Adobe unveils beta of 'easy' web design tool

Adobe unveils beta of 'easy' web design tool

Summary: The AIR-based tool, which goes under the codename 'Muse', is aimed at graphic designers and other people who want to build web pages without needing any coding skills


Adobe has released the public beta of a website design tool that, for now, goes under the codename 'Muse'.

Muse, which operates using Adobe's cross-platform AIR runtime, was made available on Monday. Unlike the same company's more complex Dreamweaver, Muse is targeted at graphic designers who want to design and publish websites without needing coding skills.

In a statement, Adobe said the tool used the latest web standards, such as HTML 5 and CSS3, and provided "innovative frameworks for adding navigation, widgets and HTML to include advanced interactivity on a site".

"The ability to build websites as easily as laying out a page in InDesign is one of the most popular requests from our design customers," Adobe's design and web product chief Lea Hickman said in the statement.

Muse provides many customisable site features, including widgets such as navigation menus, and interactive elements such as slideshows and remote rollovers. It allows for master page layouts and site-wide properties, as well as sitemaps that can be quickly changed.

Other signs that Muse is aimed at graphic designers include automatic image optimisation for .psd and .png files when the site is published, and the ability to switch between 'web-safe' fonts and display fonts that are automatically converted to images.

One notable feature of the tool is the ability to create Adobe-hosted trial sites where the designer can test their creation. These can then be converted to paid-for Adobe-hosted sites, sent to clients or exported for FTP to other hosting providers.

Muse also allows 'round-trip editing' so images edited in Photoshop or Fireworks will be automatically reflected in the webpage layout.

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Topic: Apps

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • I'm a graphic designer. I just looked at Muse and do think it has great potential but seems rather limited right now. Useful for those who need to create portfolio sites and that's about it. Sites for clients that require CMS, ecommerce and the like will have to continue being made through other platforms.
  • I'm not a web designer, more a technician that does loads of stuff. I'm in no way an expert, but in general (and colleges and universities support this no-code approach which I find disgusting) you can never be a proper web designer unless you show HTML4&5 and CSS skills. It's really bad to rely on using WYSIWYG tools to create a site because it is never optimized so all browsers render it properly, the code is never optimized for speed (and face it, if this is to show a prospective employer your web design skills, they will reject you as soon as they open your page in source view) and it gives people who want to seriously do web design a false sense of achievement, the achievement comes in making a web page in Notepad. Even in big CMSes I've built, every line of code was hand typed. None of it was auto-generated.

    Tools like this should be used by people who want a Microsoft Word easy way of moving stuff around, who just want to build a cheap web presence for their bakery business, but I fear this may lead to a slight uptick in 'web designers' who think they don't ever need to bother with learning the underlying code (like those that have been pirating Dreamweaver for the last 10 years), which means people who went to the trouble to learn the standards, make a website that loads in every browser including mobile browsers and everything else that makes a site look beautiful, work and behave as expected in all scenarios, will be turned down by an employer who is impressed by this other guys 20 site templates that all look strikingly similar and more than likely contain images they don't own the copyrights to. Now that is a tragedy. Adobe Edge, I can see a point to, but this takes the WYSIWYG portion of Dreamweaver (I imagine to a lot of people, devalues the Dreamweaver license) and makes it free. I'm all for making things more accessible, but I feel this is a huge backwards step. It's no good for that bakery business if their site only looks great in Opera, but small portions loads in IE, FF or Chrome, and forget about it loading in a way that makes it legible without pinch-to-zooming in mobile browsers. To get that right REQUIRES code optimization.
  • I disagree with Lee.

    There are some classic graphic designers who are fantastic at working with printed medium, but always have to work via a middle man to get their work published to the web. Just because they aren't coders doesn't mean they aren't great designers. If Adobe can pull this Muse product off, and ensure it generates elegant code in the background, it will be a great addition to the web and for the graphic design world.

    It's just a shame they've now dropped AIR support on Linux now, otherwise this would be fully cross platform.