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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. Then 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 addi 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 want 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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Locator for RapidWeaver

In the past there have been heated discussions as to which stack is the best to display multiple business locations. Well I'm about to pour oil on the fire, because I might just have the answer for you. The new Locator stack from S4S.

Your client runs a chain of Restaurants with branches in every shopping centre in town ('mall', if you live across the pond), plus a couple of select locations. With Locator, site visitors will not only be able to see which branch of the restaurant is closest to his adobe, but also call up directions and view the restaurant in Street View for optical identification.
All your visitor needs to do is enter his ZIP code into the (optional) search field and submit. If your server has SSL certification, geo location can be automated!

A seemingly unlimited number of locations can be added to Locator via Google Earth KML files, XML files, or, if you've previously added locations to WordPress, or similar, via JSON import.

The simplest method is, of course the Google Earth solution. You will, however, need to download the Google Earth app first. The online version doesn't export the .klm data required by Locator.

Open up Google Earth; add a folder for your locations; drop in place pins and save them to your location folder; set a description for each location. Add further details, such as contact information and opening times. Once you've added all of your locations save the whole folder as a KML file and either drag the file into your RapidWeaver project resources, or upload it to your server.

In your Locator stack, you can now link to the .kml file, switch to preview and call up all of the locations you've added. As simple as that!

Locator – S4S
If you'd prefer to have a more easily editable location list, then an XML file is recommended. You can download examples of all file formats from the product page to see which best suits your purposes.

Stack settings
General Settings
Google API key – Will has Kindly left his API key in the stacks so that the demo data functions.
You should, however, visit the Google Developer's site and acquire your own key. It's a painless process.
Data File Type – Google Earth KML, JSON, Sample Data, XML
Set Link

Form Settings
Formatting for the location search

Map Options
Length Units
Map Type
Distance Alert – (set to -1 to deactivate)
Height
Location Limit
Zoom – Base map magnification
Standard Google Maps options (10 settings)
Start Map Open
Default Location Latitude/Longitude
StreetView Button
Custom Marker

Locator List Settings
List Position, plus colour formatting

Locator Localisations
Translations for non-English websites.

Programming a store locator would normally be a very expensive undertaking. Locator not only simplifies the task, but makes it affordable.
And if you hurry, the S4S page still has a 50% Black Friday price reduction. That's a helluva-lotta-stack for a small price.

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BFS5– Multi Player for RapidWeaver

There must be three dozen media players available for RapidWeaver in combination with Stacks. RWExtras just released Multi Player. If you're quick, you can grab it at half price now!

And yet another media player stack!
However, this single stack supports multiple media sources including self-hosted MP3 / MP4 files, YouTube and Vimeo content. It's basically four stacks in one.
Multi Player is remarkably quick and easy to get setup, even if you're someone who's never done much work with embedded audio or video in websites before now. Only the most-essential options are shown to you in edit mode.
The finished player has an ultra-modern and minimalist interface, fully responsive and is compatible with all newer web browsers.

I have to admit that Ninja News hasn't had the time to test Multi Player!

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Weaver's Space Conference 2017

A few days ago, Joe Workman 'finally' released the videos recorded at the Weaver's Space Conference. The conference took place between September 1st and 3rd and many people, both participants and non participants have been impatiently awaiting the video's release and I've just been able to review them.

This year's conference was as big a success as that from 2016, with many compelling talks on subjects that will interest all RapidWeavers. Don't worry if, like myself, you were unable to visit the conference, you can still get access to the sessions by visiting the conference website.

I just took a look at the 2017 videos and I must say that I'm glad I did. They present a thousand kilos• of valuable information.
So let's take a look at what you'll be getting if you subscribe…

I was a little surprised that the videos aren't presented in chronological order, but that doesn't reduce their value. Here, in the order that they took place, is what I saw.

Day One

Creative Insights With Nick Cates. Nick has some of the cleanest RW themes on the market and during this session he explains how he goes about designing a website and why his sites are so effective. The key to a great site, as we all know, is its presentation and Nick explains how to grab (and hold) a visitors attention.
Of course, Nick couldn't get through the session without plugging Cartloom and used it for many examples, but hey! The Cartloom site is a great, effective site.
Nick also demonstrates three other sites and explains in detail why they are presented the way they are. Watch and learn.

Stacks: Novice To Pro With Isaiah Carew. You work with Isaiah's Stacks regularly, but do you really know how to get the most out of them. On the forums, we often hear how slow RW is. In this session Isaiah demonstrates what is slowing you down, why it happens and – most importantly – how to cure the problem. I assure you that I've already begun to follow his advice and even JW got to learn something new! Watch and learn.

A To Z Of Building Forms With Joe Workman. Joe's session is aimed primarily at Foundation users and he explains in detail how to build effective forms. I've observed myself, that a number of Foundation users don't really lay their forms out, but simply drag the form fields one below the other. Joe not only addresses this shortcoming, but then goes on to explain each of the form stacks in detail. And at the end of the session, there's a 'Geheimtip' a secret tip just for the conference visitors. Watch and learn.

SEO And Meta Data With Brett Carmichael. Brett begins his session by explaining the ins and outs of SSL and just how it will affect all Weavers in the very near future. He then goes on to give you detailed instructions for adding Meta Data to your site. Learn how to leverage the power of not only Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. but also Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you're not an SEO expert, get ready to take notes and take screenshots of this session. Watch and learn.

Day Two

Artful Web Design With Elizabeth Martinez. If you regularly visit the Weaver's Space, or take part in the weekly hangouts, you'll have encountered Elizabeth. If you've ever followed the links to the websites that she builds, you'll have been struck by how beautifully designed they are. Elizabeth's websites really are works of art. But not only do they look great, they are also extremely functional. Follow Elizabeth's session and learn the thought process behind her sites. Watch and learn.

Modern Web Imagery With Greg Barchard. We all know Greg from Chillidog. Chillidog supplies Weavers with Plugins, Stacks and hosting that is aimed especially at RW sites. Greg is also a great source of information for all things regarding servers. Specifically IP Servers. Probably the one thing that slows down the delivery of our websites is image content. Greg takes a look at how to reduce image size and how to deliver your images faster, he also previews a new stack. Watch and learn.

Design Every Element With Marten Claridge. We all know Marten. He provides Weavers with creative stacks and is the man behind StackCentral – a list of all stacks and stack developers – the place to go, if you're looking for something specific. Marten is also a gifted web designer. During his session Marten explains why the attention to detail is so important. The session is slow to take off, because Marten actually builds a complete webpage with you. But hang in there – the resulting page is amazing! Watch and learn.

Forms With MachForms With Dave Hidding. Dave's is a very specialised topic. Forms. Intricate forms. Weavers have a number of options for creating detailed forms, but sometimes those options are just not sufficient. If you need something more complicated, then you'll need an external solution. Dave demonstrates how to use and implement MachForms. Watch and learn.

Building an Online Course With Mathew Mitchell. Mathew's is also a very specialised session. During the session Mathew explains which applications he uses for his educational web content and how he makes his sites available the specific students taking part in the courses. He also goes into detail about how he structures his courses and – most importantly – why he structures them the way he does. Watch and learn.

Day Three

Common Sense & Pragmatism Andrew Tavernor. Andrew is probably the most pragmatic person that I know. Do you design your website with your user in mind, or do you just open up RW and begin piecing pages together? Andrew's session helps us to understand our visitors, how they approach a web interface (or life in general) and how to cater for said users. If you really want to target your audience, get ready to take notes! Watch and learn.

Managing Project Resources With Paul Russam. Paul's websites will always grab your attention and this is because Paul pays great attention to detail – not only to his websites, but also to his data structure. I have seen a great number of computer users that fill their desktop with files. Some even use the waste basket to store files. Paul gives just as much attention to the structure of his RW projects as he does to their presentation. In this session he demonstrates the tools he uses to manage a project so that each single file may easily be found. Watch and learn.

Professional Client's Areas With Jon Hawkins. Besides its developer, Jon is possibly the person that knows Total CMS better than anyone else on this planet. CMS isn't just about editing a web page's content, it's also about content accessibility. In this session Jon demonstrates how he creates the user interfaces that allow his clients to interact with their sites. Get ready to be amazed. Watch and learn.

Stacks: Pro to Developer With Isaiah Carew. At some point every Weaver has asked her/himself if it's possible to build the stack that does exactly what she/he wants. In this session Isaiah demonstrates just how easy it could be for those that have an even limited understanding of CSS/HTML. Isaiah takes apart an existing stack for us and explains each of its components. He then goes on to change the stack's function and turn it into a completely new stack. Watch and learn.

Email Design With Joe Workman. For years people have wanted to design email newsletters with RapidWeaver. Joe workman's suite of Email stacks now makes the creation of newsletters within RW possible. In this session, Joe takes a look at all of the Email stacks and gives numerous valuable tips for creating the perfect email with your favourite application. A Specialised Topic? Only suitable for Business Mails? Absolutely not! What about those emails that you send out to family and friends at Christmas and Thanksgiving, Dhu'l-Hijjah, or Songkran, etc.? Watch and learn.

Each of the video sessions is around 45 minutes in length and each is guaranteed to give you valuable tips that will either speed up your work process within RapidWeaver, help get your message across to your website visitors more effectively, or give you deeper understanding of what's going on (or what should be going on) behind the scenes.

I guarantee that no matter how long you have been developing websites, or using RapidWeaver, there is a great deal to be learnt from these sessions. And if you want more of this valuable information, the 2016 conference videos are still available too!
And if you missed the link above, here it is in plain text https://sessions.rapidweaverconference.com
*1000Kg = 1 metric ton

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Embedded YouTube Video in RapidWeaver

Marvin at RWtuts recently released an updated version of TubeWeaver. TubeWeaver is now fully responsive and takes advantage of the new YouTube API.

TubeWeaver is now at version 3. If you have version 2, you'll definitely want to update.
Version 2 from 2015 had no customisation options, version 3 changes that.

There's not a lot to explain about embedding a video on your RW stacks page.
Drag in TubeWeaver, insert the YouTube ID and that's it. There are, however, one or two settings that you might want to change.

Stack settings

First off, you'll want to set the YouTube Video ID. This is the code that appears at the end of the URL.
Player Colour – The new API allows you to choose between a Red, or a White progress bar.
Autoplay – is set to No by default.
Loop – is set to No by default.
Controls? – Is set to Display by default, but the controls may be hidden for a cleaner display.
Fullscreen? – When Deny is set, the video will not display any wider than the container that it is within.
Start At (s) – Set the starting point of the video, i.e. skip an intro sequence; get straight to the nitty-gritty.

TubeWeaver is quickly and simply set up. No bells and no whistles, but I personally find the Deny Fullscreen setting to be a useful feature.

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