I have read the mixed reviews. I have looked at the insanely redundant (yet CSS based) code. I have pointed and clicked my way to a pretty cool website! It is definitely worth the $79 price tag, especially considering that the price includes the entire iLife ’06 suite! (iLife also includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and Garage Band)
This is not a professional web design/development application, and anyone who is looking for that will not be happy with it. Design options are limited in many ways. Programming options are limited to what is built in. Generated source code is mostly lots of divs with tons of repetitive inline styling and NO semantic markup. If you need a pro wysiwyg web app, Dreamweaver 8 is the way to go.
iWeb comes with an impressive list of built in features, including automatic photo slideshows and photocasts for photo pages, podcast pages, and blogs. Most things, including RSS feeds for blog, podcast, and photocast syndication, are completely automatic and ready to go as soon as you upload your page to .mac (see diversion). You can use iWeb without a .mac account. I have not tried that yet. I don’t know if one click publishing is available and if all features work the same way. That is an experiment for another day. With a .mac account, it couldn’t be easier to use.
iWeb is a great application. There is plenty of room for improvement, and I am guessing it will arrive in future versions. Should you wait for the next version? My answer would be no. Anyone can make nice looking websites quickly and easily with iWeb 1.0! It is web publishing for everybody. I like it!
Okay, .mac… that is another story. After using it for a year, and not being sure it is worth the $50 I paid last year (Amazon w/discount for applying for credit card) or the $70 I paid this year (after rebate for buying imac), I have decided that it is worth the money.
Last year, I got a bunch of free software (some of which I actually even use), and this year, just having the ability to sync my 2 macs to each other so easily and automatically is worth the price. Retail version is $99.95/yr from Apple or $79.99/yr from Amazon. I think the Amazon price is very fair. I think the Apple price is a little high, but still worth it if you use the syncing, backup, and software integration features.
There are ways to do the things that .mac does without having a .mac account. The main thing that makes .mac worth the price is the convenience, ease of use, and integration with quite a bit of mac software (both apple and third party). If you look hard enough, you can do everything that .mac does for free (assuming your time is not worth anything!).