Thursday, 1 November 2007


So...6 weeks and counting but no website.

Unbelievably it's now only six weeks until we leave for South America and there are still dozens of things that need to be done. The last couple of days I have been looking into the website options and have settled on RapidWeaver. A couple of months ago I started looking and took the option to ask Sarah to buy a copy of Dreamweaver whilst she was eligible for an educational license. However, I severely underestimated the level of HTML, PSP and ASP coding knowledge that was required. I certainly won't rule out using it in the future, but given how much there still is to do I needed to look for a more user friendly and accessible tool that would provide the right balance between simplicity in the user interface and workflow and a good look and feel. One other pre-requisite was the ability to update content remotely and have a dedicated URL (without the accompanying Wordpress or Blogspot addition).

The simplest option would have been to continue to use my randomride blog at Blogger. You certainly can't fault Blogger for it simplicity and Workflow. It also has the benefit of accessibility pretty much anywhere. However, on the downside, you can't host it on your own URL and webserver and there is little flexibility over structure and look and feel. So the next port of call was Wordpress. I downloaded the most recent version of Wordpress and purchased a URL and hosting package with Heart Internet. With a little help from the Wordpress support group I got the Wordpress package installed on the website. This should have been a doddle, however, the content management system that allows for remote updates required an upload to a mySQL server...this one was beyond me.

With Wordpress up and running I began to play with the look and feel but ended up frustrated by the relative complexity of the updates that were required to get the right look and feel. None of the the themes that were supplied or available from third parties really did it for me and I wanted to update elements of the template. Unfortunately that next step required another level of coding and HTML & CSS knowledge. Even something as simple as changing the header picture became a battle with the syntax. It felt like 1985 all over again...tapping at the Acorn Electron...10 go to 20...

So the next option had to be something more powerful and flexible than Wordpress but more user friendly than Dreamweaver. That was when I came across RapidWeaver. This software bears remarkable similarity to iWeb but is more powerful and flexible. There are multiple themes to choose from and plug-ins that allow increased functionality. Over the last couple of evenings I have just started to get the hang of the workflow after watching a series of Screencasts from Screencasts Online. These give a great introduction to the how to and will give most of the information that is needed to build a basic site. I now have a great looking theme and can begin bulding something that is fit for purpose for the trip. The one concern that remains is the ability, or otherwise, to update content and manage content remotely. I am hoping that a plug-in called RapidBlog is going to save the day but I still have a little way to go before I can say categorically that it will work. Still, luckily I have six weeks to figure it out.

This weekend, Sarah and I are heading up to Tunbridge Wells to visit my Godaughter. It's been a few weeks since I last saw her...can't wait.

More on the blogging complexities later...and hopefully some more content on the website front.

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