Sections 2 (left) & Section 5 (right)
One of the big plusses in RapidWeaver is how extensible it is. There is one plug in called Stacks that gives you a very flexible page type in RapidWeaver. The Stack page type accepts Stacks plug ins which do all kinds of amazing things. It is basically drag and drop HTML coding, where you get beautiful end results without having to do a lot of fancy HTML coding. When I started looking into doing a photo collage for a potential FAVORITE FOODS section I was surprised to find that there was no RapidWeaver plug in for this. Around the first of the year Stacks 2 was released with some really powerful and amazing new capabilities. The Stacks plug in developers responded with a flood of new plug ins. But until a week ago there was still no plug in for what I wanted to do. About a week ago I received a promotional email announcing a Stacks 2 plug in called Montage. It sounded like it was exactly what I was looking for and had some extra features I hadn’t even expected.
Sections 1 & 4 (left) & Section 7 (right)
The plug in cost $9, so I simply bought a copy to test it. It didn’t take long to see it could also be a solution for simplifying my home page. I could replace much of the text with a collage that doubled as a navigation aid. The next step was to work on the new FAVORITE FOODS section. Originally I was planning on one page with a large collage of my favorites shown all on this one page. But this Montage plug in does a new variation on the page layout each time the page is reloaded or refreshed. This keeps the the page frsh looking, but it means all the images must be sized to sit the largest image size that might be used. The practically having all of those images on one page would lead to slow loading times. About 10 or so images per page was a good number and so it seemed logical to follow the exact path I had done with the blogs. The blog broke things down using the same type of organization I’d used for the Food Photos section of the site. So Beef, Burgers, Desserts etc. When I was writing the blog some categories, like Pork for example, had enough entries to rate it’s own Favorite Foods blog entry. Others didn’t have as many entries, so I’d group things that shared certain categories. For example one entry was things that were served on some form of bread: Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Sandwiches, Panini, Quesadillas etc.
Sections 3 (left) & Section 6 (right)
With the organization method in place, it was time to create the pages. I soon found I could do it in six entries instead of seven. I combined parts one and four of the blog entries because each had only 5 entries. A 10 picture collage would be more interesting than two 5 picture collages. I used the best picture from each of the recipes Photo Galleries for the collage. Plus I decided I would also use the picture I had used for each blog entries main image to represent the original blog entry. This blog entry main picture was actually a collage too. By using the blog entry picture it gave me another picture for each of the FAVORITE FOODS pages. Additionally I could use this picture as a link to the original blog entry if folks are interested in learning more. I also added captions to each photo in the collage which pop up when you mouse over the image. In the case of of a recipe, it is the name of the recipe and for the blog thumbs’ the captions are the name of the blog entry. The images are all linked back to the original Photo Entry pages on the site.
So as a visitor to the site what do these pages do for you? First and foremost it is a visually attractive “food porn” page. You can never have to much “food porn”. People that like this hobby seem to naturally like viewing food pictures. So here are a series of collages of the best recipes I’ve been fortunate enough to make over the years. Next it answers the questions many folks visiting this site have about what the best things I have made are. Hovering your mouse over an image pops up a caption with the name of the recipe/Photo Gallery. Lastly clicking on the image takes you to the food entry page or blog referenced in the photo.
I will admit these pages are a work in progress. I had thought about the FAVORITE FOODS section in a big picture manner. I’d thought of it as a single page entry with lots of images. Instead it is 6 pages with 8-10 larger images. To be honest the release of this Montage plug caught me by surprise. On the one hand I was excited to finally be able to do this wish list section. On the other I wasn’t able to give it much detailed thought. So there are some things I think I will tweak both visually and in terms of content. The first big decision I have to make is what to do about new items which turned out betters that the winners in 2010. Do I add the new item? Do I keep or delete the old winner? How do I handle the discrepancies this creates between these pages and the original blog entry? I may also make some graphical tweaks to the layout and replace some of the images.
But for you as the end user, enjoy the “food porn” in the new FAVORITE FOODS section. If you are looking for an outstanding recipe created a great chef that I had success making you have come to the right place. Clicking on the photo will bring you to the Photo Entry for that item. There you will find more pictures and a written description of the cook. Also the Photo Entry page will contain a reference to the cookbook or website the recipe came from. If the cookbook author has made a version of the recipe available online, there will also be a link to the online version of that recipe. This way you can try it out for yourself. If you have any feedback or suggestions for this section use the CONTACT ME form link right here, or found in the main menu bar or now in the collage in the main body of the home page.