07 June 2006

RapidWeaver and ScreenCastOnline - Cool AND British

I've been doing some further research into website creation/maintenance on behalf of a few people recently and have unearthed a couple of gems that I wanted to share with you. I'm particularly pleased to report that both are British in origin, and both are very Mac oriented.

First up is RapidWeaver - a website creation tool from RealMac Software in Brighton. When you first take a look at this application you think it's just another iWeb. But this is a MUCH more powerful application than iWeb, with a considerably more open architecture. It's on version 3.5 now, and so quite mature. If you've used iWeb but understand and are frustrated by some of it's limitations, then this may be the package you've waited for. There are also plug-ins and other themes available from 3rd parties which add even more functionality. As a blogging tool it surpasses what iWeb can offer today as well. It doesn't however yet offer an ability to insert blog entries by mail or other methods though. And sure, it's not Dreamweaver, but, it looks to me like a great tool for those who want more than iWeb can offer but aren't pro website creators for their day jobs. And, best of all, it's a bargain at $39.95 or around £22. But, if you hang around here, I'll let you into a secret of how to get it for 15% less while being really prepared to use it right out of the box! Great work Realmac!

Next up is Don McAllister's ScreenCastOnline a great idea which brings online video tutorials in frequently used software (and also some general software skills such as RSS and podcasting). Don, I would hazard a guess, is a fellow scouser (from Liverpool for those outside of the UK!). He has a nice relaxed style and gets through in about 20 minutes the key techniques needed for the application he is showing you. Admittedly I'd already worked out much of Rapidweaver's interface by the time I watched these, but I still learned some things from the 3 editions for this application. All of these are available in different resolutions for screen and even iPod (I quite like the iPod idea as you can watch the application itself more easily while doing this). They can be downloaded from the site or via iTunes where screencastonline has become a popular podcast. Screencastonline has also many other tutorials including Pages, Keynote, Garageband, DevonAgent, and many Mac basics. You can get the lower resolution versions for FREE! With a small subscription Screencastonline offers additional tutorials, higher res (HD and ED) versions, a free DVD sent anywhere with many of the key tutorials on, and lots of other benefits.

If Don has done a screencast on an application I'm about to start using, I wouldn't consider doing it until I've watched the screencast first - it would massively speed up my learning the application. For beginners, the benefits would be immense. I'm sure Don has put a lot of effort into these, and I hope its a real success.

Now the tip I mentioned above. If you're interested in RapidWeaver, then do yourself a favour: watch the 3 ScreenCastOnline tutorials (and perhaps even the extra one on the Plugin). At the end you will see a code that is valid for a 15% discount on RapidWeaver. Make sure you watch the 3rd edition as the code changed. But I found that code still valid on 7th June. I think Don may get a little benefit from it, and I'm sure the RealMac guys would appreciate a user that will get more out of the software straight away even if they do lose a few pounds from the sale.

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