How does RapidWeaver 8 work?

I am a highly experienced software developer, have written several web applications using HTML/PHP/Javascript, and crafted several web pages by editing the bare HTML. I am looking for something more efficient that that. I just downloaded a trial version of RapidWeaver 8. Unlike many other web tools I have used, it is a complete mystery, and the only “manual” is a bunch of videos. I watched the first one.

So I select a theme “Engineer”, and in edit mode type some random text and drop in an image. The image happens to be larger than the entire monitor, so I only see the left piece of it in the edit pane, and must scroll around to see anything other than its left edge (no way to see the rest). Strange and rather disconcerting (who wants to see just a piece of a large image?). I switch to Preview mode, and the whole image is visible, as wide as the webpage. I cannot find a clue how to resize the image – how do I do that?

I see text above and below the image. I want to resize the image to 0.5 window width and place it on the right, with text flowing around it on the left – how do I do that? (I have done this in HTML, so I know it is possible, and many websites do it.)

I do not want the banner to take up the entire first view of the webpage. I figured out how to remove the banner, but I want one ~ 1 inch tall – how do I do that?

These are just a few basic things I thought a website editor would easily do “out of the box”. How can I learn to use RapidWeaver without spending hours and hours watching videos?

Welcome Tom!

RW is a highly sophisticated and flexible piece of software which allows users who just want drag and drop to build elegant sites; but at the same time supports multiple forms and styles of coding.

Your experience will have taught you, I feel sure, that very little effective and complex software simply allows you to start playing and expect to get satisfactory results.

Most users put in time and effort with resources like these and this - as well as here for the Engineer Theme - to experiment, refine and get up to speed quite quickly.

A couple of hours with this kind of documentation by your side, and you’ll soon become familiar with the models and metaphors around which RW has developed over the years. Good luck!

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If you evaluate RW8 also obtains the “Stacks” free trial (link below). Stacks is a “Page Type” plugin and in my opinion is a mandatory add-on. Stacks allows you to use 3rd party “stacks.” I maintain a 1700 page website and every page is a Stacks page. It does take some time to learn how all this works. Watch the Stacks videos also as well. Externals, Partials, etc will help you save a LOT of time and help build websites as RW alone can’t. (global changes, etc.)

When I build websites I start with a blank theme (based on Bootstrap) and and I use Stacks with the header, footer, etc all being done with by using “stacks.”

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I hate to change the subject but… this is extraordinary.

I’d recommend keeping your number of pages a tad less high. But I applaud Greg’s perseverance in maintaining such a massive site. :clap::clap: Bravo.

@Isaiah - Yes, good point! I did not intend to infer that RW is great for large sites like that. Actually, the 1700 page number is a bit misleading as the 1700 php and html pages are broken up into eight different projects that are coordinated to act as one. Each RW project file is a “section” of the site. For example, “Store,” “Free eBooks,” “Articles,” and etc. Largest project file is 120 mb. (I load all “resources” to the server and keep them out of RW project file.) It is actually very easy to maintain this way. You just need a firm understanding of what is “local” and what would affect other areas (project files).


you need to give classes on this. you’ve reached some next-level type of mastery here.

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You sir, are the Master! I am but a humble benefactor of your vision, knowledge, and work.


Have a look through these videos, I think that they will help.

I see that Stacks is absolutely essential to doing anything sensible with RapidWeaver. I downloaded the “free trial” of Stacks 4. It stopped working after about an hour – whenever I drop something it refuses to do it and pops up a “buy now” dialog box.

I have spent about three hours watching videos that contained information I could have found in a written manual in FAR less time. I concluded I need Stacks, and downloaded its “free demo”. I was starting to figure out how to use Stacks when its “free demo” stopped working after just an hour or so (prompting to purchase it). I am trying to craft a technical website, and it’s now clear that RW simply cannot do that without Stacks, and probably needs several other add-ons as well (one of Foundry or Foundation, plus perhaps others). I am not trying to do anything special or obscure, just apply a common theme and header to all pages, place images where I want them, and entering styled text around the images, with links to other pages.

What I GREATLY dislike about this is the requirement that users be clairvoyant. Yes, there are hundreds of stacks available, but how do I find one that lets me resize an image? Or find a theme that does not force me to use a background or image completely unrelated to my content, and does not waste the top 6 inches of the page? – Google did not help very much, and asking in the forum has too large a response time. Perhaps these are buried inside Foundry or Foundation, but I have no way of evaluating them since Stacks stopped working.

So it looks like I need to spend over $200 before I can determine whether RapidWeaver+Stacks+Foundry or RapidWeaver+Stacks+Foundation will actually do what I need to do. While I will gladly spend that for a tool that works well, my experience with RW so far is not encouraging. And with the Stacks demo lasting only an hour, I cannot evaluate it, either.

I hold weekly hangouts every Friday. Feel free to join and myself and other users will be glad to clear up any questions that you have.

Link for hangout is here…

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Not sure what you mean by a ‘technical website’ but you can build decent, responsive sites without stacks - just using the built in pages. The ‘styled text’ page will take it’s width from the theme settings and then you can easily use h1 to h6 headings, bold, italic, underline, align left, centre, right, add bullets / number lists, blockquote, make paragraphs, sub and superscript. You can add and align images and text wrap. Double clicking the image gives control over scale, shadow, border, angle and crop.

In addition you have other pages for blog, gallery, offsite and more.

However, Stacks gives a lot more flexibility both for positioning / layout and functions. You can use stacks with any responsive theme. You can also get a free (donations welcome) ‘Blank’ theme from Will Woodward and create your own layout using stacks: Blank RapidWeaver Theme | ThemeFlood It doesn’t have to be $200!

Other blank themes are really frameworks with specialist stacks - Source is great ‘lightweight’ option and inexpensive: . Foundry and Foundation are bigger and more comprehensive products.

You shouldn’t need many extra stacks if you evaluate carefully. Stacks 4 come with a load built in. Beyond those, buy according to your needs. BWD makes amazing stacks and they are donation only: RapidWeaver Stacks

Themes - as you might expect - take care of the framework of the page including navigation and banner. A decent theme will offer flexibility for things like banner height, navigation colours, site width, a selection of fonts / sizes including header colour and size, and more. Better themes offer more flexibility. 3rd party stacks are typically $20-35 - comparing very favourably to WordPress themes of similar quality which are more like $60 plus annual support licences! Obviously the blank themes give you full creative control with stacks.

Any product is going to have a learning curve - about 25% of our work is WordPress and trust me, some of their pro themes need a lot of custom css to make simple changes to layout which you can do out of the box with Rapidweaver. Any other product I can think of will take a good period of time experimenting before you get any degree of competency.

Out of interest, if you close Rapidweaver and restart, do you get another hour of Stacks trial time?

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Hi Tom,
I’m new to Rapidweaver. I’m creating a site for my local (outdoor lawn green) bowls association of 10 clubs. I agree about the banners being large and taking up too much page space. I used ‘Engineer’ theme and hid the banner on all pages. I use the ‘core’ stacks with a table and gallery stack. I created all my graphics in ‘Pages’ and export them as .jpg or .png files. Not an expert but Rapidweaver and stacks hides that fact!!
Hope this helps,
Len Price

Do it! Joe is the best.

Tom, I hear what you’re saying. And you’re right, Rapidweaver is easy for newbie website creators (grab a theme, fill it, ready), but quite complicated for people who want more control. A written manual would be nice, but is quite difficult, because there are so many parties involved.

  • Rapidweaver is created by Realmacsoftware. They made an open system for which developers could create add-ons; themes and page types.
  • Isaiah created an add-on that has become hugely popular with users of the program, called Stacks. As you now know, this add-on is open as well, allowing still other developers to create stacks (no capital s) for Stacks (with capital S).
  • Some developers have used this opportunity to create platforms in Stacks; a blank template that can be filled with all sorts of stacks, plus a series of stacks that fit the template.

Where the aforementioned newbie can just get Rapidweaver, choose a theme, and be done with it, people like you should probably start by deciding on a platform. It’s a completely different way of approaching the software. And to be honest, this should be communicated better by Realmacsoftware.

A manual would have to cover at least one such platform (Foundation and Foundry are the most popular ones, Platform is newer but making inroads) and the stacks belonging to that platform, plus the Stacks page template, plus Rapidweaver itself. And it’s difficult making an informed decision on what platform, as you mostly can only look at them from the outside - especially if you can only test things for an hour before you have to buy Stacks. There are a number of threads here asking ‘Which platform should I get?’, but I haven’t found one with definite answers or a good side-by-side comparison of the different platforms.

Personal note: I’m sort of a Rapidweaver newbie, so take my comments with that in mind. I dabbled with Rapidweaver about a decade ago, when it was just a piece of software for easy template-based web development. That was when Isaiah launched the first version of Stacks. I didn’t continue with website development (based on reasons that have nothing to do with Stacks, I haste to add), and came back at the start of this year, because my wife wanted her own photography website. And found out how Stacks had developed, that there are now platforms and such … I knew from the start that I needed Stacks, but hadn’t expected to get a platform as well.
I chose Platform and started developing my wife’s site - and then she chose to have someone else do it in Wordpress. Grr.


Hi Wim

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Grrrrrrr indeed :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

Oh man… I sounds like grounds for a divorce right there! :wink:

P.S. This was a joke, in case that was not obvious. :slight_smile:


You know, there are a few things that I value even more than Rapidweaver.

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I have decided not to use RapidWeaver. My primary reasons are:

  • the collection of several companies providing essential pieces
  • an incredibly short 1-hour trial period for Stacks
  • the lack of a manual in which I can readily look things up
  • we just need a static website presenting technical information consisting of images, text, and links – no blog, gallery, etc.

We needed something within a week, and I decided to build the website in HTML (I have done this before, and have written several apps in HTML/JavaScript/PHP). I started using Kompozer, which I have used for years, but decided that since it is a 32-bit app without any support, it is too close to end-of-life; I switched to Adobe DreamWeaver.

This may not be a viable choice for many people, but it is right for me, and the website debuted on schedule and has been a success. I investigated RapidWeaver to try more modern tools and approaches. While I see the advantage for many people, it just did not work for me.