Freeway is a website building product for the Mac that has been around since about 1996. Published by SoftPress, Freeway’s history has been a long one. In 2016 SoftPress ceased trading, before restarting in 2017 as a parred down business proclaiming that “We missed you! We’ve returned from the netherworld…….”
If you take a look at the latest version of Freeway, version 7, you will be immediately struck by how old the User Interface is. That is down to the fact that Freeway is a 32-bit Carbon application. If you use Freeway under macOS Mojave, you will get warning messages when you launch the app that the app should be updated. The Carbon API will not be supported in MacOS Catalina which will be an exclusively 64-bit Operating System. Therefore, if you upgrade your macOS this fall, you will find that Freeway will not work at all. It is rumoured that Freeway is being totally redeveloped as a brand new app, but no date set for release and being a new version 1.0 app may bring problems of its own.
Initial Impressions… It’s Old!
When first starting Freeway under macOS Mojave, the first message you will probably come across is one telling you that you will need to install Adobe Flash plug-in to run Flash files. In 2019, no website should be using Flash files at all. Adobe will finally stop support for the plug-in in 2020
After this warning message, you are taken to the Freeway’s theme template chooser… for general pages you have a choice of only nine built-in templates! After selecting the theme you want to use, you can start working on your website. Immediately you will be struck by how old the UI looks. This really slows you down your workflow when using the app as Freeway cannot take advantage of improvements to the macOS UI that have come over the years. In terms of usability, you have to remember that Freeway works in a different way to all other apps on the Mac. Freeway also uses floating panes everywhere which quickly becomes a pain as they always seem to be in exactly the place where you need to be. Moving panes out of the way constantly quickly becomes tiring.
Trying To Get To Know Freeway
Freeway states that you do not need to code at all to build your website. That may well be true, but you will quickly encounter HTML and CSS terms everywhere in the app as if you are expected to have foreknowledge of them before you start. You are left with the impression that this is somehow baggage from yesteryear which it actually is. Freeway’s has a great User Manual which is incredibly thorough and detailed. It is also bewildering for that exact reason. Again the impression is that you have to invest a lot of time and effort to get simple tasks done. If you want to find out about how to build a responsive website design in Freeway, this is not even covered in the User Manual but in the Reference Manual. Tucked away in an Appendix!
Getting Off The Freeway with EverWeb
Freeway’s has much to offer, but is bogged down with an old user interface, with commands and features that are often buried making even easy tasks a chore. Common tasks such as creating menus and image galleries will take you a lot more time than you may want to invest. Whilst Freeway 7 has come some way with navigation menu building in its latest incarnation, adding other features to your website is still not straightforward and non-intuitive. This becomes frustrating unless you have all the time in the world, like over complicated user interfaces and have some background about HTML and CSS just in case.
So why not take a different Freeway with EverWeb? Here are some comparisons…
- 64 Bit Application? EverWeb has been a 64-bit app for over 2 years. Freeway is a 32-bit app requiring a full code rewrite to become 64-bit compliant.
- User Interface: EverWeb has a modern design and User Interface. No floating panes to get in the way of your workflow. The UI takes advantage of modern macOS design and ease of use features. Freeway is based on the 32-Bit Carbon API so the UI and navigation is very limited, old and not user friendly.
- Ease of Use: All EverWeb features are usually just one mouse click away. EverWeb’s features are unambiguously and consistently named making it easy for users to find. EverWeb aims to make building a complex website easy for the user by doing all the ‘heavy lifting’ for you. Freeway’s roots are in desktop publishing so features are often named strangely or in and inconsistent way. Features are often buried and difficult to find or use. The complex UI makes it difficult for first time users to quickly build a website. There is no easy way to find information on building a responsive website.
- Theme Templates; EverWeb has almost 200 free to use Theme Templates, Freeway has nine.
- Responsive Web Design: EverWeb devotes a whole chapter in the User Manual to Responsive web design. There are also many beginner and advanced tutorials about Responsive design in YouTube. Freeway berries responsive design in an Appendix of the Reference Manual. The subject does not appear to be covered at all in the User Manual.
- E-Commerce: EverWeb lets you easily build an e-commerce store. Freeway has no e-commerce features.
- SEO: EverWeb has built in SEO features so does a lot of this work for you. There’s also an online course you can follow. Freeway includes SEO but it is difficult to find in the User Manual so you have to piece it together yourself.
- Hosting: EverWeb can be purchased as a standalone product or with Hosting. Freeway can only be purchased as a standalone product.
- Help & Support: EverWeb offers free 24x7x365 telephone and email support for users with an active software and support plan. Freeway offers telephone support 16 hours day charge at premium rates. Email support is available for free.
Is it time to get off the Freeway? If you a modern, up to date website building app that makes hard work easy for you, the answer is undoubtedly yes.