RapidWeaver 5.0: TUAW exclusive first look and promo code giveaway

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RapidWeaver 5.0: TUAW exclusive first look and promo code giveaway

RapidWeaver, the easy-to-use and incredibly powerful website creation tool from Realmac Software, has just been updated to version 5.0. I had a sneak peek at the Mac OS X app earlier this week, and I'd like to share the experience with you.

From what I've seen in a few days of working with the application, a lot of RapidWeaver has undergone a complete rewrite. For example, the resource system that manages website resources like PDFs, images and ZIP archives was previously available only for individual pages. Now, they're available in a sidebar alongside of pages for easy access. It's a simple drag and drop operation to add resources, whether they're images, movies or sound files. There's a QuickLook button for seeing those resources close up as well.

RapidWeaver 5 has new sitemap plug-ins that generate HTML sitemaps for projects, as well as an XML sitemap that details every page in a project. The XML sitemap is submitted to the appropriate search engines when a site is published.

Realmac has added six new themes to the built-in theme library, bringing the total number of included themes up to 47. Of course, there are many more themes available from third-party developers. Realmac has also consolidated themes that are applied to a RapidWeaver project, and those themes can optionally be compressed for faster loading of sites.

I had access to a pre-release build of RapidWeaver 5.0 and found the new app to be noticeably faster than the previous version. One of the big changes that I really appreciated was the addition of an "Addons" button, which takes you to a newly-redesigned RapidWeaver Addon page. Addons are plug-ins that add functionality and value to your RapidWeaver site, and are part of the reason that the tool has become so popular. Addons are nothing new to RapidWeaver, but the new page makes it easier to browse for new features as well as keep the existing ones updated. There's now a centralized update checker that makes that process a snap.

When you launch RapidWeaver, you can have the option of showing the new Projects window (see graphic at the top of this post). It gives you large, self-explanatory buttons for creating a new project, looking at the Addon store or viewing RapidWeaver video tutorials. All of your recent work is highlighted in the right side of the window, and a site can be loaded with a single click.

The old UI for RapidWeaver always seemed quite stark to me; the new one is easier on the eyes. In the blog editor, for example, there's a nice big formatting toolbar at the bottom of the page that's a vast improvement over the old one (see illustration below for comparison).

That's just one example, but there are a lot of UI changes that were definitely needed. There's a new and sorely-needed toggle switch on the bottom of the RapidWeaver screen for jumping back and forth between edit and preview modes with a click of the mouse. It's large, it makes sense and it's in a location where I can see it, not in the top toolbar where it used to reside. You can still use the old keyboard shortcut Command+R to toggle the modes.

Switching between a number of FTP servers is easy now, using FTP bookmarks. The bookmarks include all of the FTP credentials, and passwords are stored in the Mac keychain.

New purchasers can pick up a RapidWeaver 5.0 single user license on the Realmac site for US$79, while owners of previous versions can upgrade for $39. If you purchased a license on or after November 1, 2010, you're eligible for a free upgrade. Details on the free upgrade will be forthcoming on Realmac's site today.

To celebrate the release of RapidWeaver 5.0, Realmac Software and TUAW are hosting a giveaway of 10 licenses for the software. Entering is easy -- just leave a comment below telling us what kind of website you'd like to design and publish with RapidWeaver 5.0. We'll pick 10 winners at random to receive the licenses from Realmac.

Here are the official rules:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, leave a comment telling us what kind of website you'd like to design and publish with RapidWeaver 5.0.
  • The comment must be left before midnight on Monday, December 6, 2010, 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Ten winners will be selected. All will receive one license code for RapidWeaver 5.0, valued at US$79.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

Good luck!

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