Monday, April 21, 2008

RapidWeaver vs iWeb

Here are some observations based on my experiences as a user and a technology support person.

For beginners who don't have any concept about web development these two software might not be of much differences - they were both WYSIWYG, theme-based, Mac only, easy to learn. They both have growing size problem. However, as they advanced to a higher level, the difference will become significant on the following issues:

1. Publish. iWeb publish is no doubt cumbersome as comparing to RapidWeaver's "Smart Publish" (direct FTP publish; automatic folder generation; only publish the changes)

2. Professional web development. RapidWeaver offers both edit/code mode and design mode (similar to DreamWeaver) that allow the user to work on html, css, xml coding. The external plug-ins (e.g., Multitool, Buttonbuilder/Themebuilder) provide potential powers for a more professional design.

3. Blogging. While both offer blogging features, RapidWeaver has more powerful features such as categorization and tagging. This allows the user to create a database that is easy to track and sort. Too often this relational database concept is ignored.

4. Domain file. Both are saved as a highly compressed domain files. I've been seeing students come to me with broken iWeb domain files because those files were moved from one place to another. However, RapidWeaver doesn't have that problem. I put a iweb file and a rapidweaver .rw3 file in my iLocker world_shared folder. When you open the http link (see here) you'll see that .rw3 holds together tightly as a sigle file while .site file are broken into multiple pieces of segmented files. In addition, it is risky and inconvenient when students try to get the .site file from its niche (library/Application Support/iWeb). HOWEVER, .rw3 won't copy all the files you link in itself while .site literally will bring everything you put in your site with it. (This might be a concern for RapidWeaver when you open the .rw in another computer or move it to a different location. The link will be missing.)

5. Other "invisible" problems. Here are some issues I found from students who came to iStudio for iWeb help, while I haven't seen these happen in RapidWeaver.

Overall on a 4-point scale I would rate RW as 3.5 and iWeb as 2.5.

If we're going to promote RW at TC we probably need to deal with the following issues:

1. Try to convince faculty the advantages of using RW. I know some of them may not be happy with a new implementation as they just got comfortable with iWeb. Teaming up with faculty who have good knowledge about and positive attitudes toward technology might work.

2. Support time, resources, and manpower. The need for support will be intensive and important at the early stage. Online tutorials, workshops, lab clinics, in-class instructions will need to be carefully scheduled and/or based on requests. Intro courses such as EDTEC120 and EDSEC150 can be integrated with the RW components and will play an important role in the implementation.

3. Continuing iWeb (and composer) support while shifting to RW. Use successful student samples as promotion for RW.

No comments: