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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!

Comments

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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Link Drawer for RapidWeaver

The folks at the One Little Designer smithy seem to be working overtime. They just released yet another interesting stack. In a similar vein to Action Menu, Link Drawer is a home for your links or menu items. It can be fixed at the top, or the bottom of your page, or it can be placed inline.

Link Drawer – 1LDThe Link Drawer toggle can be as wide as the container that it is enclosed in, or set to a fixed pixel width.
The drawer too! The drawer also allows you to set the number of columns it displays – for Desktop, Tablet and mobile devices. So if you set the drawer to 4 columns wide and then add 8 Drawer Items, you will have a grid with 4 x 2 link items on the desktop.
Each Drawer Item displays an Icon and a text. The Icon can be chosen from FontAwesome, Google Material Icons, or Ion Icons, but if you prefer, you can also add your own icons, i.e. a png, or a jpg image. Sadly SVG's are not (yet?) recognised.

Link Drawer – 1LD

Stack settings

General
Start Collapsed – Default
z-Index – Set by default to a pessimistic 1 quadrillion. I've recently seen this number before somewhere?? Today's developers seem to be obsessed by being top of the pile!
Max Width – in px
Breakpoints – Tablet, Mobile
Columns – Desktop, Tablet, Mobile

Drawer
Font Family – 14 Options, including Custom.
Outer Margin
Corner Radius
Border Weight
Border Colour
Shadow
Background – Off, Colour, Gradient, Image

Items
Icon Size – Desktop, Tablet, Mobile
Text Size – Dito
Icon Colour – Initial, Hover
Text Colour – Dito
Background [Colour] – Dito
Border Colour – Dito
Gutters
Content Spacing – Spacing between Icon and Text
Padding – Vertical Horizontal
Radius

Toggle
Hide Icon
Fill Mode – Full, Pixel
Width – px
Alignment –Left, Centre, Right
Height – px
Text – Open, Close
Background [Colour] – Initial, Hover
Icon [Colour] – Dito

Link Drawer Item
Link
Icon
Use Custom Icon
Responsive Hid

As you can see by the list of settings, Link Drawer is highly configurable and I can see many uses for it.
My only 'criticism', if you'd like to call it that, is the lack of support for SVG icons and the inability to alter the toggle Icon.

Otherwise — a great stack!

Comments

Download Links in RapidWeaver

A while ago Marathia stacks released a stack that automatically added a link icon to any links contained within it. Yesterday Jeroen released a new stack that will automatically add the correct file icon to those links. Both stacks may be used in combination.

DownloadLinkIcon will not only add the correct icon to a linked file, but it can also force the file to download instead of being displayed in the browser.
LinkPlus can add the appropriate link icon – Internal Link, External Link, or Email to any links contained within a text and format your links so that they are easily identifiable within your flow of text.

Let me begin with the older of the two stacks – LinkPlus – when you drag the stack onto your page, it displays a container into which you can add a text stack. The stack settings allow you to set the icons to be used i.e. internal and/or external and/or email icons which are then automatically added to any links within the text. You can also set the icon colour and the link colours individually – for Link, Hover, Active and Visited states in each case.

Quite recently Google decided that underlined links are 'Oh, so 90s' and removed all underlines from their search pages. This Blog also doesn't use underlined links. While it might be fashionable to indicate links by using colours alone, this can cause problems when your visitor has a sight impediment. (I hope that if you are visually impaired and regularly visit my page, that you are aware that 90% of the product names mentioned are linked to the appropriate page?)

LinkPlus has the additional options of not only adding underlines to linked text, but also also format the links as bold/italic and can add a background colour to aid your visitors in identifying links.
The only thing that you need to observe is that external links must begin with 'http://', or 'https://' for the appropriate icon to be added.

The external link icon may be solid, or open and can be applied to all links within the stack, or to all links that will open in a new window.
LinkPlus also has an option to target text stacks that have a custom selector. This makes it possible to target all text links on a page.

DownloadLinkIcon adds an icon before or after a text link to a downloadable file. The stack will automatically add the most appropriate icon based on the file extension, but you can also override its choice.
As with many recent stacks an instruction sheet is added to your page along with the stack. DownloadLinkIcon has a neat addition – a cheatsheet may be loaded in addition to the user instructions!
The icons used by both stacks are loaded from Font Awesome. Instead of having to go to the Font Awesome site to search for an appropriate icon (who knows all 675 FA Icons? I certainly don't), the cheatsheet displays all file-related icons from A - Archive to V - Video, plus generic icons such as Download and Dropbox.

LinkPlus and DownloadLinkIcon are two useful stacks that make links immediately identifiable. The latter can also force a file download – a feature that is often requested by Weavers.

Comments

Quick 'n' Dirty Sections in RapidWeaver

I have a softspot for stacks that save me time and save me from having to think. I'm a graphic Designer (at least, that's what my diploma says) but sometimes it's nice to be able to just drag a stack onto a page, drop in an image and some text and then move on to the next section. Quick 'n' Dirty! And that's exactly what the new Section stack from Weavium allows me to do…

Section is a free stack that allows me to switch off for a while. Full width sections with header and caption text and a bare minimum of design possibilities. All I need to do is decide on a colour for the background and contrasting colours for the Header and caption. Once I've done so, I can drop in my content and move on to the next section.

Section Weavium

I recently built a site that contained just such sections containing price information for various services. Had I had Weavium's Section, I'd have had the page finished in half the time (and could still have charged the same price!).

Stack settings

General
Padding T,B,L,R. Default 100,100, 20, 20px

Menu
Background [colour] None, Solid, Gradient, Image.

Section Title
Colour
Size – Desk, Mobile, Tablet
Space Below – Desk, Mobile, Tablet
Max Width
Font – 15 popular web fonts plus custom
Font Weight – Bold (default), Normal

Section Description
Same options as above.

Section is a soft release, so you can expect a few changes to appear in the very near future e.g. customisation of the color and sizing of header tags, text, and links within the content.
This is a neat little stack, made all the more interesting by the fact that is's free.

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rjh web design

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