MobileMe ends June 30 and if you are one of the many teachers using iWeb and MobileMe as your web hosting service, this is a very big deal. In this short post I will do my best to offer solutions so teachers can keep their web presence going without interruption.
Let’s get one thing straight though, you can’t have change AND keep everything the same. There are going to be changes, but our focus is to keep a web presence to assist our students and colleagues.
1) Keep Using iWeb: iWeb really is a great program. It’s easy to use, looks great, and just plain works. It is unfortunate that it won’t be updated and supported by Apple. Just because MobileMe hosting is going away doesn’t mean that you can’t continue using iWeb. You will need to find a new hosting service like BlueHost or another and pay them to host your site.
You can continue to publish iWeb using the built in File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service. Your new host will happily explain how to do the one-time set-up. Some educators have been using FTP and a separate host since its introduction, so this is nothing new. Many hosts like GoDaddy and GearHost have FAQ pages to help you out as well. Please know that some built-in iWeb services like the counter and blog comments will no longer work.
The built-in FTP client in iWeb however is not without its issues. It is primarily for uploading only and it appears you may need an additional FTP client for removing images, etc. from the server. I found a great resource on iWeb and FTP here.
I have heard rumblings that some hosts can be contacted and will allow educators to host for free. It would be worth checking out.
I found a nice post on how to host your iWeb website on DropBox for free here.
iWeb is still working in Lion OSX and will continue to work in Mountain Lion, after that it may no longer be supported.
Some teachers are even persuading their school to host their site.
2) WordPress: A few years ago I converted one of my iWeb sites to WordPress.com and then eventually WordPress.org. iWeb does not offer the greatest of SEO rankings, and I wanted to place ads, etc. I haven’t regretted that move. The site was primarily a blog anyway and it has worked out fine. I could see many teachers doing very well with WordPress as their solution. .com is free and .org needs hosting. Be sure to check that your district’s internet filters doesn’t keep your WordPress site out. Mine is fine, but I have seen that happen with others. There are many plugins and templates available for free to customize your site. It isn’t a WYSISYG like iWeb, but it does a great job.
3) Sandvox: If you are looking for a program to replace iWeb that will be supported and maintains much of the design richness iWeb offers, I highly recommend Sandvox. It really is impressive. It combines much of the user interface ease and smoothness, with a high level of WYSIWYG designing, and some features unavailable with iWeb, including better SEO rankings. Sandvox will eventually replace my iWeb for me because the updates and features keep getting better and better.
The newest version of Sandvox is discounted until June 30 and… this is great… has a built in iWeb content extractor to assist in moving from iWeb to Sandvox. I haven’t tried it, but it looks very helpful. You can use any host you want, but Sandvox has a partnership with A2 Hosting ($5.99 a month) to make the iWeb transfer incredibly smooth. I really like this software because it is so much like iWeb. (There are some differences, but it is very close.) Sandvox is $80 but has a 20% discount available until the end of the month. Very powerful program. Feature rich and user friendly. The migration tool makes it a no-brainer, if you are looking to replace iWeb. The staff I talked with are incredibly passionate and dedicated. I think you will be happy. Creates great websites quickly.
4) Flux 4: Another great web development tool is Flux 4. It is very, very powerful. Flux 4 is an HTML 5 design application. You do not choose templates, you can design and create freely. Amazingly powerful. It retails for $130. It isn’t as easy as Sandvox and iWeb, but the freedom of creativity is truly amazing. Flux 4′s powerful inspector with HTML 5 capability and something called Freecode allow it to make websites more stunning than any other tool I have seen. It’s not impossibly hard or even that difficult, but it is a bit more of a challenge than selecting a template. It will take you more time, but your results will be unique and powerful. If you are familiar with DreamWeaver, this will blow it out of the water. It really gives you the best of both worlds by including drag and drop design methods as well as actual code. You can see a short video of Flux in action here.
5) Leave Your Solution in the Comments for Others: Sure there are other solutions, but what I have listed above are the methods I most firmly believe in and would encourage. Some have suggested some other solutions, some even free, but I am not familiar enough with them to post a recommendation. I really don’t like the idea of separating photos to one site, links to another, adding a separate blog, etc. I like my students to go to one place as a central hub and find everything. My site is my virtual classroom open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I link up to other areas from my site and I purchase a vanity URL domain name. I recommend that you do the same.