Blog Post

Has Apple Given Up on iWeb?

iLife ’11, unveiled at the latest Apple (s aapl) event, brings no update for iWeb. Users should rightly wonder what the fate of the app will be. It’s a shame iWeb is being ignored, because it made web design accessible to all levels of Mac users, but maybe it’s just time for a new model.

iWeb’s Origins

The design philosophy behind iWeb is summed up best in the Keynote slide pictured below, from Macworld 2006. According to Steve Jobs, software was either too simple for producing web sites that looked good, or too complex for the average consumer. Instead of HTML editing, iWeb used customizable themes and a WYSIWYG interface.

It was easy to use, and things looked good, but cross-browser compatibility proved to be difficult. iWeb’s solution caused immediate problems, most notably the creation of multi-megabyte webpages that substituted .png images for elements like text to ensure iWeb designs looked the same in all browsers. Even then, there were issues with compatibility, and the HTML iWeb generated was pretty ugly.

Update History

Not surprisingly, a large update was quickly issued that addressed complaints about generating and publishing pages. A year later, iWeb 2.0 in iLife ’08 added more themes, blog comments, photo gallery pages, widgets, user-generated “HTML snippets” on web pages, and integration with domain names hosted on MobileMe. This was a big update, and demonstrated a high level of commitment to the software on Apple’s part, but then something happened.

With iLife ’09, iWeb got… more widgets. Development had dropped off sharply. Now, with iLife ’11, the drop has ended with a splat, as any development efforts seem to have become simply code maintenance. So has the program indeed been abandoned?

It probably has, and it could be that Apple had no choice, since making iWeb work across all platforms would be nearly impossible. But it could also be the case that iWeb’s replacement will be even more elegant.

iWeb’s Fatal Flaw

The main problem is the document model. In iWeb, a single bundle is created for all web pages and websites from which HTML pages are rendered when publishing. While this allows for an incredibly rich and easy-to-use development environment, it also means iWeb documents can balloon into huge files over time.

More importantly, the document file can only be accessed by iWeb from the Mac it resides on. That means you can’t create a gallery page with pictures just taken from your iPhone, or blog from your iPad. iWeb was created before these devices really became established as tools for producing content, and now its single-location model looks antiquated.

The Solution

Somewhat ironically, the solution to iWeb’s computer-centric dilemma is also built into the program: MobileMe. While iWeb does not strictly require MobileMe, server-side features like blog comments, passwords, search, and domain name association require it. The future of iWeb development is to fully integrate it with MobileMe.

For photos, that future is already here, too. MobileMe Gallery already duplicates the functionality of photo galleries in iWeb. You can even create a Flash—don’t tell Steve—widget in iWeb that links to a MobileMe gallery.

Why can’t the same services be set up for blogs, podcasts, and web pages? Now that Apple has finally announced the end of .Mac HomePages, perhaps that’s what will happen. Instead of giant documents on one computer and spaghetti HTML, we could have HTML5, Ajax, H.264, all kept in the cloud and accessed via MobileMe from anywhere.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely there’d be a way to integrate current iWeb sites into that MobileMe future, so iWeb’s past would be lost, but at least there would be some way to create “beautiful websites, so simply, so easily” from Macs and other Apple devices.

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17 Responses to “Has Apple Given Up on iWeb?”

  1. the whole iWeb MobileMe thing has been such a frustrating (yet oh-so-promising) vision for me. i LOVE (loved?) iWeb so much, yet held back, from my plans/visions/goals/projects— perhaps do my ‘detriment’, but really- i mean I’m NOT going to dive in to CMS. I’m not. I’m not going to learn someone’s [read less-than-intuitive, less than enjoyable] means of allowing multimedia and data to intermix. Not gonna do it. I will wait till Apple gets it’s data center squared away, it’s MobileMe out of it’s ass, and iWeb either re-envisioned and/or a total platform or means of integrating this great- amazing desktop experience, with the web.

  2. Charlie Brown

    This confirms my suspicions. I don’t update often, but that is just as valid a reason as someone who updates daily. The bugs and work arounds are not fresh in my mind. I’m switching vs re-creating in iweb.

  3. When iWeb was released it was amazing and redefined a lot of what was happening in the Mac web design world. Now it is lagging behind and could do with a serious update; SEO, HTML 5, image galleries, feedback forms, etc, etc.
    I hope Apple get their act together and do something soon.
    I’ve now moved to Freeway Pro and it offers me the same design simplicity without the limits mentioned.

  4. Ames Tiedeman

    Dot Apple never really took off iWeb looks the same to me. Can someone explain the philosophical argument Jobs has against Flash? Does he just hate Adobe for some sublime reason or is Flash old technology that belongs in the trash heap of technological history?

  5. Co1inDarby

    Back in the day, I used to have to edit raw postscript in order for certain jobs to rip correctly to the imagesetter, after they had been created in Quark/Pagemaker.

    All that changed because consumers demanded it, and nobody has to see postscript anymore.

    At the moment were doing exactly the same with the web – creating most of it in wysiwyg, but then fine tuning it in a text editor.

    All that will change – in the future nobody will have to see the code – but we as consumers have to demand it.

  6. I am pretty sure Apple will bring something that is much different to the current iWeb. I think they will come up with a new “iWeb” and integrate it with what users have on MobileMe, with iTunes/Ping and probably with facebook and with many other Web 2.0 features. Apple will not stopping to provide a Web content solution but rather come up with something really innovative… Bet you!?

  7. Aquaman_Tom

    I think they are holding out for OSX Lion’s release and will update them all again next summer when Lion is released. Some of the stuff like trailers had preset text that said “summer 2010” which I’m assuming that they wanted to release iLife 11′ this past summer instead of this week and the apps are still in 32-bit instead of 64 which Snow Leopard is mostly made of. Sidetracked but iWeb could be, should be, part of a MobileMe subscription.

    • Many have tried to build a WYSIWYG HTML editor, and all have failed. Now, with HTML5 having so many features (add to that libraries like jQuery) that work so differently across browsers, a visual HTML editor seems further away than ever.

  8. I think the main issue is that web publishing never really made it to a consumer-level experience. Between blogspot,, and facebook, everyone who wants to publish some photos of baby Johhny/Jane can do it faster, easier, and with a better distribution model than running your own website.

    My wife is a perfect example of this – she’s moves from a website to to facebook over the past 5 years as her way of keeping friends and family up to date. And facebook works way better than the first 2 did.

    Web site creation is now left to creatives and small businesses – both are niche markets as far as iLife is concerned…

  9. it’d be great to know more on this topic, since I am about to upgrade! Now, I don’t know if I should switch to iWeb, or stay with the Dreamweaver 8!

    DW8 is by Adobe, and might not work on Snow Leopard… I’d hate to get caught in crossfire between Apple and Adobe…