Last week's article, "iWeb 1.1 Takes on the Competition", apparently hit a nerve with TidBITS readers. Not only did I receive a number of email messages from readers who told me about their favorite easy-to-use Web page editing applications, but a spirited discussion appeared in TidBITS Talk as well.
Several readers pointed out one serious shortcoming of iWeb 1.1 that wasn't listed in the article - the inability to insert and edit tables. While this shouldn't affect iWeb's target audience frequently, it is a glaring omission for those who wish to use iWeb to develop and maintain small business Web sites.
Another pet peeve shared by many readers is iWeb's inability to open existing Web sites. Many beginning designers like to emulate the design of popular sites, and there's no better way to do this than download the site into an editor and customize it.
Much of the TidBITS Talk discussion was targeted at the poorly generated HTML code that iWeb creates. iWeb's lack of compliance with Web standards means that sites created with the tool may not render properly in all Web browsers, so many readers feel that Apple should focus attention on this subject before the release of iWeb 2.0.
In terms of competition to iWeb, readers mentioned a host of other applications:
Freeway 4 Express. Probably the most powerful of the easy-to-use Web development tools, Freeway Express generates clean HTML, includes a tool that links with Mal's E-Commerce Suite for simple store setup, and has a clear upgrade path to the Freeway 4 Pro professional version.
Goldfish. Similar to RapidWeaver in many respects, the shareware Goldfish is a powerful tool in a simple package. It enables insertion of HTML for that extra bit of customization you might want to add.
Macromedia Contribute. This tool is designed to let corporate users edit content on sites designed by pros using its companion application, Dreamweaver. Contribute can download existing sites for editing and can export HTML to a text editor from within the application for quick customization.
Nvu. While this open source application isn't really in the same category of simple Web design tools as iWeb, many readers felt that the price (free) was right, and that it is both easy enough for beginners and has a large enough feature set for professionals.
PageSpinner. A powerful HTML editor that isn't a WYSIWYG Web page design tool, PageSpinner features a live preview mode to reflect changes made in HTML or CSS associated with a page.
ShutterBug. Primarily a tool for creating online galleries (hence the name), ShutterBug offers a number of Web page themes and a simple interface.
WordPress. Straying a bit from the category of Web page editor, this MySQL/PHP-based online blogging tool offers hundreds of themes and extensions that provide many of the same capabilities of iWeb, including photo galleries and podcasts.
I plan to dig more deeply into the inner workings of these iWeb competitors soon. My sincere thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the previous article.