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Dynamic DataBase Made Easy in RapidWeaver

Stack-Its just announced EasyDB for RapidWeaver. Now I'm a designer and Database is way above my pay grade, so I was a little sceptical about the "easy" bit. Nevertheless, I downloaded the demo version (yes, there's a demo available) and had a play with it. After all, I owe it to my regular readers to write a review…

The first thing I noticed about EasyDB is that the set up – although simple – does take some patience.
First off, you'll need to set up a database on your hosting server.
Well, I'd guessed that already, but it's a painless process once you've accessed you control panel – and Bill has a video online to show you how just how to do it.
In my case, it's just two mouse clicks. Just make a note of the login details, you'll need them very soon.

Using the EasyDB Login stack, you should now add a login page to your site, so that you'll be able to access the data in your database once it's online.

So – it's time to get started! You'll need to add a database Credentials stack to your RapidWeaver page and publish it. The credentials stack contains the name and location of your database and the login details. The Credentials stack allows your page to access the database that you just created and that is necessary before we can continue.
Then, following the video tutorials on Bill's website, you need to load the page into your browser and confirm the setup messages, you then need to deactivate "setup credentials", republish and refresh the page in the browser.

The next step is to add a Database stack to your page. We have a database on the server, but it doesn't contain any data. The database stack adds the data rows and columns to the database. As such, you'll need to give the database a name and define the fields that you require in the setup panels, e.g. firstname, lastname, email, address, etc, etc. Once that's done, you can publish the page, and check online that the action was successful.
Because "setup database" is still active in the settings panel, you'll need to deactivate that, republish the page and refresh your browser.

If you check the database on your host's servers, it should now contain all of the filed names that you just added – just waiting impatiently for your data.

But we're not quite ready yet, we don't have anywhere to display the data.
We need a TextGrid stack to get us started.
This is the exciting part: publishing your first data list to your page. Your database can actually contain more information than you want to display on this page, so you need to inform the page which fields to display. So in the TextGrid stack, you need to add the names of the dbase fields that you want your visitors see and supply a display-name for each of these fields. Once you've done this, you're almost there: repeat the publishing process as before and you should now see a database awaiting content!
Log in and add some content. If you already have your content in a spreadsheet, you can import it into EasyDB as a CSV file.

So what can your database contain? Well this will make a lot of people happy – the TextGrid can contain Small Text, Large Text w/ carriage returns, Integers, Floating Numbers, Date, Time, Money, Email, Images, Links, Checkboxes, Color, Rating & Progress Bar
The FreeForm stack can contain Text, Integers, Floating Numbers, Date, Time, Money, Email, Images & Links.
And all of this information is grabbed by some magic PHP code that Bill has hidden somewhere behind the curtains and displayed dynamically on your page. The second that an entry in the database is altered, it changes on the page – live.

FreeForm? Did someone mention FreeForm? Yes, EasyDB also supplies a FreeForm Setup stack and a FreeForm stack.
The FreeForm stack setup is a little more complicated, but it will allow you to dynamically grab individual data-rows from your data base and display them more, or less in a layout of your design. I've not gone through the process of setting up a FreeForm Stack because, to be quite honest, I just didn't have the time. However the process is similar to those mentioned above, it simply involves adding and defining multiple FreeForm Stacks.

The result… Each line of your database will now be displayed within a slideshow. Obviously cool, if you've added images.

EasyDB – Stack=-Its

If you've added a TextGrid to your page, it will display selection fields that will allow your data to be filtered by field name and content. You can set how many entries should be displayed per page and, of course, EasyDB adds a page navigation when there are further entries. Your data can also be exported to a CSV file

EasyDB, true to its name, makes setting up a complicated database relatively simple. It also has the added advantage of being able to grab data from a database for freeform display on any of your pages. The setup needs a little patience and, in my personal opinion, a centralised admin page could perhaps simplify matters, but – as I already stated database is way above my pay grade, so I'm not the expert to pass judgement on that…

If you need to publish a database online and need something that is more 'in-depth' than the simple CSV solutions that are available, EasyDB is the way to go.
Being a PHP/MySQL solution, depending on the content collected within your database, you can process and republish that data as required – dynamically.

Bill has placed a multitude of instruction videos on the product page to get you started. I wouldn't have known where to begin without them!

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To Go, Or Not to Go – CMS For RapidWeaver

Impatiently awaited, now finally here – Go CMS from Nick Cates! Go is a CMS solution with zero setup and no admin page. Once your site is published, you just enter a keyboard short cut (ctrl+shift+x), enter your password and begin editing your pages.

I just downloaded the free version of Go CMS and tested it. Its simplicity is quite amazing. There are no admin pages and once you've logged in to your pages, you can begin to edit live. If you wish to edit via a mobile device (currently text only) just press and hold a Go container for two seconds and you will be requested to enter a password.
Go is a soft release, as Nick intends to add more features as time passes.

Go currently comprises four stacks and eight plugins that are accessible online. The four RapidWeaver stacks are the Base Stack, Blog Stack, Content Stack and Lock Stack. The online plugins are Single Image – Link and Alt Tag, Slideshow – Image Gallery, Lightbox – Image Gallery, Cartloom – eCommerce, Embed Video – YouTube & Vimeo, Google Maps and Soundcloud – Embed Audio. Not bad for starters.

Any content placed within a content stack is editable – ie, drop an image into the Go Container, and it will be editable; drop a Go Container into a stack and the the stack's content will be editable. And Go is compatible with a majority of themes, including Foundation and Foundry.

Go CMS – Nick Cates

And did I mention that there is zero setup? None of the stacks contain any settings. If you drag a Base stack onto each of your pages and add some Content stacks, you can publish and begin editing already! And if you want to prevent people from viewing the page, add a Go Lock Stack.
If you prefer to add some basic content first, i.e. Text content, Headlines and Images, you can. However, your Headline formatting will need to be carried out online.

The bog stack is really cool. Click the + button once you are logged in, and add your new post. Before you begin, you might like to set the bog and blog type up by clicking the blog admin button.
And you'll be pleased to know that Go has backup and restore op[tions, so that if your client messes up, you can restore a previous version of the content.

Go CMS has a per-site price tag, but it is currently one of the cheapest options available for RapidWeaver – ideal for those on a tight budget. You can download Go free of charge and play with it. Once you are satisfied, you can click the purchase button on your new site to obtain a license. It's that simple.

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Spricht RapidWeaver Deutsch? Ou Parle Français?

Translation: Does RapidWeaver speak German? Or French?
Because the internet knows no international boundaries – with the exception of a few countries that impose restrictions – our websites attract visitors from all over the world. Sometimes a multilingual version of a website would make sense, but that would involve having different versions of a site online, making maintenance a nightmare. Or would it?

RWML (RapidWeaver Multi Language) was a solution developed by Joost Spijker of Tsooj Media to make multilingual websites both easier to maintain and user friendly. All language versions are contained within the same page, so that swapping projects to make alterations and maintaining subdomains is unnecceasary. It means that there is only one website/web page for all language versions.
Before he retired from the RW scene, Joost began developing RWML 2. This development has just been completed by Will Woodgate and housed within the S4S stables.

I just took a look at RWML 2 and it's a great improvement over the original version. First off, RWML now uses PHP to load the language versions. This means that there are no longer ugly flashes as the new language is loaded, there is a smooth transition. (Transition as change – not as in animation)

RWML is a suite of 9 stacks: Master; Menu; Meta; Redirect; Replace (New); Short Text; Sidebar; Switch and Wrapper.
In its simplest form, RWML requires two main stacks on each page: Master, and Wrapper – which is required for every element with a language version. The detailed instruction manual is fairly long, but the deployment of RWML is quite straightforward.

The Master stack contains the information of the different language versions contained within a page (up to ten languages if you know that many, I can only write in two), e.g. 'en', 'de', 'fr' etc. One Wrapper stack is required for each block of text content. The Wrapper supplies the language variations contained within it.
On at least one page, you will require Switcher which supplies the URL query for the language change. The query setting is maintained over page changes and saved as a cookie for your user's next visit.

Laying out a page in Stacks is very simple: Create a block of content with your primary language (we'll assume that your first language is English) and drop it into a Wrapper stack. Define the Wrapper as 'en', then duplicate the Wrapper, reset the language, e.g. 'de' and replace the text content with your German text.
Now, if you add a Switch stack to your page and preview the page, you will see the English version of your page. Click the Switch and you will see the German version – as simple as that:S4S RWML


Click image to View live Preview.

RWML is primarily intended for Stacks pages, but it may also be deployed with standard RapidWeaver pages. As the Master stack is required for all pages that use RWML, Pluskit will be required to import the stack into your standard RW page. You can then add HTML snippets to each text block to define the language.

CMS Anyone? RWML is also CMS compatible! I tested it with Sentry from seyDesign – perfect for simple pages. If you're not sure that you can use it with your CMS solution, download a demo copy of RWML and give it a test run.

Stack settings

RWML Master - Has the definitions for Language 1—10, Redirect Delay (ms), Cookie Settings, Menu Settings (Menu Control/Trigger Condition), CMS Support, Debug Information.
RWML Menu – RWML can add translations for the RW standard Menu. Add a child stack with an alternative language version for each page, using the same name as entered into the RW sidebar.
RWML Meta – Maintain SEO compatibility. Add translations for the Meta Tags.
RWML Redirect – Redirect links to alternative pages. E.G. Blog pages/Product pages in different languages.
RWML Replace – A new, very useful stack for quickly replacing words or sentences contained within a page. E.G. change the copyright text, or slogan by targeting their Container ID and adding translations for the ID's content.
RWML Short Text – Add a line of text to your page and include a translation directly within the stack.
RWML Sidebar – Oh, yes, now I remember – some themes have sidebars. RWML Sidebar will add it's content to your Sidebar, Freestyle Banner, Extra Content Container, or a Custom Element. You can change the sidebar header text using snippets.
RWML Switch – You can add either a menu (see the S4S demo page) or stack elements (see above) to switch between languages.
RWML Wrapper – This is the stack that contains each individual language block.

If you need to design pages with multiple languages, RWML is the ideal solution. It doesn't rely on third party solutions (with the exceptions of Pluskit, if you wish to work with standard RW pages), it is CMS compatible and it can change the navigation bar text to the chosen languages. Language change is slick and smooth – your visitors will love it!

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Kick-Ass Gallery For RapidWeaver

Gallery 3.4 for InStacks isn't a new product, but it is an extremely powerful gallery that is constantly being updated. Jannis just updated Gallery again – for Stacks 3.5 and is currently working on a new feature, revising the documentation and working on instruction videos. I just went through the documentation and don't find it lacking in any way, but Jannis obviously has other thoughts.

Jannis describes Gallery 3 [G3] as 'Kick-Ass', so what puts the kick into this stack?
Well, first off, you can choose from 10 different grids, 6 different lightboxes and 5 different sliders.
These choices alone are kick-ass, but then come Gallery 3's integration options. You can integrate G3 with the Bootstrap, Foundry and Foundation frameworks, plus Armadillo, Easy CMS, Pulse CMS, Sentry and Total CMS; and – if that's not enough – Adobe Behance, Apple iCloud and FTP folders. Oh, I almost forgot, you can drag and drop your images directly into G3 too and Thumbnail images are created automatically. Now tell me that's not as versatile an egg*!

Gallery 3
Stack settings

When you drag G3 onto a Stacks page, you'll find a container with two child stacks.
You can play around with the upper container for hours choosing the Grid, or Slider that suits your taste/purposes. There are fifteen options to choose from, five of the options are framework based. Not having all of the Frameworks, I was only able to test the Foundation Grid. However, the other Grids/Sliders offer plenty of choice.

When you've selected your grid, you can open the settings panel – I'd begin with the main G3 panel where you can set the number of columns displayed in edit mode, a smaller grid makes it so much easier to add images.
Main Max Width sets the gallery width, you can add your own size definition in px, %, or rem. Setting 0 allows G3 to fill the container it is placed within.
CSS Filter. There is a choice of 21 different CSS Filters for your thumbnails.
Disable Context menu does just that – your visitor will be unable to right click an image to download it.
Shuffle / Randomize Images loads the images in a different order every time the page is reloaded.

Grid/Slider settings panel. In the settings panel for Grids, you can set the maximum number of columns for four different viewports.
In the settings panel for Sliders, you can set the maximum image height.

The lower child stack is where you add your images. The child stacks include:
Image – drag your images into the child stack.
Image + Thumb – drag and drop your images – thumbnails are automatically created.
Image + Thumb Pro – Drag your images into the settings panel container and add an Alt Text.
Adobe Behance images – Set the API and Project name in the settings panel.
Apple iCloud - Set the URL and number of images to be displayed in the settings panel.
FTP Directory/Web Folder – Set the path and the information to be displayed in the settings panel.
Armadillo/Sentry Integration - No settings necessary.

Each thumbnail is set to Square by default in the image settings panel. If you wish to use the Grid-A-Licious (Masonry) option, you will probably want to deactivate this option for each image.

If you wish to add G3 to one of the CMS solutions available, you'll find detailed instruction on how to do so on the Tutorial Page.

G3 – not new, but freshly and regularly updated. You won't find a more powerful gallery in the RW or any other scene!

*Boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, coddled, 1000 year old, pickled and a myriad of culinary functions.

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File Manager For RapidWeaver

There aren't many stacks that you can simply drag to a page, publish the page and have done with it. FileMan from Stacks4Stacks is, however just such a stack. And it's useful too!

FileMan, as you might guess from the name, is a File Manager for RapidWeaver. It has many uses that aren't immediately apparent.

FileMan creates a PHP database on your [client's] website. The database may optionally configured to allow file uploads, downloads and/or deletion.

Simplest scenario: you have a number of documents that you want to make available online. Drag them to your FileMan folder via FTP and they will immediately be accessible to anyone that can log in to the File Manager page.

The next possibility is a flat CMS solution. Let's say you have a warehoused client gallery, or slideshow online and your client wishes to swap out the images on a regular basis. Once the client has been instructed how to create the images accordingly, he/she could log in to their FileMan warehouse page, delete the old images and upload the new ones.
The same applies to text files (or whole HTML/Markdown pages) that are linked to DropCMS (Free download from Stacks4Stacks) boxes, or PDFs linked to the recently reviewed PDF Viewer.

FileMan couldn't be simpler to set up – as stated above, drag the stack to a Stacks page, upload the page and you're done. As soon as you access your new page, FileMan will create a PHP database and you can begin uploading files. You may, however, wish to do a little configuration first:

Stack Settings
FileMan creates a directory outside of the RapidWeaver project. Directory Path will be the name of said folder on the server (refresh your FTP browser view after accessing the FileMan for the first time).
Login Password. Enter the password that will be used to access the FileMan Directory. Permissions – Read/Write, or Read Only.
Next the stacks panel has a number of options: Add Sample Files these may be deleted via FTP if the option Allow File Deletion remains checked before your initial upload. Allow Creation Of New Folders. Allow Direct Links allows files to be downloaded directly. Allow File Uploads allows the user to upload.

Disallowed Files contains a list of potentially harmful files that may not be uploaded to the server. You may add your own definitions to the list.
The remaining FileMan settings are for the localisation strings that you may wish to alter.

It remains to be said that FileMan – a free download, BTW – can be inserted into an iFrame and lightboxed – as demonstrated below.

FileMan

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