Alternatives to MobileMe for iWeb Sites
After Apple’s recent confirmation of the worst fears of iWeb users – that the hosting of iWeb sites as part of MobileMe will disappear on 30 June 2012 (see “Apple Details Transition from MobileMe to iCloud,” 24 June 2011), many readers of my “Take Control of iWeb ’09” ebook contacted me to find out where they should move their sites. There are a couple of options, depending on how serious your site is, and whether or not you have a custom domain.
Sites with Custom Domains — For anyone with a unique (non-MobileMe) domain name or with a high-traffic Web site, my recommendation is to bite the bullet and sign up for a paid Web hosting account with a known hosting provider. The Web hosting provider you select is up to you, but some of the better-known hosts include DreamHost, Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy. Prices start around $5 per month.
Once your new host has provided you with login information, launch iWeb and select your Web site in the sidebar to reveal the Site Publishing Settings for that site. You’ll need to enter the site name, your contact email address, and information (server address, user name, password, and initial path) for the FTP server associated with your site.
Provide the site URL (which is used to set up links and RSS feeds) and decide whether or not you’d like to update your Facebook account each time you publish your site, and click Test Connection to make sure that all of your settings are correct. If they are, you’re ready to publish your iWeb site to the new host with a click of the Publish Site button.
You’ll also need to repoint your custom domain appropriately; contact tech support at your new hosting company if you need help doing that.
Sites in the MobileMe Domain — If you’ve been happy with a MobileMe URL like
http://web.me.com/stevensande and don’t have significant traffic to your site, then a free hosting solution is probably all you need. The easiest is cloud storage provider Dropbox, which offers free 2 GB accounts that provide plenty of storage space for all but the largest iWeb sites. Follow along for a short tutorial on how to set up Dropbox and iWeb to host your iWeb sites.
One caveat: Although the suggestion for Web site hosting comes directly from the Dropbox wiki, the service is not intended for “production” Web hosting. A few personal pages or a testing site shouldn’t cause you any grief, but Dropbox does reserve the right to turn off your public links if the system detects unusual levels of bandwidth consumption.
- To begin with, you must have a Dropbox account. If you don’t have one, go to Dropbox’s home page and download the Dropbox software, install it, and set up your account. I also suggest watching the video on the Dropbox home page to understand the concept behind the application and service.
(In essence, Dropbox mirrors the contents of the Dropbox folder in your home folder to the Dropbox servers, and syncs all changes to files in that folder up to Dropbox’s servers, and then down to all your other devices. If you share a folder with other people, their copies of documents in that shared folder are synchronized on every save as well.)
- Once you’ve installed the Dropbox software and have familiarized yourself with it, you’re ready to roll. In the Finder, open your Dropbox folder and notice that Dropbox has created some folders for you, including Public. Open Public and create a new folder inside it to hold your site. You can name it anything you want. For this example, I named mine “web”.
Open iWeb and select your Web site in the sidebar to reveal the Site Publishing Settings.
Choose Local Folder from the Publish To pop-up menu.
Enter the name for your site and your contact email address, and then click Choose Folder Location.
Navigate to the folder that you created in Step 2, then click Choose:
For now, that’s it. If your Web site is ready to publish, click the Publish Site button at the bottom of the iWeb window. This will publish the site files to the
~/Dropbox/Public/webfolder. Within a few seconds or minutes, depending on your connection speed and the size of your site, those files are synced to your Dropbox account “in the cloud.”
Back in the Finder, navigate to the
~/Dropbox/Public/webfolder, and inside it you’ll see an
index.htmlfile. Control-click that file and from the hierarchical Dropbox menu in the pop-up menu that appears, choose Copy Public Link to put the link in the Clipboard. That’s the URL at which your Web site can be reached, and you can send it to friends or clients to show them the site.
One more step! To make sure all your links work properly, go back to the Site Publishing Settings in iWeb for your site. See that big, empty space where it says Website URL? Paste the URL that you copied in Step 8 into that field and then delete the
index.htmlat the end of the URL. That address is the root URL for your new site. Click Publish Site again to republish your site, then go admire your handiwork by pasting the previously copied link into your Web browser.
While I didn’t have time to check all of the widgets and features that are part of iWeb ’09, all of those I was using on my sample site, including Countdown Timer and HTML Snippets, worked perfectly when served via Dropbox. Any feature that uses a server-side capability specific to MobileMe will not work, so be sure to test your site functionality on Dropbox before sending out the URL.
[Steve Sande is Features Editor for The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW.com) and the author of “Take Control of iWeb ’09.” His other titles include “Taking Your iPad 2 to the Max,” “Taking Your iPhone 4 to the Max,” and the upcoming “Taking Your Mac OS X Lion to the Max,” all from Apress.]
I would add MacHighway.com, which is a hosting provider that specializes in Mac usesr and Mac hosting (and runs their office on Macs). I have no connection other than I know them.
2nd on MacHighway. 'Tis where my iWeb site has been for quite a while.
Me too. Two sites, two years, no problems whatsoever.
Thanks. Do any of the hosts besides Dropbox support drag and drop? (My small web is edited on my computer and then uploaded.)
They'll all support FTP, so the trick is simply to use FTP software like Transmit, Fetch, or Interarchy that provide drag-and-drop (or, better yet, synchronization) support.
Not interested in FTP anymore! But synchronization like Dropbox is even better than drag and drop.
Don't confuse the user interface with the transfer protocol - Transmit, for instance, can make a Mac "disk" that maps to a remote FTP directory, so all you have to do is save your site to that disk.
I wish to share this information with all of my Mac-using students as soon as possible. Thank you for sharing this information with us.
Thank you for this. However, a bigger concern for me and some of my clients is finding a replacement for iWeb itself. I know it will continue to work for quite sometime, but since it's no longer being developed, it can't keep up with ever evolving web features. I would love a recommendation for a freestanding piece of software that's a true alternative to iWeb.
I'd recommend looking at Karelia's Sandvox. They just released a major upgrade and have a discount and transition guide for iWeb users. I haven't used it personally, but it sounds as though it's in the same class as iWeb (as opposed to, say, Dreamweaver).
Very useful on the Dropbox, but I can't seem to get iWeb to use the Base URL for my links in the pages, if I set it to 'one of my pages', it insists on using http://web.me.com/davidferrington in the front of all the hrefs!
someone got this to work?
Ignore that - stupid here forgot that the pages were in a different site, which I hadn't changed to Dropbox - now all works like a charm.
Thanks for the very useful info.
iWeb/MobileMe made it possible to require a password to view the web site. Is there a simple alternative that has this feature?
I don't, offhand. That's generally a server-side feature, so it would be something to ask of Web hosting companies.
I installed Drop Box and was later surprised to find Growl on my Mac. Downloading software is a trust, I trust the programer to do what he says he will do -- install the program he described, AND NOTHING MORE! If I find strange apps after downloading, i wonder what else was installed that i haven't found yet. Should I run a virus test? Worry about other malware? I lost trust in Drop Box then and recent questions about security have not improved my opinion of the company. For these reasons I will NOT use Drop Box as a replacement for Mobile Me Gallery. How about more suggestions? Thanks.
Growl is absolutely not malware. It's open-source software that a very large number of applications use for notifications rather than writing their own. Ideally, installers should require the user to approve the installation of Growl explicitly, since it is separate software, but it really isn't anything to worry about.
As a replacement for MobileMe Gallery, it probably makes the most sense to rely on a photo-specific site, like Flickr or SmugMug.
Wonder why author omitted MacHighway?
Great way to start the year! I am ahead of one train wreck, anyway.
When Apple abandons its iWeb program in June, I have found my replacement. ... Stand by, I'll tell you, but let me get this off my chest.
Back to Apple.
A few years ago, they (and I mean the late Mr Jobs, especially) touted iWeb as the website builder for the rest of us. And they were right! Small businesses as well as regular folks who want or needed a website could build one pretty darn simply. And no worries about hosting and FTP issues - just pay the $99 a year for MobileMe hosting, integrated into iWeb.
But, sadly, it soon all comes to an end, in favor of new "Cloud" advances, and I was wondering what recourse I had. I've owned a website for my business for years. I designed it, but it was handled by my webmaster, and every time I needed a change or update, I had to bother him with it. That's why, when iWeb was introduced a few years ago, I jumped at the chance to manage my website myself. If I need to post a new demo, or announce a new audiobook I've recorded, I can log in from anywhere and post anything I need right to my site.
I actually had in place a kind of portal "landing page" at charlieglaize.com, and when you clicked on a "Go here" button, you were taken to my iWeb-developed site that I controlled.
I have been looking for a web-based website builder to replace iWeb and have tried Blogger, WordPress, Google sites, but none seemed to offer the ease of use as "devhub".
That;s right - http://www.devhub.com/.
It is an obscure choice, I know, but as I began to experiment, before long I ended up rebuilding my entire website.
Also, it's free.
It's not only great for a business, but if, perhaps, you're having a family reunion or want a website for a group you belong to - whatever - you can design a site for yourself in just a few minutes, with no costs or hosting issues.
Best news for me is that my web guy says I can just integrate my new site with the PowWeb host I now use. No need for a portal page, and whenever anyone goes to www.charlieglaize.com, they get re-directed in a split second to the Devhub site I've developed.
Build your own free stie, or start a blog - with Devdub.
I have used MacHighway for years, they are great. Both my accounts with them are pretty full.
My iWeb albums are very picture heavy, and I might use a picture site such as www.pbase.com for this.
I have 3 pbase sites and they are very very good too.
Sad that Apple is dumping what was pretty nice, Ive used it from the beginning, then it morphed into iWeb, MobileMe and so forth. Ive some web.me sites too. Too bad they didnt stick around, but pbase did and MacHighway(though they changed their name). So the best thing is to go with them. How do we know that iCloud will be around in a few years and we would have to go thru this whole moving process over again?
So I will take your advice and go with a picture site or add to my MacHighway sites.
Thank you all for your help!