March 5th, 2007

Rapid weaving

Now that my ISP change is complete, and the transfer of my domain name to GoDaddy seems to have come off correctly, it’s time for me to turn to a vexatious and long-delayed job: bringing my four-year-old website up to some kind of date. And that means finding the right tools for the job.

Dreamweaver is the pick of the crop for professional designers, but I don’t profess to be one; I could do the job, all right, but I haven’t got the time. In any case I haven’t got Dreamweaver, or the several hundred bucks required to purchase it. I do have Adobe GoLive, because I bought it as part of their Creative Suite (for the student price) a couple of years ago, but GoLive is a bloated monstrosity which cannot even interpret a simple two-column CSS layout without making the columns overlap illegibly. Something new is called for.

I looked briefly at iWeb, since I do have a copy of that. For what I want, it’s useless. The bright boys at Apple seem absolutely convinced that most people who want to put up websites are brilliant amateur photographers and near-total illiterates. Their layouts require eye candy (iCandy?) and are downright hostile to written content. For a writer’s site, this is a non-starter.

So I went off looking at reviews, and came up with RapidWeaver from RealMac Software. For my money ($39.95 of it), this is a far more impressive achievement than iCan’tRead. Instead of templates, which allow you to very simply drop in pictures and movies (and if you really, really must, text) into a rigidly predetermined layout, RapidWeaver has themes, which merely impose a uniform set of CSS styles on whatever content you want to throw at them. The genius of this latter approach is that you can quite literally double-click on a new theme and change the entire layout of your site; or you can change it one page at a time, if you wish, by setting overrides. And because they are based on an open standard, RapidWeaver themes are quite easy to edit, compared to the byzantine impenetrability of iWeb templates. As a result there is a thriving after-market for RapidWeaver themes.

The theme I favour at the moment, because it provides any number of options for me to monkey with it, is Structure, published by an outfit known, appropriately enough, as RapidWeaverThemes. Apart from the AnnoyingHabit of writing their CompanyName in CamelCase, RWT have exactly the right idea for someone like me, who doesn’t want a completely canned look but doesn’t want to write a lot of CSS from scratch. It is not a graphic design, but a robust framework to hang a graphic design on. One day, I daresay, I shall get round to supplying a graphic design. In the meantime, I will be quite content to dump the stuff I have available into RapidWeaver as quickly as possible and get a bare-bones site up and running.

So I’m off to spend, in round numbers, fifty American simoleons (ten for the theme) and begin flinging all kinds of stuff into my GoDaddy account. In the wildly unlikely event that anyone wants to look, the current state of chaos will be observable at www.bondwine.com.

And yes, I’m going to cheat and steal a number of my essais from LJ for more convenient viewing there.

Update, 4:08 a.m.: We have webbage! And so to bed.