Adobe Muse review

Before you leave the master page, there’s one crucial task you need to take care of: arranging site navigation. This is done by opening the Widgets Library panel and dragging on one of the pre-provided horizontal or vertical menu bars. It’s then relatively straightforward to change the default look of your menus using all of Muse’s formatting capabilities. Most importantly, Muse automatically picks up the links for your menus from the site plan you created earlier.

With your global design and navigation in place, you’re now ready to work on your individual pages. Muse lets you add a textbox anywhere onscreen, or you can simply add text to an existing rectangle. Text control includes web-friendly CSS-based formatting managed both directly and via character and paragraph styles.

You can also add some impressive interactivity to your pages by dragging on Accordion, Tabbed Panels and Slideshow widgets, and by using the Insert HTML command to add code snippets such as those provided by Flickr, GoogleMaps and YouTube (currently, this seems to be the only way to incorporate video). To see it all in action as end users will see it, you simply switch to Muse’s Preview View.

Adobe Muse

When you’re happy with what you see, you can export your pages to HTML and upload the results to any third-party host. Alternatively, by switching to Muse’s Publish View, you can post your site directly to Adobe’s own Business Catalyst servers. Such integrated publishing is more efficient and offers other advantages, such as built-in site statistics and blogging, but don’t expect the hosting to be free.

Many web designers will be appalled at the idea of locking yourself in to a particular provider, and even more so at the thought of devolving all code handling and output duties to your software. Muse certainly isn’t a replacement for Dreamweaver and shouldn’t be seen as such. However, Adobe is right to realise that with good browser support for CSS2 now widespread (IE6 excepted), the web has changed and simple, no-code, wysiwyg authoring isn’t only feasible but capable of producing excellent results.

There’s no doubt many code-phobic users will love Muse and the way it enables them to transfer their visual design skills directly to the web. However, there’s another catch to bear in mind: Adobe has announced it will sell Muse only on a subscription basis. The annual price isn’t outrageous (expected to be $180) and the no-commitment monthly option ($20) might well suit occasional users – but again, the spectre of lock-in raises its head. In particular, the inability to update a site without an active subscription may well push potential users towards other code-free alternatives such as Xara, Artisteer and NetObjects Fusion.

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Software subcategoryWeb development

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