Sunday, May 06, 2007

MacHeist, what hath you wrought?

I’ve pretty much been a DreamWeaver web developer since the meager beginnings of a few static pages I put up for myself and a couple of non-profits I work with. I’ve never really had the time to delve deeply into web development, I do too many other things besides that. The web development I had done years ago stemmed from the need to put some information online that we were publishing in physical form, newsletter content & event calendars.

The pages looked fine. Not cutting edge, they didn’t need to be. Clean, crisp, usable. I periodically looked for simpler software to use that would still give me WYSIWYG (mostly). Nothing really managed to give me as much flexibility as I’d like with enough WYSIWYG to be useful. Adobe brought out an HTML editing app, and I can’t actually remember the name of it as I never used it. Some touted it to be the “DreamWeaver Killer”. Hmmm, then Adobe ended up buying Macromedia, so much for dethroning DreamWeaver. Market share and product popularity do count for something (which can be a hard thing for 22 year Mac user to admit ;-).

Then a new generation of applications came about. RapidWeaver, Sandvox, CoffeeCup, etc. There is a wonderful comparison section on the Wikipedia page for HTML Editors. I confess, I tried RapidWeaver in the very early stages when it was made available and I just didn’t get it. I was too steeped in DreamWeaver and too confused by something that was trying to be an easier editor.

Enter MacHeist. A friend of a friend invited me to participate. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. I had a great time solving the puzzles, completing heists, “earning” free shareware apps. Then came the Bundle. For a ridiculously reduced we got an interesting selection of full licenses for 10 applications, including RapidWeaver.

Wow, RapidWeaver has developed into a wonderfully useful editor. Version 3.5 is proving to be a flexible and much more powerful version than the early iterations I had tried. I still have DreamWeaver if I need it but I’m currently in the process of revamping all but one site I work on and using RapidWeaver to do that. Seems some people are chomping at the bit for v3.6 but I’m quite happy getting used to 3.5.

Btw, part of the discussion that happened in the MacHeist forums was centered on the “if you discount like this people will only look for discounts” vs. “if we sell some useful apps at a really great price we may get some lifelong users who pay for upgrades”. I’m now firmly in the second camp (I was leaning there to begin with). In addition, with an application like RapidWeaver they didn’t take into account all the other small developers that would benefit from getting such a modularly expandable app into people’s hands. I’ve just plunked down for plug-ins & templates to extend the usability of the app and mostly at the full price the developer has them listed for.

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