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This chapter is from the book

Create a Family Web Site Project

Difficulty level: Moderate

Additional software: RapidWeaver

Additional hardware: none

Creating a Web site can be a daunting task. You have to know how to write code, or how to install a Content Management System. Or do you? There are a number of apps on the Mac that make creating, and updating, a Web site very easy.

Apple has a tool called iWeb, which is part of their iLife suite. I don't recommend you use it, though, as Apple hasn't updated it in a very long time. This usually signals that an app's life is nearly at an end (of course Apple could prove me wrong and release an updated version at any point with super awesome features).

Instead of Apple's tool, I recommend RapidWeaver from RealMac Software (, $59.99; Figure 4.32). RapidWeaver is a powerful app that's easy to learn how to use. Even better, there is a vibrant community of developers who create a variety of add-ons that you can purchase. These add-ons include more themes, and some even add features of their own to the application.

Figure 4.32

Figure 4.32 RapidWeaver icon.

RapidWeaver is available from the Mac App Store, and a free demo is available directly from RealMac's Web site so you can give it a try before you buy it.

Set up a site

You want to create a Web site to keep your family up to date with your zany adventures. Posting pictures and videos is important, and having a blog would be nice. Here's how to do it with RapidWeaver.

Creating a site with RapidWeaver:

  1. Launch RapidWeaver (Figure 4.33).
    Figure 4.33

    Figure 4.33 RapidWeaver's Project window.

  2. RapidWeaver is project based; click the Create a New RapidWeaver Project button to get started. The main RapidWeaver window appears (Figure 4.34). On the left is the sidebar which includes Webpages, Resources, and Stats, and in the main window are a couple of things you should set up before you can delve into whipping up a Web site:
    Figure 4.34

    Figure 4.34 A RapidWeaver project just waiting for some content.

    • FTP Bookmarks. You need a place to host your Web site, and FTP is how you get the content from RapidWeaver to your server. Click the FTP Bookmarks icon to create a new FTP Bookmark (Figure 4.35).
    Figure 4.35

    Figure 4.35 FTP Bookmarks hold your login information for eventual publishing.

    Give your bookmark a name, choose a protocol (leave this set to FTP if you aren't sure which to use), and enter your FTP server, username, and password. The path tells RapidWeaver where on the server to upload your files. Consult your hosting company if you aren't sure what these settings should be. Click Test connection to make it all works and then close the window (you'll be prompted to save your changes).
    • Site Setup. Click Site Setup to enter some information about your site as a whole. There are three sections:

    • General. Give your site a title and slogan (which will be displayed on the site) (Figure 4.36 on the next page). You can also enter some footer text that is displayed at the bottom of every page. The footer text defaults to a copyright notice and your name but you can change it to whatever you like.

    Figure 4.36

    Figure 4.36 General Site Settings apply to all the pages in your RapidWeaver project.

    Next up is your Email Address and the text for the email link that'll appear on your site (Contact Me is the default). The web address should be the URL of your site, so RapidWeaver can correctly build your site's internal links. Finally, you can set a Site Logo, Web Clip, or Favicon. If you want to set any of these, they are optional; just click the checkbox next to the one(s) you want to use and then drag and drop an image in the well underneath the appropriate item.
    • Advanced. You shouldn't feel the need to change anything in the Advanced section, but it is nice to have the option (Figure 4.37). The first option, File Links are, determines how RapidWeaver builds links to files that you upload. It is fine to leave this as is.
    Figure 4.37

    Figure 4.37 The Advanced settings allow you to turn on and off some functionality.

    You can also turn on and off some site options here including displaying a breadcrumb trail (this is a type of navigation that includes links at the top of each page tracing where you've been on the site), Protect email address (this encodes your email address so nasty spammers can't harvest it from your Web site), generate XML sitemap (Google likes sites that do this), and enable cruftless links (this pretties up the URLs of your pages).
    • Template. The template options give you control over the underlying structure of your site (Figure 4.38). Most of the options here can be ignored, unless you have a reason to change them, with one exception. If you want some text to show up in your site's sidebar enter it in the Sidebar section. This text will show up on your site in the sidebar, depending on the theme you apply.
    Figure 4.38

    Figure 4.38 Template settings apply to your site as a whole.

  3. Click OK to apply your site settings.
  4. Now that your FTP bookmarks are set up (this will be important when you're ready to publish) and you've set up your general site information, it is time to start adding pages to your site. Click the Add page icon on the main screen or on the title bar (upper left hand side) and the page selector will slide down (Figure 4.39 on the next page).
Figure 4.39

Figure 4.39 RapidWeaver's standard page types cover a wide range of content.

Add Web-site content

For the site I'm building I want to include a blog, a welcome page (Styled Text), and a movie gallery. I'm going to start with the Styled Text page, which will also be the index page (default page) of my site.

Creating a welcome page:

  1. Click the Add Page icon.
  2. Double-click Styled Text.
  3. Treat the Styled Text page just like you would a Word document (Figure 4.40). Type in some text, drag and drop a few pictures, and pretty soon you have yourself a Web page.
    Figure 4.40

    Figure 4.40 A Stylized Text page featuring a picture of your humble author.

    Notice in the sidebar I've named this page Home. You can change this name by double-clicking it and typing in a new one.
  4. Once you have some text and pictures the way you like it, you should check out what your page will look like with a theme applied. Slide the button at the bottom of the RapidWeaver window from Edit to Preview (Figure 4.41).
    Figure 4.41

    Figure 4.41 To preview your page slide this slider to the right.

    The preview opens in the RapidWeaver window, and shows you what the page you're working on will look like with the current theme applied (Figure 4.42).
    Figure 4.42

    Figure 4.42 A page preview within RapidWeaver.

    If you don't like the looks of an image, or any other media, you've added to the page, you can modify it. Select the image and click the Media Editor icon on the toolbar. This brings up the Media Editor, where you can set the size of the media, rotation, and add a shadow and border (Figure 4.43).
Figure 4.43

Figure 4.43 The Media Editor allows you to change some settings on pictures/movies.

Adjust page settings

I've gone ahead and repeated the steps detailed in "Add Web-site content" to add a blog and movie gallery to my site (Figure 4.44). Each page type has a number of different options available to it, which can't all be covered in this project. However, you access the settings in the same place for each page type.

Figure 4.44

Figure 4.44 The Blog Page adds a fully functional blog to your site.

Changing page settings:

  1. Click the page you want to modify in the sidebar. In this case I'm going to modify the Styled Text page, which has a pretty basic set of options.
  2. Click the Page Info icon to bring up the Page Inspector. The Page Inspector has five sections:
    • General. Here you can enable the page (disabled pages won't show up on your site), Show In menu (if you uncheck this box this page won't be included in your site's navigation), and open in a window (Figure 4.45).

      Figure 4.45

      Figure 4.45 The Page Inspector's General settings.

      Page attributes like the Page Title (this shows up in the RapidWeaver sidebar) and Browser Title (which displays in a person's browser when visiting this page) can be easily set here independently of one another. Images are processed and uploaded with the page when you publish it. The General settings allow you to specify if images should be converted to a certain format, or kept in their original format. Compression levels are also defined here (for pictures that are converted only). Finally, the bottom section of the General Settings allows you to override the Site Settings and give this page a specific title, slogan, and footer. If you want these settings to be applied to all the pages on your site click Apply to All Pages.
    • Sidebar. You set the sidebar text for the whole site in Site Settings; here you can override that text and display a custom page specific value (Figure 4.46).

      Figure 4.46

      Figure 4.46 Each page can have a customized sidebar.

    • Header. The header settings for the whole site can be overridden for the selected page here (Figure 4.47).

      Figure 4.47

      Figure 4.47 Header information can also be customized on a per page basis

    • Styles. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a way of applying a design to a Web site. You can modify the styles applied to the selected page here (Figure 4.48).

      Figure 4.48

      Figure 4.48 The Styles tab gives you control over the code that styles your page (this is known as CSS).

    • Page. The final section of settings varies from page type to page type. Styled Text doesn't actually have any options here, so I selected the blog page with the Page Inspector (Figure 4.49). The Blog Page type has a number of different options displayed here. Be sure to explore this area for each of the page types you add to your site.

    Figure 4.49

    Figure 4.49 Each page type also has page specific settings available in the last section. The Blog Page settings are shown here.

Each change you make is immediately applied to the page; there is no need to save changes.

Add a theme

You have content for your site, and you've tweaked the settings to your liking. The final step is to apply a theme that is pleasing to your eye.

RapidWeaver ships with a bunch of themes, and you can find more by clicking the Add-on icon on the toolbar.

Applying a theme:

  1. Launch RapidWeaver and open the project that contains your site.
  2. Select a page from the sidebar.
  3. Click the Themes icon on the toolbar (Figure 4.50).
    Figure 4.50

    Figure 4.50 The Themes icon on the RapidWeaver toolbar.

    The Theme Browser appears at the bottom of the RapidWeaver window (Figure 4.51). The available themes are shown as thumbnails. You can increase or decrease the size of the thumbnails by using the slider on the right hand side. Entering a search term in the search field will filter the themes, and you can show all themes, only built-in themes, or third-party themes by choosing an option from the menu on the left.
    Figure 4.51

    Figure 4.51 The Theme Browser.

  4. To apply a new theme, just click it in the Theme browser. When you're in edit mode, you won't see a change. To preview the theme, with the content in your site, slide the bottom slider to Preview (Figure 4.52).
    Figure 4.52

    Figure 4.52 Previewing a theme.

    Click another page while in preview to see the theme applied to that page's content. If you don't like the looks of the theme, just click another in the Theme Browser and the new theme is applied. You can preview a page in your web browser of choice by Control-clicking the page and selecting Preview from the menu (Figure 4.53). Select the browser you want to use, and the browser will launch and display your page.
Figure 4.53

Figure 4.53 You can also preview a theme in the browser of your choice.

Publish your site

Your site's content is awesome, and you have applied the perfect theme. Now you just need to publish your site for the entire world to see.

Publishing the site:

  1. Launch RapidWeaver and open your site's project.
  2. Click the Publish icon in the toolbar (Figure 4.54).
    Figure 4.54

    Figure 4.54 The Publish icon is located at the top of the RapidWeaver window.

    The Publish sheet will appear, with two options: FTP and MobileMe (Figure 4.55).
    Figure 4.55

    Figure 4.55 Publishing to FTP requires some information.

  3. Since we set up an FTP bookmark, click the Bookmark icon to select your saved information (Figure 4.56).
    Figure 4.56

    Figure 4.56 Fill in that information using the FTP bookmark we set up earlier.

  4. Click Publish, and RapidWeaver displays the publishing progress for each individual file (Figure 4.57). When RapidWeaver is finished publishing a big green check is displayed (Figure 4.58).
    Figure 4.57

    Figure 4.57 The upload progress is displayed.

    Figure 4.58

    Figure 4.58 Published!

    If you point your browser to the URL of your site you'll see the fancy site you've created in RapidWeaver on display (Figure 4.59). Give the URL to your friends, and bask in the glow of having your very own Web site.
    Figure 4.59

    Figure 4.59 My RapidWeaver created site, live on the internet.

    This is a high level overview of RapidWeaver, and I've only touched on some of the features this rich app includes. Be sure to check out the RapidWeaver manual (Help > RapidWeaver Manual) for more information about the wealth of features and add-ons that exist for this product.
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