A First Look at iWeb 2.0

I loaded up iLife ‘08 this week and immediately decided to check out the new features of iWeb to do some much needed updating to my personal web site. The first thing that I did was to take advantage of personal domain names which allows you to use a different URL than the standard www.web.mac.com/yourwebsite. I happened to own www.donmayer.org so I thought that would be a good one to use. You need a .Mac account to do this (much of iWeb is so much easier with a .Mac account!) but by selecting the “Set up Personal Domain” under the file menu of iWeb you are brought to .Mac where you enter the domain you wish to use. You must already be the owner of that domain. You can check ownership and register domain names at many locations but not at .Mac. Here’s one such service from IntuitiveISP:

http://domains.intuitiveisp.com/

Once you have your domain name you need to go to your registrar’s website and define web.mac.com as the “www” CNAME (alias) for your domain. This may cost you $10 a year and you many need to contact your registrar to get that set up but once it is set up your iWeb website will be easily accessed by the new more appropriate and memorable URL. So, instead of “www.web.mac.com/donmayer” my new website address is now www.donmayer.org.

That taken care of, I wanted to investigate the new features of iWeb. One of the first things I wanted to do was figure out a way to better organize the photo pages on my web site. I had used iWeb to share pictures of my trip to Hawaii and ended up with eight entries in my index for those pages. That made my navigation menu very busy and cluttered. iWeb now has a couple of new ways to deal with photos. The first is “Albums”. Each of the iWeb themes now has a “My Albums” page template. You can use the My Albums template to create a pictorial index for your photo and movie albums. On the My Albums index page, visitors can click a thumbnail or poster frame to go to the album or movie. You can add animations that visitors see when the pointer moves over an album.
iWeb treats your Photos pages as albums because they are collections of pictures or other images. Photos pages and Movie pages added to a My Albums index page are not shown in the website’s navigation menu; visitors click the My Albums link to see your index page. You can also drag Albums created in iPhoto to a My Albums page and a new photo page will be created automatically as well as the reference from the My Albums page. Be sure you edit that new page to get rid of the “Ipsum lorem” placeholders. You can place up to 99 albums on a page, and you can create as many My Albums pages as you’d like.

iWeb now also has enhanced photo pages that will support up to 500 photos, creating an automatic album with pagination. You can rearrange photos, add captions, and link to a slideshow with customizable transitions. A photo detail view allows your visitors to select photos from a thumbnail strip and see them in full resolution. You can also allow visitors to attach comments to your photos.

The other method of referencing photos or movies is to use the new .Mac feature – Web Galleries. Web Gallery is a new .Mac feature that lets you share photos and movies on the web, in full quality. To publish photos, first make sure your .Mac account is set up in System Preferences. Next, update your version of iPhoto ‘08 to 7.0.1 by choosing Software Update from the Apple menu and following the prompts to install. After installation, open iPhoto, select an album or event, and click the Web Gallery icon at the bottom of the window. Specify whether your photos will be viewable by everyone, selected visitors, or just you.

You can also allow visitors to download your photos. And you can let them upload their own – even via email or mobile phone. Once you’ve selected your options, click Publish. The URL for your Web Gallery will appear above the published photos, and the album will be listed under Web Gallery in the left-hand column, however, since you are going to use them on iWeb the next step is to decide where on your web site you would like the Web Gallery to appear. By selecting .Mac Web Gallery under the Insert menu or clicking on the Web Widgets icon in the toolbar, you can select any of your Web Galleries to include on your page. Then your family and friends can view, download or add photos to that gallery (access is controlled via the Web Gallery set-up preference when creating the gallery from iPhoto or iMovie.

Speaking of Web Widgets, this new feature allows you to add live content from other websites — like videos, stock tickers, and news headlines — directly into your web pages. I added the youTube video of the pet hippo, Jessica, to my web site. You should definitely check it out, first I have ever seen a pet hippo and if it wasn’t for the fact that I live in the north country in the mountains not anywhere near a river, I’d HAVE to have a pet hippo! The Web Widgets are virtually the same as the desktop Widget that Steve Jobs showed as part of Leopard.

iWeb will also let you add Google Maps and Google Adsense to your web site.

There are new themes and I switched from FreeStyle to BeBop and it took only a short time to completely change the look of my web site. Not only that, you are no longer locked into a single theme, you can mix and match themes within your site, too.

Now, a warning is necessary. Please back up your iWeb web sites and the “domain” file before you upgrade to iWeb 2.0. I ran into a problem that I found was shared by several others that had upgraded. Somehow the Domain file, which is a package file that contains your web site, was corrupted and even though I was able to manipulate my web site in iWeb and make the changes I wanted, iWeb would crash hard whenever I asked it to publish to .Mac. I was able to publish to a folder on my drive easily, however, in order to publish my changes automatically I am going to need to re-create my pages. I manually uploaded my site to my iDisk on .Mac to make sure my site was operational but now I have a few hours of work to recreate my web site. Luckily, I have learned the back-up lesson the HARD WAY and am constantly making back-ups. Are you? Some folks have had no problems making the upgrade but Apple discussion boards are full of folks having problems similar to mine, without any real solution. There are plenty of reasons to upgrade to iWeb 2.0 and once you have a back-up you should be in good shape, however please back up your work!

Check out my quick web site at www.donmayer.org and let me know what you think (be sure to check out Jessica, the hippo and my once in a lifetime night dive with Manta Rays). I promise I’ll start blogging again – I’ve been concentrating on getting all of my soapboxes up in the blog and I think I’m mostly up to date.

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iWeb Update
By Don@Smalldog.com

Apple has released iWeb 2.0.1, which they say addresses issues with upgrading and publishing iWeb 1.x websites! Now, don’t ignore my warnings to back-up your work but this update completely solved the publishing problem that I was having. I published my web site this morning and everything worked as it was supposed to work and www.donmayer.org is now up and running.

Apple must have gotten an advance copy of Kibbles & Bytes – I’m gonna catch that mole in my organization! Seriously, though, it is great that Apple is this responsive to what was clearly a bug in the initial release of iWeb 2.0.

Here’s the link to download this important update to iWeb 2.0:

http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/iweb201.html

While I was working on this problem I found another handy utility for iWeb. One of the frustrating things about iWeb is that if you have more than one site, iWeb forces you to publish all sites when you publish rather than just the site upon which you may have made changes. Multisite for iWeb solves this problem by allowing you to choose which site to work on in iWeb and only that site is opened and thus, needs to be published. Multisite for iWeb has been updated for iWeb 2.0 and I have used it and it works great! It is a shareware program with a free 30-day trial. If you like it, please buy it from the publisher for $19.95 to help support the independent software developers! Download it here:

http://www.clarkwood.com/multisite/

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