Poll: What is your favorite website creation tool?

What are your favorite web site creation tools?

  • DreamWeaver
  • Freeway Express or Pro
  • RapidWeaver
  • Sandvox
  • iWeb
  • Goldfish
  • ShutterBug
  • Flux
  • Coda
  • Something else

0 voters

and why?

Just taking an informal poll/survey.

Thanks for participating!


It seems to me there are roughly three generations of website creation tools on the Mac:

If the 1st generation was text editors requiring coding skills, like SubEthaEdit, CSSEdit, Coda, BBEdit, Taco HTML Edit and the like; and the 2nd generation was the now Carbon WYSIWYG graphics apps like Dreamweaver, the now defunct Adobe GoLive, and the thriving and capable Mac-only Freeway Express and Pro requiring graphic arts skills; the 3rd generation of website tools are the ridiculously easy template-driven apps like RapidWeaver, Sandvox, iWeb, and Goldfish.

RapidWeaver, Sandvox, & iWeb are Cocoa apps offering full integration with OS X while Goldfish is Carbon and also runs on the inferior platform that most people still use. Apple’s iWeb is probably the easiest to use and the quickest but also the least powerful and flexible of the group. It has at least three major drawbacks: it doesn’t produce standards-compliant code, it uses PNG graphics for it’s pages so that the search engines can’t read or search the text so it doesn’t rank high in search results, and it’s a closed system with no 3rd party extensions/plug-ins to extend it’s already limited functionality. It’s really meant for personal web pages esp. if you host them on .Mac or .Me or whatever they’re calling it now.

RapidWeaver is the pioneer 3rd generation Cocoa template-driven website creation tool. Sandvox was the second and has some structural advantages over RapidWeaver in my opinion including a WYSIWYG approach. A significant advantage RapidWeaver and Sandvox have over iWeb is that they produce standards-compliant code which loads faster in viewers’ browsers. Their text can also be read and found by search engines like Google while iWeb’s can’t. They also have open architectures and APIs for third party plug-ins to extend functionality as well as templates produced by third party designers in addition to the ones provided in the apps.

I started with Apple’s iWeb '06 and put together a nice site in about a week. But the '08 version didn’t let me use the site created in ‘06. The pages also take forever to load and can’t be found by the search engines so my search engine rankings are low. So I’m trying RapidWeaver since they pioneered this software genre, have an open architecture with over 20 plug-ins and over 100 templates available from 3rd party developers, have an active users’ forum, are endorsed by MacUpdate, have the best user reviews and Mac press reviews for this genre, and have many happy customers.

I’m also looking at Sandvox which is very promising and also has an open architecture altho very few 3rd party plug-ins and templates at the moment. Both are good but RapidWeaver and it’s ecosystem of third party developers makes it much more powerful and flexible than Sandvox.

Flux also looks like a really interesting up-and-comer using all the latest Web 2.0 technologies but it’s learning curve is pretty daunting. It’s not as user friendly as the template-driven apps.


Heh. My “generation” isn’t even represented in this list. I create, maintain, and develop applications for web pages as my “money job” and I wouldn’t touch a site with anything other than a raw text editor. I have used CSSEdit a good deal, but only for its analytic and real-time development tools. I still type into it like a regular text editor. Tool of choice? Vim. TextMate I will also use; but I like keeping my Vim skills sharp, because that tends to run directly on the web servers themselves. So when you need to make an emergency edit through the shell connexion to the site, you can do so with efficiency. People using DreamWeaver and sitting around waiting for its FTP sync function are always amazed when I have a problem analysed and solved before they even walk out of my office. Drawback, you tend to litter TextMate with a profusion of 'jjjjjjjjj’s and 'kkkk’s.

Why? Coding by hand means your site files make sense. You control indenting, class and id naming, container philosophies and so forth. You can do much of this with DreamWeaver, but I have found that usage of DreamWeaver tends to promote bad habits since its users rarely if ever look at code. Why bother with clear semantic containment and clearly labelled anchors when you never mess with that layer? All well and good until something blows up and you have to ask the resident HTML guru to fix it. And if you know what you are doing, I think it is just as fast to type in the codes than to sit around all day grasping at widgets in DreamWeaver.

But okay, for someone that doesn’t do this for a living, having code riddled with such horrors as

, or even worse a file that is half HTML 4 and half XHTML, really isn’t high on the list of priorities. I would recommend tools that are more restrictive and less flexible, like RapidWeaver. Let the application keep your site code clean and standards complaint. Flexible applications like DreamWeaver in the hands of people that barely know HTML is a recipe for a royal mess that some designer like me is going to have to sit there for weeks trying to unravel one day. At least RapidWeaver makes a clean site. Don’t get me started on iWeb though. Ugh. Do not use iWeb for anything. Ever. Bad Apple!

Sorry 'bout that Amber! As you know, the poll tool has a limit of 10 items and I figured hard-core professional coders already know what tools they like and use, so I just put the main options out there for “the rest of us” that do the code for you, altho I did include Coda and Flux which are two up and coming coding tools that look promising.

I’m big on standards too, so that’s why I prefer RapidWeaver and Sandvox web 2.0 apps that put out valid code automatically over the other WYSIWYG apps that don’t automatically output valid code. I agree with what you say about iWeb which is why I’ve moved on to RapidWeaver. I hear good things about the code that Sandvox creates too, in fact I think it was the first template-driven tool to guarantee valid XHTML and CSS code altho RapidWeaver now does that too. I think Sandvox has great potential as it’s just a 1.x app at the moment. These two are the ones to watch IMHO. These two, tho they’re template-driven apps, do allow you to access the code and add hand code if/when you need too, unlike Freeway which does not even let you access the code or edit it.

I suppose the thing I like about this approach the most is that the tool does the code/form for you so you can focus on the content/substance of your site, allowing you to be your own webmaster rather than having to hire one; the tool does most of the grunge work of a webmaster altho you still have to do the SEO work.

In the list, I miss the probably most widely used website creation tool: Joomla!

I’m not quite as hardcore as Amber, but I am an old-school hand-coder. My first site was written in SimpleText, then I moved on to BBEdit, then - with the move to OSX - to TextEdit and SubEthaEdit.

I now use Coda, because it combines the three apps I already used - SubEthaEdit, Transmit and Safari - into one. I also love that Coda will work off a local LAMP/MAMP server, so I can preview php includes and the like without having to upload dummy directories and stuff. Not to mention a host of other timesavers and conveniences. Bliss.

But yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever move away from hand coding. I still shudder at the nightmares that DreamWeaver used to give the website editor of an early Internet mag I worked for.

I’ll have to check out Coda again. I looked at it briefly when it was first released, and it looked snazzy, but I was hesitant to replace all of my favourite editors and FTP client with a program that is trying to do all of that at once. I was impressed with the fact that it was targeting my demographic so well, I’m just rather already attached to a bunch of really quality softwares. But, I shall look at it again.

I was checking out the Joomla site and was impressed that Harvard University, the U.N., and Citibank all use it for their sites. And it’s free open source!

What are the tools like on a Mac and does it produce standards-compliant code?

Amber: I only recently took the plunge myself. Coda 1.0 was, well, a 1.0 and I did the same; tried it out, wasn’t bowled over (by the concept, yes, but not the result) and went back to my old methods.

But I follow Panic news anyway, and when they announced 1.5, with a whole raft of fixes and improvements, I figured I should give it another try. It’s more like a 2.0 or, if you’re feeling less charitable, what 1.0 should have been. Been using it for a month now, and I love it.

I have to redo my website completely — I managed to lose it when we changed IP, though I think I have a basic copy on the original hard disk from my last laptop but one, which is sitting in a drawer in my desk! — and so thought about what to use. The original site was done in GoLive! which I was happy using as it gave me the ability to use the WYSIWIG interface, but also made it easy to go into the code if I wanted to.

But GoLIve! won’t run under Leopard, so I’ve been looking for an alternative. I picked up Rapid Weaver when it was on offer somewhere, and I like it, but I’ve found that it can be either limiting in terms of what is built into the template you choose, or else it’s probably going to require a lot of hand-tweaking. GoLive! was more flexible. I’m thinking in terms of image placement and flowing text round images. But I haven’t worked with Rapid Weaver enough yet to work out how to do all I want.

On the other hand, my wife, through work she was involved in, recommended that I take a look at Joomla, so I downloaded it. I loved the concept, and think I would have got on well with it, but a full CMS like Joomla would be overkill for what I need and it would have required upgrading my web space account with my IP, not only to a much bigger space, but also to include MySQL access, and that would have cost much more.

So it looks like I’m going to be going for Rapid Weaver as I’ve already got it, looking for a template I like and for which I won’t have to find my way round too many limitations. Either that, or always keep an external disk around that I can boot into 10.4.11 from and run GoLive! from that.

Anyway, Joomla seems to me to be a great solution if you want a full CMS, and Rapid Weaver seems pretty good otherwise.


Not to get into the CMS battle between the two but if you test Joomla also check out Drupal. I recently build a site with it and it works very well, especially in combination with the Zen starting theme which is entirely CSS based. I found using this in combination with CSSEdit extremely useful for determining which style sheets influence specific elements (lot of options in Drupal) and testing out changes before uploading via Transmit. Drupal also has good support forums.

End of promo :wink:

By the way, a nice simple editor is Smultron.


Coda without a doubt; it’s like Xcode or Scrivener for web development. Beautiful inteface, generously priced, responsive and feature rich without being bloated.

I’ve been using it for several projects over the past couple weeks, and my analysis is the same as when I first looked at it as a 1.0: sure, it has everything I need in one spot, but it does none of it particularly well. The text editing features are passable, but offer nowhere near the power that Textmate gives me (particularly because the program has no auto-indenting; hello, when I hit enter after creating a div it’s not because I want to have the closing tag on the next line). The CSS editing is laughably bad (particularly since I’m used to CSSEdit’s awesome auto-completion). Preview’s x-ray is useless, particularly compared to compared to CSSEdit’s preview. Coda is a great example of the jack of all trades, master of none cliche.

That said, the project management is what has kept me using it since I decided to give it a serious trial. Being able to switch between sites and have my workspace, location in the remote/local servers, open documents, etc. all remembered is sheer bliss. Since I threw together some Applescripts to make Coda behave more like Textmate I’ve found it a lot more usable (still annoyed at the lack of indenting, but there you go). Coming from Textmate, I’ve also enjoyed the really well-implemented splits.

Right now I’m hoping that MacRabbit’s recently announced and terribly named Espresso will give me the core functionality from Coda that I’m loving but with a better, extensible editing environment. Time will tell.

Particularly if you’re using Vim for the majority of your editing, though, I suspect you’ll feel pretty limited by Coda.

I love Textmate - and I use it to theme my Drupal sites. (I can’t stand Joomla! - but I will say the back end looks pretty!)


Hi there,

as I am shopping for a new web dev environment right now, this thread is much appreciated. Thanks! :slight_smile:

In my Mac past, I hardly did any web stuff at all. Updating my home page once every three months or something … So I was quite happy with the Smultron / Cyberduck combo. And cursed my weak self-control regarding CSS when I tried to change the colour scheme of my web site. All I say is “What the hell is div.satan and why is it blue???”

Well, over the past few weeks / months, more and more projects have accumulated. Naturally, I was wondering whether there was a “better” alternative to what I used to, well, use. So I stumbled over Coda a couple of days ago, and liked it. At first glance.

Similar to George, I quickly grew fond of the project management stuff. Edit 15 files in 5 different folders, hit “publish all”, done. But also like George, I found the text and CSS editing somewhat … unfit for a $99 application. I mean, TextMate and CSSEdit together, combined with Cyberduck, costs about as much as Coda … Sure, no project management similar to Coda, but you actually have the best (specialised) tools to do the job.

Hence I’m waiting for Espresso in hope of it bringing all the CSSEdit goodness to the table, combined with strong text editing. That would be my dream application, methinks.

Or would it?

Point is, those integrated environments / Web IDEs seem to be focussing on single-window interfaces. Which is okay if you’re working a small screen, but well, I have an external display hooked up to my MacBook Pro. So I’d prefer to distribute the different aspects of web development amongst those two screens. Say, have the local preview permanently open in full size, with the Finder and the FTP client next to each other, while I code on the smaller screen or something …

How do you deal with it? Are you single-window people? Multi window people? With Scrivener and StoryMill, I don’t mind the (mostly) single-windowdness of the applications. I work in full screen mode 95% anyway. But with web development? Visuals and whatnot? Hmm.

Your feedback is much appreciated. :slight_smile:


P. S. Hi George! Great to see you here, too. :smiley:

Hi, Sascha!

I work with single windows per-program per-project. So in my standard setup, I’ll have my root project folder open in Textmate, with a CSSEdit window that has all the stylesheets and a preview in tabs (and Photoshop in the background, if I’m in the early stages).

I never maximize windows (that little green button is anathema to me). Even my browser window has space above and below it. This allows me to stack any projects or reference materials vertically. So for instance if I’m referring to a file from a past project in Textmate, I’ll have the current project’s window lower on the screen so I can quickly switch back and forth (if I need to reference them simultaneously I’ll usually resize them and put them side-by-side).

I find that having everything for a project gathered within a given program is helpful for keeping track of the files I’m working with, which keeps me on task and efficient. The main exception to this is for some projects where the files I’m editing are alternately at the very top of the directory structure, and buried extremely deep (was the case for a static HTML site plus shopping cart I did recently). Then I’ll sometimes have multiple Textmate projects open so I don’t have to go digging through sub-directories constantly.

A year ago I wanted to update my site that still had the feeling of Netscape Composer 4.x. I was looking for something that’s as easy to use as possibly, offers WYSIWYG and has simple blogging functionality. In the end I chose Sandvox and I’m still very pleased with the app.

After years of using DreamWeaver, I tried iWeb, then RapidWeaver, and now have settled with SandVox. Over the past weekend, I used it to refresh two sites and build a new one. With each effort I learn more and find it easier to use. Publishing is tricky: at my university site, the public_html folder is an alias, and SV can’t reach that. So I have to publish to a temp file and then move the updates via FTP. The so-called Rich Text pages are quite limited: haven’t learned yet how to make lists. At first the templates seemed too rigid, until I learned to turn on the Inspector and make all kinds of adjustments. The company offers a 1/3rd discount to educators, dropping the price for SandVox Pro to $53 US. They have been very responsive to my queries and the forum is helpful, too. If you want a good web site editor that accepts both code and wysiwyg input, I highly recommend SandVox.

You can also download a design tweaker which allows you to use your own graphics.


I haven’t done much html web publishing for a while opting for a simple CMS instead but a while back I picked up a copy of RAGE Webdesign

Thought I’d mention it as no one else has. Its not a WYSIWYG but allows pretty simple editing of code and previewing.