Several people have asked this question … I was an early adopter of RapidWeaver, participated in the forums at the Realmac site as a contributor and moderator, and built several websites with RapidWeaver (RW). I became known as one of the “go-to” guys for help with embedding PHP solutions in RW sites to extend its capabilities. But about a year ago, I started moving in the direction of WordPress, and now develop exclusively on the WordPress platform. Here are the reasons why (consolidated from a farewell thread I posted to on the Realmac forums)
The personal issues I have with RW are:
- I can’t update client or personal sites from my iPad
- CMS options for RW are limited in flexibility and scope
- It doesn’t empower clients to maintain their own sites
- Integrating third-party scripts/DBs is clumsy and inelegant
Some people like working on the maintenance end of things, keeping things running that they or others have created. I don’t. I like teaching and mentoring much more than maintenance, so I can empower my clients to take control of their own sites. RW’s not a particularly good platform for this model because of 2-4 above. From a business perspective, RW is great for someone who wants to take on clients and continue maintaining their sites for them indefinitely. But that’s not where I’m at, and I also don’t want to maintain partially hand-coded PHP solutions for folks like I’ve done in the past.
Enter WordPress … which has become a full-blown CMS that is ideal for the small to medium sized business. I worked with Drupal for some time, and that’s a great CMS solution for the enterprise … but it’s overkill for the kind of sites people have engaged me to do. There was a point at which I had to ask myself: what did RW give me over WordPress with the right plugins and themes? I couldn’t come up with a good answer.
I own two theme frameworks for WordPress: Genesis and Builder. The latter is sort of the WordPress equivalent of Stacks. I also have learned to program custom content types and behaviors with a plugin called Pods CMS, and with Pods, Genesis, and Builder in my toolkit (and with other powerful plugins like BuddyPress and bbPress), I can do more than I could do with RW and deliver a sophisticated and complex solution to my clients.
For the small number of sites that are beyond WordPress’ capabilities, there’s Drupal or Joomla … and those clients I’ll refer out, since I don’t really want to get into providing enterprise solutions of that level of complexity. Though I’d do a SharePoint 2010 or MediaWiki solution for someone if they needed it, since I’ve become adept at working with those platforms in my 9 to 5 job. Same with developing eLearning solutions using Articulate Studio since I’ve been engaged in a heavy investigation of eLearning in my current 9 to 5 job. Again, this isn’t something RW is particularly good at.
So, no negatives toward RW; it’s just not for me given the type of clients I want to work with and the kind of support I want to provide them. It’s more a matter of personality type than anything else: I believe some people are wired to prefer working on the creative end of things, and become quickly bored working in “maintenance mode”; others are wired to prefer the stability and predictability of “maintenance mode”. I’m more of the former than the latter … and for me a CMS like WordPress makes more sense.
Someone asked: would Stacks 2 with its embedded CMS capabilities change things for me?
I’m afraid it doesn’t. The vendor of Stacks (Nimblehost) wrote: “Imagine being able login to your own RW site from anywhere, add and edit content, control when that content is published, upload media, and create new users — all without needing to subscribe to any third party monthly service!” Well, I can do all that and more in WordPress. I’m sure it will be a great product for some, but it doesn’t address my issues 3 and 4 above.
Even if Nimblehost (who I greatly admire) comes up with a great CMS that integrates well with RW I have to ask: what’s the point? There are hundreds of CMS platforms out there, and WordPress is one of the Big Dogs. WordPress is a major platform that powers 22 percent of new active websites in the USA. It’s an open source platform that has thousands of developers supporting it with themes and plugins. I feel more comfortable putting my energy into the WordPress ecosystem, than into a specialized CMS built by a small company to run on a web design platform developed by another small company.
My personal belief is: the day of running software on your Mac or PC to develop websites has come and gone, and Mac/PC based applications like Sandvox and RW will within a decade go the way of the dinosaurs. Applications like DreamWeaver and BBEdit will remain, because there will always be a need for custom development … at least to some degree. But I believe the future belongs to the CMS like WordPress and Drupal, and there’s no real advantage to my continuing to use RW and its plugins and themes, when everything I need (features, plugins, themes) can be found in WordPress. Again, this is a personal opinion I’ve come to after a lot of thought. It’s no reflection on the quality of work fine folks at Nimblehost and Realmac do, but for someone who follows a business model like mine, RW doesn’t make sense any more.
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