31 May 2006

Using iWeb and .Mac for blogging

When I first got my hands on iWeb I was very impressed with how simple it was to put websites together. I wrote a brief review back in early January here which also includes brief coverage of other iLife06 components. Unfortunately, I noted some severe limitations which restricted it's use for me as a replacement for the blogger.com service for instance. There have been other frustrations with iWeb too. But with the release of iWeb 1.1, there have been some massive improvements in functionality and suddenly it starts to look like a viable tool for more than just the very simplest sites.

The biggest improvements have been in the blogging area where comments are now permitted. While anyone can post comments, and they can only be moderated after the fact, there is the usual authentication (type the letters/numbers in the image above) method.

Another area that is improved is the photo album component (though this may have been a hidden feature before). It is now possible to add new photoalbums by just dragging an image from an album created in iPhoto into a page which serves as the index to the albums. A detailed photo page is created with all the photos in the album automatically. Combined with the neat AJAX-based slideshow features, it becomes incredibly easy to manage and publish new photo albums.

I have now updated my personal site and this shows both of these features in use. The blogging is sufficiently improved for me to consider moving over to that permanently. The blog search feature works well (it has never worked for me on blogger.com!), and it is easy to put photos in. There are weaknesses still - many I suspect I don't even yet know of. Most irritatingly, the main blog page has a font format that I don't seem to be able to change. You will also see that I've been forced to include a blank template entry. I should be able to hide this from the posted site, but I haven't found a way to do this.

iWeb's publishing speed has also improved, but it seems when I access the site that it's still quite slow to serve pages for whatever reason. Photos though do seem to work quite well - it's just the first page loading that seems especially slow.

Please feel free to visit both the sites I've made with iWeb - my company site, and my personal site. You can make comments or even note questions back here or on the iWeb blog, whichever suits. Remember the company site was set up to replace a site I'd created with a simple html editor which can still be seen here. The iWeb version took around 30 minutes.

I'm certainly looking forward to iWeb 2.0. With some rounding of the features (template management PLEASE), and the .mac groups feature (which I think well surpasses yahoogroups these days), Apple has truly created a simple but sophisticated web publishing system for individuals, clubs, societies, etc that anyone can truly use. With blogs, photos, calendars, file sharing/downloading well integrated, it is really very powerful indeed. You just need to have a Mac of course to do the publishing with in the first place. That restriction (obvious though it is) may be a limiting factor for greater adoption as those with Macs may feel that they'll never be able to involve other people in the process and be saddled with website maintenance forever!

20 comments:

Ian Hobson said...

Timbo stopped by on the new iWeb blog and posted the following comment:

Hi Hob, this blog looks OK, but I think that more text-per-entry should be displayed. In Blogger you can read the whole thing, but clicking on "read more" is a bit of a pain.
One day I will get a Mac ...

I wonder who Boro wil get for a new manager now ? Everton have a good front 2 now.


To which I replied:
Timbo
Thanks for stopping on by. The "read more" comment is indeed very valid. I've changed the settings now to maximum on length of excerpt. I've no idea whether this means my super-long posts will fit, but it does seem to allow much longer posts. This also applies to the RSS feed too. I'm still disappointed that when you read the story on the summary page, you get it in the default font for that style of page - only on the detail blog page is the font what I've selected.

Having just published a new story though on both, I observe that only the blogger.com RSS feed publishes any images.

I am however finding that iWeb is very simple to use - easy to add photos and images and more reliable with things such as links, and it's spelling checker is there as you type.

As for Boro, what a roller-coaster season it's been for you fans! I don't think Venables would have been good (never really rated him as a manager), and there is a scarcity of really good managers around. But the club has passion and that should attract good candidates.

With Everton, it will be interesting to see if Johnson and Beattie can work together. I thought Beattie played quite well last year - he seemed to put in a lot of effort and play for the team, without getting great results for himself. I just hope we don't get off to the same start as last season (and I guess you have the same wish for Boro!).

I won't be doing this for all comments, but as this particular post was (partly) about comparative differences of the two systems, I'm making sure it's visible here too.

Anonymous said...

I would sure love to see some intergration with Flash. How are you supposed to use animated gifs or other Flash content within iWeb? For now its impossible. I think it was a major oversight by Apple to not allow .swf files (Flash movies) to be played in iWeb. Hope 2.0 will fix this.

G Jevon said...

Hey I think I figured out a way to use Flash and gifs with iWeb. Maybe this is not a good solution for all. I created swf and gifs but have not been able to use them properly, so I open them in Quicktime Pro and tweaked the settings and saved them as quicktime now they seem to work great. You just need to be graphic smart when converting in order not to lose to much.

Simon said...

This may not be ideal, but for using animated files as links you can make a plain box over them and change to opacity to 1% and use that as the link. Not really in the spirit of making quick, clean websites but it does the trick - see www.boozecrew.co.uk

Nick Anderson said...

Nice work

Anonymous said...

Like your personal site.

I've been struggling to use the iWeb - specially the Photo album piece of it.

How did you manage to get a series of your albums indexed on a single page?

Can you let me know that please?

Thanks,
Abhi

Ian Hobson said...

Abhi

>How did you manage to get a series of your albums indexed on a single page?

I mentioned this in the original post (though a bit quickly!). If you have a photo album page open in iWeb, just pop over to iPhoto, and make sure each of the different albums are setup there. Then for each album, drag it over into the iWeb window. Continue for as many albums as you want. There's a way to ensure the index photo is the one you want, without it being the first in the album. But I've forgotten exactly how to do that - it should be easy to find.

That's all you have to do! All the album pages are created automatically! Hope that helps

Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying. But I am still struggling.

Your page called "PhotoAlbums" has 6 photos on the main page, each of which are linking to a separate album. I like that way and would like to do it similarly for my own site.

The problem is, every time I drop a Photo Album from my iPhoto all the photos of that album are displayed on the page, and not just the first one. So I am not able to link to multiple albums from the same page and I am having to add a new "Photo" page from the templates each time I want to add another album. That is an issue.

Can you explain how you got your "PhotoAlbum" page to work and show the way it is -

Anonymous said...

Hobb - I think I found a way. I just added a blank page and then dropped in a bunch of photos - one from each of the albums and created them as hyperlink to the actual photo album page. It seems to work.

Do you find that the web.mac.com/username is a tad slow, or is it just me here that is feeling it?

Thanks,
Abhi

Joel H Kucer said...

hey, i'm interested in using iweb to post to a free blog site instead of paying for .mac
i tried setting up a blog on blogger, but i felt iweb was easier and i liek the templates more. thanks

Anonymous said...

hey Hob,

I have tried to create a blog page but when i publish it, it does not allow poeple to make comments. When i create the page in iWeb it has the "add comments" link on it. But when i publish the page it does not have have the link. Is this happening because i am not publishing to .mac

Ivar Brekke said...

Hi I recently wrote about the same topic in my new blog:

http://pitofknowledge.blogspot.com/2008/06/starting-blog-blogger-vs-iwebme.html

Have a look, and have a nice day!

iHing said...

It seems each blogging tool iWeb, Blogger, WordPress and others have features that we all wish were in the other tool. I really like Blogger and Wordpress because you can blog from anywhere as they are web based. You can even use a smartphone. I like iWeb because you can have multiple blogs on one site and include other web pages as well to create a full site. The downside with iWeb you need to always publish from a Mac. Hopefully, Apple will have some kind of web based interface in the future.

iWeb '08 has come a long way and being able to embed HMTL code, you can now add Google Analytics to your pages so you can track visitors. Also you can add Google AdSense ads which is built into iWeb. Blogger can do the same.

You have to just choose what is right for you and then start blogging. I guess it's the blog content that's the most important at the end of the day. I decided to be hard core Mac and went with iWeb '08. It's been great so far.

Ian Hobson said...

Just an update as this post seems to attract a lot of comments.

iHing's latest comment made me realise I've stumbled across the "having your cake AND eating it scenario" - the best of Blogger AND Mac website creation. Unfortunately, it's not with iWeb, but with an equally simple (but more powerful application) called Rapidweaver. This is around $50 or so I think and is an excellent tool. With a plugin called Rapidblog (another few $), you can have your Blogger blog as normal with all the features you've come to expect on Blogger. At the same time, the blog is synchronised back to your own site in your own style.

The only downside is that you can't use .Mac to my knowledge as the plugin is some PHP code that needs to run on your webserver. So choose a simple hosting service for $4 a month or whatever and you should be able to have this.

You can update your blog in blogger OR in rapidweaver and the entries are maintained. Very cool. I helped my partner create a very specialised scientific website with this, and it's worked fine for about a year.

Tuppence said...

I use iWeb for my entertainment news UK web site, but I haven't used any of the blogging functions yet. I'll definitely take a look. I reckon there's still a lot of improvements that could be made with iWeb, especially in terms of adding strong & h1 tags to the text.

andrea said...

The BLOG comment feature only work when publishing your site to MOBILEME, and mobile limits many of the features a regular hosting will offer.
Does any one know if there is a way around this?

Tim at IMM said...

Your company site looks good, but on the "Team" page there's some overlap of text. I'm viewing this using Safari 5.0.3.

Ian Hobson said...

To Tim,
Thanks for stopping by. This post was quite an old one and refers to older versions of iWeb.
However, I did check my site, and it looks fineto me - even on the page you mentioned (Team). I'm also using Safario 5.0.3 (on Mac). If you can send me a screen print of the way it looks on yours, that would be interesting. I'm wondering if its just a font substitution thing.
Thanks
Ian

Anonymous said...

Ok, my friend and I are making a blog using iWeb on my friend's Mac, and we were wondering (before we posted it) if people could like comment on it. Because we are really confused...

Ian Hobson said...

Sorry guys, this is not a support site for iWeb. The information here relates anyway to older versions of iWeb!