RapidWeaver Primer and Resources

RapidWeaver is a website creation tool for Mac. Much like the website builders provided with many hosting plans, RapidWeaver uses a template-based approach to design and customize your own website. Unlike most of those, RapidWeaver can be downloaded directly to your computer, allowing you complete freedom from a specific hosting provider. So if you decide to move to another web host, you can easily back up your existing site and move it to your new host in just a few clicks.

There are plenty of drag-and-drop website creators on the market, most of which include a handful of templates, but RapidWeaver sets itself apart by maintaining up-to-date, stylish templates, so your site doesn't look like it was developed fifteen years ago. With over 50 themes that can be customized through a drag and drop editor, RapidWeaver provides a simple solution to creating modern, powerful sites.

RapidWeaver also has an exhaustive library of add-ons, including everything from online store features to advanced layouts and third-party designs. Using these, as well as the built-in HTML and CSS editors, advanced web designers can further customize their websites.

Online Resources

There are plenty of sites online devoted to RapidWeaver, and wading through the ones that are just trying to sell you their own add-ons can be a little tricky. If you're just getting started with RapidWeaver, these sites will help you get set up, comfortable, and well on your way to publishing your very first website.

  • Realmac Software: the official home of RapidWeaver. You'll find download links, quick introductions, and links to other useful resources such as tutorials and their community site.
  • RapidWeaver FAQ: in additional to answers to common RapidWeaver questions, this site includes tutorials, software tips, and general knowledge about website design, HTML, and basics of how the Web works.
  • RapidWeaver Central: this site provides up-to-date RapidWeaver news and reviews of the latest stacks, themes, and other add-ons. They also provide consulting and design advice, for anyone who needs additional assistance, as well as their own stacks and themes — these will cost you, but the rest of their advice is free.

Tutorials

RapidWeaver is designed to be intuitive, and general website development won't require an in-depth study of the program or HTML. However, for more advanced development, these resources can help you become a RapidWeaver expert.

  • RapidWeaver Tutorials: this set of free tutorials includes 10 lessons for beginners on creating a new project, adding and organizing pages, selecting a theme, saving projects, using addons, and publishing your site, as well as several dozen advanced lessons on topics such as stacks, theme customization, using add-ons, speed enhancements, search indexing, and meta tag creation.
  • RapidWeaver Classroom: this paid tutorial site offers dozens of lessons on everything from navigating the software to working with themes and setting up an ecommerce site. If you're looking for an in-depth understanding of how to get the most of your RapidWeaver software, this is the place to go. To give you an idea of the depth of their lessons, they have over 600 minutes of video just on working with themes.
  • The RapidWeaver Show: this podcast series is also available on iTunes. Each week the authors cover website creation topics such as building custom 404 error pages, choosing a theme, and managing htaccess. They also include occasional RapidWeaver and general Mac announcements that may be of interest to RapdidWeaver users.

Online communities

If you're looking to answers to specific questions, reaching out to community members is often the easiest and most reliable solution. These RapidWeaver communities are very active and eager to help each other.

  • Realmac Forums: the official RapidWeaver forums are extremely active and cover everything from installation advice to SEO to YouTube integration. Scrolling the forum can be a little overwhelming, since topics are initially listed in order of updates, rather than by topic. However, you can easily filter by category to focus in on beginner questions, themes, podcasts, feature requests, and more.
  • The Weaver's Space: originally a G+ community, this group moved to its own site in 2016. They currently have over 800 members who discuss everything from troubleshooting to web design philosophies.

Books

You won't find as many books on RapidWeaver as you will more complicated website development tools, simply because RapidWeaver is easy to learn and there are plenty of free online resources available (see above). However, for those who prefer a physical book, or are looking to develop advanced website design knowledge, there are a few books we recommend.

  • RapidWeaver 5 Beginner's Guide by Joe Workman: designed primarily for first-time web developers, this book begins with the very basics (downloading, installing, and setting up the software), and progresses through initial site creation, design, and publishing. It uses plenty of screenshots and provides sample code that can be used in your own projects. For more experienced users, it also offers some discussion of advanced concepts, such as stacks, HTML, CSS, and troubleshooting techniques.
  • The Visual Guide to Learning RapidWeaver 5 by Hawes and Meadows: targeted primarily at beginners, this book walks readers through all of RapidWeaver's basic functionality using easy-to-follow, step-by-step guides. Some advanced topics are also covered, such as SEO practices and using multimedia, but in general this is a very visual, slow-paced guide, perfect for those who are intimidated by the idea of building their own site.
  • HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett: this highly visual introduction to HTML and CSS is the perfect companion book for RapidWeaver users who want to understand the code behind their site and are looking to add some further customization beyond the standard capabilities of the software.

Conclusion

Many of the do-it-yourself website building business has moved from the desktop to the cloud, particularly with the template-based site design, as most hosts now provide free site builders and programs like WordPress and Joomla are becoming easier to use all the time. Yet, RapidWeaver continues to attract new users, because the templates are continuously updated to stay fresh and professional, and the user interface is perfect for beginners. If you're looking for a simple yet powerful website builder that isn't tied to your web host or other online service, it's worth downloading the demo and giving RapidWeaver a try.


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