General observations coming from an outsider


#1

Hello, @Norm and everybody,

This is only my second thread since I joined this forum. I can not consider myself even a newbie in Blocs world. I am below that level. But, as a person who has a considerable amount of experience with RapidWeaver (far from being a master, though), I would like to share my findings about Blocs in comparison with that other app. This may upset some people, but others may find this post interesting. I certainly do not want to offend anybody. Please, do not think I am motivated by anything but the desire for a friendly conversation. If I am off on any topic due to my “Blocs ignorance”, please, correct me. And do not ban me right away… :wink:

Without a doubt, Blocs has much more to offer than RW out-of-the-box in the area of layout. Without ‘Stacks’ (3rd party plugin, purchased separately) RW is clunky, out-of-date and unable to produce anything resembling an attractive layout. As a matter of fact, I stated repeatedly on RW forum that ‘Stacks’ are the only reason for RapidWeaver to exist. However, the addition of ‘Stacks’ plugin opens a door for nearly unlimited possibilities in both layout and functionality. Personally, I have yet to stumble upon a task that would be impossible to achieve in RW. Naturally, individual stacks that enable those tasks add cost and learning curve (but there’s also a wealth of wonderful free stacks). As a matter of fact, all the layout tricks afforded by Blocs are possible to match and even surpass with all-free stacks in RW.

On the other hand, I see that Blocs have a rather limited functionality (local fonts, warehoused fonts, multiple columns, accordions, mega menus, CSS-grid, cookie managers, members-only areas, multilingual capabilities, photo galleries and a multitude of other features are staples that are taken for granted in RW). What Blocs excels in is ease of creating basic websites and those that call for visual flashiness, but I haven’t seen yet any really deep designs or those that offer extended functionality.

Which brings me to the topic of API.

I think that Blocs development should actively seek participation of 3rd party developers who would bring in a lot of more advanced functionality to the table. This, of course, needs to be thought out very carefully and wisely, to prevent proliferation of redundancy and conflicts. From other posts it looks like Norm has this thing under consideration. I also know that some 3rd party developers are genuinely interested in developing for Blocs (not me—I am not a coder).

There is no need to fear new add-ons and additional costs. Those people who do not need them, can still build their sites with just the features of basic Blocs. Those that do need extended functionality, will gladly pay for it. I am one of the latter. Until addons start coming, I will probably just dabble.

I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts—from anyone who’d care to comment.


#2

Blocs is 4 years old, RW is like 10 or 11, so naturally there are a few blind spots, but month on month (if you stick around) you’ll see them vanish.

The Blocs API is in the works and will help expand those blind spots, but I’ll be clear, my goal is to avoid relying on this API as heavily as some other apps do.

Regarding multiple columns, can you expand here because that’s very achievable if it’s what I think it is.

There is also an accordion Bric.

But I agree, Blocs doesn’t offer the same level of add-ons. But that won’t always be the case.


#3

Blocs is 4 years old, RW is like 10 or 11,

RW – more like 15 years…

Yes, I have no doubt that Blocs will mature quickly and probably in a more sensible way than RW. As a matter of fact, I think that Blocs’ young age is its advantage over RW, because it gives an opportunity to use more modern coding and generally more evolved Internet technologies.

Regarding multiple columns…

I just mentioned multiple columns and accordions off of the top of my head. I don’t really know whether they are or aren’t achievable with Blocs—that’s due to my (so far) very limited understanding of Blocs.


#4

Some of the ex RW users here at this forum will probably be able to advise of the advantages Blocs delivers over RW. I believe in a multitude of areas Blocs offers a lot more freedom.

To be honest, I’ve actually never used Rapidweaver or Stacks to build a site before, I used golive back in the day, then moved to coding by hand.


#5

Please, don’t get me wrong. I am not dismissing Blocs on the pretense that it is not advanced enough. I am aware of things like the speed of previewing in Blocs (just one example of huge advantage over RW). I’ve heard enough good things about Blocs—what I’ve heard made me come here in the first place.


#6

Oh My! It was my go-to program back in the day. I worked hard learning it and it was my first paid website as a designer. I was so pissed when Adobe discontinued it. I went to Dreamweaver for a while and then read about some new programs in Macworld. That’s when I purchased Blocs. It’s been a great program for me.

Casey


#7

@FlexitarianFixie I’ve worked with RW since 2014 and still use it to maintain a couple old sites. Both apps have their frustrations, but I can assure you Blocs is headed in a far better direction at a much faster pace.

Very often I see cool new RW stacks on sale with great fanfare like a recent one that produced graduated rainbow backgrounds and immediately thought Blocs does that in half the time for free. Addons will come, but with a bit of knowledge you may be surprised at what is possible and generally without spending a penny. Given the inherent flexibility on Blocs, I think developers will have to concentrate on genuinely useful brics.

When you use RW, everything essentially revolves around stacks with the options bestowed on you by a developer and while it allows you to build a very good site, I tend to think you learn a lot more about how to use RW than how to become a web designer. I’m not a coder, but the heavy use of custom classes in Blocs is teaching me a lot more about web design than RW ever could.

Touching on performance, how is it possible that I can render huge files in Maya, while editing large files in Photoshop and my Mac Pro purrs along without the slightest concern, but ask RW to render some html and all I see is spinning ball for 10 seconds before it even starts to to process changes. I can run Blocs perfectly well on my 12 year old iMac running El Capitan with 4 gigs of ram. On a simple level of productivity I find RW untenable these days.

Truth be told, I struggled with Blocs 2 and did feel limited in what I could achieve, though some did considerably better. The sites never looked quite as good as I would like, but I jumped in at the deep end about 6 months before Blocs 3 was due out, so I could get up to speed. Blocs 3 is a totally transformed app and simply a much better place to spend your day than RW.

If you felt like it, you could change a font’s colour, indent, weight, alignment, size, decoration and a whole lot more at each breakpoint, then just for fun mix them up at active, hover and normal. It would be completely nuts but the choice is there at your fingertips in custom classes.

That kind of flexibility is available in all sorts of areas, such as freehand margins that can be set visually by hand at each breakpoint in a matter of seconds without ever having to type in a silly number, let alone hit the preview button and watch a spinning ball, then come back to try again, rinse and repeat…

You want a colour overlay on an image? It takes seconds. Animations that you control while scrolling the page? It’s all there and hugely configurable.

When you first come to Blocs from RW you immediately see what it can’t do, because you are looking for a stack. The trick is to look instead for what it can do and I would suggest you go completely nuts with the options to learn about it. Break stuff, then quit and try again. After a month you won’t want to look at RW.


#8

I think both apps have their pros and cons at the moment but do believe that blocs will come out on top in the end. Blocs is a lot “funner” to use and lightening fast compared to RW.

I think a big feature that would make lots of blocs users happy is the ability to create folders as you can in RW.


#9

Don’t forget that not one of these features are catered for in RW but I assume you meant that if you also add to RW, Stacks and a framework collection of stacks and then also buy specific stacks to provide these functions, then no, but you are hardly comparing Apples to Apples. RW is pretty much just the oven with a few basic pre cooked basic meals and you have to source and pay for the tasty ingredients, whereas Blocs3 is a full kitchen with a comprehensive set of ingredients but with all the extra tasty stuff being planed and starting to become available soon. In both cases you still need to know how to cook

The problem however, is doing a comparison with RW and Blocs or Muse, Macaw, Sparkle, etc., by looking at firstly, what’s in the core product and secondly what can I add using addons.

To do a meaningful comparison you need to look at what can be achieved with an app and not what features it has or hasn’t got. I’m not disagreeing with you on the whole RW thing, but every web creation app has frequent questions such as “I used to be able to do XYZ in Freehand or Muse or whatever, and this is not possible in Macaw or Sandvox or whatever.” To use any new web creation app you need to think about the solution in terms of the new app and not the old app you you just abandoned or are fed up with for whatever reasons.

As a developer myself I am really excited by what is happening in Blocs in terms of Api.


#10

This makes me very happy :partying_face:


#11

I am not disagreeing with any of your arguments, guys. I am aware of the the fact that Blocs provide much more out-of-the-box, making simple site creation a breeze. I am aware of much better performance of Blocs. All I’m saying is that Blocs are limited in what can be achieved with this app—because of lack of addons.

I fully understand that for many users Blocs is everything they will probably ever need to be happy. However, websites I am dealing with put specific demands on me. And I am not talking here about adding a rainbow gradient background. Since I am not a coder, I have to rely on ready-made solutions—addons—that provide specific functionality that core application does not provide, no matter how much I hate to pay for those addons.

I am not dismissing Blocs. That would be foolish of me. I will try to get to know the app in order to get the most out of it. But for a near future, I will probably struggle using the other app in real-life situations. And I will be hoping for rapid (forgive the pun) and successful development of Blocs’ API, augmented by 3rd party developers.


#12

I would be the first to admit there are some pretty fabulous stacks out there for RW and I saw one recently for calendar booking that was downright slick.

Many of these things will be coming to Blocs and indeed some may well function better in Blocs. As an example, I have an RW floating card stack that is pretty crippled on mobile, but appears to work better in a Blocs alternative made by another developer that is already available. Card for Blocs 3 now available

It’s also worth remembering that an awful lot of those paid for stacks make use of code that is freely available on the internet and it’s no coincidence when you find two RW stacks made by different developers that have exactly the same features. In many cases there are services out there or code that can be added via the code widget.

Another consideration is that when developers build for RW they have to think about half a dozen platforms, such as Foundry and Foundation etc, which can lead to all sorts of problems. I’ve had stacks that break formatting or caused other problems when used in Foundation for example. With Blocs, developers will know what they are dealing with and only have to cater for one system, so there ought to be fewer issues.


#13

In RW, I am perfectly capable of doing copy-and-paste of Bootstrap code snippets into my pages. I don’t need stacks for that. When I am talking about additional ready-made solutions, I am thinking about the complex functionality (password-protection, multi-lingual capabilities, file repositories for upload and download, image-compare, image and video galleries with specific features, etc.). Those are not achievable by repurposing someone else’s code that is available freely on Internet.

That’s right. I covered that in my original post:

I hope my explanations so far had made it clear that I am not blind to positives offered by Blocs. I simply wish for more…


#14

The rate of progress with Blocs can make your head spin. Single point updates see more changes than major version upgrades in RW. In the meanwhile I would encourage you to stay on board and enjoy the ride. Most of the bric developers also produce RW stacks, so they’ll be able to bring over all their expertise once the API is upgraded.


#15

Hi Rob @FlexitarianFixie

I have to say that I actually totally disagree with you on the point that Blocs is limited because of a lack of add-ons.

From my experience so far, basically anything can be done and I do not see limits in what can be achieved. Perhaps limits reside in personal skills, such as creativity, coding etc… but that said I hear a lot of members that are actually learning and improving their skills because not everything is served on a silver plate.

Add-ons are nice but not vital. Custom brics are nice but not vital as well. As you will see, users have been finding solutions for many things without the need of add-ons.

I am confident that @Norm will stay away from the RW development style base purely on add-ons.

MDS


#16

Hi, @MDS,

As you wrote, limits do reside in personal skills. I totally agree with that. But I am a 72-year-old-retiree. I do not have a memory, a desire, or time in life to start learning coding. I have many more things I want to do in the short rest of my life. That’s why I need to rely on an application that gives me a balance between maximum opportunities and unavoidable waste of my time. For me, addons are not “nice but not vital”. For me, they constitute the difference between achieving my goals or not.

And BTW, if you (or others) think that I am advocating RW-style of development, then I think my time trying to explain myself has been wasted.


#17

Hi Rob @FlexitarianFixie

Put in context, it now make sense why you feel the application is limited, because it limits you in what you can achieve.

If I were you I would not have used “Fresh meat” in your first post and probably said I was a “72-year-old-retiree”.

People would have responded totally differently and you would not have wasted your time.

MDS


#18

Hi, @MDS,

Could you explain, please, how my age could possibly influence the whole discussion? I thought we were talking about merits of two different website building applications…


#19

Hi Rob @FlexitarianFixie

Did I write your age was an issue ?

You wrote:

I just cared to comment to your post that I did not agree with you when you say Blocs is limited due to a lack of add-ons. However, for someone who “…does not have a memory, a desire, or time in life to start learning code and has many more other things to do in a relative short period of time…” it would make sense that add-ons are a must.

Relax…:wink:

MDS


#20

OK, I think it’s time to close this thread. Somehow, the discussion veered off topic. I started by pointing out positives and negatives of two applications. Now, I am being blamed for being old and I still can not get a sensible explanation for a correlation between my age and a need for addons.

I am not the one who needs to be prompted to relax. I am. It seems to me that—somehow—my opinions are perceived as a threat to the nice, satisfying feeling of self-assurance of some users of Blocs. Funny, considering that Norm seems not to be threatened at all. His is the proper attitude. I wish everybody here had his open-mindedness…