All things RapidWeaver 6

In case you didn't hear, RapidWeaver 6 has been released today. RapidWeaver hasn't had any major updates in two-and-something years, so this is definitely welcomed news by many and a very exciting update to see! It will be interesting to see how this update is received by the public and what further updates Realmac Software might decide to introduce over time. In the meantime, there are several things I want to talk about today in this blog post. Read More...
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An update on the updates!

Stack updates

Tonight (Tuesday 7th October) I’ve published updates for all the free and paid stacks available from Stacks4Stacks (excluding free demo versions). While slightly inconvenient, these updates have been required; in order to include new icon sizes and extra property list strings. Both are required for future versions of RapidWeaver.

The next time you launch Stacks in RapidWeaver, you may get lots of update notifications displayed. The updates are not essential in the short term, but within the next few weeks it is advisable to ensure all your Stacks4Stacks stack elements are up to date. This will ensure the best possible speed, stability and compatibility with future versions of RapidWeaver and Stacks going forwards.

If you have questions or problems with any of the updates, please contact me direct with the details. Undoubtedly the update servers will be working overtime during the next few days, so there may well be temporary outages from time to time!

It's taken me several days to get all these updates prepared and available to you. The choice to include these new icons and property strings was certainly not my own! However all add-on developers will be required to do the same thing over the coming weeks. It seemed sensible (in my eyes) to get these updates out into the public domain as quickly as possible.

These updates add no noticeable changes to the way the stacks look and function right now. The system requirements remain unchanged from before. These stacks will all function perfectly well under Stacks 2.6 and RapidWeaver 5.3; and I do not foresee those system requirements changing anytime soon.

Once again, if you're using stacks from Stacks4Stacks, please take a few minutes to leave comments about them on the StacksCenter website or the RapidWeaver forums. In order to keep our prices low (and free in many instances) we avoid paid advertising and pushy affiliate links. Instead we rely on word of mouth from people like yourself to share knowledge of our stacks and give honest recommendations. There are many other ways to contribute towards the project too and I'm extremely appreciative of everyone who has already made contributions.

Theme updates

Updates have also been prepared for ThemeFlood themes in recent weeks. These include updates to things like jQuery, Bootstrap, Font Awesome Icons and underlying frameworks like CoreKit and RAFT. In many instances brand new theme style and colour settings have been added to themes. Several themes have now gone mobile first; providing terrific performance and compatibility on many different devices. We've also added built-in support for other features like lightboxes and responsive video scaling. There are some really exciting new things in these updates.

These theme updates will get gradually released over the next couple of weeks. As always updates will be totally free of charge for all existing users. You will be able to get these latest versions using your original download links or by providing me with proof of purchase. Updates will be publicised in various places, including this blog, the RapidWeaver forums, Google+ and through my Twitter handle (links to these can be found in the sidebar on this webpage).

If you have any feature requests for these themes, please ensure they are with me before Friday 10th October 2014! All feature requests will be considered and as many as possible will get included, where feasible. Now is the ideal opportunity to provide your feedback and influence these updates.

There are a couple of brand new theme designs which have been completed and are ready for release. Details of these will follow shortly. My plan is to get all the updates for existing themes completed and distributed first. Feedback from the Beta testers about these new themes has been incredibly encouraging, so it may be wise to save your money until these new themes are available!

ThemeFlood website update

Alongside some page refreshes the theme user guide is going to be converted into a wiki. I've decided to go-down the wiki route, in order to make the user guide easier to manage, quicker to search, and more reliable to link to specific topics. It will also mean that other people (beyond myself) will be able to login and update it with new information or amendments. This will be important, as we begin to support multiple versions of RapidWeaver. Lots of additional topics will be added to the new support site; together with some new video content. It should prove to be a fantastic resource for many RapidWeaver users, of all abilities.
 
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Introducing the new Player stack

The ultimate HTML5 audio and video stack for RapidWeaver! Player has been designed and developed in collaboration with industry experts. This stack allows you to embed self-hosted audio or video files within your webpages. Player provides extensive options to customise the appearance and behaviour of your media player; especially important if you want an audio or video player to match an existing RapidWeaver theme or corporate branding.

Player stack

Completed Player stacks are fully responsive, search engine optimised and printer friendly. Lots of extra features are supported; like poster images, preloading, looping, subtitles and ending redirects. The video below provides a good introduction to the Player stack.


For more information about the Player stack, visit this webpage. This page hosts all the documentation about the Player stack, some working examples and a free demo version you can download to experiment with.
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Joomla! 3 Beginner’s Guide

Joomla-3
If you've taken on management or are considering building a new website using the Joomla! publishing platform, then you would most likely be seeking a straightforward, hands-on guide to creating perfect content managed websites with the free Joomla! content management system. The Joomla! 3 Beginner's Guide by Packt Publishing (written by Eric Tiggeler) is an ideal book to have at hand. This in-depth book covers many aspects of the Joomla! publishing platform, including the following topics:

  • Background information about what Joomla! is, how it works and what it can be used for, things you can build with it etc.
  • Detailed instructions on installing Joomla! on your web hosting server
  • Finding your way around the Joomla! editing interface
  • The principles of building websites with Joomla!, including content, links and themes
  • Creating new webpages, organising content efficiently and improving your overall workflow
  • Search engine optimisation, website security, multilingual support and other topics

All-in-all, this is a very complete guide to Joomla!, which covers a range of topics for both novice and more experienced users. Like many other Packt publications, The Joomla! 3 Beginner's Guide is organised into different chapters, with numerous illustrations throughout.

The Joomla! 3 Beginner's Guide is available in various formats, including 'physical book' format and as a download-able eBook.

For more information about the contents of this book, including pricing and available formats, please click here.
 
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Gateway stack updated to version 2.0

Gateway includes lots of useful options to create attractive popups which match existing RapidWeaver themes. Gateway popups can contain text, images, links, social media icons, email signup forms and various other simple content. Intelligent cookie support built-into Gateway ensures that once a user has dismissed a Gateway stack on your page, they will not repeatedly get nagged again with it, until the cookie expires.



Gateway 2.0 is a major update. Lots of changes have happened in Gateway 2.0. Emphasis has been placed on extending the feature set to make this stack even more useful. Some of the changes include:

  • Removed instructions from edit mode
  • More style and colour settings added
  • Gateway stacks are hidden from view until the page is fully loaded
  • New 'behaviours' to control when Gateway stacks are shown or hidden
  • Improved the choice of positioning settings
  • New 'close' button settings (including retina support)
  • Reorganised some settings to make Gateway easier to use
  • Tidier and more efficient HTML, jQuery and CSS markup

An effort has been made to make your update to Gateway 2.0 as non-destructive as possible. However after applying this update, you should check all instances of your Gateway stacks are continuing to function and display correctly. Some aspects like the close buttons may require setup again. Many of the features added in this big 2.0 update are those which have been specifically requested by some existing users of the Gateway stack.

For more information about Gateway, please click here.
 
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Optimising images for the web

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An update on all things happening...

Hello everyone, just a short blog post to conclude the month of July, on what has been yet another very hectic month with lots going on!

I've taken some time to update this website to remove some old and outdated pages. Some of these were pages relating to projects I'm no longer involved with and a few others were duplicates of articles I've since re-blogged. The website has been upgraded to use Snow 2.4.

A new page has been setup called Projects, which outlines all the projects I'm currently involved with and some other companies I'm working on behalf of. I'm often asked what my job role is or what it is I do, so this new page might help to provide some answers!

There is also a new page called History, where I've attempted to writeup a narrative essay all about my family history, stretching right back to the 1500's. This history page is very much a work in progress. My aim was to type-up various notes I was handed-down and get them out into the public domain for others to see and possibly learn from. It's certainly proved to be a fascinating journey and I look forward to going to visit some of these places in person and contribute more information over time.

Things are a bit quiet in RapidWeaver land currently. I'm not currently working on any further free theme updates at the present time, in anticipation of the release of RapidWeaver 6. I thought about strategies carefully and felt that it may be too much of an upheaval to release lots of updates now, only to have to perhaps make more updates later on. However I can confirm that there are a couple of brand new theme designs in development right now, so there is plenty to look forward to. I'm also part-way through revising the theme user guide and I'm considering switching it over to an open source wiki-style platform.

I can confirm for the first time tonight that I'm building a new audio and video stack for RapidWeaver. This will be by far the most customisable stack of its type available. A few builds went out last week to some industry experts, and feedback has been extremely positive. I'm aiming towards a mid-August release on this new one. The bulk of the work is done, and I'm mostly at the stage of fixing iOS scaling bugs and refining the editing interface a bit more. I'm certain this will be the go-to stack for anybody serious about embedding self-hosted audio or video files in RapidWeaver-built websites.

I had lots of positive feedback about my most recent Stack video's I published on YouTube relating to the ButtonMaker stack and the free BuilderStack. This is definitely an area I want to expand on and have some fun ideas for some new video's focused around some of my work. Not only are these short video's a powerful promotional tool, but I find they are a fun way for people to get involved and learn. I've decided to participate in something called SSS-VEDA. This stands for 'Savy Sexy Social - Vlog Every Day in August'. This is led by Amy Schmittauer of the Savy Sexy Social blog, (who I've previously sent quite a few of you along to, for excellent SEO, marketing and social networking advice)! I thought that the idea of putting together a short video every day throughout August would be something fun to try. I certainly welcome all suggestions of things you want me to chat about on-air and I'm sure we'll have a good laugh along the way!

SSSVEDA August 2014

I think that's all the news for now. I certainly look forward to any feedback or comments you may have.
 
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New Stack - ButtonMaker

ButtonMaker lets you create gorgeous, pure HTML and CSS buttons for your websites; in a variety of modern styles and designs. Everything ranging from flat Bootstrap buttons, glossy buttons, rounded-pill buttons, buttons with icons and background image buttons. Not only do these buttons look great, but they won't slow your page speeds down or introduce ugly compatibility issues. Buttons built with ButtonMaker work reliably in a broad range of RapidWeaver themes and web browsers. These buttons can be set as links to other pages in your website, external websites or social media. ButtonMaker is both quick and easy to work with. A fun stack, but one which will also save you time and money in the long-term.

A unique feature of ButtonMaker is the ability to export the code for your buttons. This means that you can build buttons in Stacks, but paste them into any other RapidWeaver page type. This innovative feature opens up brilliant opportunities to incorporate stylish buttons into parts of your website that are normally off-limits to stacks! Areas like the blog sidebar, ExtraContent containers, a contact form, a sitemap, website banner or footer regions etc.

For more information, please click here.

A short video has been published too, introducing you to ButtonMaker. It's published on YouTube and is subtitled.
 
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All Packt eBooks and videos just $10

This month marks 10 years since Packt Publishing embarked on their mission to deliver effective learning and information services to IT professionals. To celebrate this huge milestone, Packt are offering ALL their eBooks and Videos at just $10 each for 10 days – this promotion covers every title and you can stock up on as many copies as you like until July 5th.

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If you’ve already tried a Packt title in the past, you’ll know this is a great opportunity to explore what’s new and maintain your personal and professional development. If you’re new to Packt, then now is the time to try their extensive range – and they're confident that in their 2000+ titles you’ll find the knowledge you really need, whether that’s specific learning on an emerging technology or the key skills to keep you ahead of the competition in more established tech.

To take advantage of this excellent offer, click here. Your discount is applied automatically at the checkout.
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Introducing the new HotSpotsPro stack

I’m pleased to announce the availability of HotSpotsPro today. As you may be aware, the free HotSpots stack was developed and released about two months ago, at request of a client to achieve some image maps in an important project. There was a lot of interest in the free stack, and it became clear through the RapidWeaver forums that there’d be interest in a paid ‘pro’ version with many more features and functionality too.

Although image maps remain a popular technique in modern web design, the ability to create them in RapidWeaver has somewhat dried-up in recent years. Rage MapDesign used to be the go-to solution for creating image maps to go into RapidWeaver; but unfortunately it’s no longer developed and quite unstable in newer versions of Mac OS X. The Points Of Interest stack was another option; but this too appears to be unsupported now. My hope with HotSpotsPro is that it can become the most feature-rich solution for building basic image maps in RapidWeaver.

The idea of an image map, in the simplest form, is to display a static image. Over the top of this image, there are then ‘hotspots’ positioned in specific areas. These hotspots can be visible or invisible. It’s these hotspot regions which can perform various tasks, like displaying tooltips on hover or opening content or other pages when clicked. Built correctly, a basic image map can promote a lot more user interaction with a web page and offer a fantastic method of navigation.

HotSpotsPro

Development of HotSpotsPro has by no means been a walk in the park! I received a number of ideas and feature requests from many different people worldwide. Some of these were unachievable via the Stacks API and a couple of others conflicted with what others wanted! So as a result, in a few areas, things have needed to be re-thought and some small compromises were required. But hopefully the completed stack today meets nearly all objectives that someone building a basic responsive image map in RapidWeaver needs. A fine balance has been cut between providing plenty of useful features; while at the same time avoiding a stack that gives the illusion of being too complicated to use. The HotSpotsStack went through several revisions and a number of Beta builds; which allowed us to get feedback from actual users and perfect the stack for release today.

Some noteworthy features of the HotSpotsPro stack are as follows:
  • Support for up-to twenty hotspot regions, which should be more than adequate for most requirements
  • Completely code-free setup, coupled with live previewing of the background image and hotspots in Stacks edit mode
  • Search engine optimised, print friendly and valid HTML5 markup. No messy Javascript or Flash code
  • Option to display informational rollover tooltips left, right, above or below hotspot regions, and customise their size and colour
  • Hotspots can open a link when clicked or open content (like iFrames, images or video) in a responsive lightbox
  • Robust compatibility with all major web browsers and various different handheld devices
  • Lots of style options, including semi-transparent hotspot fills and various border styles. Support for both static and hovered states
  • Proportionate scaling of internal content (like Font Awesome icons) in supported RapidWeaver themes

HotSpotsPro is available to purchase from the Stacks4Stacks website for £10.00. It’s been carefully priced in respect of the amount of time and effort that went into developing this stack, and the fact that the free HotSpots stack remains available for people working on a very tight budget. HotSpotsPro is very much a professional-grade stack (hence the name) you can purchase once and use an unlimited number of times in many projects. It's a single stack element which can save you from hours of complicated coding and tedious testing.

A free demo version of HotSpotsPro can be downloaded from the product page. A couple of different examples showing the HotSpotsPro stack in action are also presented, for you to test. All purchases include free technical support and updates. HotSpotsPro will be compatible with future versions of RapidWeaver and the next Stacks update. If you have pre-sales questions, you can contact me direct through the Stacks4Stacks website (a reply is normally provided within 6 - 12 hours).
 
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