June 25, 2018

Mobirise web editor - pros and pains

Recently I decided to clean up my system and program drive (a Samsung SSD). I use Mobirise quite often to relatively quickly build websites. It is a handy tool to swiftly build simple sites in a brief measure of time. The program allows to install different versions alongside each other. I uninstalled an older version, but soon found out that Mobirise projects are linked to a specific version. Newer versions are unable to open projects that were built in older ones. That was a huge surprise. So when I was asked to update a client's website, I found myself unable to open its project with the newest version of Mobirise. This meant that I had to look for the matching older version, install it and import the project in that one to edit it. So much for freeing up space on my SSD...

After installing the older version I found that my own website was no longer remembered by the latest version of Mobirise that I had installed on my machine (&$#@&!!!!). Importing my website's project failed, because I had not exported the site after editing it. Mobirise can not import html-files; it has to be a mobirise.project. Installing an older version seems to automatically reset the program's memory, forcing users to start from scratch or import projects that were meticulously updated, parallel to updating the site. This probably has to do with the data the program stores somewhere in the C:\Users\blabla directories. It definitely is something to keep in mind when editing websites and upgrading to newer versions and re-installing older versions.

Running into these peculiarities may require a lot of time and effort to restore. Users of Mobirise should keep all versions installed with which websites were built if maintenance at a later date is required and always export projects immediately after updating websites in order to be able to edit them after installing other versions of Mobirise. This could imply that users may end up with a number of different installations of different versions Mobirise. If many sites were built using Mobirise, they should also keep track of which version was used to create which website. Concerning the project export problem, it must be noted that the program does not automatically Export the site when Publishing it. If you don't do this, you will most likely end up in deep shit at some point. Mobirise is a free program, but it comes at a price.

As a last resort I tried to import and edit the html-pages and related data of the websites in Pinegrow, but soon found out that Mobirise buries a lot of detail in various style sheets and java and json files and scripts, which is a pain to figure out, even in Pinegrow, because they are scattered all over the place. This is all done intentionally of course to make sure that if people start using Mobirise, they will stay with Mobirise that makes its money by selling extensions that give the program added functionality. It's OK to (continue to) use this program, but users have to be aware of its pitfalls. When building a decent amount of websites, it is probably wise to look for a more structured alternative. On the other hand, if you only have one or two pages to build and maintain, you will find Mobirise (even in its standard, extension-less form) has some pretty amazing options.

After finding out all these utterly annoying, weird and unexpected quirks, I estimated that it would cost me a lot less time and headaches to rebuild my website from scratch. I wasn't happy with some elements anyway, so this was an opportunity to approach matters differently. I wouldn't have ended up doing this had all this mishap not occurred, so that is a small positive aspect of this unforeseen chain of events. For the time being the previous version is still on-line, but the new one will hopefully replace it not too long from now (June 25 2018). Stay tuned.

My revamped website is on-line now - June 28 2018.