickness that might prevent it, you will not see another week of 2014 pass without new content being added to RapidWeaver Classroom. If a holiday or family trip interferes with the schedule, then I will post two weeks of content the week before. I am committed to all of you who entrust me with providing this resource, and I am very excited about the changes and additions that are on the way.
Stacks 2.5 Brings Major New Features
Stacks 2.5 was released last week and includes a number of excellent new features. There are some behind-the-scenes changes that will mean great things for the kinds of stacks that the 3rd-party developers can produce, so it will be fun to see the new kinds of stacks that get released. Of course there are also new features that we can take advantage of right away.
These new features include the ability to show and hide stacks content in the Edit view, lock stacks from being edited, create global content throughout your entire website, and create your own personal User Stacks that contain any kind of stacks layout. There is also a clean, updated interface and more fluid interaction when dragging stacks around on a page.
I have created a new video tutorial that takes you through all of the new Stacks 2.5 features. This video is free and can be viewed without an active RapidWeaver Classroom subscription.
View the Stacks 2.5 Features Overview Tutorial
RapidWeaver 6 News
The next major version of RapidWeaver is currently under development, and Realmac Software has stated that it will be released sometime in the 2nd Quarter of 2014. A lot of details about this new version have already been disclosed, and there are some great new features that will vastly improve the experience of website design with RapidWeaver. If you are interested in learning more about these new features right now, then you can read through this discussion on the Realmac Forums and even add your own thoughts to the conversation. If you'd prefer not to read through 11+ pages of discussion, then I will be posting an article soon that gathers all of the available information in one place, and you'll be able to find that here.
2014 is already shaping-up to be an exciting year for the RapidWeaver community. RapidWeaver Classroom is approaching its 6-year anniversary this May, and it is a privilege that I can continue to use my passion for teaching in this way. I greatly appreciate your support and I hope that I can continue to provide a valuable resource for you all.
Thanks for your support!
As many of you have undoubtedly heard, Apple today announced the immediate availability of Mavericks, the newest version of OS X for the Mac. This is great news, especially because the current version of RapidWeaver is already compatible with Mavericks. If you decide to upgrade to Mavericks, be sure that you are running RapidWeaver 5.3.1 and that all of your 3rd-party plugins are up-to-date. It’s especially important that you have updated the PlusKit plugin to version 2.40, if you have it installed on your system.
If you are uncertain about the availability of plugin updates, then it is easy to quickly discover which plugins have updates available. Simply launch RapidWeaver and select RapidWeaver > Check for Update… from the main menu. RapidWeaver will notify you if any updates are available, and direct you the Realmac Software Addons page, where you can download the latest versions. Some plugins will also notify you automatically if you have them added to a project, but RapidWeaver’s Check for Update function is a much quicker solution.
In RapidWeaver Classroom news, I hope that you’ve had an opportunity to look through the redesign of the Classroom members’ area. I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback so far -- thanks so much to those of you who have taken the time to send me an email! The Grad School curriculum is receiving the same treatment later today, so if you also subscribe to Grad School then you can expect to see this new redesign there as well.
New tutorials are also in the works, and I will post an update with more details as soon as they are available!
Thanks for your support,
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Join now!
After 2+ months of work, I am very excited to finally reveal the redesigned members’ area! I hope that it provides an enhanced user experience for you all. This new update brings…
• A responsive design for optimized viewing on all devices
• A reorganized Add-Ons section -- add-ons are now organized by function, so finding what you need is easier than ever
• “Highly recommended” tutorials that are noted with a star -- so you won’t overlook the really important stuff
• An updated Resources section -- Services, Project Checklist, Glossary of Terms, and Downloads have been added
My primary goals with this update were to create a great user experience and make it easier than ever to navigate the available training. As you browse different areas of the Add-Ons section, you will notice that some content is repeated throughout different sections. This is especially true with the Stacks 2 plugin, because it can be utilized for so many functions. Since add-ons are organized by function, you can be sure that each category includes tutorials for every relevant add-on. No longer will you have to browse through a multitude of pages in order to discover every option for displaying your photos -- they are all in one place!
I am always looking for ways to improve this service, and I have more plans still, but please share your suggestions with me. In the meantime, I have a lot of new tutorials that I am ready to produce! You may even see a few add-on tutorials tagged with *Coming Soon* -- so you can expect to see those shortly.
If you are a Grad School subscriber, you can expect to see this same design implemented in the Grad School curriculum soon, along with a complete update to the aMember tutorials for aMember v4. Of course this design will eventually be applied to the “public” RapidWeaver Classroom website as well, but there’s quite a bit of work left to be done before that happens.
Thanks for your support,
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Join now!
I have spent the last 6 weeks working on a complete redesign of the RapidWeaver Classroom members’ area. I briefly mentioned this in my last blog update, but I wanted to post again about it now because the work is almost complete! If all goes smoothly from here on out, the update will be published next Tuesday, October 15th -- likely in the late afternoon or evening.
This update will bring a responsive design to the members’ area, for maximum compatibility with all mobile devices. Another significant change is that all of the add-ons tutorials (themes, plugins, stacks) will be organized by function, so it will be much easier to find training for the kinds of add-ons you need for your project. Some new resources will be included as well, such as a project checklist and glossary of web design terms. Overall, the user experience should be dramatically improved, and some of the changes will also make it quicker and easier for me to publish tutorial updates.
Speaking of tutorial updates, I will be producing a lot of new content as soon as this update is published. I hate that a few weeks have passed since new tutorials were added, but this redesign has been a massive undertaking and has required all of my attention recently. I will be playing catch-up throughout the rest of October with a lot of great new content for Classroom subscribers.
Finally, I will be posting more regular updates to the RapidWeaver Classroom Facebook page and Twitter account, so please follow me there if you don’t already!
Thanks for your support,
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Join now!
I have released a new “How to…” tutorial on adding Font Awesome icons to your website. This new tutorial can be found in the Continuing Education section of the Classroom curriculum, and runs about 15 minutes.
Font Awesome is a collection of over 300 icons that are technically fonts, so they can be styled like fonts in any size or color. Some 3rd-party RapidWeaver themes have started including Font Awesome, but many themes still do not, so this tutorial will walk you through two different methods of integrating Font Awesome. One method is very simple, while the other is quite advanced, but either way the tutorial provides all the details you’ll need to have success with integrating Font Awesome.
I’m also excited to announce that RapidWeaver Classroom is undergoing a complete redesign! It’s hard to believe that it has been 2.5 years since the last major design update, but I’m certainly not taking on this redesign project just because some amount of time has passed. I believe that Responsive Design is not just the newest trend in web design, but a design solution that is here to stay, and I want RapidWeaver Classroom to be an example of what Responsive Design can achieve. While the tutorials have been compatible with mobile devices for quite some time, the website itself is still static across all devices, and that is going to change with this new redesign. With a new responsive layout, you will find the website easier to navigate on your iPhone (or other smart phone) and iPad (or other tablet).
A responsive layout isn’t the only new feature that is coming with the redesign of RapidWeaver Classroom. I am also taking this opportunity to restructure the entire Classroom curriculum. Since the start of RapidWeaver Classroom in 2008, add-ons (plugins and stacks) have been grouped by developer. This was useful when the collection of add-ons was small, but it’s now clear that add-ons need to be organized by function -- so a redesign of the members’ area will include this new structure. You will find categories of add-ons such as layout, photo, media, light boxes, e-commerce, etc. Each category will include both plugins and stacks, and I will also be including the developer name alongside the add-on.
In addition to everything mentioned, I will be adding more useful resources such as a glossary and project checklist, a feedback and tutorial request area, and I am testing the integration of a search function that could provide another useful way of filtering through all of the available tutorials. I am very excited about all the benefits that this redesign will bring, and my goal is to launch it first for members sometime in the first half of October.
If you have any good ideas for a useful addition to this next version of RapidWeaver Classroom, please let me know! Thanks for taking the time to read this more lengthy update, and I look forward to sharing all of this progress with you soon!
Thanks for your support,
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Join now!
What you need to do.Stacks 2.1.8 resolves the issue by reverting back to the previous version of jQuery. You should update Stacks through RapidWeaver, or download and install the latest version from here. Once you have the latest version of Stacks installed, republish all files from RapidWeaver (File > Republish All Files). This will update all of your Stacks pages to ensure that there are no issues with the functionality of any of your stacks.
If you prefer not to republish all of your website’s pages at this time, then I would recommend you go through every page of your website that was built with Stacks, and carefully examine everything to ensure that it is all functioning as intended.
Learn more about this update.If you are interested in knowing the behind-the-scenes details of this update, then Isaiah (YourHead) has posted a topic to the Realmac Software Forums -- you can visit that topic to get more detailed information.
I hope that this is a relatively painless update for all of you. It is a very rare situation and I don’t recall ever seeing something of this magnitude occur in the past. Rest assured that this isn’t an issue specific to RapidWeaver -- major updates to something like a jQuery library can have ramifications for website developers across many different website development platforms.
A brief note about RapidWeaver Classroom.Things are back in full gear for me following the holidays and the addition of a new baby girl to our family. I am excited about some new tutorials that I’ll be releasing this month, starting with a new SEO topic coming this week. I will post another update with more information very soon!
RapidWeaver Classroom “opened its doors” in May 2008, and so I’m excited to have arrived at the 4-year mark this month! It has been a pleasure to offer training to RapidWeaver users these past 4 years, and to have the opportunity to communicate with so many of you and see the websites you’ve created with RapidWeaver. RapidWeaver Classroom began with tutorials covering RapidWeaver 3.6 and a small handful of plugins, and it’s amazing to see how much the app and its add-ons have matured these past years. I still firmly believe that RapidWeaver is an outstanding website development app, and I am very excited to see its continued development in the future.
As a part of our 4-year celebration, RapidWeaver Classroom has received a bit of a face-lift! Of course RapidWeaver Classroom has been, and will always be, built entirely with RapidWeaver. The same theme is still in use, but the graphics have been updated and I’ve taken the opportunity to try some new things with Stacks 2 to redesign the content of the site. One major change is the organization of the curriculum, which is also reflected inside of the members’ area. This change offers a great improvement in how the listing of tutorials is navigated. A special thanks to Marten Claridge for his fresh perspective and inspiration for many of the changes!
Finally, I am very excited to also announce the addition of a completely new section to the Classroom Curriculum. This new section is entitled “Strategies” -- it really deserves its own blog post, so look for more information here soon.
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Join now!
A new feature called the “FAQ Guide” has been added to the members’ area as part of the RapidWeaver Classroom subscription. This guide is presented in an FAQ format, and is intended to serve as a resource for both novice and experienced RapidWeaver users. The guide addresses questions that I commonly receive from RapidWeaver users, and consists of both subjective and objective topics. I will continue to update it with new topics over time, and my hope is that it will serve as a helpful resource to RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers.
You will find a link to the FAQ Guide in the blue bar underneath the main site header, as well as in the main content of the members’ area Home page.
Not a RapidWeaver Classroom subscriber? Join now!
Lion includes a new feature called Resume, which reopens your apps “right where you left off.” This means that if you quit RapidWeaver with a project file open, Lion will re-open that project file the next time you open RapidWeaver. If you don’t want this to occur, simply close the project window before quitting RapidWeaver. Another option is to completely disable Lion’s Resume feature, though this will affect the feature for ALL apps on your Mac. You can adjust this setting in the General tab of the System Preferences panel, as shown below.
Manage Themes and Plugins
Lion hides the Library folder in the Finder, which prevents you from browsing to the Application Support > RapidWeaver folder to manage your 3rd-party add-ons. You can still reveal the contents of a theme by right-clicking on the theme in RapidWeaver’s Theme Drawer, but if you want to access other add-ons such as plugins or stacks, then you can do so through the “Manage Themes and Plugins” option in the RapidWeaver menu. Simply click on RapidWeaver in the menu, and you will see the option there.
If you want to access your add-ons outside of RapidWeaver entirely, you can still do so using the following steps.
- 1. Click on Go from the Finder menu
- 2. Select Go to Folder
- 3. Enter ~/Library and click the Go button
Auto Save, Versions and Full-Screen Apps
These are 3 new Lion features that RapidWeaver 5.2.1 doesn’t currently support, and while there’s no official word one way or another, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them implemented in a future RapidWeaver release.
Are you currently “on the fence” about upgrading to Lion? I know the feeling. Personally, any time there is a major OS X release, I wait about 2 months before upgrading my “production” machine. This gives Apple and software developers time to address any issues that might be a “show-stopper.” I have installed Lion and RapidWeaver 5.2.1 on a non-critical machine, and everything has run smoothly so far. Regardless of your decision to upgrade, please be sure to always check for updates to your 3rd-party RapidWeaver plugins, as staying up-to-date will significantly decrease your chances of crashes and other performance problems.
As you’ve probably noticed, RapidWeaver Classroom looks quite a bit different! I am very excited about this new design and how it will benefit visitors to the site as well as subscribers. Everything has been re-built from the ground-up, and was a 3-4 month process from start to finish. A very special thanks goes out to Adam at Elixir Graphics for his help with the theme design, and if you like the design then you should check-out his latest Prism theme!
RapidWeaver Classroom members will notice that the membership areas not only look different, but are completely re-organized as well. The entire listing of tutorials on a single page has been removed, in favor of separate pages dedicated to specific lessons or topics. This format allows for the addition of a written overview for each lesson, as well as links to 3rd-party sites and other resources later down the road. All-in-all, this format offers a lot of flexibility for the addition of features and improvements in the future, whereas the previous layout was busy and limiting. I hope you will find that the new layout is functional, accessible and an improvement over the prior version.
Finally, another major improvement that is a bit more behind-the-scenes is the move to Amazon S3 for hosting of the video content. This change brings these great benefits:
- 720p HD Video: Higher-resolution videos means everything is clearer, especially with full-screen viewing.
- iPad Compatibility: Every video tutorial in both curriculums is completely compatible with the iPad.
- Faster download speeds: Amazon’s servers are super-fast, and its CloudFront technology replicates the video content to servers across the world, so subscribers in other countries will experience faster downloads.
- Awesome reliability: Extremely high uptime percentages means that the chances of unavailable content is extremely low.
The Grad School curriculum begins with 54 tutorials, covering the subjects mentioned above, as well as a series on setting up and using the aMember membership system. RapidWeaver Classroom uses aMember, and it is a great solution for subscription websites. The aMember series takes you through a real-life membership website under development, using both aMember and RapidWeaver.
This curriculum will be dynamic, with new tutorials released regularly. What does this mean for the RapidWeaver Classroom curriculum? Nothing changes! The RapidWeaver Classroom curriculum will continue to cover the latest RapidWeaver updates, plugin releases and other related topics.
Learn More or Register Now!
What’s New?Over a dozen brand new themes, designed by world-renowned designers.
The current offering of built-in themes is severely lacking in flexibility and design that is up-to-par with current trends. While I love 3rd-party themes and the theme development community, I think it’s important that RapidWeaver ship with some high-quality themes in order to be taken seriously as a website design application. There’s no doubt that people demo RapidWeaver and drop it before even realizing there are 3rd-party themes, simply because they are less than impressed with the built-in theme selection. Also, the mention of “world-renowned designers” really raises expectations for these themes, so they had better be great!
Site Resources: we’ve entirely re-worked the ‘Assets’ feature of RapidWeaver to allow folks to add global site resources (now found in the sidebar) that can be linked to from any page.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! RapidWeaver’s ‘Assets’ feature has always been one of the very few poorly implemented features of the software. I am thrilled to see this change to a global setting, and I can only assume that it will be well-executed. This change should make it far less intimidating to work with assets added directly to a RapidWeaver project.
Automatic built-in XML Sitemap generation and All-new, built-in Sitemap page type for creating an HTML sitemap.
This is good news and a feature that I do think needs to be standard with RapidWeaver. In the official news posting it is mentioned that this does overlap with Loghound’s Sitemap plugin, but the Sitemap plugin will still have its place for power-users. John at Loghound does outstanding work and it should be evident from the RapidWeaver Classroom tutorials that I think very highly of his products, so I did have mixed feelings about this news for John’s sake. All-in-all, though, I do think it is important for Sitemap generation to be standard with every website RapidWeaver creates.
CSS consolidation to speed up page loading.
Many users may not see the importance of this feature because it’s something that will occur in the background (I assume), but it is a big deal and I am very excited it will be included. In an attempt at a quick and simple explanation, every theme variation under the Styles tab is tied to a separate CSS file. Each of these CSS files must be uploaded to your server and referenced by the HTML files associated with your webpages. CSS consolidation will take all the code in those individual CSS files and place it all into one file -- this means that only one CSS file will need to be published to your server, and only one CSS document will have to be referenced in your HTML files. This should speed-up your publishing time, the load times of your webpages, and create cleaner HTML code in your pages.
While I wouldn’t consider this a major feature, it is a welcome convenience for the large majority who publish their sites with RapidWeaver. FTP bookmarks would allow you to save multiple instances of publishing settings, so that you wouldn’t have to clear the fields and re-enter your information in the Publishing Settings whenever you want to change where your site is being published. In the RapidWeaver Classroom tutorials I recommend publishing your website to a test directory before publishing it live -- typically the first time you publish and then when you make major updates. In this scenario, you could have an FTP bookmark for the test directory on your server, as well as a bookmark for the root folder. This feature will save time and the hassle of looking up usernames and passwords for publishing.
What’s Missing?Inevitably, there will be features that are hoped for but not included in an update to any software application. There are some widely requested features, and others that are more specific to a niche and ultimately not useful to the regular user. I’m sure that Realmac Software chooses to focus its efforts on features that will affect the widest range of users, and I am certainly excited by the features announced so far. For the sake of discussion, though, here are just a few requests that have been tossed around somewhat frequently, and don’t appear to have made the cut.
Updates to built-in page types
This is a very general request, but aside from the addition of a Sitemap page, there hasn’t been any mention of updates to any of the page-types. The File-Sharing, Movie Album, QuickTime, and Photo Album pages are a few that could benefit from some kind of refresh. I think this could be done without any major impact to existing 3rd-party plugins as well.
Improvement in functionality of the Master Styles feature
Working with Master Styles for your theme can be maddening at times, and in my opinion it is neck-and-neck with Page Assets for the poorest implemented feature. At this point there doesn’t appear to be any improvement coming for this feature.
A built-in ExtraContent-like feature
ExtraContent is a brilliant enhancement to 3rd-party themes, but official, built-in support for a feature that accomplishes the same goal has been widely requested for some time. It is confirmed that we won’t be seeing this type of feature in the version 5.0 release.
Content Management System (CMS)
Version 5.0 of RapidWeaver will not include any native support for a CMS. I certainly understand why this is a widely requested feature, but I am torn in my opinion on it because I don’t want to see RapidWeaver become too complex. If CMS support is ever added to RapidWeaver, then it needs to be very well-executed, resulting in an intuitive, easy-to-use solution. I have no expectations for this in terms of if and when, but for now there are certainly other ways of integrating a CMS if needed.
When is the Release Date?The official details state “mid-2010” for the 5.0 release. This will be a paid upgrade, and by the time version 5.0 is available it will have been about 3 years since a paid upgrade was released. I am certainly looking forward to the new features announced this week, and whatever other surprises that might be in store. In the meantime, we will be seeing a version 4.4 release in the very near future, so that will have to tide us over for the time being.
Our series on CMS will continue with new tutorials shortly after my return.
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.
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!
All existing RapidWeaver Classroom students have immediate access to the forum, which can be accessed through the members’ area. You will not need to register a separate account through the forum itself, as your current account details are linked and so you should already be logged-in when you access the forum. New RapidWeaver Classroom subscribers will automatically be added to the forum membership as well.
On a side note, watch for new additions to the Complete Design Demonstration series tomorrow!
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.
I hope all of you are able to take some time off during the holidays to be with family and celebrate Christmas and the new year. I appreciate all of you so much and wish you all the best as this year comes to a close. I will be away myself until January 4th, 2010 -- and then you can expect a whole slew of updates to appear soon thereafter. Thanks again, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!
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.
If you are on the fence about whether or not to subscribe, and our testimonials haven't done enough to convince you, then hopefully these theme discounts will make your mind up for you! What are you waiting for? Register Now
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.
Purchase RapidWeaver Classroom on DVDThat's right, RapidWeaver Classroom's video tutorials can now be purchased on DVD for viewing on your computer or portable device without an internet connection. 87 of the tutorials found on the website are included on the DVD. This is perfect for those with inconsistent internet connections, or for those who are on the road a lot and don't always have internet access.
What's next?There is certainly much more to come by way of screencasts. So many of the available plugins are covered, but there are a few more that need to be addressed, and the Continuing Education section will be seeing a lot of activity in the coming months. Expect to see weekly releases of new video tutorials!
ThanksWhat a great time to say "thank you" to all our supporters. RapidWeaver Classroom is nearly a year old, and it's been an awesome first year. I've heard great things from so many of you these past months, and I've posted some samples on the Testimonials page. I love the feedback, so keep it up!
A special thanks goes out to Adam Merrifield at seyDesign for being very generous with his time to help customize this new theme for RapidWeaver Classroom. It's no secret that I love his themes and the ExtraContent feature that he has helped bring to the community, so show him some love and stop by his site to look at (and possibly purchase) his amazing themes!
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!
A note for users viewing the screencasts on a laptop (or low resolution monitor) -- the high-resolution of the videos might cause scrollbars to appear around the edges of the video. This mainly removes the QuickTime control bar from view, but I have a trick to remove the scrollbars. If you are viewing the screencasts in Safari, simply go to the View menu in Safari and choose Hide Toolbar. This should free-up enough vertical space to remove the scrollbars from around the video. You can go back to View and Show Toolbar when you are done viewing the tutorials.
Firefox users have it even easier -- simply click the pill-shaped button in the top right corner of your browser to temporarily remove the toolbar and create more vertical space.
IE users, why are you using IE?!?! Obviously you are a Mac user or you wouldn’t be subscribing to this website, but if you need to view the screencasts from a PC then get the PC version of Firefox!
Now that all the upgrades are done we can get back to producing screencasts, and we have a whole lot in-store, so watch for new releases starting next week!
All RapidWeaver Classroom students are encouraged to submit their website. The only requirements for inclusion on the Student Projects page is that the submission is from a RapidWeaver Classroom student and that the content of the website is not explicit in any way.
I look forward to seeing and displaying the work that students have created, so submit your sites!
Tomorrow will bring at least the first two Blocks video tutorials, and the curriculum has been updated to reflect the videos that I am planning to make available. As always, you will find the latest information on updates here.
Better news is that Blocks tutorials are currently under production and those will be made available over the course of this week!
If you are thinking about subscribing but waiting for tutorials on specific 3rd-party plugins, then visit this thread in the RealMac Support Forums and cast your vote for one of the six plugins listed there. Of course it’s not an all-inclusive list of options, but it’s a start.
Thanks to everyone who provides feedback, and check back soon for info on the coming 3rd-party plugin tutorials!
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.
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!
As always, check-out the RapidWeaver Support Forum for questions that may come up as you work with RapidWeaver!
There will be a small amount of time when the video tutorials are unavailable, and that time will be between 11pm-12am CST. The down-time shouldn't last more than 10 or 15 minutes, but it's important that I communicate that in advance. Enjoy the new high-resolution tutorials!
So, with that being said, I am currently making one change and considering two others. The change I'm currently working on is the resolution of the video tutorials. Right now they are at a resolution of 512x320 and I will be increasing that to 960x600. I will be re-encoding the existing videos this week and posting the new ones in this higher-resolution format. At nearly double the resolution the file sizes will also double, but it looks like a majority of my traffic is on high-bandwidth connections, and with Fast Start enabled for internet streaming the videos can be started before the entire clip has downloaded. I hope this is a welcome improvement and I'd appreciate your comments on this change.
Another area I'm researching is the handling of payments. PayPal is currently set to handle payments and subscriptions, and my experience with PayPal has always been great. That doesn't necessarily mean that better options don't exist, so I've been looking at other options to see how they compare with the system currently in place. Once I have made a decision to stay with PayPal or switch to a different payment processor I will be adding two more subscription types: 6-month and 1-year options.
Again, I really do appreciate the feedback I receive, so please take a moment to comment on this post with your views. Thanks to everyone for your support!
New video tutorials should arrive tomorrow, so check back to stay updated.
It's always funny doing FAQ's because the general idea is to have the answers to the questions ready before they are asked. So it requires thinking from an outside perspective, which is something that's needed when it comes to website design. Since you are generally creating a website for strangers to see, it's important to develop the navigation and content in a way that is best for them. It can be easy to leave out important information because of your own familiarity with the subject, while a new visitor might be completely lost because of the lack of details.
If you can't quite get the outside perspective personally, then it's a great idea to have friends or family unfamiliar with the site and its content to look things over just before making the website public. They'll generally be able to point out what is missing or inadequate.
So yeah, there's a new FAQ, and there's a little nugget of information to go along with it.
I'll be launching this site at the same time I'm producing the first set of videos, and with that will be a special offer for those who register early. If you didn't notice on the homepage already, those who "pre-register" will have access to the video tutorials for 60 days opposed to the 30 days that will eventually be standard. I'll be publishing videos very frequently for these next 3-4 weeks, and then consistently after that and I doubt I'll ever really stop. The plan is to have around 50 videos available by the end of May. Here's to hoping my web host is ready with the bandwidth!
If you'd like to keep-up with the release of new content here then be sure to subscribe to the site's RSS Feed. There are many, many plans for video tutorials beyond the ones currently listed on the Curriculum page, so stay-tuned to this blog for more information!