Ok, so I admit it. iWeb 08 is a fantastic, simple to use web design tool but it is lacking in some departments. So today I am going to write about and give you a bit of an insight into some of the free apps you should be using to improve your iWeb sites. All of the apps I talk about in this post are available to download and should be included in your ‘iWeb Toolbox’ if you are serious about designing a web-site that works.Before I begin, I want to stress that I use all of these tools and have done since I first started using iWeb. Some I have used since I started web design. They are not listed in any particular order, so no favourites, they are all as good as each other and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Although there are many more applications available to the iWeb user, the list I have provided here is aimed at the tools that are created for web designers in general, rather than just iWeb users. I will be running another post on iWeb specific apps within the next few weeks.
1. MassReplaceIt I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this little application is a fantastic bit of kit and can save you loads of time when you are inserting HTML code into the pages on your site. Imagine you have a prewritten <head></head> section that you add to your site before each publish. All you have to do is perform the function manually once and MassReplaceIt’s inbuilt save function allows you to save that particular search and replace, ready to run again the next time you update your site. Only you don’t have to go through the nause of having to add all your pages and code again!! Priceless.
2. Cyberduck One of the easiest FTP applications I have come across and you can have your site uploaded in minutes with this useful tool. Obviously you don’t need this one if you publish to MobileMe so you have your own problems, but Cyberduck’s easy to use interface, ability to ‘synchronize’ rather than ‘upload’ so you don’t have to publish the whole site again is a godsend, as is the selective publish function (which I found really useful when testing my in-line comments tutorial).
3. FireFox Now in version 3, FireFox is the world’s most standard compliant browser and fast becoming the most popular. If you want your web-site to look good, test it in this browser first before you publish. On top of it’s ability to comprehend the rules of CSS, you can also download hundreds of free add-ons or ‘plug-ins’; some of which are hugely useful to a web designer. One I highly recommend is the Web Developer plug-in which gives you the ability (once you have published to a folder) to edit the HTML and or CSS pages within your site and see the live changes in your browser before you publish the whole thing live.
4. TextWrangler Before I came to Mac OS X I used to hand code my sites on Windows PCs, but never did I have such a wonderfully easy to use and intuitive tool such as TextWrangler. I find the search and/or replace function really helpful, the colour coding of the different sections of HTML code easy to read and the whole process of using TextWrangler is a joy. Quite simply, it makes editing code less of a pain.
If you use any other free app and you think we should know, add a comment. I will be carrying out a review of the other iWeb specific applications soon, once my iWeb version of this site is launched.